What Is A Chinchilla Rabbit?

Chinchilla Rabbit
Photo by Corinne Benavides

We all know what chinchillas are in essence. They are cute, furry, and very wonderful little creatures that make great pets. However, when it comes to chinchilla rabbits, one can tend to get a bit curious as to what they are. What is a chinchilla rabbit? In fact, this is a group of specific rabbit breeds. What makes these three rabbit breeds so very special is obvious. It is because they have a coat that is very similar in description to that of very soft and furry chinchillas. A chinchilla rabbit is in no way related to chinchillas at all. They also cannot be bred with chinchillas as well. This is because they are rabbits, members of the herbivore family, and chinchillas are a separate species unto themselves entirely.

A chinchilla rabbit is a lagomorph. They are members of what does comprise the order of Lagomorpha. This group includes two families. These two specific types are no other than the Leporidae and the Ochotonidae. The first family is made up of hares and rabbits. The second one is made up of pikas. There is roughly about 80 different species of Leporidae and thirty species of pika.

Giant Chinchilla
Giant Chinchilla. Photo by Hagen Graebner, Wikimedia.org.

The chinchilla rabbit comes in three different varieties. They include the standard chinchilla, the American chinchilla, and the giant chinchilla. The standard variation is the original and it has a compact body with fur that rolls back. It weighs in at about five and a half to seven pounds on the average. The American chinchilla is larger than the standard animal and it has the same rollback kind of fur on it. The American variation was first brought into the United States back in 1919. These rabbits are mostly bred for both their fur and their meat. The American chinchilla weighs about between nine and 12 pounds.

The giant chinchilla is a type of rabbit that is the result of cross breeding. This breeding did take place between the chinchilla and Flemish giant breeds of rabbits. This breed of rabbit is used mainly as a commercial means for meat. They weigh in at approximately between 12 and 16 pounds each. This breed originates in the United States.

What To Expect When You Breed Your Chinchilla

baby kit Zuvieh S.F.
Photo by Zuvieh S.F.

The decision to breed any kind of pet is one which should never be taken lightly. It is a big responsibility, and the job does not end when the pregnancy has ended. In fact, once the new babies have arrived, the work really begins. This is why it is so important to think carefully about whether or not allowing pet chinchillas to breed is a good idea.

If you do decide to go ahead with plans to breed, and are confident that you can take on the responsibility, there are some things which you should know. This handy guide to chinchilla breeding will help you learn exactly what is needed to nurture and raise baby kits (young chinchillas).

The Right Time for Chinchilla Breeding

The chinchilla enters sexual maturity at approximately eight months old, and it mates in seasonal patterns. For example, in the northern hemisphere, chinchillas traditionally mate throughout November to May.

If a female chinchilla is in season, the male will initiate mating with the use of grooming behaviors. If these actions are well received, he will then try to mount the female. It is normal for a lot of very fast couplings to occur over a prolonged time-frame, and for the female to behave violently towards the male, in some instances. To prevent injuries to the male, always supervise breeding attempts.


Dealing with a Chinchilla Pregnancy

The chinchilla has a surprisingly long gestation period for a rodent, and babies will not be born for approximately 110 days after conception. It is more likely for a birth to happen in the morning, and the young chinchillas should be birthed just a few minutes apart from one another.

From birth, the kits (baby chinchillas) can open their eyes, run around, and play. Whilst litter sizes tend to stay very small (just one or two babies), chinchillas mothers can give birth to as many as six kits. After the birth, it is normal for a female chinchilla to withdraw from human contact, or even behave aggressively towards an owner who tries to interact with the new babies.

How to Meet Chinchilla Pet Fundamental Need

Chinch by Caroline Sanstead
Photo by Caroline Sanstead

Among the rodents, the one that has the softest and densest coat are the Chinchillas. They have a broad head with a pair of big ears, and a very long tail compared to their body. Their limbs are very small. The growth of their teeth never ever stops.

Domesticated Chinchilla

Getting extremely cute chinchillas as house pets is absolutely an excellent idea. Nevertheless, chinchillas are what you call social rodent species. These small animals live in colonies of several dozen individuals. These animals have specific needs (chincare.com). People who want to acquire a chinchilla as a pet need to be mindful ahead of time of their ecological and also nutritional needs.

One of the first things that you have to keep in mind before you take a chinchilla pet at home is that it is very sensitive to unpleasant sounds. Hence, you have to ensure that the spot in your home where you plan to place them is calm.

An energetic animal like this should be able to seek food, play, and exercise. That is why you need to place them in a roomy cage. They are quite active at night, which is anticipated because they are nocturnal animals.


Chinchilla tosh chiang
Photo by Tosh Chiang

Pick a high cage for your chinchilla. Opt for a design and size that allow the small animal to leap and run. For their house, most pet fans opt for the biggest that they can find. The cage must have a number of levels, and it’s much better if it’s made from metal. Strong shelves must be incorporated. The supplies utilized for such thing could be wood or plastic material. Cage floor is generally made from wire mesh. This type of house style will have a stimulating effect to the cute family pet. With this, your chinchilla will be in good condition. Think of purchasing hammocks and wheel.

Naturally, a chinchilla pet also needs to relax, and it would be very best to make a special resting part within its house like a comfortable hiding box or wood residence. The bedding is important for your chinchilla. Utilize cardboard, shredded paper or wood shavings to cover the bottom of your pet’s crate. Ensure you clean their beddings at least 2 times weekly.


Chinchilla Lanigera
Photo by Elisabeth Bertaglia

As they consume dry fruits, leaves and herbs, they’re referred to as herbivores. The ideal food you can provide to chinchillas is hay grass (cachins.org). They eat mainly timothy or alfalfa hay. Any inappropriate food can cause serious health conditions. It is also recommended to feed this animal with pellets that are specifically created for them. Fiber is essential in their diet. Chinchillas shouldn’t be given sweet foods or something that have lots of fats. The reality is, they’ll become obese and definitely will get health issues if they feed on raisins, nuts and seeds. Therefore, choose dry apples and banana chips instead. Believe it or not, fresh plants are not ingested by chinchillas.

The cage should have a good supply of newly filtered water in order to keep the chinchilla well hydrated. Replace the water three times in a week, and make sure that the water bottle is always clean.

Daily Routine

Dust bathing is an essential part of the best chinchilla care (chinchillafactssite.com). This proper grooming procedure assists the animal keep its fur nice and clean. Be sure to do dust bathing for your own chinchillas twice weekly for 5-10 minutes. All they have to do is spin in the dust. You could find a special sand box in the pet shop or from online stores.

Chinchilla Diseases

Chinchillas can have a long life span estimated to be a period of 20 years but they face health challenges like any other animal.

Photo by vociferous
Photo by vociferous

Common diseases that encounter these mammals during their lifetime are:

  • Diarrhea
  • Heath stroke
  • Bite wounds
  • Respiratory disease

The common health problem is the bite wounds that may result from either bite from other chinchillas that they are housed with or from domestic pets such as dogs or cats. If a rodent pet is bit by a dog or cat that is infected with a bacterial infection, the bacteria can spread through the body by the wound that can be really fatal to the health of the small animal.

The most common symptoms of a sick chinchilla are:

  • Eyes that are watery
  • Attending a certain body part constantly
  • More or less consumption of food
  • Disinterest
  • Opening of the mouth without closure
  • Ears that are reddish in color and warm in nature.

Respiratory diseases in chinchillas can cause blockage of respiratory organ and in extreme cases lead to pneumonia. Signs and symptoms common to pneumonia infections are wet nose, reduced appetite and swollen lymph node. Overgrown teeth which is common among rodents poses a health risk because they can bring about the drilling effect to the chinchilla that induces lack of appetite for the animal.

Prevention measures that are to be undertaken to control the growth of teeth include:

  • Providing chew toys
  • X-ray of molars and pre-molars

Diarrhea in chinchilla can be a sign of infection since the rodents majorly take in foods rich in fiber, hence changing of their diet can result to this syndrome. Diarrhea can be prevented by having fecal examination and numerous blood tests.
Heart stroke is characteristics with rodents and the signs associated with the disease are high body temperature and panting. Very high humid regions are the main causes of a heart stroke since their body temperature are favored by a temperature of 35-45 degrees Celsius.

One can get to know if a chinchilla is sick if he or she observes the following signs often:

  • Kidney failure
  • Vague and lethargy
  • Lack of appetite
  • Overgrown teeth

Any slight deviation in health, should be answered with the sleek of a veterinarian. Possible treatment for diarrhea includes proper vitamins. Any infection that is bacterial in nature is treated with antibiotics while the food should be rich in fiber that plays a greater digestive role cooling of the chinchilla should be procedural with placement of ice packs around their armpit region.

Chinchilla - Armin Rodler - Flickr
Photo by Armin Rodler

Concerning the bite wounds, chinchillas should be treated with antibiotics and they should live in separate cages to prevent bites. They also need maximum protection by isolating them from other domestic pets such as dogs and cats. Chinchillas should be regularly checked to identify their diseases and possible correctional and prevention measures are undertaken.

Proper cage location should also be considered. The cage should be in a quiet location, far from noise to stop the interruption of their sleep, fresh air circulation and tidiness of the cage is required to prevent the spread of respiratory diseases. A chinchilla needs to be handled carefully, this is because they often hate to be handled as this brings them stress which can be a fatal health case. A comprehensive knowledge of the sickness of chinchillas should be possessed by the owner such that in case of an illness or sickness, one is able to contain the illness.

The chinchillas have a digestive system that is highly sensitive and any slight deviation from the normal diet, will lead to a fatal damage of the digestive tract which may be hard to treat. So, it would be appropriate for a chinchilla owner to have an A-Z heath and sickness book that highlights all the diseases, signs and symptoms, preventions and possible treatment.

For the survival of the chinchillas, active medical care and attention should be given to the animals to ensure their good health. Their housing should also be well kept and cleanliness observed, food should be kept away from the droppings to avoid contamination chinchilla pellets should also be changed regularly since their repeated use can cause illness that would be rather expensive to treat.

The Best Toys And Accessories That Suit The Chinchilla

Chinchilla Accessories - Arne Heggestad Photo
Photo by Arne Heggestad

The small rodent that originates from South America is a very energetic and inquisitive animal, which requires interesting objects to chew on and interact with. This is important for both their dental health, as it keeps teeth strong, and also improves their mental acuity.

In order to keep your pet happy, excited, and playful, it is important to provide a range of different chinchilla toys and accessories. This handy guide to the best chinchilla toys will help you figure out which items your pet will love the most.

The Dust Bath

As anybody who has any experience of keeping chinchillas will know, dust baths are essential to their overall health. In the wild, bathing in dust is the only way in which these creatures can get clean, so it makes sense to think that regular dust baths would keep them happy and content.

Whilst you do have to buy specially formulated dust from a pet store, so that your chinchilla does not get sick or have an allergic reaction, the container in which they bathe can be made out of almost anything. In fact, old goldfish bowls are a popular choice, because they minimize the level of mess.

The Desire to Gnaw

Chinchilla cage & accessories
Photo by Wikimedia.org

As with all rodents, chinchillas really do appreciate the opportunity to gnaw on tough toys and accessories. This is because their teeth actually grow at a constant rate throughout their entire lives, so they need a source of strength and rigidity.

It is a good idea, if you are planning to buy and care for a chinchilla, to pick up some of the wooden (untreated) toys and accessories that are usually found in the rodent or bird sections of pet stores. It is absolutely essential that you remember to avoid all chinchilla toys made out cherry, citrus, redwood, cedar, or evergreen trees, because they can prove toxic.

The Need to Climb

Once again, chinchillas are rodents, so they love to scurry about up and down different levels. The happiest pets are the ones with exciting and creative cages, which include lots of different heights and places to crawl, jump, climb, and run around on. To make a chinchilla really happy, add a couple of (non-toxic) branches to the inside of the cage.

You should organize any accessories or features so that they are strong and sturdy. The last thing that you want is for your chinchilla to start exploring, and end up on the floor after falling from an unsafe branch, wooden block, or ladder. If you are going to buy chinchilla toys, always make sure that they are safe before letting pets play with them.

White Chinchilla Ready to Run
Photo by Trista Huey

The Rodent Instinct

It is important for all pet owners to remember that their animals have unique personalities, and that they do have preferences and special interests. The best way to keep chinchillas happy is to play to these interests, because their rodent instincts mean that climbing, chewing, and scurrying up and down a cage is top of the agenda. For happy chinchillas, invest in top quality chinchilla toys and accessories.

Chinchilla Food Guidelines

Chinchilla Lotte
Photo by Armin Rodler

Taking care of your chinchilla means that you have to give them proper nutrition and also the right amount of food if you want them to last longer. Chinchillas are known to have a sensitive digestive system and that is why they require a special diet. These animals are used to eating vegetables and fat free foods in the wild. While they are domesticated, these wonderful pets have to be dealt with extra care in terms of food. They have to consume good quality pellets along with fresh hay daily. You simply cannot just introduce any type of food to them since they can easily get stomach upsets.


The chin diet should mainly consist of pellets. This is where they will get nutrients from. If your chin is like most other rodents, then he will eat about two table spoons of these pellets on a daily basis. You don’t have to worry about giving them too much pellets because they only eat enough to get full. Make sure that you feed you chinchillas with the appropriate pellets designed for chins. Chinchillas gain an approximately 16 to 20 percent protein; 2 to 5 percent fats and 15 to 35 percent fiber from the small particles. It is highly advisable to feed one tablespoon in the morning with another tablespoon in the evening or nighttime. Feel free to make adjustments on the interval along as you consider the changes necessary. Nevertheless, consistency should also be given importance. The pelleted diet can also be supplemented with hay.


Photo by Armin Rodler

Chinchillas greatly benefit from the roughage that can be found in hay. Always ensure that they have access to hay. There are different varieties that can be used such as Timothy, oat, and wheat hay. You can give your chin alfalfa hay periodically. You shouldn’t give it too much since it is too rich in protein and calcium and might cause some health problems. You also have to ensure that the hay is fresh and also ensure that the hay is not soiled. So the hay will remain fresh after being stocked, regular cleaning and washing should be done. You can also feed the chin with loose strands or pressed cubes of hay.

Raisins and Dried Fruits

Young chinchillas love being fed with raisins and dried fruits. However, excessive feeding of treats is not advisable. The maximum for a week should be 5 raisins. You can also use rose hips, twigs and branches as alternative treats. You should also place the food in a food hopper or ceramic dish to maintain the freshness. The food should not get dumped or soiled. If you have problems in feeding your pet, consulting your veterinarian is the best solution.


Chins also enjoy eating fresh vegetables. You should also give them dried green, leafy vegetables such as parsley, broccoli, collard greens, and squash. They also like carrots, basil, and alfalfa sprouts.

chinchilla pet - Pionites melanocephalus
Photo by Pionites Melanocephalus

Chinchillas need nutritious food supplements rich in fiber, protein and essential fat. There are special types of nutritious pellets for your pet chinchillas in addition to fresh hay that you are serving. Look for pelleted diet with at least 16 percent of protein, 3 to 5 percent of fat and at least 15 percent of dietary fiber. It is also good to give little servings at regular intervals ideally in the morning and evening.

While chew toys may not be considered a part of a chin’s diet, they are very important. Wood stocks, lava rocks, and even cardboard tube toys are great items to add to your cage. Serious dental problems can occur if a chinchilla cannot chew. As rodents, they need to take care of their teeth, or they will overgrow.


You may put your chinchilla food in a bowl inside the cage. However, you need to ensure that it’s quite heavy. This will prevent the chin from tipping the bowl over. You should never use a plastic bowl since these animals love to chew on plastics. Alternatively, you can use a feeder with a hopper that attaches to the side of the cage.


You should be aware that chins love routines. Therefore, feeding chins should be at the same time every day. This will prevent undue stress.

These are just a few tips of feeding chinchillas. If you have never raised one before, there are many things that you need to learn about proper pet care. Being a responsible pet owner involves certain responsibilities just to keep your companions healthy and alive all the time. Therefore choosing the right chinchilla food is really crucial to keep them healthy and strong all the time.