Wondering how much a chinchilla is? If you just plan to get one of these fluffy furballs, you might have heard that they are cheap compared to other small pets. While this is often true, there are some costs that can easily add up.
In this article, I’m going through all the costs that owning a chinchilla contains. To give you a better overview I will differentiate between costs for the initial setup and ongoing yearly costs. The price for the chinchilla itself might be a good starting point.
Price Of Your Chinchilla Itself
Chinchillas are usually between 150 and 400 $. If the pet of your desire is a short-tailed or a long-tailed chinchilla doesn’t play a role when it comes to these numbers. But the price can vary between different sellers.
Pet stores (if they even sell chinchillas) often have the cheapest offers. If you are thinking about getting one from them, have in mind, that you get what you pay for. As exotic pets, your local store most likely doesn’t have chinchillas in stock non the less.
That said, I don’t recommend buying pets from a store like this. Often they are stressed and not properly cared for. Additionally, I made the experience, that the staff can’t provide all the information you need.
There is a number of responsible breeders and you will find one within your driving distance. A good breeder you can go with should meet the standards of an association like the Empress Chinchilla Breeders Cooperative.
If you want to do something good, you can adopt a chinchilla from a rescue shelter. Another very good contact point is petfinder.com. Many owners haven’t thought about the long lifespan of their pet when they got it. 
Adopting a pet is not only very rewarding, but it can save you also a lot of money. At a rescue shelter, you will only have to pay a small fee compared to the price breeders ask for. Additionally, you can often buy most of the things you need for the initial setup from the previous owner if you get the contact. In this case, you will get everything for a bargain.
In this section, I will cover basically everything that you will need for the start with your chinchilla. For every item, I mention a price range so that you can take your budget into account. But have in mind that quality is often the better choice. Chinchillas live a long time and you want long-lasting products that you can use for years to come.
- Cage (200 – 300 $): As you can imagine, this is the most expensive item and there is no way around it. Chinchillas need a large multi-level cage in that they can jump through the different stories. You should also plan in some extra space for other accessories your pet needs. I wrote a comprehensive guide about the best chinchilla cages that you should read if you are on the search for a habitat.
- Ledges (10 – 15 $): Depending on which cage you chose, you will need some ledges to add extra levels. These come into account with the mentioned price each. The surface has to be solid to protect the sensitive feet of your little friend. Ledges of mesh are no choice at all.
- Dish (3 – 7 $): Of course your chinchilla has to eat. Putting the loose pellets in the cage can lead to a mess that you don’t want. Additionally, it protects the food from any moisture (you know what I mean) on the floor.
- Water bottle (5 – 8 $): The water bottle should be made of glass. Plastic is not an option at this point as it can change the taste and you don’t want your pet to refuse the water.
- Dust bath house or tub (10 – 15 $): Dust baths are essential for the well-being of your chinchilla. But you can’t simply put the dust into the habitat. While some owners prefer a special dust bath house, others get along with a simple plastic tub.
- Hideaway (10 – 15 $): A hideaway is just a place where the pet can be on its own. Most likely it will build its nest and sleeping area in here too.
- Hay feeder (5 – 10 $): Hay is the main diet of chinchillas. The hay feeder protects it from dirt and also pretends the cage from being messed up.
- Chinchilla wheel (20 – 45 $): A chinchilla needs to run and exercise. Therefore a wheel is a perfect match. As the critters are quite big compared to other small pets you will need to opt for the largest options available. That is also why the wheel is a bit more expensive. Have also in mind that the wheel will be used often and get quite loud if you try to save money on the wrong end.
Taking everything into account you will land between 263 and 415 $ for the initial cage setup. You don’t have to buy the most expensive products in every case. That said, saving on the cage or the wheel is definitely not a good idea.
Buying high-quality items often lead to reduced costs in the future as they don’t have to be replaced so often.
Now I’m going to explain what you need on a monthly basis. Buying these things in bulk can be a real game-changer in terms of the amount of money you have to spend.
- Pellets and timothy hay (5 – 10 $): Pellets and hay are the main food for chinchillas and you won’t need to buy much else. Depending on the appetite of your pet and the brand you choose, you will land anywhere between 5 and 10 $.
- Treats (5 $): Eating the same over and over again without a little variety is boring. Treats are the thing you want to enrich the diet of your pet with. But be aware, you don’t want to have a fat chinchilla, so don’t go too far with this even if it’s fun to feed your pet these things. By the way, there is some human food that can serve as a treat as well. 
- Chew toys (1 $): The teeth of chinchillas are growing continuously. Chew toys are the way to wear them down. Without them, your pet will start to gnaw on everything else. While some materials might be safe you don’t want your pet to swallow plastic pieces. You see, chewing toys are essential but a pack will last a long time.
- Chinchilla dust (1 $): Chinchillas get ill if they get wet. But they still want to be clean animals. To ensure this need is met you have to offer a dust bath every few days. Chinchilla dust is very cheap and a package will last a long time.
- Bedding (5 – 10 $): Bedding is as comfy for your pet as it makes cleaning the cage easier for you. You definitely don’t want to go without it and it’s the most expensive item on the monthly list. A high-quality paper bedding can easily add up to 100 $ a year. If you want to save some money on this, I recommend going with a fleece liner. They are washable and you can use them many times. But the initial cost for fleece bedding will be more expensive as you need at least two.
As you see, you will have to be ok with spending between 17 and 27 $ a month for your pet.
A healthy pet doesn’t have to see the vet often, this is why you will make sure not to be stingy at the essential items. However, chinchillas are exotic animals and vets often charge a bit more for a treatment. The annual check-up should be between 60 and 100 $.
If you want to stay on the safe side add another 50 $ for a minor treatment. This should be enough to get rid of parasites like mites. If no issues occur that year you can put the money away for a rainy day when your pet gets older.
Spaying or neutering is not common with chinchillas, so don’t worry about that.
Wrapping Things Up
The costs of caring for a chinchilla are not that high but you should be aware of them. With 150 to 400 $ the price for the pet itself is the smallest part. And you will need another 263 and 415 $ for the setup of the cage and everything you need to start. The monthly costs for food and supplies are quite low and lay somewhere between 17 and 27 $ but have in mind that they add up to a large sum over the lifetime of your chinchilla.