What is the lifespan of a chinchilla? Be ready for a lifelong friend.

5 comments by Morgan Mulac

Resting Chinchilla with text "What is the lifespan of a chinchilla? Be ready for a lifelong friend."

One of the first things pet owners think about when considering getting a chinchilla is how long it will live. The life expectancy of your chinchilla may vary depending on a number of factors that we will discuss below - but the good news is that with Proper Chinchilla Care, chinchillas can live quite a long time!

In this blog, you will discover everything you need to know about the average lifespan of a pet chinchilla, the lifespan of a wild chinchilla, and how you can ensure that your pet lives a long and healthy life.

How Long Do Pet Chinchillas In Captivity Live?

Baby chinchilla sitting next to adult chinchilla

When properly cared for, pet chinchillas and chinchillas in captivity can live up to an average lifespan of 20 years. This is one of the longest lifespans of any animal in the rodent family, the closest average lifespans only being 4-8 years for degus and guinea pigs. 

This raises a valid concern for owners that owning chinchillas will be a substantial commitment time-wise. 

While taking care of any pet is a big undertaking, caring for chinchillas will be an especially long-term commitment. This may not be for everyone.

How Long Do Chinchillas Live In The Wild?

Wild Chinchilla lifespan can reach 8-10 years. Which is noticeably shorter than their pet counterparts. 

There are many different reasons for this, but the two biggest factors are predators and habitat loss in the Andes. 

Among the ways in which a wild chinchilla keep themselves safe is by being in huge herds of wild chinchillas, and listening out for danger with their large ears to alert them of any potential danger.

Because of this, wild chinchillas have been listed on the endangered species list and are protected by local governments in order to ensure their survival. 

Why Do Pet Chinchillas Live So Long Compared To Wild Chinchillas?

Young girl holding a baby pet chinchilla

While there’s not one specific reason we can point to as to why pet chinchilla lifespan is so long, many experts theorize that the delay in their development compared to other animals in the Rodentia family may have something to do with it. 

The gestation period of a pet chinchilla is around 111 days. Compared to animals like guinea pigs or rats, which range from 20-60 days. Chinchillas have an exponentially longer gestation period - and often when animals have longer development like this, they tend to live longer overall.

Chinchilla Science Fact:

In some studies - scientists have found certain animals, including chinchillas, have a protein in their bodies that fights the aging process. However, this has not been researched in its entirety so it is unknown if this plays a large factor in their long lives. 

How You Can Help Your Chinchilla Live Longer

Elderly woman holding her pet chinchilla

Now let’s talk about how you can help your chinchilla live their life to its fullest extent. Like with most living beings on the planet, a good diet, proper medical care, and exercise are three key factors that ensure a longer chinchilla lifespan. 

Having The Chinchilla Proper Diet

Chinchilla next to a food dish

It has been well established on our blogs that it is incredibly important for your chinchilla to have a good diet to live a long and healthy life.

We recommend that you find pellet food blends without preservatives or fillers so you can ensure that they are getting all the nutrients and fibers they need and not picking over important items in a loose food blend. 

Timothy hay is also an incredibly important part of a chinchilla's diet, as this is where they get the bulk of their fiber from. 

While there are other hays that are suitable for your chinchilla to consume - most owners will recommend Timothy hay as it is easily found in pet stores and is one of the best nutrient-wise.

Regular Vet Checkups

In order to make sure your chinchilla stays healthy and happy, you must have regular vet checkups. A chinchilla's tendency to hide injuries and illnesses until it is too late is well-known to many owners. 

If you do not have a chinchilla Veterinarian, check out our blog on how to find one.

We recommend you take your chinchilla to a vet within 48 hours after adopting them, regardless of where you had adopted them from, to ensure there are no infections or diseases that the previous owner, shelter, or breeder missed. 

Chinchilla having a checkup at the veterinarian

Following this, all that should need to be done is a yearly check-up. Regardless, if things appear to be amiss with your chinchilla it is extremely important to get your chinchilla checked out as soon as possible. 

If your chinchilla is disabled, this could change and we recommend checking out our blog on caring for disabled chinchillas for more information on their care.

Preventing Chinchilla Illness 

Fortunately, a lot of the problems that chinchillas can encounter can be easily prevented with just a little bit of care and attention. We’re going to list the most common three below and how you can prevent them, 

Malocclusion In Chinchillas

Despite the fact that malocclusion, or misaligned teeth, is one of the most serious conditions a chinchilla can suffer from, the good news is that in most cases, it’s entirely preventable.

When animals with continuous growth of their incisors, such as chinchillas, have malocclusion it presents a serious problem as their mouths will be filled with pain as well as cuts because of misaligned teeth, resulting in severe discomfort for them.

The best way to prevent malocclusion is to make sure that your chinchilla has plenty of toys that they can chew on in their cage - things like pumice, kiln-dried pine, and apple sticks work best to wear down your chinchilla's teeth. 

Bloating In Chinchillas

Bloat is another serious condition in chinchillas that, at most times, can be entirely prevented. 

Chinchillas get bloat just like humans do

If you’re unfamiliar with what bloat is, it’s a condition where gas builds up in the stomach and has nowhere to go - which can cause extreme amounts of discomfort for them if not treated.

The biggest way to prevent bloat in chinchillas is to ensure that they have a consistent and healthy diet.

As well as making sure your chinchilla is not overeating (though this is more common from chinchillas who came from a neglected household rather than a breeder)

In addition to doing these things, you should also ensure that there is no plastic or fabric that your chinchilla is going to chew on in their cage since this is another common cause of bloat in chinchillas.

Ringworm In Chinchillas

Although less serious than the two conditions above, ringworm can still cause a great deal of discomfort for your chinchilla. The primary symptoms include itchy and dry skin and a fair amount of fur loss. 

The best preventive measures you can take to prevent ringworm in your chinchilla are to keep their cage clean, be wary of buying second-hand items (and cleaning them thoroughly if you have to), and decrease contact with anyone who has a fungal infection currently. 

If you have a fungal infection and are the only person who can take care of your chinchillas at that time, we highly recommend frequent handwashing and putting an antifungal powder such as Desenex into your chinchilla's dust bath.

Keeping Your Chinchilla's Cage Clean

It is crucial to keep a chinchilla's cage clean not only in order to prevent illnesses, but also in order to reduce stress and give your chinchilla more room to move about in. 

We have an article about cleaning your chinchilla's cage here - but we’ll also go through the basics of cage cleaning here. 

Cage Cleaning Schedule:

Daily cleaning should include sweeping out your chinchilla's cage of excess poop and hay, and spot-cleaning any pee if you see it.

We also recommend taking a close look daily to ensure there’s nothing to be concerned about such as diarrhea, blood, or any broken items your chinchilla could hurt themselves with. 

The weekly cleaning of your chinchillas should include taking out the fleece and replacing it with fresh fleece, washing it, and wiping down the bars and cage with a water and vinegar solution.

What we recommend for monthly cleaning is taking everything out and disinfecting it while you let your chinchilla enjoy playtime. 

There are many different cleaners out there (highlighted in the cage cleaning blog above), so what you use to disinfect is mostly a matter of preference.

Proper Chinchilla Socialization

When it comes to chinchillas, they are often quite social creatures and thrive best when they are bonded with another chinchilla and when they have this proper socialization, it tends to dramatically improve their well-being.

Chinchilla talking to another chinchilla

If you don’t have a bonded pair of chinchillas, that’s okay! Chinchillas can be just as happy socializing with their humans around as other chinchillas - so you can spend your chinchilla's playtime sitting with them and keeping them company. 

Chinchilla being held and loved by its owner

The biggest reason socializing your chinchilla is so important is to reduce their stress levels, as loneliness is one of the biggest causes for a chinchilla to be stressed by injury and illness. (And stress can sometimes cause illnesses or make them worse!) So taking these steps can ensure your chinchilla remains healthy. 

Chinchilla Exercise

Lastly, exercise is one of the most crucial ways you can ensure your chinchilla lives a long life.

This helps keep their body in good shape and prevents your chinchilla from becoming overweight, which can host a myriad of problems to their health.

We recommend using one of our Chin Spin wheels, so your chinchilla can exercise at their own pace and whenever they feel like it - the best part? The wheel is silent so you won’t hear a thing if your chinchilla decides to go for a run in the middle of the night!

Chinchilla in its cage after running on chin spin exercise wheel

In addition to many cage configurations you can make to allow your chinchilla to exercise easier, this is where routine playtime is incredibly helpful! This allows your chinchilla time out of their cage to run around to their heart's content. 

In Conclusion

The lifespan of a chinchilla can vary from 15 to 20 years when properly cared for and provided with the proper attention. So you can be assured you will have a long-term furry friend when you adopt a chinchilla. 

There are many things to consider when thinking about how long a chinchilla lives, but with the right knowledge and resources, you can be confident that your chinchilla will live a long and healthy life. 

Questions?

Have Questions About Chinchilla Lifespan or Chinchillas?

Email us at cages@qualitycage.com

 

Author Bio: Morgan Mulac
Morgan has been a professional copywriter for over five years. Morgan also happens to be a chinchilla owner for many years. Now she is merging her two passions to create chinchilla expert care guides to help other chinchilla owners.
Morgan loves all things artistic and enjoys making others happy through her art and stories.

5 comments


  • Diane

    Sadly, my latest chinchilla died today after appearing very normal and health; will go to Vet tomorrow to see if cause can be found. I have had chinchillas (15) over many decades and it is important to know that though their life span is given as 12 to 20 years, most have much shorter lifespans even if you do everything correctly and it can be very sudden and unexpected. Some are prone to respiratory problems, others have tooth problems, some scare and faint easily (and they stop breathing and need to be gently shaken to start breathing again), and some have digestive problems. They are a wonderful pet, especially if you get them quite young, but giving the expectation that they are likely to live 10 to 20 years sets people up for heartbreak.


  • Lee

    I have had my Gizzmo since 2009. He gets a dust bath every day and 3 organic dried blueberries a day. Muzzuri brand pellets are what I use and are used in zoos around the world. When I used a brand of food that had dried fruit, he did what is called selective eating, while making quite the mess.
    He loves Timothy brand hay, I put a couple fresh handfuls a day in.
    One more thing, I have been through about 5 water bottles the seals deteriorate.
    They absolutely must have a working running wheel.


  • Amanda

    Sometimes theres nothing you can do I had 2 chinchillas and one passed away at 5 because he had to have 3 surgeries on his back teeth as he wasn’t keeping them trim even though he had everything in his cage to help that…he had timothy hay and good food pellets and plenty of wooden toys to chew on. Yet my other chinchilla’s teeth are fine. Sadly it was becoming every 4 weeks which is no life for a chinchilla as they take longer to recover. They have their sandbaths frequently (twice a week) and cleaned out every week on the same day without fail.


  • Alyssa

    I recently got two chinchillas for Christmas and have done LOTS of research. A lot of websites say they live 10-15 years, and before I got them I had a hamster and he only live for a year, so when he died a wanted a pet that lived longer. (hamsters live for 1-2 year(s) first I researched gunia pigs and I used this website and realized it mentions chinchillas live 20+ years! -This website was very helpful to me thank you, this is why I got my beloved snowball and willow.


  • Lily

    I am trying to convince my mom to get me a chinchilla for Christmas. The first time I saw these fluffy fur balls I knew I needed one. This sight really helped me for all the facts I needed to help convince my mom. Especially the story of radar it was very heart warming. I hope this sight does good and gets every thing it needs to thrive and get popular. Hopefully my mom says yes! And again thank you so much for the help.


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