Some of you may have just adopted your very first chinchilla and may not be able to get a cage mate for your new pet so soon. Therefore it is inevitable that your chinchilla may have to spend a bit of time by itself in its cage. But do chinchillas like to be alone? Or do they prefer to be in pairs or even groups?
Some “experts” say you must keep them in pairs. Still, others say it is just not true; a chinchilla can be kept as a single pet and live an incredibly happy life.
What’s with the differing opinions? Taking all thoughts into consideration, let’s get to the bottom of this question and the controversy surrounding it.
You see, whether chins like to be alone is a question needing further explanation than just a yes or a no. In the paragraphs below, we will address the issue at length.
Do Chinchillas Like to be Alone?
In the wild, chinchillas are naturally social animals, living in colonies with hundreds of other chins. However, like many other animals and pets, they do enjoy some alone time.
When kept as a pet, the chinchilla can be kept in pairs. Whether a male/female couple or two of the same sex, chinchillas like to snuggle together when sleeping and will even play together.
That said, they can also be kept alone. But, the chin on its own will need 2 special considerations.
- First, you will want to be sure to have plenty of chinchilla-approved activities in the cage to keep boredom away.
- Second, as the owner, you will want to be sure to give your chin plenty of playtime with you and out in the “chin safe” room for free play.
For the most part, they can be left alone for small amounts of time. Never let a chin out to roam the house unattended, as they are very curious. They can get into trouble biting wires and such to see what they are. Chinchillas can also get injured in a non-safe room if not supervised. They can break a bone or even the tail.
So, if you know you will be gone for a while, be sure they are safe in their cage with food, water, and plenty to play with. That way, when you return, they will be cared for and ready for time with you.
It is alright to travel when you have a chinchilla. No one wants to be cooped up all the time.
Like with most pets, if you have a weekend trip planned, it is wise to have a friend come over daily. However, rather than on a lunch break in the middle of the day, the best time would be early in the morning or late at night. That way, the sitter may by chance catch the chinchilla in the awake hours. It is good for the chinchilla to see someone in the room, even if it can’t be you at this time.
You should be sure to notify the “sitter” of typical chin patterns and behaviors. As your chinchilla may not be bonded to the sitter, it would be best for them not to try to hold your pet. The sitter can simply offer treats, water, and food, and talk through the cage for a while.
Providing nest boxes or hiding places for them to escape when afraid or just wanting to be left alone is also wise.
If you notice that your chinchilla is displaying more destructive behavior or acting differently, it could be a cry for help or attention.
Do Chinchillas Need a Lot of Attention?
As with any pet, positive playtime is bonding time. Hopefully, if you adopt a chinchilla, you are looking for a pet to interact with. If not, you may want to consider a different pet option. Despite their nocturnal nature, the chinchilla does like a fair amount of attention to be happy and healthy.
As stated above, chinchillas sleep during the day and are up at dawn, dusk, and in the night. So, playtime is not needed during the day, making the chin a good option for a working owner.
Getting up early with your chin or evening playtime after work is strongly encouraged. Chinchillas need a minimum of 30 scheduled minutes a day to play and interact with you. When the chinchilla can count on this playtime, it will look forward to it each day.
Allowing for free play outside of the cage is largely beneficial to the chin, as well. However, as stated earlier, they must be well supervised. A “chin-proofed” room for the chinchilla to roam and jump around is best.
As far as care attention, chinchillas are not that difficult to please compared to some other pets. They need very few specific things to be happy and healthy. Chins need the basics, food, and water, in addition to a regularly scheduled dust bath and active playtime.
However, the biggest inconvenience you will notice is the cage cleaning. Chinchillas can make a real mess when playing and the cage will need to be cleaned out quite often.
When the needs are met, the chinchilla can live an exceptionally long and happy life.
How Long can Chinchillas be Left Alone?
Yes, chinchillas can be left alone, under the right circumstances, for a little while. Let’s clarify that here.
Most experts recommend not leaving a chinchilla for more than a day unattended. That said, remember, they do sleep during the day. So, going to work or school is not usually a problem. There are a few caveats though.
Pregnant chinchillas should not be left alone, they can have complications and health concerns that you would want to address immediately. Likewise, the babies, or kits, should not be left unattended until they are a bit older. They are such curious from the start; they might just get themselves into trouble.
Now, a lack of social interaction can trigger new or undesirable behaviors. If left for long periods with nothing to do, the chin can suffer. No one wants that!
Can Chinchillas Get Depressed?
Chinchillas are animals that want to interact and display their “comfort level of affection” towards their owners. Chins are shy and easily stressed, and each chinchilla has its own level of ease.
One way the chinchilla can begin to display signs of depression is if they are not adequately played with and bonded to their human.
The signs of depression include abnormal behaviors such as:
- Refusing to eat
- Chewing or messing with the water bottle
- Fur chewing on themselves or a cage mate
- Tail biting
- Lashing out at you or other cage mates.
To help a depressed chinchilla, watch your pet closely, and see what conditions have changed. Then, do your best to restore the desired routines of your chin. In this case, an attentive owner knows best.
Finally, if your chinchilla loses its cage mate/partner, you may want to consider getting a new one. The introduction will take some careful interaction and considerable time, but in the end, it will help to fill the void.
As always, if symptoms persist, see your veterinarian for assistance.
Can Chinchillas Die of Loneliness?
Is it true a chinchilla can die of loneliness? This is a question best answered with caution.
Chinchillas depend on their family members in the wild. They sleep, forage, play and groom together, increasing mental and familial stimulation.
When alone, a chin does not get those things. That is why your playtime, as the owner is so crucial to the health and wellness of your chinchilla.
When a bonded pair is separated by death, most chinchillas will be fine in the end. Some may be sad for a few days and possibly not eat. They may even call out in search of other chins for a few days. All this is normal behavior. This is when the introduction of a new chin may be beneficial.
When all is said and done, an attentive and loving owner can prevent death by loneliness.
As with any animal, if left alone with no care, of course, the pet will not thrive.
All the above information equates to these two major points of consideration.
- A chinchilla can be kept alone in a cage if adequate playtime and activities are provided. Mental and physical stimulation is needed for the chin to be a healthy pet. Most crucial will be the bond between the owner and the chinchilla. However, it is kind to provide your pet with a cage mate for company in the night and while you are away.
- It is alright for you to go on a trip if you have chinchillas. But the proper conditions must be made. Of course, proper food, water, treats, bedding, and hay should be provided. Being certain the temperatures remain a constant between 50 and 70 degrees is vital to the chin to avoid overheating.
Best practice would be to hire a pet-sitter with clear expectations on what needs to be done to properly care for a chinchilla.
Planning, care, handling, and bonding will ensure life resumes to normal when you return. Whether you are gone for a few hours or a weekend trip, be sure to take all aspects of chinchilla care into consideration.