Are Chinchillas Nocturnal?

Chinchillas can be furry friends for a lifetime. They’re fun to look at and are one of the pocket pets that can live up to 20 years when taken care of properly. But chinchillas are not the perfect pet for everyone. One of the more important things when choosing a suitable pet are its sleeping habits (diurnal or nocturnal).

If you have a busy schedule during the day you won’t mind having a nocturnal or crepuscular pet. But if you need a good night’s sleep or don’t have time in the evening to play and take care of your pet, a pet that’s diurnal – which means active during the day – is more suitable.

Are chinchillas nocturnal? Chinchillas are crepuscular. This means that they’re more active during twilight, so at dawn and dusk. Chinchillas will take long naps during the day and can even sleep the entire day. They will wake up when you come home in the evening and go to work in the morning. As you can imagine the chinchilla is a perfect pet for people that are busy during the day.

So chinchillas are pets that normally aren’t that active during the day. This doesn’t mean that you won’t see your chinchilla hopping around during the day at all. Young chinchillas will sleep at certain intervals and will start sleeping more when they age.

It’s important for the health of your furry friend that they get enough sleep. So, in this article you’ll be learning everything there is to know about the crepuscular nature of your chinchilla and sleeping habits. I’ll also give you some tips and tricks to not disturb your chinchilla while it’s sleeping.

Why Are Chinchillas Crepuscular and Not Nocturnal?

So chinchillas are crepuscular and not really nocturnal.

But why is that?

If you don’t know a lot about the sleeping habits of animals, let me give you an intro. There are a lot of different sleeping patterns but basically a pet can show diurnal, nocturnal or crepuscular behavior:

  • diurnal: active during the day, for example, humans
  • crepuscular: active at twilight, for example, the crested gecko
  • nocturnal: active during the night, for example, owls

The sleeping behavior of an animal depends on a number of factors but the most important ones are the environment of the animal and their status as predator or prey animal.

Environment of chinchillas

A lot of animals adapt their sleeping behavior to their environment and its climate.

In hot climates, an animal will often sleep during the day to conserve energy. At twilight or during the night they’ll become active and look for food. In cooler climates, most animals will be active during the day and will sleep at night.

Chinchillas originate from South America in a mountainous environment and could be found on different elevations ranging from sea level to 15.000 feet. The temperatures in their natural environment vary from room temperature to below freezing. Chinchillas don’t like cold or hot temperatures and will stay inside their burrow when it’s too cold or too hot.

Chinchillas are happiest at normal room temperatures. In the mountainous Andes region, this kind of temperature will occur at twilight, so at dawn and dusk. At these times it’s not too hot and not too cold for the chinchilla.

Chinchillas are prey animals

Predators and prey adapt their sleeping habits to each other. Predators will be awake at times when they’re prey is available. Prey, on the other hand, will try to avoid the times when their primary predators are out hunting.

You probably guessed that chinchillas aren’t predatory in nature and are a so-called prey animal. The chinchilla’s main predators are birds of prey and foxes.

Needless to say that chinchillas will try to avoid to be outside when their predators are awake. Most of their predators are nocturnal and it’s natural that they adapted to being awake at the moment when their predators are not yet awake or just waking up. If chinchillas would also be nocturnal they would be awake and looking for food at the same time their predators are. This would be an extremely bad idea for the chinchilla.

What Are the Consequences of Being Crepuscular?

There are some consequences of the crepuscular nature of chinchillas. It’s important to be aware of these consequences:

  • chinchillas will sleep most of the day
  • they sleep with short periods of activity during the day
  • if you interrupt their sleep during the day they can get grumpy
  • chinchillas will become really active at dawn and dusk

For most people, this will be no problem. If you’re at for work or school during the day your little chinchilla will be sleeping safe and sound. When you come home in the evening your chinchilla will just start to wake up. Most likely you can still have a nice dinner and then take care of your chinchilla by feeding him and giving him attention.

But of course the crepuscular nature of chinchilla also has its possible downsides:

  • not that suitable for young children: children often are already in bed when the chinchilla wakes up
  • cage location is important: the cage should be placed in a location that experiences normal day/night light cycle
  • don’t put the cage in a bedroom: if you don’t want to be wakened up during the night, don’t place the cage in a bedroom
  • don’t make noise while it’s sleeping: you don’t want to make a lot of noise in the vicinity of the cage during the day

Chinchilla Sleeping Habits

How long do chinchillas sleep?

A normal chinchilla, like a few other rodents, sleeps in intervals and can spend the entire day sleeping. It’s not uncommon for a chinchilla to sleep between 11 and 14 hours per day. When a chinchilla ages they also tend to spend more time of the day sleeping.

How do chinchillas sleep?

Most chinchillas sleep on their feet. However, quite a number of them have unique sleeping positions. Chinchillas sleep with their faces forward, on top of their front feet. Their ears are also angled down with the rest of the body. Despite being asleep, chinchillas remain alert and can quickly be woken up by any type of noise. Chinchillas also dream, and you may notice them moving a lot or making baby noises when asleep.

chinchilla sleeping
Sergey Borisov_88/

On some occasions, chinchillas sleep with their eyes open. Though the iris will be completely closed to prevent the light from penetrating the eyes. A chinchilla may fail to notice your hands if you try moving your fingers in front of it, but it will quickly sense and react to any type of noise you make.

Where does your chinchilla sleep?

Your chinchilla has a natural habit to sleep and hide in a dark burrow between the rocks or in rock crevices. In captivity, it will be extremely difficult to mimic this kind of burrow in a rocky mountainous environment.

But you can mimic a safe sleeping nest by giving one or more hideaways. This hideaway is similar to a hamster house and can be made out of plastic or unfurnished wood. Although there are store-bought chinchilla hideaways made of plastic it’s best to buy or create a wooden house. If your chinchilla feels the need to nibble on his house, he can then do so safely.

Make sure the hideaway is located at the darkest place in the chinchilla cage. Most chinchillas will stay all day in this little house and will only come out to drink or urinate.

Tips and Tricks

Chinchillas are very sensitive to sounds, even when they’re asleep. A healthy chinchilla needs its sleep and it’s important that you don’t bother them too much during the day. To help you give your furry pet the best sleep, here are some tips and tricks.

  • don’t place the cage in a bedroom
  • make sure that the cage is in a room that experiences normal day/night light cycle
  • don’t put the cage near a window, this may cause overheating of the cage fast
  • place the running wheel in the cage during the day or at twilight and remove it for the night
  • if you’re at home during the day, place the cage in a room where you don’t disturb your chinchilla too much

Related Questions

Do chinchillas snore while sleeping?

Chinchillas don’t snore while sleeping, and if you notice that your chinchilla is snoring while sleeping, that’s a sign of a health problem, and it’s advisable to contact your vet immediately. Snoring while sleeping could be a result of respiratory infections among many things.

How frequently do chinchillas pee when they sleep?

Chinchillas don’t pee when they sleep. They usually wake up and urinate at a dedicated area in their cage.

Is it normal for a chinchilla to sleep on its side?

It’s very normal for a chinchilla to sleep on its side. Chinchillas sleep on their side because of the following reasons: it’s pregnant, its drained after a vigorous exercise, is feeling hot, or it simply loves sleeping in that position. Some chinchillas sleep on their side when they feel relaxed and content. Most of the time, a chinchilla sleeps on all fours, although sometimes it would sleep on its side. All these will depend on your chinchilla’s personality and behavior.

Similar Posts