Hi, my name’s Elena Coolidge, and this is my site. Chinchillas are so cute and such intelligent animals that make great pets. They’ve become the subject of fascination for many animal lovers who enjoy their antics. I blog about their care, where to buy them, breeders, and more. Shoot me an email if you have a question!
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Our veterinary expert wrote our definitive chinchilla ownership guide. Animal-loving contributors write our other content.
While I was living in the Netherlands, squirrels were my go-to animal friends. My Dutch husband and I had a pet squirrel named Moe, and I loved their friendly personalities, playful nature, and ability to make a mess on my floors during those extended afternoon naps I never got to enjoy.
I also had a pet raccoon named Bloo; Moe and Bloo would end up getting close, and sometimes, I would bring Bloo outside to play with Moe and the other squirrels. A few years ago, when I moved to the United States, I only knew of a couple of squirrels living in the New York City metropolitan area that were close to my heart.
When friends told me about the chinchilla population in Central America, home to roving bands of these fuzz-balls coming in from as far as Mexico and Honduras, I was excited to adopt one.
Luckily, a friend of mine had some rescues and brought them to my doorstep. I made sure to familiarize myself with their care requirements. Learning about the biology of an exotic pet like the chinchilla is fraught with challenges, but it provides an opportunity to give them adequate care.
Chinchillas can live up to 10 years, so long as they stay on a cycle of consistent veterinary medical care. Caring for chinchillas is no easy task. For one thing, they need constant attention. Don’t mistake the chinchilla’s wrinkled, velvety fur or its inability to jump for indifference—it needs your constant dietary attention and constant attention to touch and grooming.
I love the way they rub their heads and fluff up their tails frequently, and I knew that they were looking for companionship, just as my neighbors’ dogs always were. They also want human interaction, and occasionally I would see them licking their lips, making gentle noises I would recognize as strangely human-like.
Chinchillas have highly developed brains, capable of learning more than many conventional cognitive tasks. As designated mammal domestication projects have found, chinchillas have excellent spatial memory, impressive problem-solving skills, and a remarkably high degree of independence.
Chinchillas, like so many other adorable pets, are highly trainable! Start by taking the time to train them to come when called. Once you’ve perfected your chosen routine, try adding treats and playtime to your usual schedule.
You can combine training with other enrichment activities, like socialization. For example, you can spend time hugging, petting, or cuddling your pet chinchilla buddy before bedtime. You can also choose to allow your chinchilla to join in playtime on your bed, near a window (closed, of course), or along the floor, where they’ll need lots of stimulation to keep their keen play minds stimulated!
I love my chins!