Long-Tailed Chinchilla

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Other name(s): Chilean Chinchilla; Coastal Chinchilla; Lesser Chinchilla

Scientific name: Chinchilla lanigera

The basics:
Small, sweet, and oh-so-soft, the Long-Tailed Chinchilla makes a great pet. They’re an active and entertaining companion, and they’re even smart enough to learn some tricks! When handled from a young age they can be quite affectionate with their owners. They’re low on both offensive noises and odors, and are relatively low maintenance. However, the Chinchilla is a sensitive and easily frightened animal, and may not be an ideal match for homes with young, boisterous children.

The Long-Tailed Chinchilla exists in both a wild and domestic form, though the wild Chinchilla is an endangered species. They are native to South America and the Andes mountains where they are prized for their dense and silky fur, for which they have been hunted nearly to extinction.

Appearance / health:
In general the Long-Tailed Chinchilla is a small animal with a bushy tail, and dense, silvery fur. The have broad heads with a pointy face, large ears, and large black eyes. Domestic chinchillas are larger than their wild counterparts, and unlike many species the female is larger than the male. On average, domestic Long-Haired Chinchillas weigh 1-2lbs and are an average of 10 inches long with a tail that is an additional 3 to 6 inches long.

The Long-Haired Chinchilla’s coat extremely dense, soft, and silky with as many as 60-75 hairs growing from one skin follicle! They are generally a silvery-grey color with white shades at the root of the hair follicles and black at the tip, but they may also be beige, tan, black, or white. The belly is a creamy or yellowish white.

Due to genetics or a mineral-deficient diet, some Chinchillas have teeth that do not line up properly and they may experience tooth overgrowth resulting in drooling and weight loss. Teeth that overgrow need to be clipped periodically. Chinchillas are native to a cool, dry climate and do not adapt well to high heat or humidity and are susceptible to heat stroke. Care should be taken that a Chinchillas habitat is well ventilated and air conditioned during hot months.

Common health issues for the Chinchilla include constipation (remedy: feed raisins), diarrhea (remedy: feed shredded wheat), and runny eyes (remedy: rinse with boric acid solution). Symptoms that last for more than two days should be referred to a veterinarian.

Behavior / temperament:
Chinchillas are active, playful, and social animals. When handled from a young age they can be quite tame and cuddly, and may form close bonds with their owners. Ideally Chinchillas are kept in pairs and a lone Chinchilla will need a great deal of attention from its owner to fulfill that social need. Aside from the obvious benefits to your pet’s mental health, the antics of two Chinchillas playing together can be quite entertaining.

The Chinchilla can be somewhat of a high-strung and nervous animal, and they require gentle care and handling. For this reason, Chinchillas are not an ideal pet for young children. A nervous Chinchilla may urinate, gnash their teeth, and emit a soft growl. When highly stressed, they also shed their hair.

The Chinchilla is nocturnal and crepuscular, meaning they are active at night, and most active at dawn and dusk. Chinchillas may be vocal, though their noises are not particularly objectionable, but because of their nighttime activity, they may be best kept somewhere other than the bedroom.

Chinchillas do best in large cages with plenty of room for running, jumping, and playing. Multi-level cages with ramps and platforms are ideal. The bottom of a Chinchillas cage should be solid, never wire, and covered in soft, dust-free, non-toxic, and absorbent bedding. This can include wood shavings (except for cedar and pine), corncob, and commercial pellet or paper bedding. Chinchillas are very clean animals that strongly dislike a dirty cage: bedding should be changed weekly and the cage should be cleaned and disinfected regularly. Water bottles and food dishes should be cleaned weekly as well. The Chinchilla is a very temperature sensitive animal and should be kept somewhere free of drafts and direct sunlight. The cage should not be kept near heaters or other heat sources. The Chinchilla is healthiest at temperatures from 50-70F.

The cage should contain a water bottle, food dish, and hay rack. In addition, Chinchillas should be given the opportunity for a dust bath at least twice a week. You can purchase dusting powder and bins for this purpose. The Chinchilla should also be provided with areas it can feel safe and cozy, such as boxes, tunnels, or houses. The Chinchilla should also have a large exercise wheel, but choose one with a solid floor to prevent foot injury. Finally, giving your Chinchilla plenty of toys and non-toxic items to chew on will keep them happy and healthy – wood toys are best as pieces from plastic may be chewed and accidentally ingested. Chewing is important to their dental health, and they can also be given natural substances like antler and bone to chew on.

Chinchillas are largely vegetarian. Feeding them a commercially available chinchilla diet is the easiest way to ensure they are getting proper amounts of protein, fat, and roughage. Pellet-type foods are better than those with an abundance of seeds, nuts, and dried fruit, as they are high in fat and should be considered treats and not a primary food source. Chinchillas need a high fiber diet, and hay should be provided daily. Fresh produce also makes a good addition to your Chinchillas diet, especially spinach. Fruits, fresh or dired, make good treat options in addition to unsalted seeds and nuts. You may also wish to provide your Chinchilla with a salt-block or wheel.


high energy, super soft fur, friendly chinchilla, intelligent, great personalities


little children, extreme escape artist, heat stroke, sharp teeth, skittish nature, urine smell, bit noisy


chinchilla dust bath, pet pumice stones, chin specific pellets, chinchilla ranchers, love vertical space

Long-Tailed Chinchilla Health Tip

Long-Tailed Chinchilla

From austyn1 Dec 14 2016 11:49PM


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