Diet is one of the most crucial things that decides how long your chin will live happily.
Chinchillas are very susceptible to diabetes, so it is important to take care and research
proper dietary needs and no nos. If a food looks like fruitloops, and is full of crunchy colourful
bits and dried fruits and veggie medleys, than you should probably steer clear. A good stable diet of quality extruded pellets is best, along with unlimited grass hays. Alfalfa is quite rich and if given at all, should be given in very slight rations. Good high quality pellets are made by Oxbow and Mazuri. These are very good dietary wise, and can be found in most pet stores.
Oxbow also has a number of good quality grass hays
that will greatly benefit your chinchillas digestive system. Timothy, Orchard Grass, and Oat Hay are all good additions to your chins diet. Kaytee also makes a variety of hays as well as hay cubes.Chinchillas are big fans of hay cubes. They make a healthy treat that your chin will greatfully accept.
Treats are given to chins to help with the bonding process. A chinchilla will learn to meet you at the cage door, and be excited to see you if you treat it. Treats aren't good to give often, too many treats can cause obesity, and lead to a fatty liver and or diabetes. I give my chinchillas one raisin each, every other day. This keeps them eager to approach, and easier to handle when they know they are going to be rewarded. Make sure the raisins you give your chinchilla are not glazed in sugar. Fresh fruits and vegetables should be avoided as these can cause loose stools.
Choosing a cage for your chinchilla should be easy. Make sure it has at least two levels, as chins love to jump. You can also purchase wooden or lava ledges that can be fastened onto the bars of any cage to create fun steps for your chinchilla to jump around on. the more a chin has to do, the happier it will be. A house should be provided to give your chinchilla a place to hide when it feels threatened or just plain grumpy. There are also neat things called ka-bobs which you can put apple sticks or lava chews on to keep your chinchillas teeth trimmed and healthy. I have purchased a few marble slabs to go into the cages to keep my chinchillas cool. These slabs stay below room temperature so if your chin is feeling hot they can get cooled off by sitting on these. Hammocks are also a good thing to give. Not all chins will use them, but it's good to give your chin the option. Chinchillas do enjoy running on wheels and the ultimate wheel is the "flying saucer". you can purchase these online at the flying saucer website. Remember that no matter how much fun their cage may be, they still require out of cage playtime to stimulate mental health.
I have provided a couple pictures of appropriate cages for your chinchilla. Obviously choose one depending on how much space you have for the cage, as well as how much you are willing to spend. The Nation cages can be pretty pricey, so if it's possible to buy one used I highly recommend trying that first. You can also upgrade pans for the Nation cages that have higher sides to keep bedding in. Keep your chins cage out of direct sunlight and away from open windows that may cause uncomfortable drafts. Chinchillas do not tolerate heat very well, they can suffer from heat stroke and die if temperatures exceed 75 degrees Fahrenheit. so it's best to keep their cage in an air conditioned room, but not right on top or in front of a vent.
Chinchillas require frequent baths every 3 days or so. Never bath them in water! They roll around in dust to soak up the oils in their fur and make them look fluffy and healthy. You can buy a little dust house to put the dust in, Superpet makes a good one. If you let them have dust too often they may get dry skin, so take care and play it by eye. Chinchillas have a defense mechanism called "fur throwing". This means when you grab them by the body wrong and they get spooked, they will slip right out of your fingers leaving behind a tuft of fur. This doesn't hurt them and it will grow back but it may leave a dent in the fur for a while. to properly pick up your chinchilla and minimize fur throwing, is to grab them by the tail as close to the body as possible and the slide your other hand under their belly.
Chinchillas, as with most rodents have open root teeth which means their teeth are constantly growing. This means your chin will need things to chew so they can grind there teeth down and prevent a life threatening condition called malocclusion.
Your chinchilla will require fresh water daily. Rinse out it's water bottle every time you fill it up. Glass water bottles are the best choice as they are dishwasher safe and are unable to be chewed by a chinchilla.
A healthy chinchilla is a long term pet living anywhere from 15-22 years. This a good thing to know before buying one. Chinchillas are social animals and do well in same sex pairs. Young chinchillas are easier to bond than older chinchillas. To start an introduction it's good to have 2 cages side by side, so the chins can see and smell eachother without being able to get at eachother if one is being tempermental. if all goes well during out of cage play time you may be ready to put them together. If they are barking, biting or chasing one another then separate them and try again in a week or so.