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Chinchilla

Are Chinchillas Good Classroom Pets?

Finding the right pet for your classroom can be a difficult decision. Will it behave okay, is it safe, will the students enjoy it, and so on. Chinchillas are adorable pets that anyone who has had one has most likely loved and cared for tremendously.

Are chinchilla’s good classroom pets? For the short answer, yes, they are. However, keep in mind that for animals to truly be happy and safe for children, you’ll need to make sure that you accept full responsibility as the teacher, as well as nurture and provide for the animal in any way in may need.

Today, we’ll be taking a look at all of the benefits that come from having a chinchilla in the classroom. Also, we’ll be looking at how to take care of them as well and everything you’ll need in order for it to have a long, healthy life. Finally, we’ll see about safety in the classroom for both the students and the chinchilla.

Benefits of Having as a Pet

Chinchillas are great, tiny pets that not only make great personal pets but will blend into the classroom quite well also with the proper care. Let’s take a look at some of the benefits you’ll find by having them as a pet for all of your students.

Chinchilla 2
By Jaime E. Jimenez, Laboratorio de Ecología, Universidad de Los Lagos. CHILE [1]. – Uploaded by Salix with consent of the author. Photo du chercheur Jaime E.Jiménez, offerte de sa collection personnelle., Attribution, Link

Interactive

Chinchillas are incredibly fun to be around. Not only are they smart, they love to play and move around. They also do great with young kids and are attention-seekers and seem to never be able to get enough.

Since they are incredibly playful and full of energy, they are amazing with children and will cause no harm, which is a huge plus. Kids can watch them play in their cage, pet them, or watch them run around. Keep in mind though, the students know to be gentle with the animal, so it doesn’t become frightened.

Personality

Besides being interactive, chinchillas are also full of personality. Each chinchilla I have ever played with has seemed to have their own, unique personality. That becomes even more of a bonus if you decide to get multiple chinchillas for the classroom, as different personalities will only just entertain the students that much more.

Love Bugs

Another great thing about chinchillas is just how much they are loving and caring. They are adorable creatures and offer very soft fur that anyone would love to pet. At first glance, any student will fall head over heels for these adorable little animals.

Size

Chinchillas on average are around 9-15 inches, making them pretty small animals. Tiny animals are perfect for the classroom, as it won’t intimidate any students and will be much easier to control if anything were to happen.

Low-Maintenance

The loveable, furry creatures also don’t require much in terms of upkeep. However, you will have a happier chinchilla if you get them in a group, which will raise the maintenance levels up just a bit more. The only thing you’ll have to worry about is cleaning the cage and providing food and water, which we’ll get into more detail later.

For now, just know that they will generally entertain themselves with a few friends, so you won’t have to worry about them being lonely during recess, teachings, lunch, or when school is not in session.

No Smell

Another great perk about having a chinchilla is the fact that they have no real odor to them. This is a rarity in rodents, as generally, they can get pretty smelly and messy. However, chinchillas constantly clean themselves and love to stay clean.

Cost-Effective

Chinchillas also do not dig deep into your pockets, which is great for anyone watching their money. In fact, all you will really be paying for is possible vet visits, food, and whatever is spent for the startup for it.

Great For Small Environments

Chinchillas work perfect in a classroom setting, as they do not require much exercise and can work around just fine in small areas. This means having them in a classroom is perfectly fine for their health and you can even let them roam around if you’d like, as they won’t go too far.

Easy to Manage

As I just mentioned above, you won’t find yourself hunting for hours for a chinchilla, as they move decently slow and are easy to keep up with. This is a huge plus as if a student happened to let the animal out, it shouldn’t be too hard to track down.

Lifespan

If you plan on keeping the chinchilla as both a classroom and personal pet, you won’t have to worry about it leaving you from this world anytime soon. The average expectancy of a Chinchilla is around 10 years, but they can certainly live past this mark as well.

Caring For Your Chinchilla

The maintenance of these animals is not too hard. In fact, it is pretty simple, but you should take a glance over this quick guide to make sure you know how to properly care for your adorable new pet.

Diet

One of the best thing’s chinchillas can eat is a formulated diet that made specifically for them. Also, take a look at protein as well, as it should be 16-20 percent. The mixture should not contain high levels of fat either and should be quite high in fiber, around 20 percent on average.

Chinchillas will eat about 1-2 tbs of their food daily. There are other options for feeding them as well, such as chinchilla hay. The hay helps with making sure their teeth are working properly and that their digestive system is good as well. The hay does not need to be included in their regular diet amount, as they can eat really as much as they want of it.

Treats & Other Items

Chinchillas love their treats and giving them a little bit, each day will just make them all the more happier. They love dried fruits and such, but make sure they are given in small quantities, as they are loaded with sugar.

Also, sticks will also be appreciated by chinchillas as well, as they can chew on it all day and feel comforted by it. Make sure the stick itself though will not harm the pet and is okay specifically for chinchillas.

As for their water, it should be filtered and chlorine-free. Also, make sure you are changing the water daily as well.

Chinchillas cannot eat caffeine, chocolate, any type of alcohol, and high sugar and high fat foods can harm them as well.

Cage

The cage size for a chinchilla should at a minimum be 3 feet by 2 feet by 2 feet. Of course, the more space you can offer the pet the better, but that’s the smallest it should get to. Also, if you do get more than one, you’ll have to accommodate for that as well and try to double the space if possible.

One important aspect of the chinchilla cage is that it has more than one level to it. This is so the pet can climb up and down and jump around. They are quite active and this will make them quite happy if they are able to do so.

Placement & Care

Placement is another factor as well, as you don’t want the cage to be near a window or in direct sunlight. For a classroom setting, it may be best to place it against the back of a wall where it will get some light, but not have it directly on it.

Also, make sure you are cleaning the cage often as well, either every 3-4 days or once per week. The bedding will need to be changed and water needs to be changed daily, as mentioned earlier.

Toys and bits of furniture will also make chinchillas very happy as well. This will keep them comfortable and occupied while you are teaching, out on lunch, or whatever the case may be. There is plenty of toys and furnishings you can find at pet stores, but just remember they will need to be cleaned often as well.

Freedom

Although quite a bit of their time may be spent in a cage, not all of it has to be. They’ll love to be out and move around and get some fresh air. As mentioned earlier, they won’t be very hard to catch, so bringing them outside in a smaller, enclosed area should be fine.

I would not recommend bringing them out to an area that is large, such as recess or a sports field. Although not the fastest animal, if you get distracted, they could easily slip out of your sight and be difficult to track down.

Hygiene

Chinchillas require some cleaning around 2-3 times a week. A dust bath is the most effective way of cleaning them and will clean them thoroughly. You should also avoid getting them wet as well.

Factors of Poor Health

If your chinchilla is not in the best of health, there will be some signs that will point to it. Some of these signs include:

  • Weight loss
  • Long teeth
  • Loss of hair
  • Diarrhea

There are a bit more signs that may point to health issues, but these are typically the most common with Chinchillas.

Safety in The Classroom

Last but not least, let’s talk about safety for both the students and the pet. Chinchillas aren’t particularly dangerous, but there are some things you should review before putting a pet in the classroom.

Students Respect

One of the more important things when it comes to the safety of the animal is that the students know and learn to respect it. Knowing that they should be gentle with the pet, not let it out of its cage unsupervised, and other things should be established before allowing the chinchilla to come into the classroom.

Approved by School

Although a chinchilla certainly shouldn’t be an issue with a school, it is a good idea to get it green lit before purchasing one. Each school and district are different, so there may be certain rules that would not allow you to have one in the classroom.