Choosing a Chinchilla

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December 21, 2010
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Are you thinking of adopting a chinchilla as a pet? They are extremely cute and small which makes them great pets for an apartment and can be a good first pet for your children to interact with but how do you choose one? What traits or characteristics should you look for? And what changes to your daily routine should you expect?

Chinchillas require a lot of exercise. They also have teeth that grow continuously and need to have items to chew on to grind them down. If they don’t have wooden sticks or other chew toys to play with, their teeth can become so overgrown that they are unable to eat.

Chinchillas also don’t sweat. They release heat through their ears. If their ears become red, that’s a sign of overheating and care needs to be taken to cool them off or else they can suffer heatstroke.

Their diet consists of desert grass and they do not process high fat or high protein foods very well. A diet based on high quality hay-based pellets and some loose hay is good for them. Their digestive tract is sensitive so you have to careful to make sure that they maintain a good diet and balance of foods. Avoid foods like raisins, seeds, and other fruits and vegetables. Any food that has a high moisture content can cause bloat which can be fatal. Chinchillas do not eat large meals so try to never overfeed your chinchilla.

Now that we’ve covered a few basic facts, what should you look for when choosing a chinchilla?

1: Look for bright, alert eyes

2: Look for a healthy body and even coated fur

3: Look at the ears to make sure they are clean, not red, and not waxy. Waxy ears can be a sign of infection.

4: Check for cuts, sores, or other injuries on the body

5: A healthy chinchilla will not have any discharge from its nose, eyes, mouth, or genital area

6: Interact with the chinchilla to see how friendly it is and to make sure it is not aggressive

7: Check the teeth to make sure they are not overgrown

8: A chinchilla should not be overweight. You should be able to feel the ribs with a thin layer of fat over them.

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