To remain happy and healthy, chinchillas need to get exercise as part of their daily routine, just as most humans and other animals do. There are plenty of ways to get chinchillas to exercise, but it's important to establish what kind of exercise, how often, and for how long they should be doing it.
Why Do Chinchillas Need Exercise?
The chinchillas living in the mountains of the Andes are known for being extremely active animals. Due to this, the need for them to remain active within their cages is of the utmost importance as well.
Chinchillas have a need to have the same amount of exercise as they do in the Andes both for their physical and mental well-being. For this reason, you can easily relate it to your own situation and the way you may feel when cooped up in your home for a long period of time. Exercise is an essential part of keeping your chinchillas physically healthy and strong, as well as keeping them mentally alert and sharp as well.
How Much Exercise Do Chinchillas Need?
A chinchilla needs more exercise than you may think they do, with some experts saying that they need 1-2 hours of exercise a day to maintain their health, as that is how much they would normally be exercising in the wild.
The vast majority of experts recommend that your pets get this exercise outside of the cage (as do we). However, there are many ways to set up your cage so that it will be exercise friendly, including opting for a larger cage so that they will have more than enough room to run around and get their daily exercise.
When Should Chinchillas Get Exercise?
Since chinchillas are crepuscular animals, which means they are most active from dusk onwards, it's crucial that you adjust their exercise routine to their normal active hours. Once you've finished dinner in the evening, you can make sure your room is chinchilla-proofed so you can let them run around outside of the cage and burn some energy.
There is a possibility that your chinchilla will adjust to your own time schedule and be more alert during the daytime hours, which is why it is important to pay attention and listen to your chinchilla if they show signs of being more alert during a particular time period.
Where Should I Let My Chinchilla Get Exercise?
There are many places outside the cage that you can let your chinchilla get exercise in. One option is creating a play area out of a pen meant for larger animals by adding in toys and things to climb over.
Wherever you choose, it’s incredibly important to chinchilla-proof your room. This means: spraying anything you don’t want to be chewed with a chinchilla-safe chew deterrent so the taste is bitter and they abandon the desire to chew; removing any other dangerous items in the room such as cords or random fabric; and closing off any standing water so your chinchilla does not jump in it and get wet.
If you are going to be giving your chinchilla some playtime, it is extremely important that the room they are in is kept cool (in the ballpark of 64F to 68F) in order to keep them cool while exercising and not run the risk of overheating.
How To Tell If Your Chinchilla Is Overexerting Themself
It is possible for your chinchilla to overexert itself during the exercising. While they typically know when to stop, it is important to keep a close eye on any symptoms your chinchilla may exhibit after returning to their cage.
The biggest concern when your chinchilla is overexerting themself is that they may experience heatstroke, so it is essential to recognize the signs that heat stroke may be on its way.
So what are the symptoms? A few are listed below, but when it comes to heat stroke due to overexertion, the rapid breathing patterns are especially important to look out for Heat Stroke Symptoms:
Ears turning red (this is more common in lighter-colored chinchillas)
Rapid breathing patterns
Can Chinchillas Run In A Ball?
A chinchilla cannot be contained in an exercise ball that is designed for other smaller animals, like hamsters or gerbils. This is due to the fact that chinchillas are incredibly susceptible to overheating, and exercise balls can exacerbate this issue significantly.
There are safer alternatives to exercise balls that allow your chinchilla to exercise without being at risk of overheating, such as chinchilla wheels and saucers that are designed to allow the chinchilla to run freely and still get the air that it needs to keep from overheating.
Do Chinchillas Run On Wheels?
So with exercise balls out of the picture, you may be looking to purchase a wheel for your chinchilla to exercise on. Chinchilla wheels can be a great way to allow your chinchilla to get the exercise they need in a small space, and they love to run on them.
Are Chinchilla Wheels Safe?
Using wheels in moderation is 100% safe for your chinchilla! You may be comforted to know that typically chinchillas know their bodies well enough to know when to stop exercising and when to conserve their breath and energy so that they will stay healthy for as long as possible.
I should point out that the caveat here is that you must be aware of what kind of wheel you are using. If you use a wheel from a pet store brand, you might run the risk of your chinchillas getting their feet stuck in the wheel and breaking them.
Additionally, it should be noted that many of the wheels in pet stores are made from plastic - and if you have a chinchilla, you will already be well aware of how dangerous plastic can be to your pet if ingested.
The last thing that needs to be said is that there are some reports that indicate that allowing your chinchilla to run on an exercise wheel can be very beneficial for their immune system as well as helping to prevent respiratory infections.
How Big Should A Wheel Be For A Chinchilla?
No matter what size your chinchilla is, we recommend the wheel to be no smaller than 15" - this will enable your chinchilla to safely utilize their full stride while running without worrying about the wheel not being able to keep up with them and potentially hurting your chinchilla.
Where Should I Put A Chinchilla Wheel
Whether you’ve recently purchased a chinchilla wheel that’s on its way or you already have one, you may be wondering where the best spot in the cage to put your wheel is.
It is recommended that you put your chinchilla's wheel at the bottom of the cage, 2" above the cage’s floor so that he or she will be able to easily mount and dismount the wheel without causing any harm to themselves.
The Benefits Of Going With A Quality Cage Crafters Exercise Wheel
We can’t talk about the benefits of wheels without sharing the benefits of a Quality Cage Chin Spin. The wheel has been expertly designed to be one of the safest wheels for chinchillas to use - it’s chew proof, a solid ring all around, and it comes in multiple powder-coated colors!
Another benefit to our wheels is that they’re practically silent, so if your chinchilla wants to run on it late at night, the noise will be practically silent, letting you get a good night’s sleep(Note: we cannot promise your chinchilla will not wake you up by barking).
What To Do After Chinchilla Exercise
There are a couple of things you need to do after exercise time has ended to ensure your chinchilla is safe and comfortable. The most important is looking for any signs of heatstroke and, if signs are noted, taking preventative measures.
As with overexertion, you should ensure that your chinchilla is left with a fleece covered chin chiller so that they will be able to relax and cool off after they have run and jumped all over the play area.
Our recommendation is to multitask during exercise time and let your chinchilla take a dust bath at the same time. If you do, the time spent cleaning up the dust bath supplies is perfect for keeping an eye on them to make sure they’re doing well.
Knowing the proper steps to ensure your chinchilla's safety while playing during exercise time can make exercise time both fun and safe for you and your chinchilla. Additionally, it is also vital that you are conscious of the safety of the equipment you use for chinchilla exercise.
We hope you’ve taken some great knowledge from this article on how to safely exercise your chinchilla. If you have a photo of your chinchilla on a chin spin, send it to email@example.com and we may feature it on our socials!