How Long Do Chinchillas Live? Average Chinchilla Lifespan

Last updated:
Jun 11, 2023

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Chinchillas are unique small pets that many people don’t consider at first. Many factors make these pets different from other exotic animals, from their silky-soft coat to their temperament as pets. But you might be wondering, how long do chinchillas live?

In this article, we’ll let you know the average chinchilla lifespan, as well as what you can do to help your chin live a long and healthy life.

Average Chinchilla Lifespan

The average chinchilla lifespan is about 15 years.

In the wild, chinchillas can live up to 10 years. However, wild chinchillas face such hardship living in the Andes mountains of South America that they’re considered a critically endangered species.

As an exotic pet, the average chinchilla lifespan in captivity is significantly longer. Most chinchillas in captivity live 15 to 20 years, and many pet chinchillas live to be 20 years old or even older.

The oldest-known chinchilla was a pet chinchilla named Radar, who lived to be almost 30 years old!

chinchilla lifespan oldest chinchilla

Chinchilla Life Cycle

Now that we’ve touched on the average chinchilla lifespan, let’s look at the life stages that a chinchilla goes through during its life, from birth to its adult years.

Here are the stages you can expect your pet chinchilla to go through.

Chinchilla gestation

Chinchillas have a gestation period of about 100 days, which is significantly longer than most rodents.

For example, the average hamster gestation period is only around 20 days, and the average rabbit gestates for just about 30 days.

The average chinchilla litter size is just two baby chinchillas, but they may have anywhere from one to six offspring.

Baby chinchilla

A newborn baby chinchilla is called a “kit,” and unlike many other rodent species, they’re born with a full coat of fur and the ability to see.

However, baby chinchillas are still highly dependent on their mother. They need to remain with their mother for up to 10 weeks to ensure they receive enough warmth, protection, and nutrition.

Staying with their mother for enough time also helps chins develop the important social and behavioral skills they’ll use throughout their lives.

Young chinchilla

When you adopt a chinchilla, your pet is likely to be in this life stage. Chinchillas are usually separated from their litter mates at around 10 weeks old and placed into same-sex groups to avoid unintended breeding.

This is often the time when young chinchillas are put up for adoption or transported to a pet store since they’re able to cope and survive successfully on their own.

Chinchillas enjoy the company of one another and shouldn’t be kept alone, either at this stage or later in life. In the wild, chinchillas live in groups of 100 or even more, so their natural instinct is to seek the company of other chins.

Adult chinchilla

Chinchillas are considered fully grown when they’re over one year old. At this point, chinchillas have developed more muscle under their silky-soft coats, and they’re much more resilient and strong.

However, even adult chinchillas are relatively delicate as pets. It’s best not to allow children to handle or play with a chinchilla, even one that’s fully grown, for that reason.

Help Your Pet Chinchilla Live a Long and Healthy Life

Whether you already have a chinchilla or you’re considering adopting one, you no doubt want to help your pet live as long as possible. The best way to do that is to follow these simple tips.

Understand your chinchilla’s unique personality

Consensus: Chinchillas are highly intelligent and have incredibly diverse personalities. Knowing what your chinchilla is like will help you know when they’re not feeling well.

The most important part of ensuring your chinchilla lives a long life is understanding your chinchilla’s temperament. You can do this simply by observing and interacting with your pet, gaining insight into what they’re normally like.

If you know what your chinchilla is like at baseline, you’ll be able to spot when they’re not feeling well or aren’t as happy as they usually are.

Provide a large enough enclosure

Consensus: A chinchilla needs an enclosure that’s at least 2 ft x 2 ft x 3 ft, or 12 cubic feet.

Chinchillas are larger than most other pet rodents, and they need an enclosure to match. A chinchilla that’s housed in a cage or enclosure that’s too small can begin to experience depression and other health issues.

Additionally, it’s a good idea for your chinchilla enclosure to have multiple levels so that they can climb, which is one of their favorite activities.

You should also make sure that the enclosure has solid floor surfaces that aren’t made entirely of wire bars. Standing or walking on wire cage bars can create pressure sores on a chinchilla’s feet.

A favorite amongst chinchilla owners is the Two-Story Critter Nation cage.

Keep them and their enclosure clean

Consensus: A dirty enclosure or lack of proper bathing can lead to various types of diseases in chinchillas and other rodents.

A clean environment is another key factor in keeping your chinchilla healthy. You should spot-clean your chinchilla’s cage every day, and perform a full cleaning with sanitization at least once per week.

Additionally, helping your chinchilla keep itself clean will help them stay healthy and comfortable.

Do not bathe your chinchilla with water!

Chinchillas require a dust bath to bathe themselves, and you do not have to go beyond that to clean your chinchilla. In fact, getting your chinchilla wet can be detrimental to its health.

Take care of their social needs

Consensus: Chinchillas can be kept alone with regular human interaction, but they’re often happier and healthier with the companionship of another chin.

Chinchillas live in “herds” of up to 100 in the wild, and they’re naturally social animals. Although a chinchilla can be kept alone, they’re often much happier and healthier with a companion.

With that said, many people keep just one chinchilla on its own. But for this to be successful, you’ll need to interact with your chinchilla regularly and pay even closer attention to its needs.

Don’t forget about playtime

Consensus: Chinchillas need playtime outside of their enclosures on a daily basis.

Letting your chinchilla out of its enclosure every day is essential to its well-being. Playtime is a great opportunity for your chinchilla to stretch its legs even more, as well as experience new mental stimuli.

Playtime is also a crucial part of bonding with your chinchilla, allowing you to interact and learn more about each other.

Fulfill their unique dietary needs

Consensus: Chinchillas need a high-fiber diet in order to stay healthy.

Chinchillas, like any other pet, need a high-quality, balanced diet to live happy and healthy lives. A chinchilla is similar to a rabbit in that it requires a diet full of natural fiber. As such, hay should be the primary component of a chinchilla’s diet.

Make sure your chinchilla has 24-hour access to low-calcium hay, such as Timothy hay. Avoid hay that is high in calcium, such as alfalfa. This type of hay can lead to health issues like bladder stones if given in excess.

In addition to hay, a chinchilla can have up to 2 tablespoons of chinchilla pellets each day. This can help add vital nutrients to your chinchilla’s diet.

Find a vet with chinchilla experience

Consensus: You’ll need to find an exotic pet vet who knows how to treat chinchillas

If your chinchilla starts acting differently, you’ll need to have a veterinarian to diagnose and treat them if necessary.

Finding a vet who treats chinchillas may be difficult at first, but it’s a big step towards ensuring your chinchilla’s long and healthy life.

Helping Your Chinchilla Thrive

Chinchillas have incredibly long lifespans for rodents, but their lifespans are also highly varied. Some chinchillas live 10 years, while others live twice as long or even longer! We hope that now, you have a clearer picture of what the average chinchilla lifespan is like, as well as how to prolong your pet’s happy life.

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LittleGrabbies is an independent blog run by one human and her pets. We want to help you sift through all of the information that's out there for small pets to provide the best possible care.


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