Are Chinchillas Nocturnal?

Technically, chinchillas are NOT nocturnal. They are often thought to be so and in a few places on this site you'll see that we've said they are. However, one of our readers, Amber, has informed us that chinchillas are crepuscular, which means they are active in the twilight hours. As a result, you'll notice that your chinchilla is most active in the evening and early morning. They will otherwise take long “naps” during the the brightest part of the day and the darkest part of the night.

Amber goes on to tell us that one of the most interesting things about crepuscular animals is that their sleeping schedule changes with the phases of the moon. If you keep a chinchilla in a room with completely natural lighting you will find they sleep almost all the way through the night on a night with no moon, but on the nights surrounding a full moon they will seem almost completely nocturnal! A chinchilla's large eyes allow it to make the most of just a little bit of light.

This distinction between nocturnal and crepuscular does mean that chinchillas are less likely to keep you awake all night since they will be sleeping through part of it as well. However, be warned that they will become active again quite early in the morning so if their cage is close to your bedroom, you'll probably hear them.

Thanks for the awesome info Amber!

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  1. The chinny that I own stays in my living room with mostly natural or ambient light. He seems to be active during the times that I am. His name is FatFat and is quite the chubby fellow despite his rampant use of his exer-wheel, this is quite noisy at times! That's part of the fun of caring for chins! Have fun all and be advised a chinny will adapt to your activities while you are present and carry on with his/her own agenda in your parting hours. Happy Holidays!!!

  2. My chinchillas are kept in a room with lots of natural light and they would be fairly active in both day and night time. They don't seem to have a set schedule, they'll generally be very busy for a few hours at a time and nap for a few hours at a time quite randomly. I tried to keep them in my bedroom for a few nights but I just couldn't put up with the noise. It's so sporadic and loud! I would strongly recommend to anyone planning on getting a chinchilla to have a space for them that's NOT your bedroom!

    • Literally I was going to put mine right behind the head of my bed😂 We have no other place to put it. I haven't gotten it yet. I'm researching first and you answered my question exactly. Only unfortunately that's the opposite of what I was hoping for.

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