Pets are like family members. We only want the very best for them. And when we see our beloved furballs jumping around in the cage we might all be tempted to give it a try and let our chinchillas roam free. But will it come back into the cage at some point? Is it safe to let it run free? And is it even necessary for a chinchilla to have some time outside of the enclosure?
As a whole, it is possible to let a chinchilla run around outside of the cage. A chinchilla can only roam free under the supervision of someone and in a chinchilla-proof area without any possibility to escape.
In the following, you will find detailed information on whether chinchillas can roam free, which security measures you might want to follow, and how much time your chinchilla needs to run around every day.
Can Chinchillas Roam Free?
Chinchillas have lots of energy and need space to move around and exercise. A big enclosure with many different toys, several platforms, and shelves, as well as a running wheel is great for chinchillas to release some of that energy, but it is still recommended to offer a pet chinchilla some time outside of the enclosure.
A chinchilla that is allowed to run around outside of the enclosure should already have a bond with its owner.
A baby chinchilla younger than 6 months might not be bonded enough to you and could get you in a lot of trouble if it decides not to go back into the enclosure, tries to hide in or under furniture, or tries to escape. Don’t underestimate the curiosity and flexibility of a baby chin.
During the playtime, the cage should have open doors at all times. The enclosure is the safe space for a chinchilla and if your pet gets scared, it can always go back into the cage.
Before letting your chinchilla roam free, the room should be made chinchilla-proof, and here is how you do it:
Which Room is the Best for a Chinchilla to Run Free?
Decide which room you want your chinchilla to run around in. The bathroom is off-limits. It is too damp and there are too many possibilities for a chinchilla to get wet. And as we all know, a chinchilla cannot get wet at all.
Choose a room with not too much furniture and hence not too many hiding places. The chinchilla is supposed to run around and explore, and not hide and stay hidden.
Rooms that usually make good playrooms for chins are the living room or the bedroom.
The Room Has to be Escape-Proof
All doors of the room have to be closed, as well as the windows. If you have any ventilation slots or anything similar where a chinchilla might be able to squeeze through, cover these places with tape or heavy furniture.
No Other Pets
If you own any other pets, those are not supposed to be in the room where your chinchilla roams free. Even if these other pets are super tame and won’t hurt the chinchilla, it can still stress the chinchilla out.
Hide Electronic Devices
Chinchillas are known for chewing on everything. Therefore all cords and wires have to be put away and electronic devices should not be standing around. Wires or electronic devices that cannot be stored away can be covered with items that are heavy enough so that a chinchilla cannot push them away.
Chinchillas have a very sensitive digestive system and they are also very curious. Do not let any food stand around. Your curious little chinchilla might be tempted to try it and get sick. No food should be accessible for the chinchilla.
Chinchillas will chew on everything, even carpets, furniture, or drywalls. Some might even nibble on clothes. Spraying chinchilla deterrent spray on things that cannot be hidden, removed, or stored away might make it less attractive for a chinchilla to chew on things, but it is not a guarantee as the instinct to chew is very strong in chinchillas.
This is why a chinchilla cannot run free without supervision.
If you don’t have an area that is chinchilla-proof enough, you can also go for a playpen, where the chinchilla can run around in a bigger area with new toys and objects, but without the risk of eating your furniture.
How Much Out-of-Cage Time Does a Chinchilla Need?
The time a chinchilla should be outside of the enclose depends on several factors. The most important is the size of the enclosure. The bigger and more entertaining a cage is, the less time a chinchilla needs to roam free.
As a whole, chinchillas should be allowed to roam free or be in a playpen outside of the enclosure for at least one hour every day. It is recommended to start with only a few minutes and get the chinchilla used to that kind of exercise, before increasing the time to one hour.
Chinchillas are most active at dusk and dawn, therefore it is best to let your pet run free in the morning or evening hours.
Start with only a few minutes and increase the time slowly. If a chinchilla is not used to that kind of exercise it will get exhausted quickly. Exhaustion can lead to heart strokes, and unfortunately, chinchillas are prone to heart strokes.
One hour at a time is good. If you can, let your chinchilla roam free in the morning and also in the evening. But one hour each day in the evening is also great for your pet.
How Do You Get the Chinchilla Back in the Cage?
The enclosure is a safe space for a chinchilla. It is the place where it rests and sleeps, where the food is, and where it spends most of its time.
If you have issues getting your pet back in the cage, you can try to make the cage more interesting by rustling through the bedding or cleaning the cage. Chinchillas are super curious and will eventually come to see what’s going on.
You can also offer a dust bath inside of the enclosure. Chinchillas love their dust baths and this might also be a great way to lure your chin back into the cage.
Offer your chin a treat, when it went back into the cage, and make sure that it is not a punishment to be in the enclosure. The enclosure itself should be fun and entertaining enough that the chinchillas enjoy their time in there as well as roaming free.
Lisa is one of the two founders of Animal-Knowledge. She has been very interested in animals and insects from a very young age and has owned different kinds of pets such as snails, ants, fish, turtles, mice, rats, hamsters, rabbits, a dog, … you get the idea 🙂