In detail

Chinchilla as a pet: portrait of cute rodents


A chinchilla is not suitable for everyone as a pet. The cute, mostly silver-gray fur balls are nocturnal and do not like to cuddle with people. In addition, they make a lot of dirt and need a safe outlet in the apartment. The following tips reveal what else you should consider before buying the exotic fur carrier. Chinchillas are pack animals and only feel good in the group - Shutterstock / Helen Sushitskaya

The chinchillas look cute, but you shouldn't underestimate them. They are not cuddly teddy bears and require a lot of care and attention when keeping them. Anyone who gets involved with rodents will experience fascinating animals that could be observed all day - or rather all night.

Little chinchilla story: from wild animals to pets

The chinchilla has its roots in South America, especially Peru, Chile, Bolivia and Argentina. There the wild chinchilla relatives live in the mountains at an altitude of up to 5,000 meters and hide in caves and crevices during the day. Because of their thick fur and because chinchillas have no sweat glands, they cannot tolerate temperatures above 25 degrees, which are quickly reached during the day in their original home. Then they can get a heat stroke and die. At dusk and at night, the temperatures drop drastically, so that the rodents can then go looking for food. Her menu includes twigs, leaves, herbs, dry grasses and even cacti. The chinchilla is a pack animal and lives together in the wild in large groups of around 100 animals. A male often surrounds himself with several females.

It has a rather sad background, which is why the wild animal became a pet: furs. The beautiful, silver-gray fur of the rodents was soon well received by European fur traders and customers - the chinchilla was brought to Europe and fur farms were founded in Germany around 1950. Little by little, chinchilla associations were formed, and for around 30 years they have finally been discovered for domestic animals.

Chinchillas: nocturnal rodents from South America

Social life and peculiarities of chinchillas

Chinchillas should never be kept alone, as the pack animals are otherwise very unhappy and can develop behavioral disorders. At least two, better still three or more of the fur balls feel comfortable together. So that there are no unwanted offspring, same-sex couples and groups are recommended. Castrating a chinchilla is quite complicated and involves risks, so mixed-sex couples are only recommended for a breeding project. Males become sexually mature from four months and females from six months. Chinchilla mothers can throw two to three times a year and then have between one and four babies, sometimes even six. Then the chinchilla mother needs help with the rearing and does not survive the stressful birth at worst.

The animals are nocturnal and sleep during the day. They can adapt a bit to the habits of their keepers and can wake up briefly during the day, but their main working time is after sunset and before sunrise. This means that they are usually active longer in winter than in summer. In summer, make sure there is enough coolness and shade to prevent heat stroke. The fur balls have very fine senses, can see well with their big eyes in the twilight and in the dark and have a wide field of vision. They also need this so that as escape animals they can quickly open up and view all escape routes. Their long touch hairs on the snout also help them orient themselves in the dark. They can also hear very well and turn their big ears in the direction of a sound like satellite dishes.

For her, smells are an important point of orientation and communication. In this way, they can sniff out the willingness to mate and the area markings of their peers. Don't be surprised if the front teeth of your chinchilla are yellow, orange or even brownish - this is normal and testifies to a healthy mineral layer that protects the teeth. It is also normal and healthy for the fur lines to eat their own droppings. They absorb vitamins and minerals that only split up in the intestine when they were eaten for the first time. Remember that the animals do not become house-trained; As a so-called permanent separator, they spill everywhere, no matter where they are.

Is a chinchilla suitable for you as a pet?

As fleeing animals, the fluffy fellows get very scared if you hug them or want to stroke them too much. Therefore, the animals are more suitable for observation and less for interaction with humans. They need a large aviary with several levels on which they can jump and run around at night. If they also get exercise in a secure room in the evening, they will be even more happy. Furthermore, hiding places and a sandpit for rolling are important as well as a hay rack and a drinking trough with fresh water. The enclosure has to be cleaned every day since the silver furs cannot keep it clean themselves. With good care and care, chinchillas can live to be astonishingly old: their life expectancy is 15 to 22 years.

The rodents suit you when you are ready to refrain from cuddling with your pet, but do not spare any expense and effort so that the fur lines feel comfortable with you. If you work full-time and are on the go during the day, there is no need to worry because the sweeties are sleeping at this time. It may be difficult for younger children to explain that the animals need to rest during the day and do not like to cuddle or play with people. There are other pets that are more suitable for children, such as dogs - provided they are well behaved.