Chinchillas originally come from the high mountains of South America, so they are used to a relatively cold, dry climate where their soft, dense fur keeps them warm. In captivity, you should try to keep your chinchilla’s home as clean, spacious and dry as possible. It’s also important to remember that chinchillas can’t sweat and temperatures over 25 degrees Celsius can lead to heat stroke so enclosures need to be shady with good air circulation.
Chinchillas need enough space to be able to exercise and keep healthy and fit. Ideally, their home should have a climbing area, a sleeping box, and a clean, fresh sand bath. The quality of the sand is important to ensure their skin is not irritated and the fur is not damaged. Always buy sand that is specifically recommended for chinchillas to use. With strong back legs, chinchillas love climbing and jumping (up to six foot!), so a multi level cage is most suitable. Poor housing, which restricts potential for exercise can also contribute to obesity.
Chinchillas are a prey species and are scared of predator animals such as birds of prey, cats, dogs and reptiles. You should always make sure your chinchilla has somewhere safe to hide, away from the sight and smell of predators. Naturally they are wary of noise too and this is something to note if young children visit!