Chinchilla Costs and how to account for them.
Learn about chinchilla costs before you adopt.
There are many factors that should influence the decision to get a new pet: What type of pet is right for you? Are you prepared to dedicate enough time to them? Can you provide a safe environment? And, if you are a responsible pet owner, you should most definitely be asking yourself, “Can I handle the financial obligations that will come with owning my new pet?” That’s why we’ve written this blog breaking down specific chinchilla costs.
How to know if you are ready for a chinchilla …
Owning a pet means you are committing to taking care of the animal for its lifetime (which is another topic you should research before settling on a pet—if well taken care of, chinchillas can live 15-20 years). As with many substantial commitments, many people are taken aback by unforeseen expenses. In fact, millions of animals are abandoned every year and peoples’ inability to financially support them is a frequently cited reason. And while you cannot account for every possible expense, with due diligence, you can get an approximate outlook of how much it will cost.
In that vein, we have broken down the chinchilla costs you should anticipate when calculating how expensive it is to take on the responsibility.
Finding your chinchilla
While there are numerous places you can find to buy a chinchilla, we strongly advocate for adopting a rescue instead. Adoption fees will vary by organization, so research resources in your area to get an idea of the costs associated, or get in touch with our friends at NOLA Chinchilla Rescue or Aces Up Chinchillas to see if they can help steer you in the right direction.
If for some reason adopting a rescue chinchilla is not an option (though with the number of chinchillas needing good homes, it is unlikely), look to get one from a reputable breeder. The breeder should be willing and able to put you in touch with others who have adopted chinchillas from them in the past and positive testimonials. Another good way to vet a breeder is to see what organizations they are affiliated with, like the Chinchilla Club Breeder Directory, the Mutation Chinchilla Breeders Association or the Empress Chinchilla Breeders Cooperative. Beware, your chinchilla's personality can change over their lifetime. Kind of like teenagers.
Under no circumstances should you buy a chinchilla from a pet store.
So, all of that being said, chinchillas cost anywhere from $150-$350.
New owner checklist
Alright, so you have gotten in touch with a rescue organization or breeder and will be bringing your new family member home soon. What do you need to get ready for your chinchilla?
Luckily, our friends over at Let’s Love Chinchillas have put together a good New Owner Checklist. Here is their list along with what you should expect to pay for each item:
A chinchilla safe cage: The cage should be plastic free and large enough for your chinchilla. Our Chinchilla Mansion, for example, measures 30"w x 24"d x 48"h and costs $289.99. Alternatively, the Chinchilla Condo is 30"w x 24"d x 24"h and costs $229.99. There are some smaller cages on the market, but the main cage should not be a lot smaller than that.
Multiple wooden ledges: Wooden ledges inside the cage offer your chinchilla a place to rest as well as the opportunity to exercise by jumping from ledge to ledge (make sure they are not spaced too far apart!). Quality ledges come in a variety of sizes and range in price from 9.99 to $15.99 per piece.
Metal or ceramic food dish: Having a food dish made out of metal or ceramic is crucial for the health of your chinchilla—you do not want them to chew up a plastic bowl! Plan to spend anywhere from $4-$9, depending on the specific bowl you choose. Our Galvanized Coop Cups are $5 and have hooks to attach to the sides of the cage to avoid tipping over.
Glass water bottle: Hydration is crucial! And, again, plastic is a huge no-no for chinchillas. Getting your chinchilla a bottle made out of glass will cost anywhere from $5 up to $25, depending on the specific bottle you choose. We personally like the 16 ounce Lixit water bottle, which we provide for $7.75.
A dust bath house: Chinchillas require regular bathing in a special substance called chinchilla dust. (For more on this, check out our previous post about chinchilla grooming.) To facilitate this, a good dust bath house is necessary. Plan to spend $10-$15 for a good dust bath house. If it is not important to you that the dust bath house look like a house or a barn (promise, your chinchilla doesn’t care how adorable it is), you could also get creative here and use a small goldfish bowl or another small container.
Chew toys: Chinchillas are incredibly intelligent and need to be entertained. Chew toys come in a variety of shapes and materials (make sure it’s chinchilla safe!) and will cost anywhere from $3-$10 per piece.
Hidey house: Also known as a hide away, nesting box or chinchilla house, this chinchilla accessory provides an important respite for your chinchilla. They also come in a variety of materials—again, be sure to avoid plastic and any unsafe woods!—which means that there’s a large range of price points. Those on a budget would probably be able to find a suitable beginning hidey house for $10-$15. Our metal nesting box retails for $39.99 and has the added benefit of helping to keep your temperature sensitive chinchilla cool.
Hay feeder: This is another one of the chinchilla supplies that has a huge range of price points because of the plethora of chinchilla hay feeders. Very basic metal feeders can be found for as little as $4 (we sell a basic, high quality one for $6), while there are some higher quality ones and some made out of wood that are upwards of $30.
Initial Costs Total: $250-$450, depending on the products you choose.
A quality chinchilla pellet: Oxbow Chinchilla Food is our favorite and a 5-pound bag can be easily acquired from multiple vendors for around $10. Assuming you are feeding a single chinchilla the recommended 2-3 tbsp. of food per day, the 5-pound bag will last you about 2 months, meaning the cost for pellets will roughly average out to $5.
Safe treats: There are a ton of treats available for your chinchilla—and even some homemade stuff you can do at home. This will really vary based on the preferences of both you and your chinchilla. Another $5 per month should be enough to get healthy treats for your chinchilla—remember, it is important not to let them overdo it with the treats, so you will only be giving them sparingly!
Bathing Dust: Our favorite is Blue Cloud Dust, which costs around $9 for a 3-pound container, depending on where you buy it. You only need a small amount of dust for each bath, though it should be changed regularly … the 3-pound container should last you a long while and you should only have to replace it a few times per year.
Timothy hay (or other safe hay): Timothy hay is the most popular choice for chinchillas. It is incredibly affordable, especially if you buy it in bulk. However, the amount you will use will depend on your individual chinchilla and her preferences. You would be safe if you budgeted $5 per month for Timothy hay.
Chew sticks/blocks: These are another item that will vary in the amount you need to buy based on your chinchilla’s habits. However, they have an incredible shelf life and you can find significant savings if you buy in bulk. A $5/month budget on this front should be more than adequate.
Ongoing Expenses Total: $22-ish/month
We hope that this article has been helpful in giving you perspective into chinchilla costs. Remember, the article only offers approximations and does not take into account important things like veterinary bills (will vary immensely based on where you live and health of your chinchilla) and things like travel cages. However, it is useful to start to get a baseline idea of the financial commitment involved so that you can make a responsible decision when choosing to add a chinchilla to your family.