1. Where did chinchillas originate?
The chinchilla developed in the dry and arid South American highlands, where the species withstood the extreme climate - sweltering heat during the day, freezing cold at night. They fed on the sparse greens that were available. For millions of years, its body adapted to this environment. In the wild, they live in colonies.
Chinchillas are rodents that are especially active and curious at night. Because they are social animals, it's best to keep two of them. A younger and an older animal together will usually make an excellent match. Chinchillas are notoriously sensitive to stress, but if their living conditions are suitable and tranquil, they are robust, healthy animals that can live to be ten to twelve years or even older.
3. How to handle a chinchillaWhen you buy a chinchilla, it will probably be a bit shy and suspicious at first. This is in their nature; after all, they are prey animals. You'll need to show them that you're not a threat to them. Sit in the vicinity of the cage, stay calm and quietly talk to them. Give them a treat once in a while - they love raisins. Above all, be patient!
4. Caring for a chinchilla
It's important to buy a sufficiently spacious cage for your chinchilla, especially if you have two. They love climbing and jumping, and they can be very playful. So be sure to offer them plenty of opportunities to let off steam! But beware: chinchillas nibble at everything, so avoid plastic toys. Change their cage weekly and place them in a quiet spot away from direct sunlight or draughts.
Chinchillas are very hygienic animals. To keep their thick fur neat and clean, they roll in fine sand. Give them access to a sand bath daily - they will be very grateful to you.
5. Providing the right foodDon't give too much rich, fresh fruit or vegetables, as this can cause digestive or liver problems. Also avoid sugar, to prevent diabetes.
Offer your chinchilla a balanced, high-fibre diet, consisting mainly of hay, supplemented with specialised chinchilla food and branches of fruit trees. It is essential that chinchillas can gnaw a lot: that keeps their teeth healthy. They must also have access to fresh, clean water at all times.