Last Updated on 02/07/2021 by Veronica Jones
Chinchillas are adorable and wonderful pets. Like any pet, they need proper care for food, shelter, exercise, and other factors.
Sadly, all living beings have an end, which is called life expectancy.
A lifespan is only an average set of numbers – it doesn’t determine how long a living being will last.
That can get shortened or lengthened depending on various contributing factors, such as their health history, the environment they are living in, their access to food and water, rampant diseases, and the like.
If you want to find out more about chinchillas and their lifespan, read on below. We hope that by writing this article, we can help you raise your chinchilla to live a longer life even beyond their expected age.
What is the lifespan of a chinchilla?
A regular chinchilla will usually live somewhere between 10 to 20 years. However, that still depends on how they live and where they stay.
Chinchillas that live in the wild have a different lifestyle than those that we keep as pets.
Chinchillas in the wild
A chinchilla raised in the wild will live about 10 years because of the different dangers along the way, such as predators and lack of food resources.
Among their common habitats in the wild include rock crevices, and they also create their burrows.
Chinchillas mostly live in South America and are mostly seen in the Andes Mountains. Their usual diet includes berries and sometimes cacti and other veggies.
The problem with today’s situation in the Andes Mountains is that the chinchilla habitat gets decreased in the area due to commercialization and tourists.
The food resources are also growing smaller, so it will be more difficult for our little rodent friends.
Another problem chinchillas face in the wild is the predators chasing them every day.
Many predators are lurking around, such as eagles, owls, and even our feline pets. After all, since they are part of the rodent family, they commonly fall under the prey category.
If the chinchilla is unlucky, they could only survive about 8 years or less with all these outside factors.
Regardless, when you compare them to other rodent pets, they do tend to have a longer lifespan, even when you set them free outside.
Some people who aren’t fond of keeping pets in captivity raise them when they’re young and then set them free in the wild.
Some of them return to their backyard so they can still meet their owner, especially if the owner lives near the chinchilla’s natural habitat.
Chinchillas in captivity or as pets
If you raise a chinchilla as a pet, expect its lifespan to be around 15 to 20 years.
That’s because we can give them nearly every bit of TLC, such as easy access to food and water, a comfortable home, medical attention, and other conveniences.
In the wild, we can’t nurse them right away if they get injured or attacked by a predator, whereas if they’re at home, we have veterinarians and emergency kits to help them.
Nonetheless, the 15-year lifespan is not always the case, even if they end up in captivity.
For instance, pet owners don’t know how to take care of their chinchilla properly. As a result, their pets die early due to heat exhaustion and other medical problems.
That’s why you should know about taking care of a chinchilla properly before owning one. They are small and sensitive little creatures, and they need extra care when you raise them for your own.
How to prolong your chinchilla’s lifespan
So, how do you get past those numbers and increase your chinchilla’s lifespan? Many factors can contribute to their health and lengthen their years.
Let’s check out some tips on how to keep your chin alive and kicking for a long time:
Make sure they eat properly
First and foremost, good food leads to a good life. If your chinchilla refuses to eat (and they are doing this more often), there are underlying problems.
For instance, there can be problems with their teeth, throat, or they feel nauseated or bloated. In this case, taking them to the vet is the best course.
The bottom line is that don’t let your chinchilla starve because that’s worse than already getting sick due to toothache or sore throat.
If your chinchilla is a picky eater, that can be remedied with a different diet plan that best suits their taste (and also their health).
There are emergency kits out there that contain nutrients in case your chinchilla is very sick, has gotten past surgery, and experience similar events in which they need nourishment.
These kits come in a pack of food that is easy to digest for your chinchilla – great for recovery.
Look for signs that require you to go to the vet
As mentioned above, observe your pet frequently. If you suspect that they can’t eat properly because of something such as a toothache or sore throat, it’s best to take them to the vet right away.
A good pet owner always keeps an eye on their chinchilla for any signs that need medical attention.
To help your chinchilla live longer, you should always check on them.
By simply observing if you suspect something is wrong with them, you’re saving their lives in case they do end up having medical problems (hopefully not).
After all, our pets can only communicate through non-verbal language, so we have to make an effort to understand them better in the best way that we can.
Keep them in a cool place
Chinchillas survive best in a temperature around 60 to 70 degrees Fahrenheit (15.5 to 21.1 degrees Celsius). That’s because chinchillas aren’t exactly the best to live in scorching temperatures due to their thick fur.
Although chinchillas are South American creatures, keeping them in a cool room will help them live longer because of their inability to sweat.
Any pet that has a very thick coat is best suited for a cooler habitat. Consider putting your chinchilla in a room with the AC unit on (but not too cold!).
They did live in the desert, but that doesn’t mean they’re used to hot temperatures because, at night, chinchillas need to deal with a freezing temperature as well.
In the desert, the humidity is also low, so they work best with that kind of environment (more on that later).
Another cooling solution for a chinchilla is a granite stone. They will usually just sit on it and roll around if they feel like it.
Granite produces a natural cooling effect, so your pet will love it during a hot day. Many cooling granite stones are available in the market that is specifically made for chinchillas and other rodents.
Lower the humidity in their area
As we mentioned above, low humidity is ideal because of the chinchilla originating from a desert habitat.
If you do keep your pet in an AC room, make sure the humidity is kept low. You can do this either with a dehumidifying function on your air conditioner or get a dehumidifier separately.
A good level of humidity should be about 50% or lower.
The reason why chinchillas don’t do well in highly humid areas is because of their coat. They become more prone to bacteria if they get damp or wet due to humidity.
And since chinchillas have a thick coat and were designed not to get bathed too much like cats due to self-cleaning and dust baths, chinchillas will be susceptible to bacterial infections if they stay in highly humid areas.
In a sense, you have to make their pet sanctuary similar to that of a South American desert.
Use natural cleaners for their cage
As with handling any pet, always try to avoid harsh chemicals when cleaning your chinchilla cage, as well as toys and other items inside.
Consider plant-based cleaners instead of commercial types that may contain harsh chemicals that could settle in your pet’s stomach.
To avoid getting your chinchilla sick due to chemical exposure, it’s best to stick to enzyme cleaners made from plants.
They work just as fast and as powerful as household chemical cleaners, and most of them are budget-friendly.
These cleaners will dissolve dirt, stains, and even bad odor. Not to mention, such plant-based cleaners are eco-friendly, too.
Don’t skip the dust bath
The recommended frequency of getting your chinchilla to have a dust bath is every two days.
A dust bath is a fun way for your furry pet to cool down in the summer, regulate their body temperature, and also improve their coat health.
You can also refrigerate the chinchilla dust beforehand to keep it cool when your chinchilla gets into the dust bath.
Do keep in mind that when giving them the dust bath, consider a container that allows sufficient ventilation and room to move around for your pet.
After all, seeing your chinchilla roll in the dust is a fun sight to watch!
Avoid chasing your chinchilla
Like most elusive pets, chinchillas often develop trauma and stress if people are chasing them. Instead, let them come to you like how a bird perches to its owner.
If your chinchilla isn’t very trained to come over you, try using treats to lure them in. However, make sure the treats are healthy as well and counted in their daily diet plan to avoid weight issues.
Getting your chinchilla used to approach you is often challenging work, but it is doable. Since the chinchilla is prey in the wild, they will usually be elusive and hard to catch due to their escaping instinct.
You have to make sure to earn their trust so they’ll come to you eventually without fear.
When the chinchilla does come to you on their own, make sure to lift them as gently as possible. Grab them from underneath but don’t grab them through their tail to avoid hurting them.
Always keep them hydrated
A clean source of drinkable water for your chinchilla is necessary whether you’re in the house or outside.
Chinchillas need to cool down due to their thick coat, which causes them to heat up, especially during the summer.
Always provide easy access to water for your chinchilla by attaching water bottles to their cage.
The reason why chinchillas need water all the time is not just because of keeping them cool – it also provides a way to flush out toxins from anything they eat.
Supposed they accidentally chew on something that might make their stomach upset, such as a foreign object.
With the right amount of water in their system, it will eventually get drained out, keeping their body healthy. This is also important since the digestive system of a chinchilla is quite delicate, as with many other small pets.
Therefore, leaving the water to drink will act as a natural cleaner for their system.
If you can find one, consider glass bottles instead of plastic because they are more durable and harbor less likelihood of bacteria.
Never leave them without hay and chew toys
To keep your chinchilla’s teeth strong and healthy, as well as to provide hours of entertainment, the combination of Timothy hay and chew toys will help their oral health and keep them busy.
By having something to chew, they’ll less likely nibble at other items around the cage that aren’t meant to be chewed.
Put them in a spacious cage
A large cage will help your chinchilla to feel relaxed. It will also provide them with plenty amounts of space to goof around, such as jumping, bouncing, and running – all necessary to keep them physically active.
Even if the cage is spacious, always consider putting your toys in the right order so that they have sufficient areas to move around.
Keep a shaded area inside the cage
Aside from a comfortable cage, it also helps to have a shaded area to rest for privacy. It will also help them shield themselves from excessive sunlight and heat whenever needed.