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Flights of Fancy

A Chinchilla? What?

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

When I tell people that I own a chinchilla, their initial reaction is usually "Huh?" People hardly know anything about chinchillas other than they are rodents, but there is so much more. I have had fish, hamsters, lizards and dogs, but my chinchilla has been my most interesting pet to raise so far.

A chinchilla is a rodent that upon first look resembles a rabbit with a bushy tail. A chinchilla is much more active than a pet rabbit, though. While they do hop like rabbits, they are much more agile jumpers and are not afraid to jump from high ledges. As an owner it is important to note this when handling a chinchilla. You want to hold them firmly but gently, as to not hurt them and not give them the chance to jump out of your arms and risk hurting themselves. They tend to enjoy being cupped against your chest or stomach which provides both comfort and safety to the animal.

Trio of Chinchillas by Ph!L!s
Like any animal living in a cage, chinchillas need a chance to run free once in a while. This should be done in the house, either under your supervision or in a safe setting. Often I put my chinchilla in a hamster ball so she can get some exercise without getting into trouble. It also is a good way to protect your small animals from other animals that might cause problems, like dogs.

If left to roam on their own, there are hardly any places safe from your chinchilla's expeditions. They are very adventurous animals and are always looking for a new toy to chew on. Often this is wood or electrical wires, though plastics, papers and other reachable materials are not out of the question. The floor should be checked carefully before letting your pet out for their exercise. Electrical wires should be lifted off the ground and out of the chinchilla's reach.

You may think that you can keep up with the chinchilla and that there is no need to take such precautions, but they can be very sneaky animals when need be. They are easily timid if not used to their owners and will instinctively find a safe place out of your reach, usually under a large chair or behind a huge piece of furniture.

The biggest problem with chinchillas is stocking up on the right pet supplies. Most small, local pet stores don't carry chinchilla specific items, even if they have sold the pets in the past. This was the case with my chinchilla. The most essential chinchilla specific item is their dust bath. This can be easily found in many stores though as usually a common item to see.

Chinchilla specific toys and food can be rare, however. It may run out and more stock may take weeks or months to come in. Do not worry. Chinchillas love many things that gerbils, hamsters, rabbits and even parrots do. They really enjoy wood blocks to chew on, as do all rodents since it helps keep their teeth healthy and perfect length. Chinchillas are very active even in their cage, and wooden ledges for them to climb and jump around on is wonderful too. They also enjoy a nice shelter within their cage, usually some plastic house or igloo you can easily find.

Chinchillas are quite unique animals. While many needs can be similar to a rabbit or hamster, they have a much more wild and adventurous personality that can keep you on the go when taking care of them. They are very affectionate too and can be just as comforting as a dog or cat. If you haven't considered buying one before, it is a nice possibility to look into. Once you hold a chinchilla and feel its soft fur nudge into you with its own version of a hug, you'll never want to put it down.

This article has been submitted in affiliation with http://www.PetLovers.Com/ which is a site for Pet Forums.

Author Resource
Jake Rose is an aspiring artist and writer from New England.


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