Commonly Asked Questions FAQ
Why don't you guarantee friendly chinchillas?
Although we try our best to place each chinchilla in the proper home based on their personality and needs, there can still be exceptions. As with any animal, there is never a guarantee that they will maintain a certain disposition. Chinchillas are living creatures with varying moods and temperaments, regardless of selective breeding practices. Just like any animal, despite whether they are tame or not, there is always the risk of biting or standoff-ish behavior. Any pet has the capacity to be over-stimulated to the point of reacting, whether that be in a calm or aggressive manner. The key to avoiding these instances is to give your pet space, allow them some down-time and observe their behavior. Does your chin stand on their back feet and chatter their teeth? Do they bark at you or try to spray? Watching for warning signs can help to ensure you give your pet the alone time they need and to allow them to seek out your attention on their terms.
Why don't you have a health guarantee?
Here at Sunshine Chinchillas, we do our best to selectively breed the healthiest of animals. Any animal that shows indications of malocclusion, genetic disorders, deformities, or health problems is never bred and is placed in a pet home. In the case of malocclusion, if the infliction cannot be maintained and the animal is suffering, we choose to humanely euthanize. However, there is never a guarantee as outside factors can affect an animal. Plastic, cloth, unsafe bedding, unhealthy food, unsafe treats, unnecessary vet check-ups, over exhaustion due to excessive playtime, stress from over handling, or overheating can quickly turn a healthy animal into one that needs medical attention. We do not take our chinchillas to the vet unless absolutely necessary. Chinchillas are not like dogs or cats and do not require check-ups, vaccinations, supplements, or the filing of healthy teeth. Unless there is a medical emergency, the stress of taking a chinchilla to the vet can be dangerous.
Can I let my chin meet the new chin before adopting?
Allowing chinchillas to briefly meet prior to adoption does not indicate whether they will get along or not. Many times we have had owners bring their chinchilla and put the newly adopted chin in with the other. Usually, the chinchillas will act fine upon first observation. But as soon as they are home, fighting ensues. Due to the stress of a car ride, the unknown environment and a new friend to meet, most chinchillas will be overwhelmed to the point that they will not act the way they would normally in their familiar home habitat.
Can I meet the chin before I adopt them?
Chinchillas are not like dogs or cats where they can display a certain personality upon meeting you. Most chinchillas will be stressed during the adoption process as there is new people, sounds, smells, and visual stimuli overwhelming them. This does not allow them to show the natural disposition they display when relaxed. If you are interested to see them exhibiting their normal behavior and temperament, we offer the opportunity to send photos and video to show their true personality.
How long do chinchillas live?
Chinchillas can live up to 20 years. They are a long-term commitment and can be with you for up to two decades. They are not like a hamster or guinea pig. If you are looking for a short-term pet, a chinchilla might not be for you.
What should I feed my chinchilla?
Some food brands we recommend are Blue Seal rabbit pellets, Pen Pals rabbit pellets, Manna Pro Sho rabbit pellets, Mazuri and Oxbow. Chinchillas and rabbits can usually eat the same alfalfa based pellet food. Most of these foods can be purchased in bulk from feed stores such as Tractor Supply Co. The easiest brand of food to find is Oxbow, this is sold at most pet stores as well as the Oxbow brand of hay. Avoid foods with treats or unnecessary ingredients, such as Kaytee or Charlie Chinchilla.
What hay should I give my chinchilla?
We use mainly Stan Lee timothy hay, which can be bought in bulk at Tractor Supply Co. Another great brand to use which is available at most pet stores is Oxbow timothy hay. You can also feed other hays such as orchard grass, oat, alfalfa, or a combination of these.
How and when do they bathe?
Chinchillas take a dust bath, not a water bath. Chinchilla fur can get a "greasy" look if not given a dust bath on a regular basis; this is not healthy for them, we offer dust bath at least once a week or as needed. Most dusts available at pets stores will suffice; we use Chill Dust and Blue Sparkle that we purchase in bulk.
What do chinchillas chew?
Since they are rodents, chinchilla teeth never stop growing. They need toys and shelves made from chin safe wood, alfalfa or timothy hay, and pumice stones to help wear the teeth down. Check out our safe woods page here, for a list of woods chinchillas can have.
What temperatures can they live in?
Chinchillas cannot get hot, they need to be kept indoors with the thermostat set no higher than 75 degrees Fahrenheit. The ideal temperature range is between 60 and 70 degrees Fahrenheit for most climates. Here in Florida, it is almost impossible to keep our chin room below 68 degrees. Our ideal temperature range is 68-72 during Florida's hot summers and hurricanes.
My chinchilla has mushy poop, what do I do?
If your chinchilla starts to have soft or mushy poop that gets squashed when they step on it, it may be time to limit their pellet intake for a few days. This often affects young kits and animals that have recently went to a new home. Upon the onset of soft poop, pellets should be taken away for one week. During this time, alfalfa and timothy hay can be given in excess to combat the soft stools. Since food pellets mainly consist of hays, your chinchilla will be fine living on loose hay for a week. This helps to regulate their digestive system with plenty of fiber and harden up their stools. If at any time your chinchilla begins to have diarrhea, you can supplement the loose hay with burnt toast. It is as simple as it sounds, stick some bread in your toaster and let it turn black. You can do this once a day until the stools firm up. If for some reason the stools do not get better within about a week, you may want to consider taking your chinchilla to a vet.
Can I take my chinchilla for a walk?
Not only is this stressful for your chinchilla, it is also highly unsafe. High temperatures, stress, predators, and harnesses/leashes can be deadly. Never take a chinchilla out for a walk or place them on a leash or harshness. The chinchilla rib cage is very flexible and can easily be squished to the point of damaging internal organs.
What can I use for bedding?
We use pine shavings; we get ours in bulk from Ace Hardware or Tractor Supply Co. An alternative to pine shavings at the bottom of their cage is aspen or fleece. Many people use fleece and love it. Easier to clean, just shake outside, wash and replace. Many Etsy stores sell great fleece options.
Can I litter train my chinchilla?
In our experience, no chinchilla is ever "trained" to do anything. However, some chins do choose one area of the cage to use the bathroom. If you are able to find their favorite spot, you can place a litter pan in that area and see if they utilize it.
Are they cuddly?
Chinchillas for the most part do not enjoy handling. They are a prey animal and can be scared easily by incorrect handling or sudden movements. Cuddling is not recommended as well due to the issue of overheating.
Why did they bite me?
Chinchillas are not like cats or dogs where they seek out attention. Most are happy with staying within their cage, relaxing or playing. If they bite hard, this means they do not want to be touched. If your chin bites often, they may prefer to be left in their cage with minimum interaction.
Why are they nibbling me?
If your chinchilla nibbles your finger, they may be tasting/testing to see if you are or have food. If they begin to nibble hard or draw blood, this may be a sign that they do not want to be touched.
Will my chinchilla get lonely?
Chins are very independent; they can easily live by themselves or with another chinchilla. They will not become lonely or depressed if you do not let them out for playtime, hold them, or have a playmate for them. They are not like dogs where they are pack animals; they are content with being solitary or alone if you are away. Some chinchillas can even become more friendly as a result of living solo; this is due to them socializing and becoming familiar with their owner rather than another chinchilla.
Why does my chinchilla seem depressed?
Since chinchillas are rodents, their emotional capacity is not as intricate as a cat or dog may display. Chinchillas do not become depressed if you are away, a cage mate has died, or they have been rehomed. Chinchillas are also nocturnal for the most part. Therefore, if you are trying to interact with them during the day and they seem quiet or sleepy you may have interrupted their sleep schedule. If your chinchillas behavior suddenly changes and they seem "down" or lethargic, a more serious medical issue could be going on. If you suspect your pet is ill, it is always best to get the opinion of an experienced veterinarian.
Does my chinchilla have bumblefoot?
Bumblefoot is caused by excessive pressure on only one part of the foot. Chinchilla feet are designed to bounce and walk along rocks and rough surfaces in the wild. They will not get bumblefoot from being on a wire bottom cage; it is more commonly seen as a result of them sitting for long periods on a flat surface where they rest on only one part of the foot. To prevent this, its always best to provide multiple surfaces to walk on such as fleece, bedding, shelves, apple wood branches, granite slabs, and hidey houses. If you see your chinchilla has a wound, ulcer, or an infection on the foot, it is best to get the opinion of an experienced veterinarian.
Does my chinchillas have ringworm/fungus?
Ringworm/fungus commonly pops up during the summer months due to humidity and heat allowing for the fungus to grow more efficiently. Ringworm and fungus are not deadly nor do they cause suffering. If your chinchilla suddenly has bald patches with scaly areas, you can add common Athletes Foot powder to their dust bath. This helps to clear up the infection and prevent further breakouts. The brands we commonly use are Desenex and Lotrimine; only a teaspoon mixed in with each dust bath is required. It may take a few months, but eventually your chinchilla will grow back their fur and look as good as new.
Is my cage too small?
Contrary to popular belief, chinchillas do not need huge cages. In the wild, they spend most of their time within a small area. This is because they are prey animals and feel safer in a small enclosed space. The cages we recommend to pet owners are the perfect size for pet chinchillas. Larger cages do not always mean better. Chinchillas can jump very high, but this also means that they can fall from very high as well if they miss a shelf. Cages bigger than what we recommend may not be a good option. A good size we recommend for up to three chinchillas is a cage like this single level Ferret Nation or this Chinchilla Cage
How do I introduce my chinchilla to another chinchilla?
We personally use the side-by-side cage method, or cage within a cage method. Feel free to check out this link to our article about chin bonding: Chinchilla Introductions
Can I let my male chinchilla play with my female chinchilla?
Chinchillas can become pregnant within seconds. Playtime or housing two chins of the opposite sex will result in babies. We do not condone this unless you are purposefully breeding show quality, pedigreed chins, attend chinchilla shows regularly, and have a reputable breeder as a mentor.
Help! My chinchilla is pregnant what do I do?
If you suspect your chinchilla is pregnant, the first step will be to remove the male if he is still paired with her. Chinchillas can become pregnant again up to seven days before birth and immediately after birthing occurs. If your chinchillas are not shown, pedigreed or breeding quality, they should not be in breeding. We do not condone backyard breeding in anyway. The next step you will need to take is to ensure she is in a baby safe cage; this means that the bar spacing should be only 1/2 inch wide to keep kits from escaping. You will also want to ensure your female has fresh food, hay and water at all times. After these steps are taken, the next action is crucial: leave your female alone. Do not pick her up, do not let her have playtime, do not inspect her nipples or belly, and do not stress her out. Pregnant moms need their space to have a healthy pregnancy. Once she has her kits, they will need to stay with her for at least 8 weeks before weaning. Once weaned, you will want to sex the kits and separate the males from the females so that breeding does not occur again.
If you have anymore questions, feel free to contact us or join the Facebook group Ask a Breeder - Chinchillas (link below) where we are also an admin.