The only thing better than one chinchilla is two chinchillas. So are three better than two? Can you even keep three or more chinchillas in one cage, or would they go stir crazy?
How many chinchillas can you have in one cage? You can keep a chinchilla on its own, or ideally, keep them in pairs. You can also have more than two chinchillas in one cage, although it’s more likely that they’ll fight. Most owners have either solitary chinchillas or chinchilla pairs to avoid this problem. If you want three or more chinchillas, you can keep them in separate cages (e.g. one pair and one solitary).
The guide below first looks at how you can keep solitary chinchillas or paired chinchillas happy. Then, we’ll see how many chinchillas you can keep in a cage at any one time: the maximum limit, and what you can expect to happen if you have three or more chins in one cage.
How Many Chinchillas Can You Have in One Cage?
For a novice owner, we recommend keeping just one chinchilla. While chins do best if kept in pairs, your pet can thrive alone provided you spend lots of time with it. Having just one also means you avoid other potential problems like fighting/dominance issues, unwanted breeding, and having to pay too much in vets’ bills.
That being said, you can keep chinchillas in pairs. It’s even recommended, as your pet will have a friend to keep it company. It’s also possible to have more than two chinchillas, although this is much more volatile than just keeping one or two—fights can occur more frequently or become more serious, more quickly.
Can You Keep One Chinchilla?
Keeping chinchillas on their own used to be controversial, but owners have since realized that it’s perfectly fine so long as you spend time with your pet.
Chins are sociable animals. They live in groups in the wild, and have developed lots of ways to communicate both through sounds and body language. They display social behaviors like grooming and playing and get stressed and unhappy if they can’t demonstrate these behaviors (just as you would if you were shut in somewhere on your own).
However, if you spend lots of time with your pet, it won’t get lonely. That means:
- Being in the same room as it for long periods of time (while you’re awake)
- Talking to your pet about anything you like
- Giving your chinchilla outside-the-cage time each day
- Handling your chinchilla regularly, provided it’s comfortable with you
If you don’t feel you can do these things, then consider getting two chinchillas instead.
Can You Have Two Chinchillas in One Cage?
You can have two chinchillas in the same cage if you like. This is what most owners do. Having two chinchillas provides each chinchilla (and you!) with extra company.
If you do want to keep two chinchillas, you need to know two things. The first is that you can’t dump them in the same cage without introducing them first; otherwise, they’ll fight. That’s because the two chinchillas don’t know each other, so in the wild, they would try to fight each other off (to keep a hold of resources like food and territory). You need to get them used to each other first, which you do using the split cage method. This is where you put the two chinchillas close together, but in a way that they can’t physically fight: either in a cage with a wire wall down the middle, or in two cages placed next to each other.
The second is that you should only put two males or two females together, as otherwise, the pair will mate. Backyard breeding isn’t a good idea as even experienced owners may not be ready to care for baby chinchillas.
To make things easier, we recommend having two of certain things: two water bottles, two hay racks, and two hides. This should cut down on the pair fighting over things.
Can You Have More Than Two Chinchillas in One Cage?
Keeping three chinchillas or more in one cage is possible, but you have to care for them well and monitor how they get along.
Chinchillas live in large groups in the wild. They don’t live in pairings, or even in small family groups. Instead, they live in herds. When the chinchillawas more widespread than it is today, these herds would number a hundred or more. Today’s groups are smaller, but they still retain the ability to live in larger groups.
However, if you do plan on keeping three or more chinchillas, there are things you have to do and to remember.
1) Keep Groups Same Sex Only
Males and females can live together in pairs, provided you’re ready to care for kits. But if you have more than two chinchillas, keeping the groups same-sex becomes even more important. That’s because the chinchillas might start fighting over mating rights.
If you didn’t know, chinchilla fights can get serious. They can severely injure each other, even kill each other, with their long, sharp teeth. It’s therefore necessary to curtail potential mating-rights-based fighting before it starts.
2) It’s Difficult to Introduce One Chinchilla to Two
Introducing two chinchillas using the split cage method can sometimes go wrong, but if done right, typically works. What’s much harder is introducing one chinchilla to a pair of chinchillas that have already bonded.
The problem is simple math. For two chinchillas to bond, they have to like each other. For one chinchilla to bond to two other chinchillas, both of the existing pair have to like the newcomer. While it’s impossible to understand why one chinchilla might reject another, this is more likely to happen if you’re introducing a trio instead of a pair.
3) You’ll Need Much More Room
Chinchillas need big cages as it is. The more chinchillas you have in the same cage, the more space you’ll need.
The minimum standard size for a chinchilla cage is three feet tall by two feet wide and two feet deep. Of course, the bigger the cage the better, but this seems to be the minimum to keep a solitary chinchilla happy. Any smaller and it gets stressed, especially if it’s any shorter. As for housing more than one chinchilla, it’s advised to have a wider floor space, as this will stop the two from getting in each others’ way. Some sites recommend a minimum of two square feet of floor space for each pet. That would mean you need:
- A two foot wide by three feet deep cage for three chins
- A two foot wide by four feet deep cage for four chins
- A two foot wide by five feet deep cage for five chins
…And so on. You could also have one that’s around three feet wide by three feet deep for five chins—that gives roughly the same floor space (if a little smaller) than one with a 2×5′ floor plan.
It’s for these reasons that almost all owners stick to keeping chinchillas on their own or in pairs. If you want more than two chinchillas, you can keep them in separate cages: it’s much less hassle and far less risky for your pets.
What’s The Maximum Number of Chinchillas You Can Have in One Cage?
Truth be told, there is no known upper limit. Wild chins used to live in herds of up to a hundred.
The real limiting factor is the size of the cage you can have. If you had a cage as big as a small town, you could keep hundreds—even different groups that live independently, like you would find in the wild. But in the kind of cage you can keep in your home, the realistic limit is more like three or four. More than four and you would need a very large cage that you may even have to have custom built… And then you have to think about where to keep it in your home.
If you really want more than three chinchillas, we recommend keeping them in separate cages. You can have two normal cages, one for each pair if you have four. If you have the room, you could have more than that, which is how chinchilla ranches work. But then you’re loking at all sorts of extra effort. So, if you’re a new owner, stick to a solitary chinchilla or a pair instead.
Below, you can find our chinchilla quiz, new posts for further reading, and a signup for our Chinchilla Newsletter!