Are Chinchillas Nocturnal?


Many know how much the fur of a chinchilla is worth, however, they have grown in popularity so quickly that their value as a pocket pet is worth more on an emotional level.

Chinchillas have some habits that may be quite different from their human owner, although it would depend on the type of employment the owner has.

A chinchilla is not a pet that one would want if they live in a small residence. The hours a Chinchilla keeps may vary from that of their human counterpart, therefore affecting their sleeping habits.

The Chinchilla was originally brought to the United States in 1923. Mathias Chapman received special permission from the Government of Chile to bring 11 Chinchillas to the States. Every Chinchilla in the United States is a direct descendent of one of those eleven original Chinchillas.



Crepuscular means that the Chinchilla is active during the early morning hours of dawn and then the hours of dusk. When it comes to sleeping, this means that a chinchilla will sleep some hours during the day, and also some hours at night.

Chinchillas became Crepuscular animals due to their instincts. Many animals are considered to be predators, the Chinchilla is not a predator. Rather they are prey. Their wake and sleep schedule is based on the hours that best helped them to avoid the predators.

Chinchillas can overheat very easily, therefore being active during the main part of the day could cause some serious health issues for them. It makes more sense for the Chinchilla to be active during the darker and cooler hours of the day and night. When in the wild, a Chinchilla will find a cool and dark place to curl up and sleep through the warmest parts of the day.



Nocturnal animals are those that perform all their tasks, duties and activities during the nighttime hours. This allows them to sleep all through the day.

Nocturnal animals have larger eyes which allows them to bring more light in. Nocturnal animals have adapted to the darkness.  They also have heightened levels of senses. These heightened senses allow them to hunt primarily in the dark.


Diurnal animals are those that are active during the daylight hours and sleep at night. Humans are basically Diurnal creatures. However, humans can adapt to a nocturnal lifestyle when needed.

Changing a Chinchilla


Even though it would seem to fit the majority of human lives better, it is not healthy for the chinchilla to have their sleep schedule messed with. A chinchilla is a Crepuscular creature based on instincts. This is an instinct from centuries and generations ago.

Many people assume that the Chinchilla is nocturnal. It would seem so when the human is at work all day then comes home and tries to sleep. The Chinchilla will be more active during the waking hours. When a human is attempting to sleep at night, he or she feels that the Chinchilla is too active. What needs to be understood is that the Chinchilla is just as active during the morning hours also.

The Chinchilla can become quite ill if their sleep patterns are altered.

General Sleeping Habits


All Chinchillas will sleep in intervals. It may appear that they feel that night is day and day is night. There may be times when your Chinchilla will sleep the whole day. However, this is different from that of a nocturnal or Diurnal creature. The Crepuscular creature does wake up to eat, bather or play a tiny bit during the day.

A Chinchilla is not known for its heavy sleep patterns. As Chinchillas get older you will notice that they do spend more time in a deep sleep. They still remain Crepuscular animals, it is simply that they sleep heavier as they age.

How long does a Chinchilla sleep?


In a 24 hour period of time, your Chinchilla will likely spend upwards of 11-14 hours of sleep. Keep in mind that this amount of sleep is spread out over the full 24 hour time period. Although, there may be some who can actually sleep all day.

Where does a chinchilla sleep


Chinchillas are pretty easy to please when it comes to where they sleep. They are quite happy sleeping in a burrow, or in rock crevices. The ideal location for them to sleep is one that makes them feel safe and protected.

As a pet, the Chinchilla would be just as happy sleeping in a Chinchilla sized hammock. You could also build your Chinchilla a cubby where they can crawl in and sleep if they want to be out of the view of humans. As for the majority of Chinchillas, as long as the area is enclosed, your Chinchilla will have a stress free sleep.

A few notes to remember:

A Chinchilla likes to be left alone and undisturbed when he or she is sleeping. Do not keep the chinchilla in your bedroom.

The room where the cage is should have plenty of natural sunlight during the daytime. However, it cannot be a room that gets too warm from the sun. Too warm and the Chinchilla will become uncomfortable.

Keep the Chinchilla cage away from the windows. Sun streaming through the window is going to heat the cage up quickly. Those heated temperatures will cause great distress to your Chinchilla.

Your Chinchillas home should be large enough to give room to roam around, run and play. If the cage is tall, that is even better. This will make the Chinchilla very happy. Remember that your Chinchilla is not able to get out and run as you or I can. He or she needs room inside their cage to do these activities to stay healthy and active.

Peak Activity hours


Chinchillas are small creatures with a big appetite for fun and activity. During what is considered their peak activity times, they spend their time running, playing, eating and bathing.

The chinchilla loves to play with hanging chew balls, chew toys and even woven carrots and other woven vegetable toys. Chinchillas love to nibble and chew. Wooden sleeping structures are ideal for them as they will nibble and chew until they fall asleep.

Eating and drinking are one of Chinchillas’ favourite activities when they are awake. Chinchillas drink a lot of water, however, it is necessary for them to do so. Lots of water will keep them hydrated, obviously, but it will also keep them cool. Be sure that they have an adequate recommended amount of food and a bowl of fresh water nearby. Check the water frequently to ensure there is plenty there to keep your pal happy and healthy.

Hopping around is an activity that you will see a happy and healthy Chinchilla do during the peak waking hours. A Chinchilla loves to jump and climb naturally, and they are quite agile also. Another reason why a tall cage is beneficial for a Chinchilla. If you can get an artificial climbing rock for them, they will be thrilled. This is when you will see the excitement in your Chinchilla.

It is during this time that you may hear loud and unexpected sounds from your Chinchilla and the cage. Nothing to worry about though, it is just him or her having a blast playing.

Making noise is another activity you will hear from your Chinchilla when he or she is happy and healthy. They actually love to chirp and do the talking. When your Chinchilla wants you to pay attention, you will hear plenty of squeaks and chirps.

How to Accommodate your Chinchilla’s sleeping habits


You may think that is written wrong. No, I actually meant to say ‘accommodate your Chinchilla’s sleeping habits’.

Since their active hours are mostly at dawn and dusk, you will want to be prepared for that. If you are a light sleeper, do not keep the Chinchilla cage in your bedroom. The same could be said for the Chinchilla, when he or she is sleeping, it does not want to be disturbed. The best suggestion is to keep the Chinchilla in a room where it will have the quiet it needs during his sleeping times. If you, as the owner, want to sleep, be sure to not have the Chinchilla in a room where you plan to get some restful sleep.

Finally, to be clear, the Chinchilla is not nocturnal, nor is it diurnal. The Chinchilla is a combination of both called Crepuscular. They will sleep off and on all day and night. The peak times that you will see them awake are early mornings and then at dusk. Be sure to communicate and associate with your Chinchilla. They love this aspect. They are happy, loving and active animals that need lots of room to run and play.

Although they seem to be sociable, they are also the type that wants to be left alone and undisturbed when they are sleeping. There is no method to actually train a Chinchilla to sleep when you do. The suggestion is to have a separate room for each of you to sleep in, this way you both get the rest you need when you need it.

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