Posted: September 6, 2014, 1 p.m. EDT
© Courtesy Marty Hull
The wire mesh of a chinchilla's cage should be no larger ½ by 1 inch to keep the chinchilla safe.
Q: I just got a chinchilla. Would it be safe to keep him in my living room, which my dogs also have access to?
A: In general, it is better to keep your chinchilla in a room that is reasonably peaceful and quiet. Your chinchilla will be much more calm than if kept in a room with much activity.
If you keep your chinchilla in a room where your dogs have access, be sure the cage wire is small enough to keep your chinchilla safe. A cage with wire mesh of ½ by 1 inch is fine. Anything larger puts the chinchilla at significant risk. Place the cage in a location high enough to be away from the dogs and where the dogs don't have 360 degree access to the cage.
Dogs can have strong instincts. One can be to chase, catch and kill small animals. Some dogs will react to anything that moves by barking. If the dogs constantly bark or jump up to the cage and frighten the chinchilla, the cage must be moved to a different room. Some chins can be very mellow when it comes to dogs; others can become very stressed. A highly stressed and frightened chinchilla can sometimes refuse to eat, which can lead to death in some situations.
When taking your chinchilla out of the cage, be sure your chinchilla is supervised at all times and the dogs kept out of the room. Dogs frequently treat a chinchilla just like they would one of their own toys. Many chins come to an untimely end when this type of situation occurs.
Also, make sure the cage is always securely locked. If the chinchilla gets out of the cage in your absence, you may lose a chinchilla.
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