caring for chinchillas

Pet Chinchilla for a Child?

I remember the first time I saw little Smoky in the store. He was so insanely cute and fluffy! As soon as I got my furry buddy, all my friends wanted one too! But are children ready to have a pet chinchilla?

Here are a few questions to ask:

1. Will the child be disappointed that they can’t carry the chinchilla? Honestly, this is the most important question in my mind. I’ve heard of many people who are getting a chinchilla just so they can carry one, which isn’t a good idea. Chinchillas (probably about 90% of them I guess) despise being carried. Smoky doesn’t even let us pet him with two hands. So if the child ,or even adult wants a chinchilla to carry than that’s a sign that a chinchilla isn’t the right pet for them.

2. Will the child be patient and gentle around them? I can see may children coming home with a chinchilla, plopping then in the cage, and sitting right there, staring at the chinchilla and laughing, giggling, poking their fingers in the cage… which is unacceptable behavior. Instead of trying to pet the chillie and yelling, read a book by his/her cage.

3. Does the child have pet experience? Before having a chinchilla, the child should have pet experience with at least a low maintenance pet like guinea pig, tortoise, or dog. I treated my orchid as a pet (Betty my beautiful orchid) and misted her many times a day, brought her outside to sunbathe, and I felt like I wanted to care for an actual pet. My tortoises don’t really need me, so Smoky was a perfect little pet for me to care for!

My awesome orchid, Betty

4. Will the child pay for the chinchilla’s supplies? Chinchillas are exotic animals that need a big cage and other costly things. The good cages range from $80-300 (less if your lucky), and the pellets and hay may be $40, dust probably $15, water bottle $10…. the kid might have that money if they save, but chinchillas cost about $150. If they aren’t going to pay for the supplies, than you are.

5. Are they responsible? Do they do all their chores already? Get good enough grades? Feed the dog or cat every morning and water the plants? If they aren’t responsible enough to do this or simply be too busy for a pet and daily playtime (they may have sports), than maybe get another pet.

Thank you for reading the above and I hope you know if your child, or if you are the child, is ready to have the chinchilla.

caring for chinchillas

Want to own a chinchilla? Part one

Fun fact! Chinchillas wink to say hello! 😉

A few important things to know before considering getting a chinchilla.

In my mind, chinchillas are the cutest, sweetest animals ever, and are even more wonderful pets! Each have a unique character and will provide you with many exiting stories and hilarious memories. I can’t get enough of them! Anyway, if you want a chin as your pet, read the information below to see if you can keep up with them.

First, this is quite unfortunate about chinchillas, but they are crepuscular, meaning that they are most active during dusk and dawn. Before bed, I recommend putting their cage away as far away from your bedroom as possible.

Second, chinchillas can’t touch water. We’re all tempted to bath them with fancy soaps and shampoos but please don’t! With 60-80 fine hairs per follicle, the water won’t dry, causing fungus to grow. Important note! Chinchillas bathe in dust, known as dust baths. It removes the oil and prevents fur-clumping. Also, chinchillas need to drink water, so use a small animal water bottle for that (glass is recommended).

Third, chinchillas cant survive temperature over 75 degrees Fahrenheit (23 degrees celsius). If a chinchilla is in that hot temperature, he may get a stroke, which can be fatal. I recommend around 60-74 degrees Fahrenheit (15-23 degrees celsius).

Fourth, chinchillas must have plenty of wood at all times. Their teeth won’t stop growing, so they have to gnaw it down on wood or pumice stones. wood and pumice trims their teeth and help reduce boredom. But beware, not all wood is safe to chinchillas, some is poisonous.

Fifth, is they hate being carried or cuddled. This is very sad, because they are so fluffy and cute! Only a few chinchillas like to be cuddled, and I wish Smoky was one of those ;). If you want a cuddly pet, chinchillas probably aren’t the right pet for you.

And the last and most important of them all…. is their surprisingly long life span. They can live over 20 years old! Wow!

A few fun experiences with my chinchilla:

Once, after chinchilla playtime, I forgot to close Smoky’s cage door. My mother woke up early and found him running around the house!

They have lots of energy during the night

Smoky’s cage was falling apart and my father temporarily mended his cage with plastic wires. Smoky placed his little chewing-stick right beside the plastic, and chew on the plastic. Whenever I looked at him, he would switch.

Chinchillas are very smart

I was watching a small kitten and Phoenix (the cat) snuck into Smoky’s room during his playtime! I freaked out because Phoenix looked like she wanted to hunt Smoky, though, Smoky being the curious boy he is, approached her. Phoenix backed up and Smoky chased her around the house!

Chinchillas are very curious
Smoky won’t pose with the tea, haha

Also, chinchillas love playtime which is a nice way to reduce their boredom. Let them out in chinchilla proofed room or playpen and they will run around. If it’s their first time having playtime, it might take time and temping with treats for them to come explore the world. Eventually, they will beg for playtime daily. Playtime is a great way to bond.

If you decide that you want a chinchilla, please read my checklist on supplies necessary for owning a chinchilla.

caring for chinchillas

Awesome Chinchilla Tricks

Smoky knows a few tricks I’d like to share with you.

The first one is when I tap on the floor, he saunters over (and is rewarded with a treat of course.)

The second is when I click my tongue, he hops on my lap.

We sometimes play fetch with blueberries (Though he doesn’t bring them back).

And he hops on my back and uses me as an elevator to go from the top floor of his cage to the bottom.

When I wink at him, he winks back ;).

Now I’ll help you teach these to your chinchillas.

  1. Go into chinchilla playtime with preferably tile or wooden floor (anything that makes a good tapping sound is fine.)
  2. Lay a small pile of oats or treats (not too much!) on the floor and tap next to it.
  3. Wait ’till he comes and eats the treat.
  4. Do this a few times every day until he knows that tapping means treats, and he doesn’t even need to see the treats.
  5. So, now, instead of having the treats on the floor, hand it to him with pinched fingers.

I give all the credit to Gabe Kahsen on his How to train Chinchillas video. That’s what I used to teach Smoky that trick.

For the clicking your tongue one, you can replace tapping with clicking. Or, if your chinchilla already knows the tapping, this way is much easier:

  1. Have treats in your hand, click your tongue.
  2. Most likely your chinchilla wont come yet, so tap three times on the floor to get his attention.
  3. If he comes, give him the treat and practice, but if not, keep clicking your tongue and tapping three times every couple seconds.
  4. Hopefully he comes, don’t give him the treat until he is on your lap (if you want). Pinch your fingers in front of his nose and lead him on your lap.
  5. Now you can summon him two ways! 😉
Here’s Smoky doing the tapping trick! 😉 I practice like this with him a lot.

Fetching blueberries:

  1. Smoky and I don’t do this one too often, because he’s not too fond of blueberries. Anyway, have the blueberries in your hand and toss one in front of him. (More like drop it, tossing might be scary.)
  2. If he doesn’t investigate, pick up the blueberry and lift it to his nose so he can sniff/eat it.
  3. If he shows no interest, keep trying. 😉


This one came naturally to both of us, but it may not work for all chinchillas.

  1. If your chinchilla runs to the top of his cage during playtime, or looke down to try to get to playtime, put your back there (I know, I feel like a slave too. A proud slave, though) and he will hopefully jump on.
  2. Stay very silent while doing it, or repeat “elevator” so it becomes a command almost.
  3. If he walks on your back, slowly lower yourself until he can jump on the floor (which he probably will).
  4. He may not walk on your back immediately, I understand those awkward moments of just standing there. 😉
  5. We do this all the time! It comes very smoothly now.


  1. This is probably the easiest of them all.
  2. Your chinchillas all wink at you, right? Wink back every time.
  3. We go back and forth now with winking, he ususally starts it, tho I can too sometimes! 😉

WARNING: be careful with how many treats you give your chinchillas a day. Only two raisins or almonds a day, a large pinch of chamomile or oats, or dried hibiscus or rose petals work. My chinchilla is fine with blueberries, though I heard of some chinchillas who get sick with too much of these.

Do your chinchillas do any cool tricks? I would love to hear them on comments, or email

Wink your chinchillas that Smoky says hi! 😉