Although Chinchillas are considered exotic pets, they are relatively inexpensive to keep compared to other exotic animals, after the initial costs, making them an excellent choice for pet owners on a budget.
That being said, they are exotic animals, so veterinary costs are usually higher than other small pets. They also have long lifespans, and these costs can add up over time. In this article, we’ll provide an in-depth breakdown of all the requirements of owning a Chinchilla, as well as all the associated costs. Let’s get started!
Bringing Home a New Chinchilla: One-Time Costs
First off, the initial cost of the Chinchilla itself can vary widely, depending on the breeder and the Chinchilla’s coloring. Standard grey Chinchillas are typically cheaper. Chinchillas cost $80 – $150 from breeders. Colored Chinchillas are a fair bit more expensive — if you can even find them. Show quality or pedigree Chinchillas can also fetch fairly high prices.
Besides the Chinchilla, you’ll also need a good-quality cage that is large enough to give your pet plenty of space to climb and play. This is the most expensive item besides the Chin itself.
There are plenty of would-be Chinchilla owners who see one of these adorable creatures and decide that they’d make a great pet without doing the necessary research. Despite their small size, Chinchillas are a big responsibility, and many people rush into purchasing one without realizing this. In these cases, owners will often be happy to give them away for free, along with the cage and accessories!
Some owners in your area may also have a pair of Chinchillas that have unexpectedly bred, and they may be willing to give away the babies for free.
Adopting a Chin from a shelter is a great way to give these little creatures a second chance, and this is the route that we highly recommend. These animals usually come to shelters from owners who did not understand the responsibility of caring for a Chinchilla. When adopting a Chinchilla from a shelter, there are usually small costs involved, but it is typically far less than purchasing from a breeder. Plus, you’ll be giving a home to a Chinchilla in need!
Check your local SPCA or adoption shelter, classifieds, or online. There may a Chinchilla in need of a home.
While exotic pets tend to be more on the expensive side, Chinchillas have been domesticated for a long time, and there are plenty of reputable breeders around, meaning that you can expect the Chinchilla price to be between $150 and $400. Ideally, they should be registered with a breeder’s association of some kind and have testimonials to show you from past clients. Again, the cost of buying a Chinchilla from a breeder will depend on availability, pedigree, and coloring, and they can go for up to $400 in some cases.
We highly recommend avoiding buying Chinchillas from pet stores. These animals are often bred in poor conditions just to make money, and you can never be sure of their health or lineage.
There are two types of Chinchilla varieties available: long-tailed Chinchillas and short-tailed Chinchillas. Short-tailed Chinchillas are typically bigger, with thicker fur and heavier bodies, but there is little difference in the cost or the temperament of the two varieties.
Chinchillas need plenty of vertical climbing space, and as such, their cage can often end up costing more than the Chinchilla itself. Their cage should have plenty of room, and the bigger it is, the better. At a minimum, you’ll need a cage that is 30 inches wide by 48 inches high. You’ll also need multiple wooden ledges for them to play on and rest on, food dishes, water bottles, a dust bathing house, chew toys, and nesting boxes, all of which can swiftly add up.
List of Chinchilla Care Supplies & Cost
|Climbing ledges, ladders, and ramps
|Metal or ceramic food dish
|Water bottle (glass)
|Dust bathing house
|Running wheel (optional)
$300-$350 per year
Your Chinchilla will also need food (pellets and fresh fruit and vegetables), treats, bathing dust, Timothy hay, and chew toys. These ongoing costs will cost around $25 per month for a single Chinchilla. This is an approximate number, but we recommend budgeting slightly more. Buying food and hay in bulk will help bring down costs significantly, as well as good-quality toys and accessories that do not need regular replacing.
$200-$300 per year
Chinchillas are generally healthy animals that rarely get sick, but they still need annual check-ups to make sure all is in order. Because they are exotic animals, these check-ups are typically more expensive than usual. You save on a few costs, though, as Chinchillas do not need vaccinations, and they are rarely, if ever, neutered or spayed. In fact, spaying females is highly dangerous, and most vets will not perform the procedure.
$50-$100 per year
Depending on the vet you choose, a basic checkup will cost around $50, but because Chinchillas are classed as exotic animals, these fees can be more, and you should budget around $100 just to be safe. These routine checkups are essential, however, as they can save you a great deal of money down the road should something go wrong.
Treatments for Parasites
$0-$50 per year
Like most other small mammals, Chinchillas can get worms and other parasites, although if your cage is kept clean and healthy, it is fairly rare. Giardia is the most common parasite found in Chinchillas, and even this is not a massive issue if caught early. If your Chinchilla is not eating, is showing signs of lethargy, and has diarrhea, these are all signs of a possible parasitic infestation, and you should immediately consult your vet.
$50-$200 per year
While Chinchillas are healthy animals overall, it’s a great idea to have a few hundred dollars set aside for a rainy day, whether you have insurance or not. Accidents do happen from time to time, and it’s best to be prepared. If your Chinchilla is well looked after, this shouldn’t be a concern and you’ll likely not have to use the money, but it’s good practice nonetheless.
$120-$250 per year
Depending on the provider that you choose to go with, insurance for your Chinchilla can range from $10-$20 per month. Exotic animals are often more expensive to insure, and some providers may not even cover them, so be sure to check with them first. Still, it’s a great idea to keep a rainy-day fund even with insurance. It’s completely up to you, the owner, but Chinchillas are healthy animals and insurance is probably not essential.
$60-$150 per year
Chinchillas are small animals that do not eat huge amounts of food, and their main diet should be made up of fresh Timothy hay and pelleted food, with occasional healthy treats. Buying food in bulk is the best option, as this will save you a fair amount of money in the long run. Food is likely the biggest ongoing cost of owning a Chinchilla, and you should buy the best possible food that you can afford to make sure they stay healthy and happy.
$100-$150 per year
Like all small mammals, Chinchillas need quality bedding or a fleece lining at the bottom of their cage. Bedding will absorb odors and make their cage far more comfortable to live in. The bedding that you choose needs to be absorbent, dust-free, and safe to consume. Paper bedding is best, as it is non-toxic and fairly inexpensive.
Chinchillas also love dust bathing, and they’ll need a specially made dust to help keep themselves clean and keep their coat healthy. This dust can be fairly pricey but will last quite a while.
|Fleece lining (optional)
|Dedicated trash can
$10-$50 per year
Chinchillas are fairly active, playful animals that need mentally and physically stimulating toys in their cage to keep them entertained. Dust baths are one essential item, but they’ll enjoy other additions too. A large, safe wheel will keep them exercised, and they’ll need climbing ledges, ropes, and ladders of various sizes, chewing blocks, a hammock, and a nesting house. Many of these items will be a one-off purchase, but some will eventually be chewed up by your Chinchilla and need annual replacing.
Total Annual Cost of Owning a Chinchilla
$200-$350 per year
Once you have all the initial purchase costs out of the way, general food and care costs for your Chinchilla are typically around $20-$30 per month. Of course, this is provided that you do not have any medical emergencies, which can easily bump up your annual cost to $800 or more. With proper care, nutrition, and maintenance, though, you will drastically minimize the risk of health issues, and your Chinchilla can live many happy, healthy years. Chinchillas can live for up to 10 years in captivity, so although they are a relatively inexpensive pet, their long lives can generate high costs after a decade!
Owning a Chinchilla On a Budget
There is no real way to skimp on the costs of owning a Chinchilla, nor should you try! Other than the initial purchase price of the Chinchilla and necessary equipment, they are fairly inexpensive to look after, anyway. The best way to save money is to adopt a Chinchilla from a shelter and buy a second-hand cage. This way, you’ll be saving money and helping a Chinchilla in need!
Chinchillas are relatively easy to look after and are comparatively inexpensive pets, especially if you go for the adoption route. The initial outlay may cost a fair bit but can be drastically lessened if you go for secondhand equipment. After these initial outlays, owning a Chinchilla should only cost you around $200-$350 per year for basic maintenance and food costs, provided that you don’t have any medical emergencies. As Chinchillas are hardy and healthy animals, they rarely get sick, so vet visits are usually limited to standard checkups.
Even though Chinchillas are relatively inexpensive animals, they are still a massive responsibility, and you should consider this before rushing out and bringing one home.
Featured Image Credit: Pixabay