Merck Manual

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Pet Owner Version

Special Considerations for Chinchillas


Thomas M. Donnelly

, BVSc, DVP, DACLAM, DABVP(ECM), The Kenneth S Warren Institute;

Katherine E. Quesenberry

, DVM, MPH, DABVP (Avian)

Reviewed/Revised Jul 2011 | Modified Oct 2022
Topic Resources

Chinchillas should be handled calmly and gently to minimize stress. A protective reaction in chinchillas, known as fur slip, may occur if the animal is frightened, resulting in the release of a large patch of fur and revealing smooth, clean skin underneath. It may also occur with improper handling, fighting, or anything that causes overexcitement. The fur can take several months to regrow and may be a different shade. To prevent this, chinchillas should be handled gently with the least amount of stress by moving slowly and speaking softly. Tame, nonpregnant animals can be removed from a cage by grasping and lifting the base of the tail while using the opposite hand to support the body. Pregnant females should not be handled unless necessary.

Chinchillas are prone to heat stroke at temperatures greater than 80°F (27°C). While chinchillas can gradually adapt to outdoor temperatures less than 32°F (0°C), the chinchilla’s preferred temperature range indoors is 50 to 60°F (10 to 16°C). The housing environment should be dry, free of drafts, moderately cool, and away from direct sun.

Taking your chinchilla with you when you travel is not recommended, as it can cause a great deal of stress to your pet. A better option is to locate a reliable pet sitter, or board your chinchilla in an appropriate facility. (Chinchillas should not be boarded in the same room with barking dogs.) If travel—such as a move—is unavoidable, planning ahead and taking certain precautions can minimize stress ( see When You Travel When You Travel When You Travel ).

When You Travel

Using a Pet Sitter or Boarding Facility

  • The best option may be locating a reliable pet sitter or boarding facility equipped to handle small mammals.

  • You should leave your pet sitter with detailed instructions on caring for your chinchilla, the phone number where you can be reached, and the address and phone number of your regular veterinarian, as well as a 24-hour emergency veterinary clinic.

  • It may be a good idea to have your pet sitter carry out the instructions once while you are there to be sure he or she fully understands the responsibilities involved.

Traveling in a Car

  • If you must take the chinchilla somewhere in a car, you must always be aware of the temperature inside the car. Excessive heat can be fatal to a chinchilla.

  • Put the chinchilla in a hard plastic, airline-type carrier that can be locked, and be sure the carrier is not in the sun.

Traveling on a Plane

  • Get an airline-approved carrier and call the airline well in advance of your trip to make a reservation for your chinchilla in the cabin so that you may place the carrier under your seat. Most airlines limit the number of pets allowed in the cabin on each flight.

  • If the airline will not allow the carrier in the cabin, be sure they have a climate controlled area of the cargo hold where they put pets.

Items to Take with You

  • Be sure to have plenty of fresh water, feed, hay, and bedding, and the chinchilla’s toys and chew toys.

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