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SMALLPET / new pets

A Set-Up Guide for New Chinchilla Parents

Tips for habitat, grooming and fun


4 things to know about your chinchilla

  • Experience Level: Intermediate
  • Size: They grow to about 10 inches (25 cm) long, with a 6-inch (15 cm) tail
  • Lifespan: Chinchillas live 10-15 years
  • Behavior: Chinchillas are most active at dawn and dusk

How do I set up my chinchilla’s home?

  • "Chinchies" can live in pairs or groups, so long as they’re all-male or all-female.
  • Chinchillas need a multilevel habitat or hutch large enough to hold them comfortably, plus a food dish, water bottle, hay manger and hiding places. The habitat should have a solid bottom floor.
  • Place the habitat out of direct sunlight in a room between 65 and 75 degrees Fahrenheit, with low humidity.
  • Layer the floor with 3 to 4 inches (8-10 cm) of aspen or recycled-paper bedding. Remove droppings frequently, spot-clean the bedding weekly, and replace it completely at least once a month
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What do I feed my chinchilla?

Chinchillas enjoy a mixed menu of hay, pellet food, vegetables, fruit and limited treats.

  • Timothy hay or oat grass is the mainstay of a chinchilla’s diet and should always be available in your chinchilla’s habitat.
  • Supplement the hay with a pellet food formulated for chinchillas. Keep the pellet bowl three-quarters full at all times.
  • Feed your chinchilla dark, leafy greens every other day, and fruits such as apple, banana or melon, or other appropriate fruits once a week.
  • Treat your chinchilla to raisins or alfalfa hay twice a week.
  • Provide plenty of fresh, clean water at all times.
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How do I play with and groom my chinchilla?

  • Chinchillas exercise on a chinchilla-specific exercise wheel. Chew toys aren’t just fun; they help keep chinchillas’ teeth healthy (their teeth grow all the time).
  • Chinchillas love to burrow and hide. Furnish your pet’s home with 1 or more hide houses. Edible hide houses serve double duty as private spaces and objects to gnaw on.
  • Chinchillas groom often and need frequent “bathing,” but never with water. Instead, they require dust baths. About 2 or 3 times a week, fill a clean container with an inch of “chinchilla dust,” a special powder made for this purpose. Let your pet romp around in the powder for 5 to 10 minutes. The dust will settle near your pet’s skin, soaking up oil and grime.
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How do I keep my chinchilla healthy?

Chinchillas have very warm, dense coats and are sensitive to heat over 80 degrees Fahrenheit. Consider a “chin-chiller” — a marble slab you freeze and then put into the habitat to cool down your pet.

With regular, gentle handling, chinchillas will bond with their pet parents. Be prepared for occasional, gentle nipping, as they use their mouths to become familiar with their environment. Try not to handle new chinchillas for 3 or 4 days after bringing them home, to give them time to adjust.

Even a settled-in chinchilla can feel sick. If you notice any of these symptoms, contact a veterinarian:

  • Cloudy, sunken or swollen eyes
  • Overgrown front teeth
  • Lethargic behavior
  • Bare patches in fur
  • Weight loss; not eating or drinking normally
  • Sneezing
  • Discharge from the eyes, nose or mouth
  • Diarrhea or discolored droppings


  • Use caution when handling pets and remember they may bite or scratch (especially when stressed).
  • Never grab the fur or tail.
  • Supervise children around pets.
  • ALL ANIMALS can potentially carry viral, bacterial, fungal, and parasitic diseases contagious to humans.
  • Thoroughly wash your hands with warm, soapy water before and after contact with any pet or its habitat.
  • Adults should assist children with hand washing after contact with a pet, its habitat or aquarium water.


Pets purchased at PetSmart are part of our exclusive Vet Assured™ program, designed by PetSmart veterinarians to help improve the health and well being of our pets.

Our vendors meet a high standard in caring for pets and screening them for common illnesses. This program also includes specific standards for in-store pet care.


If your pet becomes ill during the initial 14-day period, or if you’re not satisfied for any reason, PetSmart will gladly replace the pet or refund the purchase price.