Free Shipping over $39
Ships Free

If your order is more than $39, it ships FREE anywhere in New Zealand, including rural addresses. It's as simple as that.

Ships fast

Free shipping doesn't have to be slow shipping! We provide:

  • Next working day delivery for all North Island addresses.
  • Two working day or faster delivery for all South Island addresses.
No Exclusions

Even big or heavy items ship free. If your order total is $39 or more, the shipping is on us!

You can learn more in our free shipping policy

Free Shipping over $39
Ships Free

If your order is more than $39, it ships FREE anywhere in New Zealand, including rural addresses. It's as simple as that.

Ships fast

Free shipping doesn't have to be slow shipping! We provide:

  • Next working day delivery for all North Island addresses.
  • Two working day or faster delivery for all South Island addresses.
No Exclusions

Even big or heavy items ship free. If your order total is $39 or more, the shipping is on us!

You can learn more in our free shipping policy

on the best pet deals!

Sign up to our newsletter & automatically enter the draw to win!

The basics of chinchilla care

A relative of the guinea pig, chinchillas originated in South America where they live in mountainous areas.

With their thick coat of fur and agile nature, chinchillas are popular pets that enjoy a lifespan of over 10 years. They are also very clean animals and, unlike guinea pigs, are indoor pets. However, they do have special grooming and dietary needs and a tendency to gnaw anything they can get their sharp teeth on. 

 

Looking for a healthy pet chinchilla

A healthy chinchilla has bright eyes and a well-rounded body with no ridge or hunch on its back. The animal should be lively and very curious, even during the day. 

Sarah Hamilton from NZ Chinchilla Rescue does not recommend buying a kit (baby) that’s less than three months old. ‘You shouldn’t buy a chinchilla that is still with its parents or siblings, as it can be very stressful for the animal and cause a wide range of problems,’ she says.

Among them, tooth problems can be very serious. Sarah recommends you see written confirmation from a vet that the chinchilla’s back molars are OK. These teeth are very hard to see by anyone but a vet with the right tools. Other things to watch out for are drooling or weepy eyes, which are a sure sign of malocclusion (teeth not meeting together correctly), and can result in eating difficulties. A good breeder will have taken their chinchillas to the vet for general check ups and should have records available to show you. Details of the teeth are the most important thing to verify.

 

Fur-slip: what you should know about your chinchilla's fur

Chinchillas have the ability to release their fur as a means of escaping from predators – a process called fur-slip. If stressed, alarmed or handled roughly, your pet may lose chunks of its fur. As chinchillas are wary and cautious by nature, they are not suitable as pets for children under 10. Nor do these animals like environments with noisy children or very loud music. You will need to handle your pet carefully and gently, especially if it appears timid or you are introducing it to a new environment, and never grab your pet or chase it around the cage or room, says Sarah.

To avoid fur-slip with a new pet, make personal contact with your chinchilla straight away. Hold it, scratch it behind the ears, and talk to it gently. A five-minute dust bath will also reduce initial stress after you get your pet home. Fur-slip is more likely to happen if your pet is fed too much sugary food or not handled enough. You should cuddle your pet to bond with it at least once a day, advises Sarah. ‘Some chins are very vocal. They could scream and might even pee on you, but don’t let this put you off – persevere,’ she says. Fur-slip does not hurt the animal and the fur will eventually grow back. 

 

Food & diet for chinchillas

To remain healthy, chinchillas rely on a very simple, but specific, high-fibre diet. The wrong nutrition can cause a lot of trouble, warns Sarah. They need good hay and quality commercial chinchilla pellets – foods that require a lot of chewing. 

A healthy chinchilla eats about two tablespoons of chinchilla pellets a day and a good handful of clean hay. You should never give them rabbit or guinea pig pellets, or feed them parrot/bird mixes. Sarah says most seeds are too high in fats and oils for a creature that can’t cope with rich foods. Also avoid feeding your pet fresh grass, broccoli, lettuce, carrots, peas, and corn, all of which are toxic for a chinchilla’s system. 

Safe treats are certain dried herbs and chinchilla specialities such as Vitakraft Nature and Vitakraft Cocktail, which you can give to them once a day. You can also treat them with small apple pieces once a month (these pets should not have too many sugary foods). Introduce all new foodstuffs, including treats, very slowly.

Fresh drinking water should be provided in a bottle that sits on the outside of the cage, out of reach of those sharp teeth.

 

Maintaining your chinchilla's teeth

Chinchilla teeth (which are yellow to orange in colour) grow constantly, and your pet will need something safe to chew on to keep its teeth in control. Cuttlefish is ideal, says Sarah, because it also provides calcium. Chinchillas enjoy gnawing on wood, but be careful as apricot, birch, cherry, plum, eucalyptus, freshly cut pine and all citrus woods are unsafe. Nor should your pet be able to sink its teeth into any manmade fibres such as chipboard or cardboard. The best and safest woods are apple, hazel, pear, bamboo and untreated pine (also great for cage shelving). Just make sure any wood is untreated, free of fungicide and insecticide, and not glued, stained or painted.

 

Dust baths

Chinchillas do not have sweat glands so they need a daily dust bath of 10-20 minutes duration to keep their coats smart and non-greasy. Dusting is also a natural stress release. Pet shops sell a formulated dusting powder that you place in a shallow tray or box on the floor of the cage.

 

Housing and care

Chinchillas like a large cage and need to be enclosed in fairly heavy-gauge wire mesh that will resist their teeth. The cage should have thick wooden branches for climbing, multi-level platforms for resting on, and a sleeping nest about 50cm by 25cm in size. Cedar wood bedding, sold in pet shops, is not safe bedding for your pet and can prove fatal, says Sarah. 

 

Out of the cage

Take special care when letting your pet out of its cage to exercise. They are intelligent and agile and their teeth can get them into a power of trouble. You must be very careful to keep chewing hazards such as electrical wires, commercial cardboard and scented toilet rolls out of their range. Household plant poisoning is also a very serious risk. There are numerous plants and foods that are dangerous to chinchillas, including lilies, ferns, fruit salad plants, onions, ginger, lavender, and hydrangea.

Pet.co.nz has a large range of small animal products to keep your chinchilla happy and healthy. 

The Pet.co.nz Team

Written by The Pet.co.nz Team

A team of specialists with backgrounds in animal nursing, animal care, and all things pet related.