What You Need to Know When Choosing a Chinchilla Sitter

by Morgan Mulac

What You Need To Know When Choosing A Chinchilla Sitter Image

Like many recently, you may have been bitten by the travel bug (if you want to bring your chin check out our Travel blog here) and want to get away from home for a while. Whether you’re heading to the beach, the mountains, or the city, you’ll need to get a pet sitter for your sweet chin.

As there are so many options of where to find someone to take care of your furry family, it can be overwhelming to figure out what to do. When you're away from your pet, you always want to know that it's well looked after, but if you follow our advice below you’ll be able to rest easy while you’re away.

Finding A Chinchilla Sitter

There are many places to find a pet sitting both online and offline. Many chinchilla rescues and breeders will have recommendations of sitters they can give you, so it can be worth checking in with where you adopted your chinchilla to see if they have any recommendations. Vets will also have good recommendations for sitters and boarding as well.

lady holding a chinchilla

As for online sources, there are many pet sitting sites that allow you to search by location and the ability to take care of exotic animals. Many sitters on these sites will specify the pets they can care for in their descriptions.

Questions To Ask A Sitter

Once you've started looking for a pet sitter, there are a few questions you should ask that are beyond what you would ask of any normal pet sitter.

“How long have you taken care of chinchillas?”

The answer you’re looking for here is one that relies on your level of comfort. Some chinchilla owners may be alright with someone pet sitting who has only taken care of chinchillas for a year or so, while others may be more comfortable knowing someone is an expert in chinchilla care before hiring them.

“Do you have any chinchillas?”

While this is not a necessity, having a pet sitter who has owned a chinchilla can leave you confident that they are in good hands, as typically a chinchilla owner is more knowledgeable of the care that goes into your furry friend.

Chinchilla looking out of blue cage

“How would you clean their cage?”

This is one of the best questions to see how knowledgeable your potential pet sitter is in the care of chinchillas. An inexperienced sitter might not take everything into consideration - like what to do if your chinchilla were to escape their cage as it’s being cleaned.

“Can you visit at routine feeding time?”

Chinchillas thrive on routine, so it’s important that you can keep your sitters' visits close to their regular schedule to minimize the amount of stress that a new person around their cage may cause.

“Do you have a backup plan in case you cannot show up”

Later on, we’ll be going over what to do when your pet sitter, but this is a great question to see how the potential sitter anticipates and works in an emergency.

“Are you insured and bonded?”

Pet sitting insurance and bonding protect both you and your sitter in case of any emergencies. Whether it’s the sitter’s key getting lost, your chinchilla getting sick while you’re away, or a break-in - insurance and bonding cover it all.

“Are you familiar with how to hold and catch a chinchilla?”

Chinchilla held by its tail

It is not unheard of that chinchillas can be sneaky and break out of the cage. Despite the fact that you may know how to handle a chinchilla, a pet sitter may employ a different method than you, or not know how to properly handle a chinchilla. When you ask this question, you ensure that you are comfortable with the fact that your sitter will know exactly what to do in case your chinchilla escapes.

Regulating Temperature On Vacation

One thing to consider, whether or not you have a chinchilla sitter, is regulating the temperature of your chinchilla’s living space. One option that many chinchilla owners rave about is smart thermostats that can be controlled by your smartphone or mobile device.

If you’re like some, you may even have your own dedicated space for your chinchillas and can install a phone-controlled air conditioner, which gives you more power over their immediate space. Make sure you know what to do if your AC unit fails.

Can I Board My Chinchilla

Chinchilla in it's house

You can certainly board your chinchilla! But there are many considerations you need to take into account and things that you should make sure of before sending your chinchilla off to their own vacation at a chinchilla boarding kennel.

Ideally, the questions above should also be asked of a boarding kennel you may select, and not just a pet sitter. It’s also a good idea to ask if you can take a tour through their facilities to make sure everything is clean and the animals currently there are being treated well.

One consideration you will need to think about when boarding your chinchilla is the potential of contagious fungal conditions like ringworm spreading. There’s also some consideration if the stress of boarding will be worse on your chinchilla than leaving them with a sitter.

Things To Look For When Visiting A Boarding Kennel?

Chinchilla behind it's cage

The biggest thing to look for when finding a chinchilla boarding facility is that there’s adequate air conditioning. You can also ask what temperature the establishment keeps their rooms at to make sure it’s in the chinchilla sweet spot.

You should also be looking out to take note of the condition of the chinchilla enclosures, ensuring that water bottles are full, there are plenty of toys for the chinchillas to chew on, and that the cages themself are properly made and not worn down.

Another thing to ask a boarding facility about before choosing them is their emergency policies - including, but not limited to: their preparations if the A/C breaks or power goes out, evacuations, and what they do if a chinchilla happens to escape. This also goes for emergency considerations in place for you, such as your flight getting canceled or delayed and causing you to arrive past the agreed pick-up time.

What If Your Chinchilla Sitter Cancels?

Now there may be a time when you find that your sitter cancels on you and you’re stuck without  pet sitting at the 11th hour. There are a few things you can do, and depending on the length of your trip you can leave your chinchilla alone for a few days.

Before jumping to that, however, let’s talk about what you can do to find a replacement. While you may not want to go back to square one, it’s worth checking in with friends and family to see if they can take care of your chinchillas.

When doing this, it’s recommended to invite them over and walk them through your chinchilla’s routine and explain everything thoroughly  in this case, as long as you’re not gone longer than a week and a half, you may be able to skip on teaching them how to clean their enclosures.

Chinchilla on a shelf

There are also chinchilla Facebook groups with chinchilla owners who will know how to care for your chinchillas, and you may be able to find someone to watch your chinchillas there. However, there are many risks to this option since there’s no official vetting source Facebook gives, so this will require thorough research to make sure the person you’re entrusting with your pets is legitimate and safe.

Can I Leave My Chinchilla Alone For A Weekend

Chinchilla looking out of it's cage

Now let’s say you’re taking a weekend trip and absolutely cannot get someone to take care of your chinchilla. The good news is, with some heavy consideration and a close eye, you can leave your chinchillas alone for a weekend.

This is totally a matter of personal preference and will differ for each chin. Leaving them alone for more than 8 hours might be a concern for some, whereas others feel okay leaving them alone for 24 hours or 48 hours. If you feel comfortable leaving them alone for a day or two, these tips can help.

One tip many owners use and recommend is having a baby monitor or web camera pointed towards your cage so you can keep a close eye on your chinchillas. You can also find models that allow you to listen in and talk to your chinchillas.

How Long Can Chinchillas Go Without Water?

Chinchilla in the kitchen

If you have problems on your trip and cannot get home immediately, you should consider the fact that water is the most important thing for your chinchilla's survival. You should never leave your chinchilla waterless for more than 12 hours at a time, and even that is a stretch.

There are many reasons your chinchillas may be without water, whether it’s a broken ball bearing in the bottle or simply the fact that your chinchilla drinks the whole bottle before you can get home.

There are multiple things you can do to prevent this issue from happening, including using multiple water bottles for your chinchilla's cages - this allows a backup for any scenario you might encounter where your chin may typically run out of water.

If there are any problems with your chinchilla’s water intake, it is worth having a trusted friend or family member come in on occasion to check that everything is running smoothly while you’re gone.

How Long Can Chinchillas Go Without Food?

Chinchilla eating

Now, this is where things get more tricky if your chinchilla sitter cancels. Chinchillas, like many other small pets, are constant eaters (around 60 meals in 24 hours!) so it’s vital to make sure they’re never without food.

The good news is that your chinchillas are very good at self-regulating their eating habits, so you can leave multiple food bowls in their cage filled with both your preferred chinchilla food and timothy hay and they will eat until satisfied and not overfeed themselves.

Again, if you find that you've gone more days than anticipated, it is important to have a trusted friend or family member go check-in and add more food if you only accounted for the time you would be gone.


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