There is nothing like getting a new pet and watching them become a part of your family. Baby animals are highly sought after as new pets but usually come with a different set of challenges than adults do. Just as a puppy will have different considerations than a dog, young chinchillas will have their own set of needs to be met. Juvenile chinchillas are much like adults but their proper keeping comes with a few key differences.
How Old is a 'Young' Chinchilla?
Chinchillas are usually weaned when they weigh at least 200 grams and at 8 weeks of age. Most breeders will monitor the kits for a time after separating to make sure they are eating well and gaining weight. By the time you purchase a chinchilla, they will likely be 10-12 weeks old. Chinchillas are considered a juvenile with special care requirements until 5-6 months, although most chinchilla continue to grow until 8-18 months.
Adult chinchillas have sure footing and can do all sorts of acrobatics around a nice tall cage. Baby chins...will try to be acrobatic. They need a few months to develop their muscles to get better at leaping ledge to ledge instead of falling. A fall in a tall cage can lead to injuries including broken bones! Not only this but juvenile chins are notorious for burning through their energy with excessive activity. Energy that should be used for growth and development. Even a wheel is not recommended to be introduced to a chin until they are 5-6 months old
We advise owners of young chinchillas to keep in a relatively small cage- no taller than 24" with not much more floor space than that. Keep their environment simple-a couple ledges to practice jumping and perching and a hide to help them feel secure. If you want to do a playtime outside the cage, do so with extra caution and only for a few minutes a day. We do not advise allowing your chinchilla to come into direct contact with other pets, electrical cords, or any house hold products that can injure or poison them.
All chinchillas have sensitive digestive systems, but a baby's will be particularly delicate. Young chinchillas should have very simple diets. Timothy hay and a good quality pellet are all they really need. They can have any amount of safe wood chews they want! Apple twigs make great treats for chinchillas of all ages. Other chin-safe treats should wait to be introduced slowly after they reach 6 months.
It is always good practice to monitor the weight of your pets. Significant drops or gains in weight can indicate that something is wrong and signal you to contact your vet. Young chinchilla should be steadily gaining weight. A simple kitchen scale is great to have on hand to weigh a chin. Juvenile chinchillas should be weighed at least a couple times a week, and preferably at about the same time of day. Measure the weight in grams to easily see changes. If you are visual, entering the weights into a chart can help you see overall trends. Otherwise just writing them down will be adequate.
Keeping a little journal just for your chin can help you or your vet go back and see when issues might be occurring. Date each entry and note weight and anything that might strike you as unusual. Maybe your chin is laying down at the time when he is usually very active. Maybe he didn't want that apple twig and he ALWAYS eats immediately. Most of the time it won't mean anything, but keeping track of minute details can make a big difference if your pet gets sick or injured.
Young animals will always be a popular choice to add to the family. As long as these guidelines are followed, a baby chinchilla can thrive and grow into a wonderful and entertaining companion. If you have any questions on caring for chinchilla of any age, feel free to send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org.