Posted: October 21, 2014, 10 p.m. EDT
© Gina Gioli/I-5 Studio
Some chinchillas slow down as they age while others remain active well into their senior years.
Q: My chinchilla isn't as active as he used to be. I don't know his age, all I know is that he is younger than 10. When I told my parents about this, all they said is that I should take him out and play with him more. I don't think this is the answer to the problem. I just wanted to know what I should do.
A: For the purposes of this question, we will assume that your chinchilla is not showing any signs of illness or disease.
Most chinchillas become less active as they age. Like humans, chinchillas seem to age at different rates. Some start slowing down at 6 or 7 years and others are vibrant and energetic well into their teens.
Chinchillas are very routine-oriented. They will anticipate each upcoming "event” in their daily routine, such as feeding time, playtime, owner/pet bonding and scratching time. This anticipation helps keeps them interested in life. If your chinchilla is accustomed to having regular, free, supervised play outside the cage each day, then he will look forward to this experience and may become excited as the time approaches. If he is not allowed out of the cage as often, he may become less active.
If it is not convenient or safe to let your chinchilla out of his cage, then be sure your chinchilla has access to a safe exercise wheel. Not all chins will use a wheel, but if he will, then the daily and nightly exercise helps keep your chinchilla in better physical and mental condition and will help keep him healthier and more active longer.
For all chinchillas, I recommend providing a roomy habitat with an exercise wheel and several levels so the chinchilla can run up and down. It is also nice to provide some toys for your pet’s amusement.
Some older chinchillas exhibit renewed vigor if they are paired with a young cagemate. It is quite amazing how an older chin can change, as if getting a new lease on life. See our answer to a previous question that has some details about how to pair chinchillas.
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And check out:
15 Questions And Answers About Pet Chinchillas
Life With Your First Chinchilla
See all of Marty Hull's chinchilla Q&A
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See all questions and answers about chinchilla health