Do Chinchillas Make Good Pets?

Chinchillas only make good pets in certain households, so check out the pros and cons to decide if they’re right for you.

Apr 17, 2024By Molly Weinfurter
do chinchillas make good pets

While dogs and cats may be ideal pets for some people, they’re not the right choice for everyone. Chinchillas are small, fluffy pets, so they might seem like an easier version of a dog or cat, but chinchillas are very different. Chinchillas can be great pets for certain households, but they’re not as cuddly and easygoing as they look.

Chinchillas Make Good Pets for Older Kids and Adults

chinchilla close up

Kids are often drawn to chinchillas because they’re so cute and fluffy, but Chinchillas aren’t cuddly pets. They can be skittish at first, so they need some time to adjust to their new surroundings. They’re not fond of being cuddled, which can be upsetting for young kids to comprehend.

However, they can make good pets for older kids and adults because they can show affection in other ways. You can bond with them through hand-feeding and training. They may even nibble or groom your hand to show you they care.

They’re fascinating little critters, but young kids are likely to stress them out, which is why they’re not recommended for children. Also, chinchillas are nocturnal, so they will be more active at night than during the day.

Chinchillas are for Admiring, Not Handling

petting chinchilla

If you want a pet that you can hold and snuggle, a chinchilla probably isn’t the best choice for you. While chinchillas typically enjoy being pet by familiar people, they rarely like being handled and picked up. Picking them up could stress them out and make them squirm.

There are instances where you’ll need to pick up your chinchilla, such as moving them to a new enclosure or taking them to the vet. However, you shouldn’t handle them regularly, especially if they seem uncomfortable with it.

If you want a small mammal you can handle, consider rats or guinea pigs instead. Guinea pigs are social and enjoy being handled by humans they trust, so they’re typically cuddlier than chinchillas.

Chinchillas Can Be a Big Commitment

chinchilla in habitat

Many small pets have short lifespans, but chinchillas live much longer than critters like hamsters and rats. In captivity, chinchillas normally live 10 to 15 years, but the oldest chinchilla ever lived to 29 years old. So, if you adopt a chinchilla, you need to be able and willing to care for them long term.

Chinchillas are also a big commitment in terms of attention. They need a large enclosure with lots of places to climb and hide, but they also greatly benefit from having time outside their enclosures. You’ll need to provide attention daily for your chinchillas. Otherwise, they may not get enough mental and physical activity.

If you have the time and energy to commit to a chinchilla for over a decade, they could be a great pet for you.

Chinchillas Require Lots of Cleaning

chinchilla eating

Chinchillas poop up to 250 times per day, so chinchilla owners need to be okay with frequent cleaning. These mammals can be litter trained with patience and consistency, but they’re more likely to pee in the litter box than poop. Since they poop so often, it’s common for them to not make it to the litter box in time when they need to go.

Like a guinea pig’s diet, chinchillas need constant access to grass and/or hay for proper digestion. When eating, they may drop hay on the ground, making a mess all over the floor. You will need to clean your chinchilla’s space every few days by sweeping up hay and poop, and then wiping down surfaces.

While it sounds messy, chinchillas also need access to dust baths to self-clean their coats. Dust baths also protect them from excess oils and moisture. Chinchillas need dust baths 2-4 times per week for only a few minutes at a time. During a dust bath, dust might get thrown everywhere and create more cleaning for you. Yet, that’s just part of being a chinchilla owner.

Do Your Research When Getting a Chinchilla

group of chinchillas

It’s easy to fall in love with a chinchilla’s cute face, especially with all the fun chinchilla facts out there. Yet, you should never buy one on a whim. Do your research to make sure you’re capable of giving them the care they need.

When looking for a place to get a chinchilla from, be cautious and make sure they take good care of their animals. Don’t be afraid to ask lots of questions before you commit to bringing the chinchilla home. You can also look at reviews of chinchilla breeders and get recommendations from chinchilla owners to help you make your decision.

Chinchillas often end up at rescues and shelters, so that’s another great source to get them from. That way, you can give a chinchilla a good home while your adoption fee can go toward helping more animals.

Chinchillas Make Great Pets in the Right Household

chinchilla winking

Chinchillas are not good pets for everyone, but they can make great pets for the right person. If you’re interested in getting a chinchilla, you need to understand that they probably won’t want to be handled much. You also need to be willing to give them daily attention and care for them for over a decade.

If all those conditions sound good to you, consider getting a chinchilla for your next pet. They’re fun, unique little animals that thrive with proper care.

Molly Weinfurter
By Molly Weinfurter

Molly has over 5 years of experience writing about animals for various websites. She has two pets of her own: a small dog (Mabel) and an axolotl (Wooper). She’s extremely passionate about helping animals in need, so she regularly volunteers with animal organizations by fostering pets, helping at adoption events, and educating about puppy mills.