Can Chinchillas Be Put on A Leash?

Many pets can be taken for daily walks to help them explore and use up their energy – but what about chinchillas?  Can they be put on a leash and walked around the neighborhood?  Many pet owners may wonder if this is a possibility.  Chinchillas have lots of energy to be sure. However, not every pet should be taken outside. 

Can chinchillas be put on a leash?  No – chinchillas do not enjoy being put in a tight-fitting harness and can easily escape or become injured.

Chinchillas are considered an exotic pet because of the many things they require to be kept healthy and happy.  Pet owners will need to do a little research to make sure they are caring for their chinchilla properly. Find out more why walks are a terrible idea and learn about the kinds of activities that are appropriate and fun for your pets.

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Can Chinchillas Be Put on A Leash?

There are some pets who love going out for a daily walk.  Dogs, for example, require daily walks to stay healthy and happy.  However, not all pets have the same needs.  Chinchillas, for example, are exotic pets that have special requirements.  For one, they should not be put on a leash.  Here are just a few of the reasons a leash is an awful idea for a chinchilla:

Dense Fur

Chinchillas are famous for their super soft, dense fur.  This fur makes the body of a chinchilla look much bigger than it is.  When you try to put a harness on a chinchilla, you will try to tighten it to secure it to your pet.  The fur makes this very difficult – and you end up with a harness that is too loose or too tight.  Both scenarios can spell disaster for your pet.

Chinchillas love to Jump, Hop, And Sprint

The way chinchilla move may surprise you.  Instead of running or walking, they love to jump around.  They are parkour champions of the pet world!  Their movements are very similar to a squirrel – quick and unpredictable.  Imagine trying to control a creature on a leash as they jump and hop.  It is quite difficult!

“Floating” Ribs

This is a little-known fact about chinchillas; their ribs are not attached to the breastbone but are instead free-floating.  This means they are easily broken.  Their ribs are about the thickness of a toothpick.  Now consider how tight you would need to adjust a harness to keep it on your pet.  Sadly, many chinchillas are injured this way.  A leash is not a safe solution for such a fragile animal.

Escape Artists

Imagine for a moment that you did manage to secure a harness on your chinchilla. The next problem would keep them in it.  They are masters at escaping spaces and will probably spend the entire time in their harness trying to figure a way out.  And if that happens… See the next problem:

Chinchillas Are Super Speedy

If they escape from their harness while you are outdoors, good luck trying to catch them!  They are fast and jump around as they run. They can also climb and will seek any available hiding spot.  The odds of being able to catch them once they’ve escaped will be slim.  That would be a sad way to end your walk! 

Although many pet stores sell harnesses for small animals, do the research and find out if these items are appropriate for your pet.  Many a well-meaning animal owner has purchased a leash only to find out it doesn’t work for their situation.  This results in a waste of money, or worse, an injured or lost animal.

Can You Take Chinchillas On A Walk?

When owning a pet that lives much of its life in a cage, it is normal to wonder if they might be happier spending time outdoors.  Taking pets on a walk is a great way to give them a taste of the outdoor life while keeping them safe.  But can chinchillas go for walks?   Aside from the difficulties of trying to keep a leash on a chinchilla, they are also not acclimated for going on walks because:

  • They are easily stressed out – noise from cars, people, and other animals will cause stress, rather than being a fun time for your pet.
  • They require a constant, comfortable temperature – chinchillas like to stay comfortable, and with all that fluff, it’s like wearing a fur coat all day.  Temperatures under 72 degrees are best, but when taking a pet on a walk, these temperatures cannot always be guaranteed.  Direct sunlight can quickly overheat a chinchilla.
  • It’s not fun for them – we might have a brilliant time, but with all the stress and temperature changes, chinchillas will actually not enjoy themselves.  Even with the best of intentions, taking your animal for a walk may instead create stress and discomfort.

Taking a pet for a walk works for some animals, but for chinchillas, it is best to think of other ways to provide fun and stimulation in their day.

Can You Take A Chinchilla Outside?

If you own a chinchilla you may know that wild chinchillas come from the Andes mountains in Chile.  Wild chinchillas definitely enjoy their outdoor habitat:

  • Living in burrows
  • Finding hiding places
  • Climbing and jumping throughout the day 

However, the chinchillas that are sold at the pet store are not wild – they are domesticated.  They have been bred to live a life indoors.  It’s actually what they prefer!  So, should chinchillas be taken outside now and then for some sunshine and fresh air?  The fact is, pet chinchillas don’t particularly enjoy going outside.

When you take a chinchilla outside, there are many problems that can occur, such as:

  • The pet escaping and running away – did you know chinchillas can jump up to 3 feet?  Their instinct is to find a hiding place, so if your little critter escapes while outdoors, it will be very difficult to catch them.
  • Your chinchilla overheating – as mentioned, thick fur plus hot temperatures can equal disaster.  If you keep your pet indoors you can regulate the climate and keep them comfortable.
  • Stressing your pet out – as much as we might enjoy being outdoors, domesticated chinchillas would much rather be safe and snug inside. 

If you are thinking about taking your pet outside, consider the dangers, and instead focus on making their time indoors:

  • Fun
  • Safe
  • Stimulating

Ways for Chinchillas To Play And Have Fun

Now that going outside, using a leash and taking your pet for a walk have been ruled out, it is important to ask, what CAN my chinchilla do to have fun?  As a pet owner, there are many things you can do to ensure your chinchilla has the most stimulating, playful environment possible – while also keeping them safe and healthy.

Here are some basics for maintaining a great environment for a chinchilla:

  • A cage with plenty of room and different levels to climb up and down
  • Healthy food and clean water
  • Toys for stimulation in the cage
  • Comfortable temperature (consider the location of the cage – away from windows, heating vents)

Once a healthy environment has been set up, another thing pet owners can do for their chinchillas to help them have fun is to give them time to explore a room.  For about an hour a day, letting a chinchilla run around a room in your house provides them the chance to get exercise and practice hopping and jumping in a safe place.  Just make sure you can access the hiding places easily – chinchillas love crawling under furniture, for example.

Chinchillas are sensitive to temperature and must be kept in a controlled climate.  Direct sunlight or harsh temperatures can lead to illness or even death for a chinchilla. By providing lots of fun and safe activities indoors, chinchilla owners will be giving their pets all they need to have a long, happy life – without ever going outdoors.