For those who are interested in chinchillas - the scientific name is Chinchilla lanigera. On a more practical note - they usually live to about 15 years, though some may survive as long as 18-22 years. It usually measures about 10-14 inches in body length, with a tail length of another 5-6 inches or so.
Chinchillas invariably are of a gentle temperament, and with gentle handling from a young age, it is possible to rear quite a tame one that bonds closely with its owner. It is important to know that they sometimes do not like to be held or cuddled. However, they usually have an active and playful disposition. One can keep single ones quite comfortably, and this breed of animals gets along when paired with others of the same sex, especially those that are littermates or were introduced at a young age.
It is a nocturnal animal, which means that it will be most active towards evening and nighttime. It should be kept away from excessively noisy areas during the day. They are creatures of routine and habit, and a consistent routine for handling and feeding times is best for them. They do not react well to changes in routine, which often stress them out.
Chinchillas need a roomy cage for exercise and daily playtime, because they are so active and playful. They are most comfortable in cool temperatures, and it is important to avoid getting them in overly warm environment or situations.
Their metabolism requires a considerable amount of roughage, and its diet should consist chiefly of good quality grass hay. It can also be fed with pellets made especially for chinchillas.
Moderation is the watchword as far as treats are concerned, and these should not exceed one teaspoon per day in all. Such treats can consist of fruits such as fresh or dried apples, grapes and raisins, vegetables like carrots and celery, sunflower seeds, and rolled oats. A chinchilla's digestive system is quite sensitive, and any diet changes should be gradual.
These rodents require large cages, with preference to multi-level cages that have platforms, ramps and perches. They also need regular access to a dust bath, as well as a good range of toys to keep them busy and active. The accent in such implements should be on items for chewing to keep the incisor teeth in good condition.
Essential information about these rodents includes the fact that one needs to be gentle and consistent with them in order to gain their trust. The taming becomes easier with 3-4 month-old ones that have seen sufficient handling already. Training it well often calls for subtle bribery with treats, as well as a lot of patience. Allowing a chinchilla freedom of movement in the room is not advisable until it has gotten used to being handled.
Most lists of facts and information about this rodent as pets affirm that it is wise to give a new rodent sufficient time to adjust by keeping maintenance and interaction to a minimum while it adapts to a new environment. Humans need to move slowly and speak softly around them, as they are very skittish. It is best to interact with them in the evenings, since that is when they are naturally more active, and therefore, more receptive.