Can chinchillas live alone? Yes. Should they? Probably not.
In the wild, chinchillas live in herds can be as big as 100 individuals. They are very social animals and rely on each other for safety and comfort. Since they live together in the wild, it stands to reason that they should live with at least one more chinchilla in your home. Chinchillas are much happier if you house them together, and you will have better pets because they are free to express their natural behaviors (I do recommend that you house same sex pairs together, because chinchilla pregnancies are not a laughing matter and not for the average chinchilla owner).
They will still interact with you and be friendly, sometimes people only want one so that their chinchilla will bond better with them. This isn’t really true, and if you are a responsible chinchilla owner, your chinchilla’s happiness is important – and it will almost always be happier with a friend. And honestly listening to chinchillas squeak at each other is ridiculously cute, so if you have two you won’t miss out on that!
If for some reason you have no choice and have to house your chinchilla alone, recognize that having one will be more work than having two (counterintuitive but true). As their chinchilla parent and buddy, you’ll need to be around to provide the company they are missing. This means socializing your chinchilla several times a day (treats, pets, etc) and letting it out to run around daily for at least 30 minutes. You need to be there as well and interact with your chinchilla, letting him out and walking away is not enough. When I had one of my chinchillas housed alone I would sit down on the floor and study, read or watch netflix while he was out playing. Anything I could do that didn’t require my full attention all the time so I could also pay attention to him.
However if you have a pair of chinchillas they will help keep each other occupied and won’t need to be taken out to socialize every day. That doesn’t mean you shouldn’t take them out – because chinchillas bouncing around a room are adorable – but if you had a long day it would be fine to skip getting them out that night. If you only had one chinchilla, you would need to let it out to socialize regardless of the kind of day you are having.
Whether you plan on keeping a single chinchilla or getting a pair, you’ll still need to meet the same needs for your chinchilla. Below is a list of things your chinchilla needs.
- Hiding spots are a must, especially in a multi chinchilla home. These help chinchillas stay away from annoying housemates. However, even with a single chinchilla, you should provide choices. Make their cage similar to what they’d have in the wild. They don’t have just one little hut. They have multiple hidey holes.
- You should pick up and hold your chinchilla starting at an early age so that they become used to handling. Handling is an essential step for a single chinchilla. If chinchillas are handled at an early age, they may come to see humans as friends. Doing this will help you keep your chinchilla happy and healthy, especially if it is alone.
- As well as picking them up, it would be best if you interacted with your chinchillas by letting them come to you for pets, treats, or play.
- Your chinchilla should have enough food, water, nest boxes, and hiding spots.
- Chinchillas need constant supervision when they are not in their cage. It would be best if you never let your chinchilla out with larger animals as injury or death could occur.
I hope this short article helps you decide whether to have a single chinchilla or two. There isn’t much information on this subject. Some people say that you should never have a single chinchilla. Others say it’s not a big deal, and they’ve successfully had a single chinchilla. In most cases I believe they do better with a friend, but some of it does depend upon the chinchilla. Some may be fine living alone with only their person for company and care. Others may stress out and become depressed if they are alone. For those little guys, it would be best for them to have a companion. I would love to hear from those who do have single chinchillas, and let me know how you do things! Leave a comment below.