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10 Reason Why NOT to Gift a Pet Chinchilla

Pet Chinchilla

This is an updated version of an article that was originally published Oct 9, 2020.

There's nothing like the feeling of giving someone the perfect gift. Something they will love and cherish for years to come. And when we get it right, we want to keep it up!

Each year we try to outdo the last one. We think of the best gift we can give, something that’s special, something that will create a moment that will be remembered forever - especially when it comes to our kids. Oftentimes, a new pet can seem like that perfect, one-of-a-kind gift that your child will never forget. Maybe a cat or a dog isn’t right, but something more exotic? A pet chinchilla?

Let’s stop you right there. Though you might get the moment you wished for when your child spots their fluffy new friend, gifting a chinchilla is, more times than not, not a recipe for success or joy. Chinchillas, like many other gifted pets, are often abandoned when children are no longer interested in them. And that's not all. Cute as they may be, chinchillas don't always make great pets.

Here are just 10 of the many reasons why not to get a pet chinchilla as a gift:

  1. Chinchillas are expensive. The initial cost for this exotic animal is relatively high, and on top of that they require a certain kind of cage and food that tend to add up.

  2. They are nocturnal animals. Fluffy and cute they are, but they sleep during the day. Not only does this mean that they wake up at night and make noise while you’re trying to sleep, but during the hours that you or your children would potentially play with them, they may not be interested.

  3. TLC required! They need a lot of attention. If you aren’t able to spend time with your chinchilla daily, this may lead to mental and physical health issues.

  4. Chinchillas need space. Not only do they require a large cage, but they also require supervised time outside of their cages. Bringing a chinchilla home means that you need to prepare your house for the right conditions.

  5. Cute, yes. Cuddly, No. Looks can be deceiving and the truth is that chinchillas are not the cuddliest option - at least not immediately. Chinchillas have their own personalities, like most pets. A friendly and curious demeanor is not always a likely outcome. People often work with their chinchillas for years before they warm up to them. Chinchillas also have sharp teeth, which they will use if they feel threatened, and this can be very unsafe around children.

  6. Climate control. Chinchillas require a consistent temperature of around 70 degrees Fahrenheit. Their habitat needs to be kept cool, and in many places, this usually means leaving on the air conditioner all day long (which can get expensive, and isn’t very ecological). This is because of the makeup of their thick fur. Temperatures that are too damp or too hot can lead to infections.

  7. They are messy. With all of the hay that they eat, and all of the dust baths that they require (oh yes, dust baths from dust you purposely brought into your house!) they can be quite a handful to clean up afterwards. They also need their cages cleaned often, which only adds to the to-do list.

  8. They are a long-time commitment. Chinchillas can live up to 10 years, if not more. This is wonderful for them, but maybe not for you? If you were thinking of purchasing a chinchilla for a child, then there’s a chance that they will grow up, move out, and leave you with your own pet chinchilla. Is that what you imagined?

  9. Some of them prefer company, some prefer to be alone. It may seem as if chinchillas in captivity thrive when there is more than one chinchilla housed together. This is true in many cases, but there are more than a few chinchillas who simply prefer to be alone! So, until you figure out which type of chinchilla you have, you will need to dedicate time and effort.

  10. Chinchillas need specialized care from an exotic veterinarian. We’re not tooting our own horn here, we’re telling you how it is. Exotic vets have trained specifically to know how to care for chinchillas and their specific health needs. It’s important to find the right vet for your chinchilla, one who knows the animal well. Additionally, annual wellness exams are highly recommended.

Owning a Pet Chinchilla Can Be a Good Experience

Don't get us wrong. Chinchillas can be wonderful pets for the right people. But they are not the kind of pet that you should surprise someone with, nor should you gift them to a child who is unprepared, or unsupervised when it comes to the pet’s care. It’s one thing to have someone return the gift you got them, but it’s another thing to have someone abandon a gift, especially when that gift is a living creature in need of love and care.

This doesn’t mean that no one should get a pet chinchilla.

But if you do decide to bring one home, we hope that you and your family will take the time to learn how to properly care for your pet chinchilla. Chinchillas are adorable and unique pets that require specific care to thrive in a home environment. Providing a spacious cage, a proper diet rich in hay and pellets, and plenty of opportunities for exercise and mental stimulation are essential for their well-being, and - of course - we urge you to bring him or her to a specialty chinchilla veterinarian nearby for annual checkups. Regular veterinary checkups are crucial for ensuring your chinchilla's health and catching any potential issues early on.

Live in the Tri-State Area?

Long Island Bird & Exotics specializes in treating small mammals and exotic pets. You can schedule a visit or call 516-482-1101.

52,462 views6 comments


Newton Manuel
Newton Manuel
6 days ago

It's wonderful to hear that you value the importance of giving the perfect gift and creating lasting memories. tunnel rush


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Claire Losterbien
Claire Losterbien
Jun 06

I love chinchillas, they're such cute little creatures. But I'd never actually give one as a gift, that just doesn't seem right to me. Animals are a serious responsibility and shouldn't be surprises. Also, chinchillas can live for like 20 years, not 10! what does it mean when you see a groundhog

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