Playtime is Essential to Chinchilla Health
If considering a chinchilla as your pet, you may be wondering just how much playtime your chinchilla will require.
That is an excellent question since playtime is essential to chinchilla health and wellness.
Here are some things to consider when determining your chins playtime:
- How often should my chinchillas be let out?
- How long should I let my chinchillas out for free play?
- What do chinchillas like to play with?
- What can I do with my chinchillas?
Let’s address those very questions in the following article.
How much playtime does a chinchilla need?
When considering the amount of playtime for your chinchillas, age is the first consideration.
- Chinchillas under 6 months should not be let out quite yet. They need to establish a bond with you first, so you will be able to easily return them to the cage. Baby chins (called kits) are born curious and can get into a lot of trouble easily.
- Likewise, a pregnant chinchilla should not be given playtime outside the cage at all. The increased level of exercise can cause her to lose her kits.
All other chinchillas need a good amount of playtime in and out of the cage.
In the cage, chinchillas are continually active, making adequate space important. The different levels inside a chinchilla cage allow the chin to jump around and move fast. Providing them with activities such as toys and a wheel will keep your chin happy while you are away or asleep.
Chinchillas also need free playtime daily to run around in a chin-proofed room. The next 2 sections will talk about how often and for how long you should let your chinchilla out to play.
This is when the chin can be the most fun but will need the most supervision. They can get into things that may hurt them if not being watched carefully. Free playtime is a chance to reinforce the bond you will develop with your chinchilla, as well.
One Note: It is okay to go on vacation if you are a chinchilla owner. Simply have the caretaker care for the chin from the cage. If taken out, they may run from the caretaker and cause additional stress. They will be fine if left alone for a couple of days if you get back to their routine upon return.
How often should chinchillas be let out?
Chinchillas are healthiest and happiest when kept to a routine. Once they learn that routine, they will begin to count on it. The chinchillas should be let out at least once, daily.
If you have the time when they are still awake in the morning, you can allow them some morning time play. However, most chin owners let their pets out in the early evening hours, like right after work.
Much like a child, getting most of a chinchilla’s exercise in before you go to bed will help you have a better night.
How long should I let my chinchilla out for free play?
This is another area of chinchilla best practice that is somewhat confusing. Most experts suggest anywhere from 30 minutes to 2-4 hours daily. That’s a huge range of difference for such a small pet. Let’s break it down Here.
A chinchilla should not be let out unless trust has been established between owner and chin. The chinchilla needs to get used to you and to the free time.
Try letting the chinchilla out in a playpen until you are used to getting it back into the cage.
Then, starting with small increments of time is advised. Begin with 5 minutes and increase to 10. Work your way up to a maximum of 45-60 minutes, watching for exhaustion, leading to low blood sugar.
You may let your chinchilla out a few times a day, but each time not exceeding an hour. This is because chinchillas get exhausted easily without them even knowing it. This is one of the common reason for heatstroke in chinchillas.
What do chinchillas like to play with?
As mentioned earlier, chinchillas are highly active pets. They need plenty of toys to play with as well as things to chew on. This is an especially important part of chin ownership.
A large cage with multi-levels will provide your chin with room to hop and play on its own. A cardboard or wood house to hide in is one thing to add to the cage. Also, most chins love a chinchilla wheel to run in. Never use a wheel not suited for a chin. Their toes can get injured in the rungs of the wheel. No one wants that!
Chew toys are fun and necessary for your chinchilla’s dental health. Toys made for rodents like wooden blocks and chew wreaths help to file down their front and back teeth. For plenty of cage time activity, provide your furry friend with things like hanging wood toys, plastic keys, tiny balls, cardboard tubes, and other chewable toys.
Adding new toys here and there piques their curiosity. So, try to provide variety and take note of their favorites.
Most importantly, nothing replaces playtime with YOU!
Things to do with your chinchilla?
The first and most crucial part of pet interaction is to establish trust and a bond with your chinchilla. Once boundaries are set and communication is learned, your chinchilla will be a delight for you to play with.
Here are some suggestions to work into your playtime as that bond is established:
- Some chinchillas like to be cuddled and others do not. So, a planned holding and bonding session will begin to create the boundaries acceptable to your chin and let the chin know what you are willing to give, as well.
- In the beginning, playpen sessions are safe, and you can interact with your new friend by getting them used to your voice and scent.
- A dust bath is one of the chinchilla’s favorite activities and one of the owner’s favorite times to watch, as well.
- Playing, jumping, and exploring in a chin-proofed room is a fulfilling time for you and your pet. Be sure they are supervised though! Chins can get into trouble even when you think you have thought of everything.
- Laying out tunnel mazes with treats can be a fun activity for you to encourage and reward your chinchilla.
- Teaching them to use the wheel is an interaction benefiting you both!
- For a chin that is easy to pick up, stairs can be a fun supervised hopping game for a chinchilla.
- Finally, teaching a trick to your chinchilla is quite rewarding. Some will and some won’t. Offering your chinchilla a safe treat is a great way to start the training process.
How to get your chinchilla back in cage?
The cage is your chinchilla’s safe haven. It shouldn’t take much effort to get your chinchilla back into its cage after say, 30 minutes of playtime in the room.
If you have taught your chinchilla to come to your hand for a treat, that is the best way. It will reduce the stress of the chase. In most cases, the chinchilla will snag the treat, and run, though.
There are a couple of things for you to try…
- If you busy yourself, joyfully cleaning, and arranging the cage near the end of the allotted playtime, often, the chinchilla will not be able to resist curiosity. It will come right over to check out what you are doing. Then you can offer a treat for entering the cage.
- A dust bath is one of their favorite activities. Saving the dust bath to the end of the free time is a great way to contain and safely return the chinchilla to its cage. Simply shake the dust bath and tell the chin it is time for a dust bath. The chin will come running to do what it loves. Then, you will be able to place your hand gently over the opening of the bath box and face it to the opening of the cage. When the chin finishes with its bath, it will walk right into the cage. And remember, always offer a treat upon entering the cage!
So, now you know how essential playtime is for your chinchillas. Introducing personal bonding and recognition starts with attention and careful supervision from the beginning.
Once a trust relationship has been established, working towards evening free playtime is best practice for both you and your furry friend.
On the other hand, providing your chinchilla with plenty to play with while in the cage is another way to keep your chinchilla happy and healthy. Remember, they are nocturnal and will be busy with whatever you provide all night.
Most importantly, know that nothing takes the place of you! Chinchillas are used to activity and movement. Allowing your chin to see and hear you often is the best way to create a safe and loving environment and meaningful playtime!