They Can Overheat Very Easily – This is an important thing to understand if you are a Chinchilla owner, because their sensitivity to heat and humidity can prove to be fatal – even if you don’t think they are in danger. These little cuties are originally from the Andes mountains, where it is cold and dry, so to have them in an environment that is hot and humid is not something that their body can physically withstand or adapt to. Because of this, many Chinchilla owners keep slabs of marble (or other stone) in the freezer, and put them on the cage’s floor in order to give the little Chin a way to cool off and maintain a healthy body temperature. Obviously there should be enough slabs so that when the ones in the cage aren’t cold anymore, that they can be switched out for the newly cold ones in the freezer. That way, there is never a chance that overheating can occur.
They Can’t Get Wet – This may be surprising to you, especially because all creatures are bound to get wet at some point (especially in the wild) – but for Chinchillas, it can prove extremely problematic. Due to their extremely dense and soft fur, it is very difficult for them to dry off – actually nearly impossible. While humans have about 2-3 hairs per follicle, Chinchillas have anywhere from 50-80 per follicle! Unable to dry off properly, a sensitive little Chinchilla can have a host of health issues ranging from hypothermia to fungal skin infections. Just imagine not being able to ever dry off, and how horrible that would feel, especially if you got sick from it!
They Take Dust Baths – This is usually the only information people know about Chinchillas, but just in case you didn’t know, they take baths in dust in order to remove the oils/dirt from their skin and fur. They do this in the wild in the natural dusty environment that they live in, and if you have a little dust bath container in your Chinchilla’s habitat, they will gladly use it. It’s similar to a human using dry shampoo, except way more adorable because it’s a furry little creature rolling around and being cute.
They Have Poor Eyesight – Even though they have giant eyes, they actually aren’t very effective for seeing – funny how nature works, isn’t it? Instead, they rely on their cute little whiskers in order to “see” or sense their surroundings. Many other creatures use their whiskers for this purpose, including cats, who use them to gauge distance and spatial capacities to make sure they can hop and squeeze into places without hurting themselves. Chinchillas use their whiskers in conjunction with their poor eyesight to achieve their maneuvers and hops safely!
Their Teeth Never Stop Growing – Similar to other small animals who require lots of chewing materials to combat their forever growing incisors, Chinchillas also need to chew constantly due to the fact that their teeth are growing absurdly fast. It is estimated that a Chinchilla’s teeth grows about 12 inches a year, which may seem excessive. As far as advantageous evolutionary traits go, perhaps this is nature’s way of making sure that they always have teeth, which are not only extremely important for eating, but for defense as well against predators. Regardless of the reason, you must have plenty of chew toys and treats in their cage so that they can chew because they are basically teething 24/7. Also, beware of letting them have free reign of your house or room, because they can and they will chew everything in sight! Among their favorite things to chew are electric cables, wall moldings and base boards, as well as any wooden furniture.
They Are Nocturnal – There are many other small animals that are nocturnal, meaning they sleep during the day and are active at night. In the Chinchilla’s case it definitely makes a lot of sense, seeing as they are so sensitive to the heat and humidity. At night, it is ideally cool and crisp weather for them to move around and not worry about overheating. Their cage or habitat should be kept in a semi-dark place that is relatively quiet during the day so they can get some slumber. If you don’t want them to keep you up at night with their wheel-running, chewing, playing, and other shenanigans, then their cage should be put somewhere that you aren’t sleeping.