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When Do Chinchillas Sleep, & How Much Sleep Do They Need?

chinchilla sleeping on top of wooden house

The topic of Chinchilla sleep is quite fascinating. Chinchillas sleep a lot! In fact, they spend most of their day sleeping, so it makes sense to try and understand their sleep processes. As a Chinchilla owner, understanding their sleep needs can help you to better care for them. Read on for everything you need to know about Chinchilla sleep.

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How Do Chinchillas Sleep?

Chinchillas are awake and energetic during nighttime hours and sleep most of the day. They sleep on all four feet most of the time but sometimes sleep curled up inside a nest box or other small space in their enclosure.

Sleeping Habits

When your chinchilla is asleep, they curl their ears over into a relaxed downward position. They like to sleep in tight spaces and are likely to make use of nest boxes, hammocks, and other structures inside their living space. You can help keep your chinchilla happy by providing plenty of these items so your pet can find safe places to sleep. As far as your chinchilla is concerned, the squishier the space, the better.

Sometimes you may see your chinchilla sleeping on their side or on their back. While it’s rare for chinchillas to sleep in these positions, it’s still normal. Most often, they will do this sleeping inside a hammock.

two chinchillas sleeping
Image Credit: Turistas, Shutterstock

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Questions About Chinchilla Sleep

While chinchilla sleep habits are fairly predictable, it doesn’t mean that individual chinchillas don’t develop personalized sleep habits.

Do chinchillas sleep with their eyes open?

It can be scary to see an animal sleeping with its eyes wide open. However, for chinchillas, this is completely normal—sort of.

Chinchillas don’t actually sleep with their eyes open, but it looks like they do. A Chinchilla has the ability to close its iris completely. Their eyelid stays open, giving the appearance that their eyes or open, but there’s no light actually entering the eye. So, while it appears to us that they are sleeping with open eyes, the chinchilla perceives his eyes as being closed.

Can a chinchilla sleep through the night?

If you create the right environment, yes, your chinchilla can sleep through the night. Chinchillas are naturally inclined to sleep during the daytime if they aren’t disturbed by loud noises. They will wake up to urinate, drink water, or enjoy a snack. If they are left undisturbed, chinchillas will sleep 10 to 12 hours at a time.

Related Read: Are Chinchillas Nocturnal? Can They See in the Dark?

Do chinchillas snore?

Chinchillas should not snore. If you find that your chinchilla is snoring, it could indicate a health issue, and you should speak with your vet.

From a survival perspective, snoring is a big no-no for chinchillas, as predators and snoring would discover them would reveal their location.

Can you wake your chinchilla up?

You can wake your chinchilla up if necessary. It’s best to do this in the calmest way possible in order to avoid causing unnecessary stress.

To quietly wake your chinchilla, say your pet’s name in a calm voice and touch him gently on the back of the head. This will only work once your pet knows and trusts you. Waking your chinchilla in the first few weeks after you acquire him will likely result in your chinchilla feeling scared. When chinchillas are scared, they bark. This is also a time when they may bite.

Once you have developed a strong bond with your chinchilla, you should be able to wake them calmly without a problem.

Why do chinchillas sometimes sleep on their side?

If your chinchilla has had an active play session and has been exercising and hopping around a lot, they may recover by sleeping on their side. This is totally normal and simply a sign that your chinchilla is exhausted.

Occasionally, side sleeping may be a sign that your chinchilla is too hot. If this is the case, make sure your chinchilla’s environment is maintained at a proper temperature to avoid them overheating. Chinchilla’s preferred room temperature is around 60 degrees Fahrenheit.

Can chinchillas sleep with you?

It’s not a good idea for your chinchilla to sleep with you. In fact, they shouldn’t sleep anywhere outside of their cage. These animals are fragile, and sleeping out of their cage poses a serious risk to their health.

It’s usually recommended that chinchilla cages are not kept inside your bedroom because chinchillas can be very disruptive. They become very active at night, and it is likely that they will disrupt your sleep.

Can chinchillas sleep too much?

Chinchillas are crepuscular animals. Their activity levels are highest while you are sleeping, so while it might appear that your chinchilla has very low energy levels, they probably don’t. You just might not be awake when they’re most active. It’s normal for chinchillas to have only a few minutes of activity and go back to sleep during the day.

Do chinchillas dream?

Chinchillas are known to make noises and movements while they’re asleep. It’s suspected that this is a result of dreaming. While we may never know for sure what a chinchilla’s dreams may be like, it’s adorable to watch them sleep, and this activity is perfectly normal.

Do chinchillas like to sleep in light rooms?

Chinchillas need some light during the day to replicate normal day-night patterns as they would experience in the wild. They don’t need much light, and they won’t appreciate trying to sleep in a bright room.

It’s ideal for providing about 12 hours of “daylight” for your chinchilla, but this can be done simply by opening a blind to let sunlight in. Allowing natural light into your chinchilla’s space will help them to keep a normal cycle. Otherwise, your chinchilla is most likely to appreciate a dark, quiet environment for sleeping.

You should not cover a chinchilla’s cage at any time because it will mess with their day-night cycle, as well as cause overheating in their enclosure.

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Final Thoughts

Chinchillas often sleep throughout the day, and this is perfectly normal behavior. Providing them with small spaces to sleep will help your chinchilla to feel comfortable and safe. They should sleep inside their cage for ultimate safety. If you notice that your chinchilla is sleeping with their eyes open or on their back or side, this is normal behavior. Over time you will get used to “normal” sleep behavior for your individual pet. If you notice that their behavior changes or they are doing something different, it may be best to consult your vet, as this could be a sign of a health issue.


Featured Image Credit: Igor Kovalchuk, Shutterstock

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