Pet of the week: The chinchilla


Who's this? It is a chinchilla, native of the Andes, and used to scraping a herbivorous living in pretty tough environments, so don't be fooled by the cute little ears and goofy teeth routine. He's a born survivor, so be prepared for him to live up to 15 years.

Would he act tough in my house? Once settled, the "chinch" is a great house guest, but not your typical pet for young children. He's more demanding and intelligent than, say, a rabbit, and can be taught tricks, as he will do anything for a tasty raisin. But he's nocturnal, so only really comes alive after lights-out for most children. Expect to find them (it is always advisable to keep two together) snuggled up in their roomy cage, snoozing all day before night-time foraging. Even though they are living in your house, old habits die hard.

Aren't they famous for their lovely fur? Indeed, and in the wild they are able to keep it soft through regular grooming in dust baths. In the house you have to improvise and make their "baths" for them, though don't go overboard with gold taps and rainwater shower heads. All they need is a shoe-box-sized pit filled with "chilla sand" (available from specialist pet shops).

And what about food? As he is herbivorous, he will mostly be eating hay, but it is advisable to supplement this with a fibrous pellet (again available from pet stores).

Who might own a chinch? Because their fur is so soft, the creature has always been prized highly, and even that shrinking violet Madonna has been seen wearing a chinchilla fur coat. But if you would rather play with your pets than wear them, they will suit most people who are prepared to spend a bit of evening time with them.

How do I get one? We spoke to the very helpful Roman Gesikowski of R&J Chinchilla Rescue, who has some 270 chinches in his care – many people are taken by surprise at the animals' longevity and think they can just hand them back. For more information, call Roman on 01933 387131, or visit rj-chinchillarescue.co.uk

Discover more property articles at Homes and Property
Suggested Topics
Property search
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: IT Engineer

£21000 - £23600 per annum: Recruitment Genius: An exciting opportunity to join...

Recruitment Genius: Purchase Ledger & Arrears Supervisor

£22000 - £27000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: If you are an experienced super...

Recruitment Genius: Graphic Web Designer

£23000 - £27000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Due to expansion, this leading ...

Recruitment Genius: Web Developer

£23000 - £27000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Due to expansion, this leading ...

Day In a Page

The saffron censorship that governs India: Why national pride and religious sentiment trump freedom of expression

The saffron censorship that governs India

Zareer Masani reveals why national pride and religious sentiment trump freedom of expression
Prince Charles' 'black spider' letters to be published 'within weeks'

Prince Charles' 'black spider' letters to be published 'within weeks'

Supreme Court rules Dominic Grieve's ministerial veto was invalid
Distressed Zayn Malik fans are cutting themselves - how did fandom get so dark?

How did fandom get so dark?

Grief over Zayn Malik's exit from One Direction seemed amusing until stories of mass 'cutting' emerged. Experts tell Gillian Orr the distress is real, and the girls need support
The galaxy collisions that shed light on unseen parallel Universe

The cosmic collisions that have shed light on unseen parallel Universe

Dark matter study gives scientists insight into mystery of space
The Swedes are adding a gender-neutral pronoun to their dictionary

Swedes introduce gender-neutral pronoun

Why, asks Simon Usborne, must English still struggle awkwardly with the likes of 's/he' and 'they'?
Disney's mega money-making formula: 'Human' remakes of cartoon classics are part of a lucrative, long-term creative plan

Disney's mega money-making formula

'Human' remakes of cartoon classics are part of a lucrative, long-term creative plan
Lobster has gone mainstream with supermarket bargains for £10 or less - but is it any good?

Lobster has gone mainstream

Anthea Gerrie, raised on meaty specimens from the waters around Maine, reveals how to cook up an affordable feast
Easter 2015: 14 best decorations

14 best Easter decorations

Get into the Easter spirit with our pick of accessories, ornaments and tableware
Paul Scholes column: Gareth Bale would be a perfect fit at Manchester United and could turn them into serious title contenders next season

Paul Scholes column

Gareth Bale would be a perfect fit at Manchester United and could turn them into serious title contenders next season
Inside the Kansas greenhouses where Monsanto is 'playing God' with the future of the planet

The future of GM

The greenhouses where Monsanto 'plays God' with the future of the planet
Britain's mild winters could be numbered: why global warming is leaving UK chillier

Britain's mild winters could be numbered

Gulf Stream is slowing down faster than ever, scientists say
Government gives £250,000 to Independent appeal

Government gives £250,000 to Independent appeal

Donation brings total raised by Homeless Veterans campaign to at least £1.25m
Oh dear, the most borrowed book at Bank of England library doesn't inspire confidence

The most borrowed book at Bank of England library? Oh dear

The book's fifth edition is used for Edexcel exams
Cowslips vs honeysuckle: The hunt for the UK’s favourite wildflower

Cowslips vs honeysuckle

It's the hunt for UK’s favourite wildflower
Child abuse scandal: Did a botched blackmail attempt by South African intelligence help Cyril Smith escape justice?

Did a botched blackmail attempt help Cyril Smith escape justice?

A fresh twist reveals the Liberal MP was targeted by the notorious South African intelligence agency Boss