Last Modified

June 6, 2022 by Umair Shahid

Chinchillas are by far the cutest pets you can have at your home. With a very calm nature, they carry gentleness and don’t have any special catering requirements.

Belonging to the Chinchillidae family, chinchillas exhibit an incomplete nocturnal behavior. Recent studies have shown that chinchillas possess another type of unique behavior. 

Contrary to the popular belief, chinchillas are found to be crepuscular animals, meaning they are active during the twilight periods.

As a veterinarian, I have observed their feeding and activity pattern mostly peaks during the nighttime. Chinchillas are highly adaptive and can be quickly accustomed to your active schedules. They prefer to sleep during the day and have well-developed senses of smell, hearing, and sight. 

Are Chinchillas Nocturnal

Chinchilla’s Ideal Rest & Play Routine

It is imperative to create an activity balance for your chinchilla to make him comfortable and healthy. The presence of plenty of toys and accessories is crucial and must be available to your furry friend.

Depending on the natural personality of your chinchilla, experts recommend accommodating them in their natural biological rhythms. To help them occupied and stimulated, ensure the proper cage space provision.

Let them sit alone and not provide them with anything engaging to make them chewy. These delicate animals can go into depression or loneliness and may suffer from a number of health problems.

Playfulness behavior and exercise are very important for them so veterinarians always recommend you to get an exercising wheel for them. Fulfilling the mandatory and suggested requirements lets your chinchilla behave as if he is in his natural environment. 

Apart from using toys as playing accessories, make sure the cage you purchased is specifically made for chinchillas.

Tall cages are an ideal option due to the presence of multiple climbing levels to keep chinchillas curious and engaged.

The bedding should be soft and comfortable using shredded newspaper and hardwood shavings. As they are crepuscular, you might be sleeping during their active time. Consider getting a pair so they can interact and entertain each other in your absence.

Show Some Love During Playtime

As I discussed earlier, chinchillas are crepuscular animals and you must set their routine accordingly. A recent study conducted on the effects of captivity on the health of chinchillas suggested numerous benefits of taking them out to play.

I personally found these animals super-friendly and socializing, meaning you must interact with them as much as you can.

As the domesticated chinchillas can set their routine regardless of the day and night times, you need to let them out. Of course, you don’t always need to take them out of the cage during dawn and dusk, but find the best time to make them socialize and play.

Nocturnal vs. Crepuscular vs. Diurnal

You may find these three terms in animal behavior articles while searching for the right answers. Let me clear this up for you, as nocturnal and corpuscular terms are used interchangeably.

Nocturnal animals belong to the classification of animals that have increased physical activity after sunset or at night. On the other hand, crepuscular animals prefer to stay awake and play during dusk and dawn. 

Chinchillas are crepuscular animals and you’ll see them active in the early morning and evening. Diurnal animals have quite opposite behavior to nocturnal; they stay active during the day like most other animals.

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Most rodents are naturally found to be either crepuscular or nocturnal, and you need to cater to them according to their biological rhythm.

What’s the Significance?

The crepuscular and nocturnal behaviors are evolutionary changes and, in my opinion, are predatory adaptations. In the wild, chinchillas are very prone to attack by many types of carnivorous predators.

In contrast to the animals exhibiting diurnal behavior, nocturnal animals stay active during the night for feeding and interaction.

These changes have always helped these small rodents to stay out of predators’ sight and avoid being hunted. The dawn & dusk time activities offer chinchillas a great and safe opportunity to find food and survive in the wild.

Talking about the other side of the story, domesticated chinchillas don’t need to go through the hustles of the wilderness.

You won’t feel any noticeable difference in their activity if you tame and train your chinchilla according to your regular schedules. Taking great care and making playful items available can engage them even during the daytime. 

Final Thoughts

Chinchillas are not nocturnal but crepuscular rodents. Being a pet parent, you don’t have to worry about their activity patterns. These social cuties are extremely adaptable and can acclimatize to your routine in a very short time frame.

Proven by rodent researchers, proper interaction with your chinchilla and letting him have a playful environment is the key to good health and friendliness. With that being said, I wish you good luck in bringing an innocent chinchilla to your home. 


What are the sleeping times for a chinchilla?

Chinchillas are crepuscular rodents and preferably like to sleep during the day. They are fairly active during dusk and dawn but you can train them to adapt to the daytime routine.

Do chinchillas prefer sleeping in a cage or outside?

You must provide a cage specifically designed for chinchillas. The bedding must be kept soft using wood shavings, as they prefer to sleep in a silent and dark place.

Should I buy a pair of chinchillas?

It is always ideal to get a pair of either male and female or two males. A single chinchilla will not adapt to the environment in a natural way. As a veterinarian, I recommend proving your pet someone to interact with when you’re away. Buying a pair is always the best option, in my opinion.

What are the comfortable humidity and temperature requirements for my chinchilla?

Studies have shown the ideal humidity levels must be kept at equal to or less than 50%. Besides, a temperature of 60 to 70 degrees Fahrenheit is according to the chinchilla’s Thermo-neutral zone. Veterinarians suggest not putting them in direct sunlight for too long as it causes heat stress on chinchillas.


I am a Doctor of Veterinary Medicine and have a keen interest in animal health care. Working as a veterinary content writer, I intend to stay with professional approach in producing quality content. I like research-based reading and currently seeking my veterinary profession. My hobbies are travelling to exotic places and observing nature to the fullest.

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