Chinchilla life expectancy
Chinchillas living in their natural habitat at Andes Mountains in South America can live for 10 years, while those in captivity and given proper care can live up to 15 or even 20 years. The oldest chinchilla ever was 29 years old when he parted this world in Acton, California, USA on 18 September 2014.
Chinchillas in the wild lives in rock crevices and burrows and need to hunt for their own food. Stress to survive leads to a short life.
Their habitat is growing smaller each day as vegetation in the Andes Mountains gradually disappears. Hence, the hunt for cacti and berries becomes difficult for these rodents.
In the wild, chinchillas must also defend themselves against natural predators such as owls, eagles and cats. These make surviving in the wild an uphill battle, as most of them do not survive past 8 years.
Domestic Chinchillas in Captivity
Though fragile, chinchillas are chosen as pets for their longer life expectancy as compared to the other rodent counterparts.
When kept at home, the pet is provided with enough supplies and nutrition. Chinchillas as pets also receive medical help quickly when injured or ill. All these factors give them a good boost to the number of years they live.
However, it is not uncommon that some chinchilla owners lose their pets before 15 years. If the living condition is below average, a domestic chinchilla may also suffer in terms of health. This is especially if the owner lacks knowledge on how to properly care for a chinchilla.
10 Tips to Prolong your Chinchilla Lifespan
Although chinchillas can live more than 10 years, that is only if proper care is given to your chin.
In fact, chinchillas are very fragile animals and owners will need to educate yourselves well if you want your chinchilla to keep you company for many years to come. Here are some very good tip shared by fellow chinchilla lovers:
Tip#1: Be prepared for Emergencies
Owners lose sleep when their chinchillas refuse food.
There can be many reasons: It could be having a toothache that discourages it from chewing. Or it could be having mouth ulcers that you’re unaware of. Or it could be having a sore throat, preventing it from swallowing hays and pellets.
Whatever the reason may be, there’s one important thing you need to be 100% mindful of – and that is to make sure your chinchilla eats something. A sick chinchilla that doesn’t eat will only get worse.
Having a pack of Oxbow Critical Care can always come in handy as it is specially designed to help your pet recover from traumatic events such as surgeries or undernourishment. Oxbow Critical Care is packed with the most essential and vital nutrients making it a complete high-fibre meal that is easy to digest and helps your pet regain the strength it needs.
A pack of critical care usually cost around 15 bucks and can be stored for up to 2 years. You can even bake the leftovers into treats because chinchillas love them!
So take it as buying insurance for your pet and keep a pack around the house. Don’t wait until the day you need it, because it may not ship in time.
Tip#2: Chinchillas in air-conditioned room live longer
Chinchillas are prone to overheat as they do not sweat and their thick fur prevents them from cooling down when the temperatures are high. It is very important to keep your chinchilla in a room with a stable temperature that is neither too hot nor too cold.
You can achieve this by keeping your pet in a room equipped with an air-conditioner with dehumidifying function. Set the temperature to between 60-70°F, the best temperature being closer to 60°F. You can additionally cool your pet by putting a granite cooling stone in it’s cage where your pet will use it when needed.
Tip#3: Keep humidity low
Pet chinchillas originated from a cold and dry environment close to the Atacama Desert so it comes as no surprise that they do not flourish in humid environments.
If you do not have an air conditioner in the room, the next best option to keep the humidity in your chinchilla’s room under control is to use a humidifier suitable for chinchillas.
The optimal humidity level should be 50% or lower. High humidity levels can cause your pet’s fur and bedding to become damp, thereby becoming the perfect breeding grounds for bacteria and fungi resulting in respiratory and other illnesses.
Tip#4: Use chemical free cleaners to wipe the cage!
Although it is convenient to use your usual household cleaning products to clean the cage, it is actually a very harmful approach. Even if the product says that it is safe for pets, very often they still contain some amount of chemicals and are slow poison to your pets.
One safe way is to use 100% natural enzyme cleaners that are extracted from plants. Enzyme cleaners works by breaking down oil, dirt, stains, mud, and odors in a super-fast and natural way.
These enzyme cleaners are usually concentrates that can be make into 15 – 20 bottles of cleaning solution. So it works out to be 10 times cheaper than your usual chemical wash!
Tip#5: Dust bath every 2 days
Dust baths are a great way to regulate your chinchilla’s body heat. Many chinchilla owners actually put the chinchilla dust into the refrigerator before giving it to their pet in order to help them cool down in the warm summer months.
These baths also keep your chinchilla happy and clean, keeping it’s fur fluffy and healthy. Make sure that you provide a big enough container for the dust bath so that your chinchilla can easily toss and roll in it, preferably a container with the top part open so that the air can circulate freely while your chinchillas taking a dust bath.
Tip#6: Avoid *catching* your chinchilla!
Chinchillas are very fast. They get even faster if they sense that playtime is over and you are going to put them back in their cage. No matter how fast your chinchilla is you will have to be patient with it as caching, grabbing and pulling on their tail can have serious consequences and cause a lot of stress and trauma.
The only proper way to handle your pet is to let it come to you and gently lift it from underneath.
One trick that always work is to use some healthy treats like chinchilla’s herb salad to make it come to you. Never fails!
Tip#7: Encourage them to drink more water
You can do this by attaching more water bottles around the cage. If they see water bottles more often, they will drink more often.
Water is a natural way to get rid of toxins from your body. It is very important to stay hydrated in order for your body to function normally. The same goes to your pets, especially chinchillas. Chinchillas are very sensitive when it comes to their diet, so not only should they have enough water in their cage, they should also be encouraged to have it in plentiful amounts in order to be healthy.
By adding two water bottles in their cage, you will prevent the “I’m too lazy to get a drink” moment from your pet and it will be reminded to drink water every time it comes close to the bottles. This will also help your pet regulate its body temperature. Make sure you are using glass water bottles and not plastic ones!
Tip#8: Unlimited hay and chew toy
Since chinchilla’s teeth grow throughout their whole life it is necessary to provide your pet with tools that will help them grind down their teeth. The best chinchilla toys are those that are made of pet-safe materials and yet provides a good file to the pet’s teeth.
Not only will your pet enjoy gnawing it’s chew toys and chewing on bits of hay but this will also help it keep the size of its teeth at an ideal length, allowing your chinchilla to live a long and healthy life.
This in turns avoid dental issues which is the most common cause of death. Dental issues are very painful to chinchillas, they can cause your pet to stop eating and even lead to deadly infections.
Tip#9: A big cage to move around
Exercise is just one of the factors that will help your chinchilla stay healthy, but it is a key factor. Chinchillas are very active, lively animals that need room to bounce, jump, slide, run and hop around and a big cage is a necessity when owning this pet.
The cage is your chinchilla’s home where it should feel free and have enough room to wander and jump, a chinchilla cannot thrive in a cramped cage where it can become obese and develop diabetes from a lack of exercise and activity combined with poor nutrition.
Check out our popular post about big chinchilla cages
Tip#10: Provide shaded area within cage
In the wild chinchillas are prey to an array of wild animals such as snakes, owls and wild cats. They spend their time being very cautious and sleeping in burrows and tunnels where they can rest up and fight a new day.
Your pet has these same requirements, it needs a ceramic house or another shaded place within the cage to keep itself safe and comfortable, the only difference is that you are protecting your pet from the sunlight and the heat instead of predators.
Bonus Tip: Block out sunlight from window
Chinchillas are mostly active during dawn and dusk when the visibility is quite high while the sun is not beaming too hot. Knowing that chinchillas are sensitive to heat, this kind of behavior is perfectly understandable.
In order to keep your chinchilla comfortable, it is necessary to keep it away from direct sunlight as it will disrupt their sleep and cause them to overheat. If possible, the cage should be placed in a cool room away from the window as sunlight beating into a window can cause a “greenhouse effect” and your chinchilla’s cage will turn into a mini oven.