Chinchillas make great pets and, though people usually start with just one, many of them decide to get a second chinchilla at some point. There are several reasons why you would want to do this but also a few things to keep in mind. You have to make sure they are introduced properly and that they each have their needs fully met.
Reasons for Getting a Second Chinchilla
There are a few reasons why you should get a second chinchilla if possible. Getting a second chinchilla can be a benefit to both your first chinchilla and yourself. Some great benefits of having a second chinchilla include:
- Meeting social needs
- Having great pets
Meeting Social Needs
Chinchillas are naturally social creatures. In the wild, they are found in very large colonies, even more than 100 chinchillas at times. Beyond giving each other a social outlet for fun as well as breeding, chinchillas also help protect each other against predators. They have unique communication that lets them warn each other about danger (San Diego Zoo).
Though chinchillas are clearly not in danger from predators in your home, they won’t know this. Chinchillas are still very sensitive to various stimuli and can get scared easily. Having a second chinchilla gives them that sense of security that they feel in large numbers in the wild.
Chinchillas are also incredibly playful creatures. They like to jump and run around their cage and especially enjoy playing with other chinchillas. You will notice that your chinchilla seems much more playful and active when you introduce a second chinchilla.
This is probably one of the most obvious reasons why you would want two chinchillas. Chinchillas are actually pretty easy to breed and their litters are manageable (average of 2 per litter). They develop relatively quickly and are also great at raising their young. So, you get the benefit of looking at the cute little guys without really needing to worry about providing enough care.
Chinchillas are born already fully covered in fur. They are also born with their eyes and ears open, which is not always the case when breeding other pets. Chinchillas develop into maturity within eight months as well so they won’t need overly attentive care for very long.
When they’re young, you will still need to help out. As an owner, you will need to provide food, water, toys, etc. for the kits (young chinchillas). But one great thing about breeding your chinchillas is that both parents are highly involved. For example, males will assist babysitting and other parental duties.
Chinchillas Make Great Pets
In general, chinchillas are a great pet to have. A lot of people who want a pet want more than one. With chinchillas, this is pretty easy to manage. They are social and, though they won’t bond with you like some other pets would, they will still interact and play with you. They’re also allergy friendly.
Chinchillas are also independent and hearty. They can manage easily on their own when left in groups, at least for a short time. You won’t be able to leave them for days at a time but they do well with just each other throughout the day, so you can go to work or run errands without being concerned. Chinchillas also have a pretty long lifespan compared to other pets (up to 20 years; average of 15) and don’t need a whole lot of vet care.
What You Need to Know about Getting a Second Chinchilla
Like with any pet, there are a couple things to keep in mind about getting a second chinchilla. Before you get a second chinchilla, you need to be prepared. Think about the care that they need and steps you need to take when introducing them.
Chinchillas will need equal attention and provisions. Chinchillas will show dominance with each other and you don’t want to cause any fights. Chinchilla fights can lead to severe injury or even death so you do need to be careful about how you manage to chinchillas together. A few provisions to note include:
- Food and water
You should provide at least two of everything in their cage to make sure your chinchillas aren’t fighting over resources. To start, they should each have a food and water dish of their own that are filled at all times. You can provide fresh fruits and vegetables as well but make sure there are equal amounts in each dish. Make sure you remove any uneaten fruits and vegetables at the end of the day.
For housing, once they are comfortable with each other, they can stay in the same cage. Chinchillas like to have a lot of area to play and explore, though, so make sure the cage is big enough for plenty of activity. They also need to be able to hide when they are frightened or stressed. Make sure you have multiple choices of hiding spots such as burrows, rocks, plants, and other decorations.
Regarding hygiene, chinchillas cannot get wet. They clean themselves with dust baths, which you will need to provide at least twice a week. They should each have their own dust bath and these baths will last for about 15-30 minutes. In addition, you can also brush each of them with a soft brush.
Lastly, chinchillas love to play with toys when they aren’t playing with each other. They may play with toys together at times but you don’t want to rely on this. Make sure you have several toys available so they can each play if they want to. Chinchillas enjoy toys such as hanging balls, chew toys, wooden toys, and pretty much anything else they can chew.
Attention and Interactions
Make sure you give them equal attention as well. You can interact with them together but you should make sure they also get individual time with you. Spend equal amounts of time with each of them and alternate who you interact with first.
It doesn’t really matter what sex your chinchillas are but there are some things to keep in mind. Male chinchillas are civil with each other unless there is a female chinchilla in estrus.
So, if you end up getting a group of chinchillas, pay attention to their behaviors. Male and female chinchillas housed together will often breed. Lastly, female chinchillas housed together are also civil with each other. But females tend to become dominant and aggressive during estrus even when males aren’t around. So, again, pay attention to their behaviors.
When is Getting a Second Chinchilla a Bad Idea?
Chinchillas are easy pets to have but they are still sensitive creatures and have needs. There are a few reasons why you would not want to get a second chinchilla such as:
- Can’t afford two
- Can’t provide equal care or attention
- Personalities don’t mesh
Chinchilla care is fairly simple but there are costs involved. Though it won’t be exactly double, imagine doubling the cost of your single chinchilla and see if you can afford that. You will need to consider bedding, cleaning supplies, food and treats, toys, as needed vet care, and any other cost you can think of.
Again, you need to be able to provide adequate and equal care and attention. If you don’t have time to do this because of work, family, hobbies, etc. then this may not be the best time for you to get a second chinchilla. That said, a second chinchilla can provide for social needs if you can’t be as attentive. As long as you give attention equally, you should be fine.
Having two chinchillas would also mean more upkeep in general. For a single chinchilla, daily minor cleaning and a full, in depth cleaning once a week is needed. Having more than one chinchilla means that you will need to clean more often. This also means providing more dust baths, additional bedding, etc.
Another concern you may have is that, sometimes, chinchilla personalities simply don’t mesh. Chinchillas are social creatures but some may be more dominant or aggressive than others. It is not a good idea to put an overly aggressive chinchilla with a very shy one, no matter who was there first. You might not know beforehand that there will be a problem. So, when you do put them together, keep a close eye on their interactions.
When you introduce chinchillas to each other, do so slowly (California Chinchillas). Start by placing their cages next to each other. After they get used to each other’s scent, you can start giving them time together in open spaces or trading cages for short times. This way, their scents will start to intermingle and they can continue to be more comfortable with each other.
Chinchillas are social creatures and getting a second chinchilla is usually a great option. Just make sure you can provide for each of their needs. Chinchillas must have equal attention and survival resources. Watch them carefully when you first put them together and make sure you are ready for offspring if you put opposite sexes together. Do all of this and you will make your little friends very happy.