As all caring pet owners know, chinchillas need time out of their cage in order to be both happy and healthy.
The question is, how often should you let your chinchilla out of their cage?
In this post, we will be using the thoughts and opinions of vets and animals experts to answer this question and give you all the information you need to ensure your chinchilla gets ample exercise and lives a healthy life.
So, How Often Should I Let My Chinchilla Out Of Their Cage? Chinchillas should be let out of their cage on a daily basis and for a minimum of 1 hour. Letting your Chinchilla out in the house to play at least once a day is the absolute bare minimum and you should provide more time out of the cage if possible.
Read On to Find Out…
How Often Should I Let My Chinchilla Out Of Their Cage? (More Info)
Chinchillas must be given plenty of time out of their cage throughout the day to fully exercise and let off some steam in a more open environment.
They have tons of energy and it is imperative you allow them to roam relatively freely and climb if possible.
You should be providing your chinchilla with time out of their cage on a daily basis.
This means that as an owner you need to provide your chin with a minimum of 1 exercise, play or enrichment session per day (more on the length of each session shortly)
These can be very simple sessions but it’s important that you get into a routine and be consistent with this.
For a small pet, Chinchillas are quite large and therefore need plenty of room to move around and exercise.
According to the Blue Cross, as a bare minimum, you should be looking at a cage size of around 1m-1.5 metres of floor space to fully meet their welfare needs even whilst they are in their cage.
Even though this will give your Chinchilla plenty of room you must be aware that being in a cage all day long is not ideal and can affect the physical and mental wellbeing of your Chin so time spent outside the cage is vital.
How Much Exercise Do Chinchillas Need?
The very simple answer to this question is to give your chinchilla as much time as you can possibly provide.
Chinchillas weren’t necessarily designed to be kept cooped up in cages, however once domesticated this was the only sensible solution.
Having a Chinchilla living in the home with you in the same way a cat or dog would is not very practical.
One hour of exercise a day outside of their cages is the absolute bare minimum and even then does not give your Chin the full amount of exercise they rightly need.
Here’s a breakdown of how you could structure your chinchillas time out of their cage…
- 30 minute session
- 60 session
You could give them either 2x 30 minute sessions or 1x 60 session.
It’s important to remember that more than 1 hour is recommended and a couple of 60 minute sessions a day is much more ideal and if you can give your chinchilla more time than this they will thank you greatly for it.
It’s also important to remember that the more time your chin spends our of their cage, the more you can bond with them and enjoy your time as a chinchilla owner and also get to see some intriguing behaviours and personalities that aren’t often seen when chins are cooped up in their cages all day.
What’s The Best Time to Let My Chinchillas Out Of Their Cage?
As well as knowing how often to let your chinchilla out of their cage and the duration needed, it’s also wise to understand what time of day is best to let your chinchilla out of their cage too.
We would recommend allowing your chinchilla to get some exercise and enrichment out of the cage when they are nearing their most active times of the day.
This will generally be in the evening as chinchillas are crepuscular so they are most active from dawn until dusk.
The reason why this is a good idea is because you don’t want to let your chins out of their cage while they are sleepy during the day. This won’t result in them getting very much exercise and gaining much from the activity.
If, however, you let your chinchillas out of their cage when they are active and alert then they will enjoy and they are also much more fun for you to be around as an owner as this also helps with the bonding process.
To contradict this point slightly, you can certainly let your chins out of their cages during the day if they aren’t sleeping and look energetic and active enough to play.
This example is really to show that if you had to choose the best time to allow your chin some time out of their cage it would always be when they are m
Why Do Chinchillas Need Time Out Of Their Cage?
If you have ever watched a Chinchilla, particularly at night when they are most active you will have noticed the amount of energy they have.
You will often find them jumping, climbing, and rebounding off the cage walls to be able to release some of that energy and sufficiently exercise.
It is, for this reason that time outside of the cage to stretch their legs and roam a bit further is vital for their wellbeing.
In the wild Chinchillas are very active. They are agile jumpers that reach heights of around 1.8m (6ft). Lively, bubbly and sparky are all words that spring to mind when describing Chinchilla personalities.
If you want to know just how active chinchillas are then head over to our new post where we find out if pet chinchillas are active or if it’s just a myth?
The mental wellbeing of your Chinchilla is important for good health and without sufficient exercise, these guys can become unhappy and depressed.
Fur chewing is a common occurrence for Chinchillas who are stressed, as is refusing to eat food. When a Chinchilla is unhappy or stressed they will show this through exhibiting physical symptoms.
Do Chinchillas Need Time Out Of The Cage If They Have Cage Mates?
Yes. Chinchillas still need as much time out of the cage if they live with others than they do if they live on their own. It’s great that they have company, however, this does not compensate for exercise.
It’s true to say that when they live with other Chins, providing you are housing them in a big enough cage, they will exhibit more playtime.
Having a mate living with them encourages them to play more which in turn increases exercise.
In an ideal world, you need to provide all the Chinchillas that live together with an equal amount of exercise out of their cage.
We always get asked if chinchillas need a cage mate? For these reasons we have just written an easy to follow post that answers all the questions you could possibly have about adding a cage mate for your chinchilla…
You can do this by letting all out together or individually. Some owners prefer to take each Chin out for exercise separately as it’s true to say, they can become boisterous out of the cage and a bit of a handful if you are having to deal with more than one at a time.
Can I Leave My Chinchilla Out Of The Cage Unattended?
Leaving your Chinchilla out of the cage unattended is definitely not a good idea for the welfare of your home. Chinchillas are full of life and love to explore.
You will find when you let your Chins out they will go absolutely everywhere in the home. Think behind sofas, under beds, climbing up display units, etc.….
If you are not keeping track of where your Chinchilla is you may find they have gone missing come home time and you have no idea where they are (speaking from experience).
They can also be pretty destructive when out of the cage and are likely to chew through absolutely everything available to them (also speaking from experience).
Always ensure you keep track of where your Chinchilla is when they are out of the cage and never leave them unattended, particularly if you like your home the way it is!
There are also many risks in the home that your Chinchilla could come up against so it is best to keep an eye on them for their own safety too.
Tips for Making Your House Chinchilla Safe:
Before letting your Chinchilla lose in the home, there are some steps you can take to ensure you have made it completely Chin friendly.
Check out these important tips to make this process go as smoothly as possible:
Limit The Space
Create a safe place for exercise. Limit your Chinchilla to only one room which makes life much easier for you.
Make sure all doors to other areas of the house are fully closed. If you live with others, make them aware that you are letting out your Chinchilla so they do not open doors or enter the room which can provide your Chin with the ideal escape route.
Make sure all your windows are fully closed which often gets forgotten.
Block Off Hiding Places
Try to use a room that is as open and bare as possible. Chinchillas love hiding places and can get themselves into some of the smallest of hiding places.
Make sure these smaller sections are blocked off and keep them in the most open part of the room. This will make it easier for you to keep an eye on what they are doing and will be helpful when you need to get them back in the cage.
Always make sure you do not have wires readily available in the room. Chinchillas love these types of items and chewing through wires is something they do a great job of.
This not only means they have destroyed your electronic devices but can be dangerous for both them and you. Make sure there are no visible wires that can be got at. Some owners choose to wrap their wires in rodent tape to prevent this type of behaviour.
Spray Wooden Items
Chinchillas love to chew through wood even more than they do through wires and when you look around the room it is clear to see all these types of items that can easily get chewed through such as skirting boards, cupboards and the legs of sofas.
A great way of preventing these items from getting chewed is by spraying them with a deterrent spray that emits a bad odor that Chins stay away from.
Many Chinchilla owners choose to use exercise pens as a great way to give their Chins ample exercise without all the fuss of having to chinchilla proof the entire room.
Chinchilla pens are much larger than their cage and give them lots of room to run around and play without them being all over the room and coming up against hazards. It allows you to keep a close eye on them, knowing they are safe and can be helpful when it comes to catching them.
Do I Need to Play With My Chinchilla?
Playing with your Chinchilla can be lots of fun and it is advisable to have a good play with them when you take them out for exercise. Make sure you always get down to their level when playing to allow them to feel less intimidated.
Remember to always play on ‘chin ‘time as we mentioned earlier, which is usually during the evening hours when they are most active. Never force them to play, they will be sure to let you know when they are up for a bit of activity.
There are a variety of toys you can buy for Chin playtime, but there are also many regular household items that can be used which are just as much fun. Let’s take a quick look at some of the best toys Chinchillas absolutely love:
Plastic Tubes & Cardboard
Chinchillas love cardboard and plastic tubes. A great household item to use is the cardboard tube inside the centre of the kitchen roll. Plastic tubes can also be bought quite cheaply in pet stores and both are safe for your chinchillas to nibble and chew at.
You may not quite get the reaction you would with a dog, but chinchillas love to play and are highly curious about any new objects such as balls and soft toys. Throw them into the room and watch your Chin run after them out of complete curiosity.
Wooden blocks and sticks are ideal for Chinchilla playtime. They love these kinds of items and can’t help, but have a nibble and chew.
The great thing about these toys is the solidness of the item so it tends to last a decent amount of time despite all the chewing.
Wooden boxes are great for playtime activity with your Chinchilla. They love to hide and boxes are a great way to allow them to get away from the world if they wish to do so.
Being brought out into the open can be a bit intimidating for some Chinchillas so having one present allows them to feel much safer.
You can check out all the toys and activities we give the thumbs up for your chinchilla by heading over to our recommended toys and activities page which also shares the cheapest place to purchase these recommendations…
How Do I Get My Chinchilla Back In Their Cage?
My experience is telling me to answer this question ‘with great difficulty’ however this is a bit unfair and with some practice, you will find this process much easier as time goes on.
Chinchillas are very quick on their feet and reactive. They don’t respond to us in the same way a cat or dog may do and therefore it can be difficult for them to know when time is up.
The reality is, they probably don’t want you to catch them and put them back in the cage and therefore they will do everything in their power not to be caught. I mean wouldn’t you?
Have you ever wondered if chinchillas know their name? And if they will come to you if they are called?
Well, we have written a guide that answers this very question here…(and the answer just might surprise you)
Here are some great tips that may help your chinchilla to get back in their cage even if they don’t want to:
- Make sure you keep them confined to one room and you block off all hiding places. Keep them in the main open part of the room where it will be much easier to catch.
- Some Chinchillas can be easily caught by hand. Others not so much. If trying to catch by hand, always bring yourself down to their level so as lot to scare them.
- Try and let your Chinchilla come to you rather than the other way round. If they are feeling relaxed around you, they will be much easier to pick up without a fight.
- If you are unable to catch your Chin by hand, try using a travel carrier with some treats in. Chinchillas love treats and it can be a great way to entice them in so you can shut the door and transfer them back to their cage.
Chinchillas love dust baths and if they can see you have provided them with some fresh dust many Chins will make their way back to their cage on their own.
- Always give your Chinchilla as much time out of the cage as you possibly can. One hour a day is the bare minimum.
- Let Chinchillas out one at a time ideally to give them quality exercise time with your undivided attention. It is also less chaotic this way.
- Never leave your Chinchilla unattended. It is dangerous for them and can cause havoc to your home.
- Remember to always Chinchilla proof your house before letting them out to play and exercise. Block up hiding places, close windows, and door and conceal wires and any wooden items that are likely to get chewed.
- Make space for playtime with your Chin. They love to play and there are so many everyday items such as cardboard tubes and boxes that can keep them fully entertained for hours.
- Don’t panic if you can’t get your Chinchilla back in the cage straight away. This takes practice and trial and error. Try to use some of the great tips we have mentioned above. You will have this mastered in no time!