Should You Get a Male or Female Chinchilla?

Last updated:
Jun 11, 2023

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When you’re considering adopting a pet chinchilla, whether it’s your first or your fifth, it can be difficult to make the final decision between getting a male or female chinchilla.

This guide will help you make that decision and answer any questions you have about chinchillas of both sexes so you’re confident with your choice!

Whether they’re male or female, every chinchilla has its own unique personality. No two female chinchillas are exactly alike, and neither are any two males.

The tips in this article are generally true of female or male chinchillas, but your experience may be different based on the chinchilla you adopt.

Ultimately, there are very few differences between male and female chinchillas, but those differences are worth considering as you decide which one is best for you.

Pros and Cons of Male Chinchillas

There are a few pros and cons to be aware of if you’re considering adopting a male chinchilla. Here’s a list of the most common benefits and drawbacks of adopting a male chinchilla rather than a female.

Male chinchilla pro: less territorial

Male chinchillas are known to be less territorial than females, which can make them more playful and kind. However, many female chinchillas can be just as affectionate and playful as males.

You’ll need to give your chinchilla a cage mate, whether they’re male or female, as they thrive when they’re not alone.

Male chinchilla con: hair rings

The main con of adopting a male chinchilla is that they can develop a health condition called hair rings, which affect the chinchilla’s genital area.

These hair rings can lead to serious health consequences, so you have to be on the lookout every day for signs and symptoms.

Pros and Cons of Female Chinchillas

Now that we have discussed the pros and cons of male chinchillas, it’s time to consider the pros and cons of a female chinchilla. You will notice they aren’t that different from males except for a few factors.

Female chinchilla pro: no hair rings

The main benefit of owning a female chinchilla over a male is that females do not develop a health condition known as hair rings.

Hair rings occur on the genitals of male chinchillas, and they can cause serious health issues if left untreated. For that reason, you always have to be on the lookout for this condition in males.

Female chinchilla con: more territorial

Female chinchillas are prone to being more territorial than males for a number of reasons. Females are larger than males, and they’re typically the head of the herd. Females protect what is theirs, which makes them slightly less approachable than males.

Female chinchilla con: more difficult to fix

Spaying a female chinchilla is a more complicated and possibly risky process than neutering a male. If you want to keep a male and female chinchilla together, you’ll want to fix the male rather than the female.

If you’re keeping two chinchillas of the same sex, you don’t have to worry about altering either of them. (Just be sure you truly know their sex!)

Female chinchilla con: more likely to spray urine

This is something that’s seen with both male and female chinchillas, but there’s a higher chance of it happening with females.

Male chinchillas trickle urine more than spray. When a chinchilla sprays urine, it means that they were frightened and are attempting to protect themselves or their cage mates.

As mentioned before, males don’t spray as far as females, but they will still try if provoked.

Pros and Cons of Chinchillas of Either Sex

There are also some important pros and cons to consider when it comes to chinchillas in general. These are the pluses and minuses of adopting a chinchilla, whether male or female.

Pros of owning chinchillas

There are many more pros to owning chinchillas than we’re able to list here, but these are some of the most notable upsides to adopting these bundles of love.

Pro: naturally clean

Chinchillas bathe themselves using chinchilla bathing dust, which allows them to stay very clean.

They also groom themselves and help their cage mates with grooming, as well. A chinchilla’s droppings are also very easy to clean up, being dry and in pellet form.

Pro: long lifespan

Chinchillas live a very long life compared to numerous other small pets, as they live up to 20 years. The oldest chinchilla on record lived to be 30 years old! (To find out more about chinchilla lifespans, click here. For more of the longest-living small pets, click here.)

Pro: highly intelligent

Both male and female chinchillas are incredibly intelligent and can be taught numerous tricks. They can be potty trained to only use a certain area of the cage as the bathroom. You can also teach your chinchilla to come to you, hold items in their hands, and roll over.

Tip: You can use a small pet litter tray to potty train your chinchilla and make cleanup even easier. We recommend using a ceramic or metal litter tray like this one to minimize chewing risks.

Pro: can develop meaningful attachments

Most often, you’ll find that a male chinchilla is very affectionate and craves your attention.

Some chinchillas pursue their owner’s touch and thrive when you interact with them more often than not. They can be very affectionate towards their cage mates, as well.

Pro: minimal shedding

Chinchillas have very minimal shedding, which makes keeping their cage and your home clean even easier. This can also be a great benefit to owning a chinchilla if you are looking for a cleaner pet.

Cons of Owning Chinchillas

Here are some of the most important potential cons to consider if you’re thinking about adopting either a male or female chinchilla.

Con: increased need for mental stimulation

A chinchilla’s intense intelligence can be both a pro and a con. They can be trained, and they can grow deep attachments to their cage mates and their owners. However, this intelligence also means they can easily get bored.

If you’ve ever owned a dog, you know that they need mental stimulation in order to stay happy and healthy. The same goes for chinchillas.

A happy chinchilla is one that has plenty of activities and things to focus on throughout the day, including tricks and trained behaviors.

Con: constant need to chew

Just as they need lots of mental stimulation, chinchillas also need physical activities, including chewing, to keep them occupied. This means that you will be purchasing a healthy amount of items for your pet to chew on each day.

Depending on your care budget, this could be a con. However, this is also a factor that you need to consider with most small mammals and isn’t unique to chinchillas.

Tip: Unlike other small pets, chinchillas can’t always be trusted alone with cardboard. They can eat cardboard and end up with an impaction. We prefer applewood sticks like these, bamboo sticks like these, and Timothy hay cubes like these.

Con: trust comes with lots of time

Attempting to gain your pet’s trust is going to take time, and that can be a con for some potential pet owners. If you’re seeking a pet that doesn’t take much time or effort to care for, then a chinchilla might not be the best choice.

Con: greater space needs than many small animals

Chinchillas need a large area to run and jump around for exercise. They can’t be kept in a cage day in and day out, and even their cage needs to be quite large. This can be a con for people who don’t have a lot of space or who have other animals, like dogs and cats.

Con: nervous to be held

Chinchillas, in general, can be incredibly nervous about being held as they are quite fragile creatures.

This means they could become injured if held wrong or dropped. They’re also a prey species, which means that being picked up is usually associated with being picked up by a predator.

However, as mentioned above, it’s very possible to “tame” your chinchilla and help them understand that you’re not going to hurt them.

The slow process of gaining their trust is similar to any small animal that is not used to being held yet.

Con: easily stressed by other pets

If you have dogs or cats, you’ll want to carefully consider adopting chinchillas. Chinchillas thrive when given some time outside their cages, which can be risky with cats and dogs around.

Additionally, chinchillas can become stressed just because of the presence of a dog or cat, which can lead to a nervous disposition and even health issues.

Con: strict diet

Chinchillas are fragile creatures, as already discussed, which means they need a healthy and balanced diet to thrive. Their diet mostly consists of Timothy hay and pellets.

It’s wise to properly research what chinchillas can eat and what they can’t before you purchase any treats or supplemental parts of their diets.

If you’re feeding your pet a balanced diet and providing enough water, then it is likely that your pet will flourish under your care.

Con: escape artists

Chinchillas are very adept at escaping and hiding. This just means that you need to take precautions before letting them roam free and keep anything they can eat up and out of their reach.

Male and Female Chinchilla FAQ

male or female chinchilla FAQ

Here are some of the most common questions asked about male and female chinchillas and the difference between the two. (Have a question you don’t see here? Let us know in the comments!)

Are male or female chinchillas more territorial?

Female chinchillas are more territorial than males. This means they can be slightly more aggressive or nervous than males.

Do male chinchillas spray?

Like female chinchillas, male chinchillas can spray urine when they’re trying to protect themselves. However, male chinchillas are more likely to bark at you or their fellow chinchillas as a defense, rather than spraying.

Do male chinchillas get along?

Male chinchillas often get along better than female chinchillas, but not always. Female chinchillas are more territorial, which means they can become combative more easily. If you adopt two chinchillas, it’s wise to choose two from the same litter so that they’re already used to each other.

Are male or female chinchillas larger?

Female chinchillas are larger, on average, than male chinchillas. This makes the species unique when compared to most other pets and mammals in general.

Do female chinchillas go into heat?

Female chinchillas go into heat about once per month, although it may be more or less frequent. This stage lasts for between 2 and 4 days. Most chinchilla owners don’t notice any difference in their female chinchillas when they’re in heat.

Is a boy or girl chinchilla better as a pet?

Neither males nor female chinchillas make better pets. Ultimately, the personality of your specific chinchillas will be the deciding factor. In general, females can be more serious and contemplative than males, which are often described as “happy-go-lucky.”

The best way to decide if a chinchilla has the type of personality you’re looking for is to turn to a reputable, ethical breeder and ask what the parents are like. A baby chinchilla will often take after either its mom or dad, or be a mix of the two.

Can you keep male and female chinchillas together?

It’s not recommended to keep chinchillas of the opposite sex together unless you intend to breed them. You can neuter male chinchillas in specific situations where you need to keep a male and female together. However, this is a rare case.

Male vs. Female Chinchilla: Which is Right for You?

After reading this article, you’ll understand that the sex of a chinchilla doesn’t always tell you the whole story. The decision to buy a chinchilla must be made with the knowledge that each animal is unique and has a different personality than the next.

Hopefully, we’ve helped you to understand the basic differences between female and male chinchillas, as well as the pros and cons of adopting chinchillas in general.

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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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