These soft, furry creatures can make excellent pets—as long as you know how to care for them properly. Here, expert advice on how to care for your chinchilla pet.

By Sarah Grossbart
May 23, 2018
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Q: I really want a chinchilla as a pet but have never raised one before. Is there anything I should be aware of before I jump in?

Chinchilla pets require a cage (roughly three feet square) with climbing ramps, a box to hide in, drinking water, and timothy hay—their main food source, says veterinarian Evan Mavromatis. They also need one to two daily tablespoons of pellet food (like Oxbow Essentials Chinchilla Food, $18; jet.com) and a teaspoon of raisins or cranberries a few times per week. To keep her coat shiny, give her a dust bath four times weekly.

The dust mimics pumice in her natural habitat and strips away dirt and oil from her coat. (Bathing with water is a no-no: Her dense fur doesn’t dry easily, and trapped moisture on her skin could leave her vulnerable to infection.) Contain the mess by putting a fish bowl filled with fine sand (All Living Things Small Animal Blue Cloud Dust, $10; petsmart.com) into the cage and letting her roll around for 30 minutes.