Selecting a pet is a big deal, whether you're looking for a cat, chinchilla or any other animal. A pet is a new family member, after all. Although males and females of these South American rodents can both potentially make jovial and comparatively low-maintenance pets, they indeed display some temperament differences. When it comes to picking a chinchilla, however, you could have luck whether you pick a girl or a boy.
Male or Female Chinchillas
If you're looking to welcome one chinchilla into your life, gender might not make too much difference. According to author and chinchilla expert Jack C. Harris, neither gender of chinchilla is notably more suited to life as a pet. Since both male and female chinchillas make pleasant pets for most, you don't have to rule out individuals of either sex. Male and female chinchillas often connect strongly to the people in their lives, and even adore being petted, whether below the chin or behind the ears.
Many chinchillas enjoy living in duos with fellow chinchillas. But all chinchillas are different. If you plan on keeping chinchillas together, consider the gender you select. Female chinchillas are fiercer in disposition than males. They can act aggressively toward male and females when kept together. Mature females can act aggressively toward young males, often killing them. Female chinchillas can be particularly onerous when they're in heat, showing signs of territorial aggression. Separating chinchillas during this time can help prevent injury or death when aggression is present. Male chinchillas typically are calmer than females, and less territorial.
Companion to Another Chinchilla
While female chinchillas can occasionally be aggressive with other females, much of their aggression is toward males attempting to mate with them. This isn't a problem between females. If you have a boy already, pick another boy. If you have a girl, pick another girl. Fixed opposite gender duos sometimes work, but mostly in cases of siblings. Littermates that have never been separated are comfortable with being together and therefore aren't as susceptible to fights. If you ever have chinchillas that are violent and don't get along, place them in separate enclosures immediately. They can often manage successfully living by themselves permanently. Remember that spacious enclosures are always a good idea for chinchillas living together. Get an enclosure that is as large as your space allows.
Telling the Genders Apart
Female and male chinchillas don't look exactly the same. If you're not sure if you're dealing with a male or female chinchilla, observe their anatomy. Boys possess gaps in the middle of their anal regions and penises. Girls, however, barely have gaps in the middle of their anal regions and genitalia. Females are usually larger than males, too. If you need additional help, a veterinarian can determine the sex of the chinchilla for you.
- Royal Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals: Appropriate Company for Chinchillas
- Chinchillas; Tom Handford
- Chinchillas - A Complete Introduction; Jack C. Harris
- Laboratory Animal Medicine; James G. Fox, Lynn C. Anderson and Franklin M. Loew, et al.
- The Laboratory Rabbit, Guinea Pig, Hamster, and Other Rodents; Mark A. Suckow, Karla A. Stevens and Ronald P. Wilson
- Exotic Small Mammal Care and Husbandry; Ron E. Banks, Julie M. Sharp and Sonia D. Doss, et al.
- Rodents; National Research Council
- Clinical Laboratory Animal Medicine; Karen Hrapkiewicz and Leticia Medina
- SmallAnimalChannel.com: Male Chinchilla or Female Chinchilla
- Animal Rescue League of Iowa: Chinchillas - The Basics
- Creatas/Creatas/Getty Images