As a long time owner and hobby breeder of Chinchilla's I often get asked a number of questions regarding Chinchillas and their behavior from people who are considering on adopting a chin. Here are some of the most common questions I am asked and the answer I usually give.
Which Makes a Better Pet Male or Female?
Different breeders will give you different answers to this question. Many breeders will tell you that male chinchillas make the best pets. However, in my experience I do not find this to be the case. Having raised Chinchillas for several years I can honestly say that every chinchilla has it's own personality. Some chinchillas are very laid back and affectionate while others are standoffish and not fond of being held. Some Chinchillas are extremely playful and outgoing and some are extremely shy.
It really depends on the Chinchilla, how much it is handled and played with, regardless of sex.
Personally, I have never been confronted by a really aggressive chin of either sex. While the most docile chin I ever owned was a male, the most loving chins have tended to be females. If a chin is handled and played with frequently from birth I think either can make excellent pets and I do recommend one sex over the other. I do suggest that anyone wishing to adopt a chin handle the chin before deciding to adopt it simply because that will give them some idea how not only the chins personality but how the chin reacts to them as an individual.
Can Chinchillas be Litter Trained?
Chinchillas can not be littler trained or housebroke in the conventional sense. Chinchillas poop non stop and therefore when you let a chinchilla out to play it would spend all it's time in the litter box if you could truly train it. That simply is not going to happen. Chinchillas love to explore and will do so leaving a trail of pellets in their wake.
My Chinchillas have their own room and are often left out to play either individually or in small groups. I don't find this a problem, as their waste is quite small and hard, leaving no stain and being easy to sweep up. I do have 4 chinchillas who for whatever reason will return themselves to cages when they have to urinate. I have made no attempt to train them to do this and have idea why they do.
Rarely have I ever had a chin urinate on the floor when they are playing, though I believe this is simply because they urinate less often than they move their bowels.
What Immunizations do Chins Need?
Chinchillas do not require any immunizations. However, as with any pet it is always wise to have your chinchilla seen by a vet once or twice a year to make sure it is remaining healthy. Keep in mind though, that not every vet has experience or knowledge in caring for Chinchillas so it is best to find one that does before adopting.
Chinchillas are incredibly healthy animals but if they get sick they can become very ill quite quickly as they are a small animal. Knowing where to take your chin for care in case of an emergency could mean the difference between life and death.
Should I Get a Chinchilla for my Child?
Since I don't know the child involved I can't honestly answer that question. My one son could properly handle a chinchilla at the age of three, and even knew how to groom one properly. However, keep in mind that he grew up around Chinchillas and had daily contact with them. Even then I never left him handle a chinchilla without my being there to supervise.
As a whole I do not feel that chinchillas make good pets for young children. Their very natures makes them less desirable than other pets. While many chinchillas do like to be held and are quite loving they are not content to simply sit in a child's lap and be petted. Their curious natures makes it impossible for them to sit still for long.
Being nocturnal they are usually asleep when your child is awake, and awake when your child is sleeping, make it almost impossible for young child to play with it.
If I had to give an age I would say that no child under 12 should have an chinchilla. Even at 12 the child should be responsible, learn how to care for one properly, and have a parent who is willing to take over the responsibility for the chins care should the child become bored.
Is it True that Chinchillas are good pets for people who are allergic to other animals
It is true that chinchillas do not get pet dander. This makes them suitable for people who may have allergies to other animals. However, since chinchillas need timothy as part of healthy diet people who are considering adopting a chinchilla need to be sure that they do not have a hay allergy.
It should also be noted that people with asthma may find the chinchilla dust used for bathing can aggravated their asthma.
Chinchillas are truly unique and wonderful pets. Most people who own them will tell you that they are a real joy to watch and to interact with. However, like any other pet they need proper care and attention to remain healthy and happy and before you decide to adopt one, you need to sure you have the time and energy to devote to these wonderful little bundles of fur.