Acquired: Pet store
Posted Aug 10, 2013
I've owned my chinchilla Whiskers for about 15 years now. Chinchillas are very quiet, docile animals; they don't smell, and they're relatively friendly and easy to handle (they get a little skittish like most small rodents but they aren't aggressive). However, my chinchilla does shed more than any other animal I've ever owned. That, combined with the volcanic dust they use to bathe with, means that you have to vacuum the area around the cage at least a couple of times a week (closer to every day if you own more than one chinchilla). Chinchillas also can be prone to different health problems; mine happens to be epileptic. He doesn't get seizures so much now, but in our first couple years of owning him it wasn't unusual for him to get fits of seizures that could last a couple of hours.
That being said, chinchillas are quiet, and even affectionate animals. They are very social - our chinchilla actually befriended our dog, believe it or not - and it's usually recommended that you buy them in pairs. They aren't aggressive and don't often bite. Our chinchilla often interacts with the family and enjoys getting his chin scratched while we watch tv (his cage is positioned right next to our couch). But I would recommend chinchillas strictly for adults. They are nocturnal, so they aren't very active during the day, and you have to follow a pretty strict set of rules for owning them. They can't be kept in a room of 80 degrees Fahrenheit or over, they can't get wet (hence the volcanic ash), and as I said, they can be prone to health problems. They are very small and delicate, and their fur is easily pulled out, so small children could easily harm them if they were allowed to handle a chinchilla unsupervised.
But cautionary notes aside, chinchillas make adorable, unique pets. I love mine and they are a good small animal to own for adults.