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The pet guide – Owning the softest species in the animal kingdom

By May 30, 2019News
Ellie the Chinchilla

“Is that a rabbit?” A common question I’m met with when I arrive with my small ball of fluff, otherwise known as a chinchilla. Despite a few physical similarities these two species are worlds apart. Their gorgeous faces and incredibly soft coats lead many people to the next question “Are they easy to keep?”

Chinchillas come from Chile and live in the Andes Mountains; they have the ability to jump up to 6ft high! They have the softest coat in the animal kingdom with an impressive 20,000 hairs per every square cm of their body (Offers great defence to fleas which suffocate inside the coat), keeping them nice and cosy 14,000ft from the ground! Chinchillas live around 10 – 15 years. They are herbivores and in the wild eat a mixture of leaves, seeds and fruits.

“Do they take a lot of time?” One of the most important questions to consider when researching a possible new pet, chinchillas have a lot of energy, they must have time out of their cage daily as exercise as well as brain stimulation, my chinchilla, Ellie, has at least 2 hours per day out of her cage. As well as having time spare to let your chinchilla out, you must also have time spare to clean the cage, spot cleaning it daily and a full clean weekly.

Chinchilla cage

“What are they housed in?” A common mistake people make is to believe they need the same care as a rabbit but unlike rabbits that can be housed indoor or outdoor chinchillas must be kept indoors. Due to their dense fur chinchillas cannot get wet (Making them more similar to gremlins than rabbits!) it would take far too long for their fur to dry that they would get hypothermia first. They should have as big as a cage as you can give them, the cage should preferably be taller than is it wide, this is because they like to climb so should also have levels to jump between. Plenty of wood for chewing, I prefer to use wooden shelves rather than plastic as they are sturdier and offer extra wood for chewing! Fresh water should always be available in a water bottle along with extra toys for enrichment and a shelter to sleep in. They also need a sand bath, as they cannot wash in water chinchillas clean themselves in sand, which absorbs oil and dirt.

“Are they friendly?” All animals that we use in our sessions are extremely tame and gentle giving the impression that all animals of that species are the same; however taming an animal does take a lot of time. Chinchillas are not a good choice of animal if you would like an animal that will sit in your lap for hours, they do not have the patience for this and will soon be wanting to run around again (Despite this they do sometimes enjoy using you as a climbing apparatus which can be seen as quite loving) they are extremely entertaining to watch as they bounce of walls and do spins in the air, you wont get bored of watching them.

These are all the questions I’m asked when presenting my loveable chinchilla, want to learn more? Please contact the office via email at hello@wsonline.co.uk or by phone 020 3372 4300 to book a session with us