Chinchillas can make fantastic pets, however, you should not expect to treat them in the same way you would a pet cat or dog. The great outdoors is an exciting place for most cats and dogs, but Chinchilla’s needs are very different and those bred in captivity do not do so well in outdoor environments. You should certainly not expect your Chinchilla to live outside.
So, can Chinchillas go outside? Chinchillas should not go outside. They are indoor pets that love the home comforts and do not do well outdoors if they have not been bred in the wild. Chinchillas are unable to withstand high and low temperatures and if they are exposed to these elements, they will likely suffer from health problems.
Read On to Discover…
Can Chinchillas Go Outside (More Info)
Chinchillas may be classed as a large rodent, but they are full of energy, relatively quick on their feet, and cannot be trained to obey commands in the same way a dog might.
It would be impossible for you to let your Chinchilla loose in the garden and expect them to come back to you at home time. They would likely be gone forever.
The elements are also a problem for Chinchillas. They do not do well in extreme heat or excessive coldness and this is likely to be a problem no matter where you live in the world.
Exposing your Chin to these elements for long periods will almost always cause health issues. Some of these being fatal.
Chinchillas are most definitely indoor pets and providing the right environment for them to live peacefully and happily, is vitally important.
If you are looking for a pet that likes a bit of time in the garden or a walk around the block, these guys are probably not for you.
The 5 Reasons Why Chinchillas Can’t Go Outside
There are many reasons why it is a bad idea to leave your Chinchilla outside whether that be in a cage unattended or living out permanently.
Let’s consider some of the following:
1. They Will Do a Runner
There’s no doubt about it, if you let your little bundle of joy loose into the back garden, this will likely be the point of no return.
Although we can build bonds with the very special Chin’s in our lives, they do not feel the attachment to you that a cat or dog necessarily would.
Do you see how they bound around and explore your living room when you let them out? By letting them out into your garden, you have opened a whole new world for them to explore which will most definitely exceed your fence boundary.
Don’t rule out jumping into trees and bushes, because that is right up their street!
If you want to ever see your adorable Chin again, please, DO NOT let them out loose in your garden!
Have you ever wondered how fast chinchillas can run? Well, we have the answer in this post here…(the answer just might surprise you)
2. It Can Be Too Hot Outside
Chinchillas do not do well with temperatures that are too hot. Their thick fur can make them completely overheat as they cannot sweat.
Where a dog can sweat through their glands when they are getting too hot, your Chin does not have this luxury. They will be unable to cool themselves down fast enough.
It is very possible that if your Chin has got to the stage where they are overheating they are liable to get heatstroke and potentially die. Some symptoms of heatstroke to look out for in Chinchillas is as follows:
- Heavy Breathing
- Red Ears
- Sprawled out on their side
3. It Can Be too Cold Outside
The cold weather is as equally bad for Chinchillas as hot weather. Any temperature below 50 °F is bad news for your Chin.
If your Chinchilla is exposed to temperatures this low for an extended period, health problems are imminent.
One of the most common occurrences with Chin’s that have experienced severe coldness is respiratory infections and diseases. This can often lead to pneumonia and eventually death.
It’s true to say that although you may be keeping your Chinchilla indoors at all times, temperatures can drop in the home during the colder months, particularly overnight.
Make sure your Chin has plenty of warm cosy places to snuggle into and if you are particularly concerned, invest in a heat lamp to keep temperatures at an even level of warmth.
4. Chinchillas Can Become Scared Outside
Letting your Chinchilla outdoors, even in their cage, can cause a huge amount of stress and anxiety.
Your Chin will hear sounds and noises they have not experienced before. Objects around them they are not familiar with. Feelings of the elements against their fur that feel strange.
This can lead to fear and worry for your Chinchilla which could have been avoided.
Studies at the Acoustical Society of America (ASA) show that Chinchillas have a distinct hearing advantage over other rodents.
Their hearing sensitivity and frequency range severely overlap with humans meaning they can be very conscious of unfamiliar noises around them. Check out the graph below showing the overlap:
You must look at this from your Chinchillas point of view and not your own. You may feel like it will be an exciting adventure for them to go outdoors in their cage and get some fresh air, but in reality, your Chin probably doesn’t want to be outside in the big wide world.
Always consider how your pet is feeling first before forcing them into an unknown, potentially scary situation.
5. Chinchillas Might Be Considered Prey When Outside
For some animals, Chinchillas can be seen as prey. When you think of all the species that may venture into your back garden throughout the day such as cats, foxes, birds, etc.…. it is clear to see how your Chinchilla friend can become very vulnerable.
To a degree, your Chinchilla is much safer out in the garden if they are in their cage rather than being out loose, but being trapped when there is an element of danger present is a scary experience for them.
It isn’t uncommon for rodents and other smaller pets to die of shock if they have been shaken up enough.
Your Chinchilla is no different and leaving them outside in the garden unattended could be a recipe for disaster.
Why Can Wild Chinchillas Live Outside?
Chinchillas are residents of South America and originate from the Andes Mountains.
They live in colonies known as ‘herds’ at elevations of up to 14,000ft. In this type of environment, temperatures can be extreme and since Chinchillas do not do well in environments too hot or too cold, in the wild they have to find ways around these issues to stay protected.
Chinchillas are known to burrow in underground tunnels and rock crevices to keep them nice and cool from the heat of the day.
These hiding places are also highly suitable for when the temperatures drop and they can snuggle inside somewhere that keeps them nice and warm and hidden away from predators.
As you can see, Chinchillas are pretty self-sufficient in the wild. When we bring them into a captive environment it is our duty as responsible owners to provide the correct comfort and care they need which they are unable to do for themselves.
You can also find out how chinchillas bathe themselves in the wild by checking out our fascinating new article here…
Can My Chinchilla Go Outside In Their Cage?
As discussed previously, it is not a wise idea to put your Chinchilla outside in their cage.
Your Chin does not require this from you and it is likely they will be much happier left indoors.
When you think of all the potential dangers outside such as predators and the reality of putting your Chin into a scary, unknown environment, you can see why this is unnecessary.
It is true to say that some owners do put their Chinchillas outside in their cage where they may have become accustomed to this process.
It doesn’t necessarily mean this is the right thing to do, but a sudden change in routine can also have its challenges.
There are a few things you should consider if you decide to take this route with your Chinchillas:
- Always ensure the cage is fully locked before attempting to transfer your Chinchilla outside
- Choose a quiet area in the garden with minimal noise
- Place the cage on hardstanding ground rather than grass
- Do not leave your Chinchilla unattended. Keep an eye on them at all times
Can I Put My Chinchilla Outside In Their Cage in All Weathers?
The simple answer to this question is ’no’. You absolutely cannot put your Chinchilla outside in all weathers.
You will find that most days will be unsuitable to put your Chin outside depending on where in the world you live. This is why putting them outside is not a preferred option.
Chinchillas do not do well in cold weather or hot weather. It is also very unethical to put your Chin outside when it is raining as they will get cold and wet which could lead to pneumonia.
As you can see, there is a very limited window of opportunity for your Chinchilla to go outside and for this reason we strongly advise against this activity.
The table below should give you a good indication of the types of temperatures that Chinchillas will and will not tolerate as well as an ideal temperature range.
This is a particularly helpful guide to use in the home, so you can keep a close eye on the temperature levels indoors.
Recommended Temperature For Chinchillas
Will My Chinchilla Get Bored If They Cannot Go Outside?
Your Chinchilla will not get bored if they do not go outside. They will almost certainly have been bred in captivity and will not know the difference. Going outside can cause them added stress and harm.
Just because your Chinchilla cannot go outside does not mean that boredom won’t kick in.
Like all animals confined to a cage, it is your duty as a responsible owner to ensure that your Chin gets plenty of enrichment and exercise.
Here are a few ways to ensure your Chinchilla gets all the mental and physical stimulation they need:
Chinchillas have lots and lots of energy and require plenty of exercise outside of the cage to keep them happy and healthy.
It may not be a good idea to let them outdoors, but you can most certainly let them loose in your home to let off some of that pent up energy. Make sure you do the following:
- Set Up Your Chinchilla Play Area – prepare in advance
- Keep them confined to one room only
- Never leave them unattended
- Block off any escape routes such as open windows
- Cover any wires or wooden items that you don’t want to be chewed
- Use a Chinchilla exercise pen if you don’t want them to be loose in the entire room.
- Be prepared for lots of Chinchilla poop everywhere.
You can actually see exactly how to set up a chinchilla play area by watching this video…
Chinchillas love to play. It provides them with lots of mental and physical stimulation to be able to lead a happy and healthy life.
There are many types of toys that you can use to play with your Chin and you will find household items are usually the winner.
The inner cardboard tubes found in toilet and kitchen roll make great chew toys. Plastic tubes and toys are also great fun for your Chinchilla and can be purchased at a wide range of pet stores.
Use these toys when you bring your Chinchilla out to play in your home. You will find they are totally smitten with them and this can be a great way for the two of you to bond.
We have also created a full guide that shares how much time your chinchilla needs out of their cage each day and you can check out the guide here…
Cage Boredom Busters
There are many items you can buy to go directly into your Chinchillas cage that will keep them fully entertained at times when they are not out to play. Here are a few of the best ones:
- Dust Bath
- Chinchilla Wheel
- Chew Toys such as Wooden Blocks and Shelving
- Climbing Toys such as platforms, ladders, and hammock
- Hide toys such as caves, boxes, and pipes
If you are looking for a full list of our recommended toys and activities for your chinchillas, then head over to our new post that contains all of our top recommendations and well as where to pick them up for the cheapest prices…
Can You Take A Chinchilla For A Walk in a Harness?
Chinchillas have not been designed to walk in a harness and this is not something that you should attempt with your Chin. It’s a nice idea in theory but could cause more harm than good.
Chinchillas have small, delicate bones that could be injured in conjunction with the use of a harness.
It is likely a harness will not fit them well and they will easily slip out of it. There is also a risk of overheating in a harness thanks to their thick fur.
The expectation that your Chinchilla will walk in a harness is an unrealistic one.
Harness training even for dogs and cats takes a considerable amount of time and patience.
Although it is possible to train your Chinchilla to a degree you are unlikely to be able to achieve this to the same level you would with other species.
In conclusion, Chinchillas are most definitely indoor pets. They do not like the extreme elements and can become frightened and stressed in unfamiliar territory.
You must let your chinchilla out of their cage several times a day, ideally for an hour at a time.
The best way to do this is to let them out in your home rather than outside. It means they get the full benefits of exercise without the confines of the cage, but with less risk of them disappearing on you.
Provide plenty of exercise and enrichment toys indoors and you will find your Chinchilla will be happy as Larry.