Resource Center Menu


chinchilla laniger

Chinchillas have an inquisitive and gentle nature, but also have a lot of energy.


Chinchilla Facts

Average Adult Size 12 inches long
Average Life Span up to 10+ years with proper care
Diet herbivore


A well-balanced Chinchilla diet consists of:

  • High-quality chinchilla pellets and limited amounts of vegetables and fruits.
  • Provide Timothy hay at all times.
  • Clean, fresh, filtered, chlorine-free water, changed daily.
  • Do not feed chocolate, caffeine or alcohol as these can cause serious medical conditions. Avoid sugar and high fat treats.


Things to remember when feeding your chinchilla:

  • Fresh food (pellets and hay) and water should always be available.
  • A limited amount of vegetables and fruits can be given daily, but should not exceed 10% of their total diet.
  • Vegetables and fruits not eaten within 24 hours should be discarded.


  • Chinchillas acclimate well to average household temperatures, not to exceed 80°F; be cautious of extreme temperature changes. The habitat should never be in direct sunlight or in a drafty area.
  • A large multi-tiered habitat is recommended because chinchillas love to jump and play; wire habitats with a solid bottom are required to protect their feet. The space between the wires should not be bigger than one inch. It is best to provide the largest habitat possible.
  • 1-2" of bedding should be placed in the habitat; proper bedding includes high quality paper bedding, crumbled paper bedding, or hardwood shavings. Cedar-based products are not recommended.
  • Different types of small animals should not be housed together.

Normal Behavior

  • Play during the night and rest during the day (nocturnal).
  • A well-socialized chinchilla likes to be cuddled and carried.
  • Chew on objects to maintain all their teeth, which grow continuously; ensure they have plenty of wood chew sticks or mineral chews.
  • Chinchillas have a very fragile rib cage. Be gentle when handling them and do not squeeze their rib cage.

Habitat Maintenance

  • Clean and disinfect the habitat and its contents at least once a week with a 3% bleach solution. Rinse and allow to dry completely before placing the chinchilla back into the habitat.
  • Remove wet spots daily; change bedding at least once a week, or more often as necessary.

Grooming & Hygiene

  • Chinchillas require a dust bath at least twice a week; remove dust after 15 to 30 minutes. Fur may be brushed with a soft brush.
  • Avoid getting your chinchilla wet.
  • Consult with a veterinarian if a chinchilla's teeth seem too long.
  • Chinchillas are born with white teeth, but over time, their teeth turn yellow; cleaning is not necessary.


Signs of a Healthy Animal

  • Active, alert, and sociable
  • Eats and drinks regularly
  • Healthy fur and clear eyes
  • Breathing is unlabored
  • Walks normally

Red Flags

  • weight loss
  • abnormal hair loss
  • diarrhea or dirty bottom
  • distressed breathing
  • lethargic
  • eye or nasal discharge
  • skin lesions
  • overgrown teeth

If you notice any of these signs, contact your veterinarian.

Common Health Issues

Health Issue Symptoms or Causes Suggested Action
Health Issue Diarrhea Symptoms or Causes Loose stool caused by poor diet, stress, internal parasites, unclean housing, or other illness. Suggested Action Consult with an exotic animal veterinarian to determine cause and treatment.
Health Issue Eye irritations Symptoms or Causes From dust, bed shavings or infection. Suggested Action Consult with an exotic animal veterinarian.
Health Issue Heat stroke Symptoms or Causes An emergency condition; symptoms include heavy panting, seizures, loss of consciousness. Suggested Action Can be fatal; consult with an exotic animal veterinarian immediately.
Health Issue Malocclusion Symptoms or Causes Overgrown teeth. Suggested Action Consult with an exotic animal veterinarian to possibly have teeth trimmed regularly.
Health Issue Mites Symptoms or Causes External parasites that cause chinchillas to lose patches of hair. Suggested Action Consult with an exotic animal veterinarian for treatment.
Health Issue Ringworm Symptoms or Causes Skin infection caused by a fungus. Suggested Action Consult with an exotic animal veterinarian for treatment.


Ask a store partner about Petco's selection of books on chinchillas and the variety of private brand products available for the care and happiness of your new pet. All private brand products carry a 100% money-back guarantee.

Because all small animals are potential carriers of infectious diseases, such as Lymphocytic Choriomeningitis, Rat Bite Fever and Salmonella, always wash your hands before and after handling your small animal or habitat contents to help prevent the potential spread of disease.

Pregnant women, children under the age of 5, senior citizens and people with weakened immune systems should contact their physician before purchasing or caring for small animals and should consider not having a small animal as a pet.

Go to the Centers for Disease Control at for more information about small animals and disease.

Note: The information in this Care Sheet is not a substitute for veterinary care. If you need additional information, please refer to the sources on the following page or contact your veterinarian as appropriate.

Developed with and approved by a qualified veterinarian.

Related Articles