Chinchillas, Children & Schools
On average chinchillas are not recommended for young children (under 13 years). Children want an animal they can hold and pet, and a chinchilla will not usually allow this for more than a short time, if at all. Chinchillas are not 'lap' animals so the expectations of what a person wants and what the chinchilla is comfortable doing can be two totally different things. Children tend to be very active/hyper, as are chinchillas and the two together can be overwhelming. Chinchillas are very delicate and even if unintentional, kids tend to be a little rougher than a chin can tolerate. This is a very stressful situation for the chinchilla and they can be easily injured. Underneath all that fur are very fagile bones. Chinchillas are nocturnal which means they sleep all day and will be up playing all night. The simple truth is that I hear from parents all the time who want to surrender chinchillas they got for the children. The reason for wanting to give them up is that the kids 'got bored' with the chinchilla or are too busy with friends, school or activities and they do not take care of him/her at all any more and the responsibility has fallen to the parents. Chinchillas are not like other small exotic animals. Chinchillas can easily live for 15-20 years if properly cared for. That means your kids will be going off to college and you will be taking care of the chinchilla. These are things that you need to seriously be considering before getting one as an animal companion for your children. All factors considered, chinchillas are best for responsible teenagers and adults in a home environment.
This also means chinchillas are not suitable for a classroom of any age group. Considering they are nocturnal and are very sensitive to such a hectic environment, a classroom is not an appropriate place for a chinchilla, and we do not endorse it. This also includes dorms or any other college atmosphere which is really not the place for a chinchilla. These places are much too stressful for a chinchilla. I have seen so many cases of unhealthy and unhappy chinchillas who are forced to live in a classroom environment. They are often fur chewers and so unsocial and afraid of people that no one can get near them. This is a very obvious sign that these animals are not suited for places like this. So please consider the chinchilla and his physical as well as emotional health before bringing him into an environment such as one of these that are not calm or friendly for him.