Chinchilla Tips & Tools

Raising chinchillas can be fun and rewarding.  Get the most out of these cute and furry creatures with our tips and tools.

Chinchilla Facts

  • A chinchilla will eat between 1 and 2 ounces per head per day.  Animals that are too fat or too thin will not produce offspring.
  • Healthy, white teeth are, for the most part, a genetic characteristic.  Yellow teeth are considered an undesirable characteristic.
  • Chinchillas need to be able to gnaw in order to keep their incisor teeth from growing too long.  Long stemmed hay and hard pelleted feed help in this process.  In some cases, clipping of teeth may be necessary.
  • Chinchillas will average about two babies per litter; however, they have been known to produce as many as six babies per litter.
  • Chinchillas need to be handled with knowledge and care.  Their natural defense, if grabbed anywhere other than by their tail, is to drop its hair in the intended captor's hand and escape with a bald spot in its coat. 
  • A 'resting board' should be used when animals are housed on wire.  This may be a simple board placed on the wire to help prevent feet problems.
  • A chinchilla likes to bathe by dusting itself.  An aluminum silicate from a volcanic ash seems to be the most popular product.  However, in some areas it is impossible to obtain aluminum silicate.  Fine sand can be used instead.  A water bath will mat the fur.
  • Either automatic or individual bottle waterers can be used.  Herd size usually determines which is more profitable.
  • High fiber diets are absolutely necessary for successful rearing of this animal.  Never feed moldy hay or pellets.
  • Treats may be offered as long as they do not reduce the required intake of the balanced pelleted diet.  Hay and raisins are treats that can be offered.  Feeding should be done at regular intervals.
  • Chinchillas can breed as early as six months of age and even earlier, but many ranchers hold them back until the animals reach full maturity.
  • Intestinal scours and constipation are the two most common problems in raising chinchillas.  Both of these problem areas need to be avoided if possible and treated quickly when they appear.
  • Fungus can be a problem and must be addressed by immediate treatment with a fungicide.  Good management is needed in order to keep the problem from reoccurring.
  • Fur chewing is another problem and the cause is not yet clear.  Particular management areas to be checked or watched closely are stress, temperature and air quality.
  • Observation is an important management tool in a successful ranching operation.
  • Good sanitation is an absolute necessity in successful chinchilla ranching.
  • Next to cleanliness, proper ventilation is essential to producing good litters and good fur.  Chinchillas prefer a constant temperature but can tolerate extremes and still survive.  Hot weather is not conducive to good fur production.  Many ranchers install both air conditioning and heating in their facilities for herds that are to be pelted.
  • Animal identification is an important area in record keeping if good genetics are to be practiced.  Electric tattooing, etching pens, ear clamps and micro computer chips can be used to identify animals and their genetics.
  • Both pair mating and colony mating are in practice today.  In colony mating, the male can move from cage to cage while the female is retrained by putting a large plastic or metal collar around her neck.  This prevents her from going into the wire tunnel connecting the cages.  The number of females serviced by one male varies from just a few up to ten in some cases.  Males are blocked from entering female cages after the female is pregnant.
  • Mating animals should be close to the same age and maturity.  They should be watched closely when introduced to make sure they are compatible.
  • Records of matings should be maintained.

Chinchilla Show Preparations

  • Selecting animals for show should be done several months prior to show time.  Show animals should be isolated from the remainder of the herd.
  • Cages should be cleaned, disinfected and free of any objects that could damage the fur.
  • Combing and/or brushing can be done to remove dead hair on animals not quite in prime condition.  This should be done well before going to the show.
  • Allow animals to dust and make sure dust is kept clean.
  • Enter animals for show that meet breed characteristics and are at prime or near prime condition as far as coat quality is concerned.
  • Temperature and humidity are important factors in coat quality.  These factors must be under control well in advance of the show.
  • Do not overfeed or underfeed.  Make sure animals are in good body condition.

Chinchilla Pelting Tips

  • Know what the buyers are looking at by observing them during a buying session.
  • Animals must be conditioned before pelting, much like they are when preparing them for a show.
  • Good sanitation practices are a 'must' in producing a good coat.
  • Bring coats to prime before pelting.
  • Do not allow animals to get overly fat as it downgrades the leather under the fur.
  • 'Prime fur' means that there is no hair growth.  Blowing the fur is the usual method for determining 'prime'.
  • Chinchillas under a proper environment will reach their first 'full prime' at 8 to 12 months of age and one to two times a year thereafter.
  • Priming on an animal does not occur at the same time in all areas so it should be pelted when the major portion of the coat is in full prime.
  • Pelting is not difficult; however, proper instruction and practice are required to be able to pelt correctly.
  • Be sure to identify pelts by correctly attaching identification tags.
  • Dressed pelts will withstand shipping better than will raw pelts.
  • Pelts should be sorted into matched bundles for shipping.

Specialty Animal Feeding Chart

New Hubbard® Life Product Improvement/Benefit
Gamebird Starter (39863)
Gamebird Grower (39864)
Gamebird  Breeder (39865)
Gamebird Flight(39866)
Pheasant Starter w/ AM (40444)
Pheasant Grower w/ AM (40445)
Added Chelates and Primalac® in all Gamebird Feeds
Pigeon Pellets (40533)
Pigeon Grain Mix (39869)
Added Chelates and Yeast
Ratite Grower/Breeder (39871) Added Chelates and Yeast
Chinchilla Pellets (39872) Added Tasco®
Guinea Pig Pellets (39873) Added Chelates & Yeast
Llama Nutrient Pellets (39878) Added Yeast
Alpaca Crumbles (39782) Added Yeast
Rat & Mouse Cubes (40534) Added Chelates
17% Deer Pellets (39879)
14% Wild Deer Pellets (39880)
Added Chelates & Yeast
Added Chelates & Yeast
14% Bison Grower (40537)
12% Bison Cubes (40827)
Stockmaster® Pasture Mineral (70P0)
Added Chelates & Yeast
Added Yeast
Added Bison to Feeding Directions
NutriPreme® (40535) Added Omega Fats & Vitamin E Improved Cal/Phos Ratio