This list will help you prepare yourself for the adoption process by explaining what you might expect and how you can be prepared. However, it is not intended as a substitute for professional advice from the rescue or shelter where you choose to adopt your chinchilla. They will have already done most of your preparation work before they contact you about adopting your new pet.
Ensure it’s a good fit for you
Adopting a chinchilla is like adopting a child. You need to make sure that it will be a good fit. Don’t feel pressured into deciding. It’s okay to decide that you’re not ready to adopt or that the timing just isn’t right.
Treat the chinchilla adoption process just like you would any other major purchase. Do your research and set some time aside to visit the adoption center and make your decision. If you can, visit the adoption center first without your children so you can get an idea of how the animals respond to their environment and learn about their needs on your own.
Have realistic expectations for your new pet
Chinchillas are silent and clean animals. You can train them to use a litter pan and will not make a mess in their housing cages. However, they are also nocturnal and active at night, which may be inconvenient for some people.
Chinchilla care is a time-consuming endeavor that requires frequent interaction with your pet, so be sure you know what you’re getting yourself into before purchasing a chinchilla.
Meet with a breeder or rescue organization
Unless you have prior experience with chinchillas or other small rodents, it might be wise to meet with a breeder or rescue organization before deciding if these animals are right for you. You will want to ask lots of questions about their temperament and health history, as well as the care they will require when living in your home. You should also make sure that you can handle a chinchilla properly without being bitten – even though they don’t frequently bite humans, they still can.
Adoption process may take some time
It is not uncommon for an adoption process to take a few days or even a week. The length depends on the number of people interested in meeting your pet (chinchillas are very popular pets!), and how quickly you and the chinchillas’s owner can work out an arrangement.
Many people who are interested in adopting a chinchilla need to be matched with the right fit for their household. That process can sometimes take time, and there is nothing wrong with that. The best thing you can do as an adopter is to be patient and understanding.
We want our animals to go to forever homes and not just give them away because someone wants an animal, but does not really want the responsibility of owning an animal. Chinchillas are very intelligent animals, so if you do not really want one, do not come in, ask questions and then take one home.
Consider carefully before rescuing a chinchilla from abroad
Rescuing an animal from abroad is a serious commitment, and can be a lengthy process. Chinchillas are illegal in certain countries, and you need to check with the relevant wildlife authorities to ensure they’re not on the endangered list in that country.
Tens of thousands of chinchillas have been imported into the US over the years with very little screening by either the importer or pet store. Chinchillas are highly susceptible to stress, and many have died.
The main issue is that both pet stores and individuals import chinchillas without having facilities for quarantine, treatment and care for them. Many die during transit, in quarantine, or soon after being released into new homes for this reason.
If you decide to adopt from overseas, make sure you do your homework first – check out the rescue organization’s facilities, meet the staff that will handle your new friend, ask them lots of questions about their experience and success rates, etc.
In all cases, ensure that your new friend is legally permitted into your country before handing over any money! Trying to rescue one without the correct paperwork could cause fines or imprisonment.
Ask for your chinchilla’s medical history
It’s important to know if the chinchilla you are adopting has any health problems. When you ask for medical history, be sure to ask if they have had problems before and what they were. If they have some sort of issue, ask how often they have the issue and what it is. You also want to ask what their diet comprises, along with any special dietary needs.
Ask the rescue what health issues the chinchilla has and document those issues in your adoption contract. If you are adopting a chinchilla from a private owner, request that their veterinarian examine your chinchilla within 10 days of adoption for free or discounted veterinary care.
Chinchillas are susceptible to respiratory infections and gastrointestinal viruses, so it’s very important that you make sure your new pet has had a recent health checkup. Most shelters will perform a checkup before adoption, but some won’t. Make sure you find out the policy before adopting a chinchilla from a shelter or rescue.
Chinchillas can develop a variety of health problems later in life because of improper diet, genetics, or injury during breeding and birth. Rescues do not always know the medical history of the animals they are trying to place, but will do what they can to give you all the information.
Introduce your chinchilla to the exotic pet vet as soon as possible
Unless you’re adopting a chinchilla from a breeder, the animal has probably been treated for ticks and mites by a vet. It’s important to get your chinchilla checked out by the exotic pet vet as soon as possible.
Chinchillas are also very sensitive to stress, so it is important that you introduce them to their veterinarian early on. This will make it easier to diagnose any health problems early on, so that you can take appropriate measures to resolve them. If you discover any health problems after they have gotten worse or complicated, this can be more costly and stressful for your chinchilla.
Many vets that provide veterinary services for dogs and cats do not know how to properly care for a chinchilla because their needs differ from other animals. It is important that you find an exotic animal veterinarian who is knowledgeable about caring for chinchillas.
Treating a sick pet is much more expensive than taking preventative care. A single trip to the exotic pet vet can cost several hundred dollars, so make sure you’re prepared to take your new friend to the vet if they need treatment.
Consider the cost
The cost of a chinchilla adoption ranges anywhere from $10 to $100. Some pets are free, while others require all their shots, spaying or neutering and other necessary treatments. The cost of a chinchilla adoption can differ depending on location, where you live and pet store choice. Chinchillas are sold at many pet stores, but do your research and find the best possible deal for the animal you want to adopt.
Take out pet insurance, even for chinchillas
Chinchilla insurance can cost $10/month (depending on the company), but it may cover 90% vet bills should your chinchilla become ill. Chinchillas have a long lifespan (up to 20 years), so it’s worth investing in insurance in case there are any unexpected costs down the line.
1. Adopt from a rescue group or shelter.
2. Make a commitment to life. Chinchillas have a lifespan of 10-12 years!
3. Invest in a good quality cage and accessories. These animals are very intelligent and curious and need plenty of enrichment, so don’t scrimp on the cage size or equipment.
4. Don’t buy just one chinchilla as companionship for another—they’re social animals and should be with other chins.
5. Be prepared for your newly adopted chin to be quite shy and scared when you first bring him/her home (this could take days, weeks, or months). This is normal, so don’t give up if your chin doesn’t immediately warm up to you!
6. Do lots of research before deciding on your species, color, sex, etc., and make sure you are ready to commit to that particular type of chinchilla for the long haul (no trading, please!)
7. Research proper care techniques and what vaccinations are necessary before adopting a chinchilla—it’s not enough just to provide food and water; these little guys need lots of attention and care.
You now know the basics of getting a chinchilla, and hopefully you can see the appeal. But don’t forget: you’re committing to a lifelong friendship here, so be sure it’s what you want before you bring a chinchilla home! We believe that the care factor makes up for any downsides, but not everyone has the time or the patience to commit to one.
We hope that we have at least piqued your interest in these adorable creatures. Whether you consider adopting, remember always to love animals for who they are: unique individuals who deserve far more than suffering at the hands of humans.