Owning a pet is pointless if you never see it. So, you want to keep your chinchilla somewhere you can interact with it, but also somewhere it won’t get stressed.
Where do you keep a chinchilla? Pet chinchillas must live in cages, but which room you keep yours in depends on your individual pet. The bedroom is the most common choice, as the living room can be too stressful.
However, this depends on what kind of chinchilla you have. Some are more easy-going than others, while others are less sociable. So, read on to figure out where to keep your chinchilla…
Where Do Chinchillas Live as Pets?
Pet chinchillas live in cages. These cages are like those of other pets, other rodents in particular. In addition, chinchillas require many of the same things in their cages that other rodents do (e.g. food bowls and water bottles, exercise equipment and so on). For more information on what goes in a chinchilla’s cage, check our specific guide on the subject.
What Should a Chinchilla Cage Look Like?
The first thing you need is the cage itself. This should be a wire cage, so it looks practically the same as the cages of other rodents. It shouldn’t be completely bare; it needs several things in it, like water bottles and hides, plus some decoration.
How Big Should a Chinchilla Cage Be?
Chinchilla cage size depends on how many chinchillas you keep. Chinchillas are social animals, so cannot live alone; you therefore need a minimum of two.
They need larger cages than other small pets. A 4ft x 2ft x2ft cage (roughly 100 gallons) is suitable for a pair. Even a solitary chinchilla needs a large cage (3ft x 2ft x2ft).
You may think that you could save space by picking a shorter cage with lots of floor space, e.g. 4ft by 2ft floor space with 1ft of height. However, chinchillas need lots of vertical space because they like jumping from one level to another. This is vital for their mental and physical well-being.
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Where Is the Best Place to Keep a Chinchilla (Which Room)?
There is a balance to be struck between rooms with too much going on, and rooms which are too quiet. If the room is constantly busy and filled with loud noises/bright lights, your chinchilla will feel stressed. If the room is too quiet, your pet will become bored.
As such, you have a decision to make: which room do you keep your chinchilla in? There are pros and cons to each choice.
1) Your Bedroom
The bedroom is a good choice for your chinchilla. It won’t be too busy, but you’re guaranteed to be in there frequently and for long periods of time.
In addition, bedrooms have access to natural light. While your chinchilla shouldn’t be kept in direct sun or hot rooms, it also shouldn’t be kept in complete darkness during the daytime.
But there are downsides to keeping your chinchilla in your bedroom. Your pet may be active during the night. Chinchillas are active both during the day and the night, and this may disturb you as you sleep.
Also, you may not like the way that your chinchilla smells. Chinchillas don’t smell as much as other rodents because they keep their fur clean. But even so, their cages can smell.
2) Living Room
The living room is one of the most active rooms of the house. It is where people spend most of their time, which automatically means it’s busy. But also:
- The living room is normally connected to several other rooms
- The living room contains the TV and perhaps a radio, so it’s noisy as well as busy
This could be a good or a bad thing depending on your individual pet. Some chinchillas are particularly sociable, and will enjoy being around people as much as possible with little stress. Other chinchillas prefer being alone, or are stressed easily.
So, only keep your chinchilla here if it isn’t easily stressed.
The kitchen is not a good choice for your chinchilla. It’s a busy room with lots of unexpected loud noises (like blenders, microwaves and so on).
Besides that, it’s an unhygienic choice. While chinchillas are cleaner pets than many others, they still carry bacteria. You don’t want these bacteria in your kitchen.
Keeping your chinchilla in the hallway is likely a bad choice. These areas of the home have several disadvantages:
- They often have no natural sunlight
- They are narrow spaces, while chinchilla cages are large
- While they see little activity, the activity they do see could make a chinchilla stressed
A hallway on the upper floor of your home would be a better choice than a lower floor. That’s because it will be less busy, and is more likely to have natural light.
5) Other Rooms
If you have a large house, you may have other rooms. But none of these will be suitable, for a variety of reasons.
The garage is not a good choice because it’s colder than the rest of the house. While chinchillas prefer cooler temperatures, the garage can be exceptionally cold in winter. It’s also darker than other rooms.
Empty rooms or spare rooms aren’t a good choice either. Here, so little will happen that your chinchilla may be bored. And if anything happened to your pet, you may not notice for a long time as you aren’t in the room.
What Makes a Room Suitable for a Chinchilla?
Your chinchilla can become stressed in certain rooms for a variety of reasons. Some have already been discussed above, e.g. how loud the room is, how busy the room is, and how dark the room is. But there are other things to bear in mind.
- Whether the room has a draft or not. To maintain a stable temperature, avoid rooms which have drafts flowing into them.
- Whether the room is too bright or not. Chinchillas shouldn’t be kept in direct sunlight because they overheat. They can even become too warm if they are out of the sun’s light, but the room itself is still bright.
- Whether the room is too humid or not. Chinchillas need to keep their fur dry at all times. High humidity can make that more difficult.
These issues apply no matter what ‘personality’ your chinchilla has. So, while some chinchillas will enjoy being around people 24/7 while others won’t, no chinchilla likes being in a room that’s too hot (or too humid, or drafty).
If you notice these issues, or if your chinchilla seems overly stressed, you should consider moving it to another room.
Moving Your Chinchilla to a Different Room
Chinchillas can become stressed or unhappy for a variety of reasons. This can be partly caused by the room you keep your pet in. So, for example, your chinchilla may not like loud noises in its vicinity; or, it may not enjoy being around people.
Moving your pet from one room to another isn’t a major issue. You can do so with a minimum of stress, either for you or your chinchilla.
- Allow your chinchilla to run loose for a period of time. Ideally, have somebody supervise it in a separate room while you move your pet’s things.
- If this isn’t possible, put your pet in a travel cage for the time being.
- Move your chinchilla’s cage. It may be heavy, so you may require two people to carry it.
If it’s too heavy, move it bit by bit. Take everything out before moving the cage on its own. Then, replace all your pet’s things when you’re done.
Can Chinchillas Free Roam?
Chinchillas can live outside of cages. If they could not, then wild chinchillas couldn’t survive. Provided that a chinchillas has a food source, a water source, and is not in imminent danger (e.g. from another pet) then it’s fine.
The idea that your chinchilla could roam freely around your house is a pleasant one: you could spend more time with your pet, and your pet would feel more ‘free’.
But for practical purposes, your pet needs a cage.
What Is Free Roaming (and Why Isn’t It Suitable for Chinchillas)?
The term ‘free roaming’ has several meanings. For certain other animals, it means pets which are allowed to wander around the town in which they live. In this context, it means allowing your chinchilla to roam free around your house as it pleases. So, instead of keeping it in a cage, you allow your chinchilla to eat and sleep where it wants.
This isn’t a good idea, and there are several reasons why.
- Chinchillas go to the toilet frequently. While they can be house trained to an extent, this is not as easy as for other animals.
- Chinchillas are delicate. The chinchilla skeleton is delicate, and you can easily hurt your pet by accident. The likelihood of this occurring is magnified if your chinchilla is loose.
- Chinchillas are not fully domesticated. While they can live in a person’s home, chinchillas will take an opportunity to escape if possible.
This third issue is magnified because you can’t be at home all the time. Your chinchilla could try to follow you out of the house, or escape on its own.
For this and other reasons, your pet has an absolute need for a cage. Keeping your chinchilla without one would be reckless and bad for your pet.
That isn’t to say that chinchillas can never be allowed out of their cages. They can, safely, when supervised. But they need a cage to go back to afterwards.
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