In the Wild: Although they were once more widespread across the Andes mountain range of South America, wild chinchillas today only reside in Chile and Peru. As social animals, chinchillas in the wild form groups known as “herds,” which were hunted and trapped frequently in the 1800s due to their soft, velvety fur. With the second densest fur of any land mammal on earth, chinchillas are prized for the softness of their fur, both in the wild and in captivity. Though they have become popular household pets, wild chinchillas today still live high in the Andes Mountains at elevations as high as 14,000 feet.
Feeding: Fresh produce and other treats must be limited to around 10% of your chinchilla’s diet due to their sensitive digestive systems. Their primary foods should be pellets and hay, which should be available to your chinchilla at all times. Hay is extremely important for your chinchilla, since chinchilla teeth grow fast and must bein check through the chewing consumption of hay (not sure about this sentence). Fresh, dry, and clean Timothy Hay, such as American Harvest’s all natural Timothy Hay, should be provided daily for your chinchilla.
Housing: As cute and fluffy as they may be, chinchillas do not make for low maintenance pets. New chinchilla owners should do plenty of research into chinchilla needs to ensure that they will be able to provide their new chinchilla with the time and care it requires. Chinchilla cages should be as large as possible, with multiple tiers for climbing and jumping—activities that chinchillas love. Chinchillas are very temperature sensitive, and should be kept in an environment ranging from 60-70 degrees Fahrenheit. Temperatures should be kept constant, and should never exceed 80 degrees Fahrenheit. To avoid this, do not put your chinchilla cage in a drafty or directly sun-lit area.
Cleaning: Chinchilla habitats should be cleaned thoroughly at least once a week, which includes wiping down the cage and changing the bedding. Unlike other small rodents, chinchillas have unique hygienic needs that include dust baths twice a week. Chinchillas naturally clean their coats using dust baths—you should never bathe or get your chinchilla wet. Additionally, chinchillas require dental care and monitoring since their teeth grow continuously throughout their lives; consequently, they must be provided with hay and chew toys to help with this.