If you are considering adopting a rodent as a pet, chinchillas can be an excellent alternative. Chinchillas are very sociable and affectionate small animals but be careful not to get confused because domestic ones are different from wild ones. Here’s what to know before taking one home.
Chinchilla: curious facts
The word “chinchilla” comes from Quechua and its meaning is “strong, quiet and small.” The natural habitat of the chinchilla is the Andes, the mountain range that crosses South America, between 1,500 and 3,500 meters above sea level, which is why (in nature) they are animals able to withstand both high and low temperatures.
Unfortunately, due to their precious and soft coat, they risked extinction, although, fortunately, in almost all countries, fur farms have been prohibited.
The appearance of chinchillas
Domestic chinchillas are very different from wild chinchillas, they are larger and exist in different colors, sizes and morphology. Here we will specifically talk about domestic ones, the only ones that can be legally adopted.
The females have dimensions and weight greater than those of the males, the former weighing 800 g, while the latter about 600 g. The original color of the chinchilla is grey, in captivity then other color mutations have been selected: beige, pink white, wilson white, black velvet, ebony, violet, sapphire, pastel.
The fur of chinchillas is very soft but delicate, in fact if frightened it risks suddenly losing large quantities, especially on the tail, so we advise you not to let it shake or subject it to too much stress. To ensure that his hair is always shiny and has a healthy appearance, it is necessary to put in his cage a fine sand with which he will take sand baths.
Character of the chinchilla
The chinchilla is a crepuscular and nocturnal animal, it spends its days sleeping in its little house, then in the late afternoon it begins to wake up, until it is in full vitality in the night hours. He is a very curious rodent, he loves to run and jump and go into every tunnel or hole he comes across. They are sociable with people they trust, communicate with small squeaks or affectionate bites, but basically dislike being touched especially by strangers. Because of their distrust they do not like to receive too many caresses … in fact they are not even properly suited to living with children, who obviously have the instinct to caress them and play with their pet.
The right feeding of the chinchilla
One of the fundamental things to know to make the chinchilla live healthy concerns its diet. They are herbivorous animals, which must eat a diet high in fiber: hay for rodents, some pressed alpha (alfalfa) and with fresh pellets, but it would be better to avoid food with a high water content, such as lettuce. Of course, they need to always have fresh and clean water available. Foods to avoid? Those that are toxic or that make it fat, such as seeds and nuts, cereals, avocados, tomatoes, potatoes and aubergines, foods with milk and starchy foods in general.