Do Chinchillas Hibernate? {Why Do Chinchillas Play Dead?}

When my chinchilla slept through most of the day and night, I worried. I thought, “Do chinchillas hibernate?”

I sought medical advice from a vet who taught me about torpor in chinchillas. I also learned 6 reasons why chinchillas play dead and it seems like it is not a game after all.

In this article, I’ll present my findings and explain whether or not chinchillas hibernate along with more details about their sleeping patterns.

Do Chinchillas Hibernate?

No. Do not expect your chinchilla to hibernate because this is not something they do in the wild. The dense fur on a chinchilla and their exceptional burrowing ability allow them to stay warm in native habitats without the need to preserve energy through hibernation.

If temperatures routinely fall below 60 degrees Fahrenheit in a chinchilla’s environment, they may become too cold to handle the climate and will need more warmth inside.

Torpor is a state where chinchillas can reduce their metabolism and activity levels, but it doesn’t equate to hibernation.

Chinchilla Torpor

While chinchillas do not hibernate, they can enter a condition of slowed metabolism and lethargy, particularly under extreme temperature changes. Torpor is the name for this state.

If your pet Chinchilla is not hibernating, but sleeps for lengthy periods of time as its body temperature drops, they are dormant in torpor.

In contrast to hibernation, torpor is an uncontrollable state that lasts only a few hours during the day and is typically impacted by:

  • a lack of food
  • colder weather

In comparison to hibernation, torpor is a temporary hibernation that is less severe. Overall, we should be trying to avoid allowing the conditions for torpor to take effect in chinchillas.

How Long Do Chinchillas Sleep?

The length of time a chinchilla will sleep is influenced by factors such as age and their overall health. When they are maintained as pets, they will sleep:

  • between 10 and 14 hours on average.
  • as much as 15 hours a day on average in their natural habitat.
  • for 10 to 12 hours straight when they are left alone.

If you have a chinchilla as a pet and notice that it is sleeping for longer periods of time than usual, this may be an indication that it is battling some kind of illness.

It is essential that their sleeping area be calm and free of any potential dangers. They are quickly startled by loud noises.

It might be a bit tough to provide them a tranquil day of rest because they naturally want to sleep throughout the day.

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Can I Change the Sleep Schedule of My Chinchilla?

If you want to try to modify the sleeping pattern of your chinchilla, it is typically not a good idea since it might be harmful to their health.

I haven’t done it, but it is generally not a good plan. Attempting to change a chinchilla’s regular sleeping schedule might lead to stress, which in turn can make them unwell.

  1. Because it is common knowledge that chinchillas sleep from dawn till dusk, you may reorganize their feeding plan to correspond with their sleeping routine.
  2. Altering the duration of the day in the space where you keep the chinchilla may may be accomplished by playing around with the lighting in the room.
  3. When they observe the light on for 12 hours during the night and turns off during the day, they will be able to remain awake in accordance with your own personal sleeping routine.

In the end, you want to engage in activities that will make your pet content.

Where Do Chinchilla Live in the Wild?

Wild chinchillas are indigenous to South America’s Andes Mountains.

They took their name from the Chincha tribe of the Andes. For safety and social rank, the Chincha used to cover themselves with chinchilla fur.

Over time, chinchilla’s ultra-warm, velvety fur has made them popular, according to research. Due to overhunting, chinchillas were practically extinct by the end of the 19th century.

Chinchillas are already extinct in their home countries of Bolivia and Peru. In 1953, chinchillas were discovered in Chile once again.

Do Chinchillas Migrate?

No. Because of their thick coats, chinchillas do not need to move from one land to another further away  since they are able to adapt to the severe winter cold where they live.

6 Reasons Why Chinchilla Playing Dead

What to look out for when you think your chinchilla is playing dead:

1. Seizures

This can happen because of many different types of injuries. Some injuries, like missed head traumas, may be out of your control or have been there from the beginning, like birth defects.

Sometimes accidents can also cause medical conditions and result in secondary seizures or symptoms.

Of course, it is never our intention to harm our pets. It can be helpful to know what signs to look out for things we might not have realized what we were doing or not doing.

2. Heatstroke

Chinchillas require temperatures between 60-to-75-degrees Fahrenheit (15.56 to 23.89 degrees Celsius).

With 80 hairs per follicle, it is unlikely for them to get chilly just under their preferred temperatures, but because of that dense fur, it’s easy to overheat.

Assure that your chinchilla is in a cool room and has access to cool surfaces like tile squares if it is going to be warmer. Be sure to limit playtime out of their cage to no more than 30 minutes in the summer.

3. Head injury

Injuries can be tricky as we often aren’t there to see them when they happen. Your chinchilla is at risk of injuring their head from falling or if they’re housed with an excitable cage mate.

To avoid falls, make sure your chinchilla has plenty of ledges. This will ensure that your pet doesn’t have to overestimate or underestimate how far to jump when they’re at the top of their cage.

Adding hammocks will break up open space. If your chinchilla falls, it will be able to land on a hammock to catch or ease its fall. Be sure to avoid hanging strings or loops.

If you have more than one chinchilla, be sure that they get along well. Rodents make familial hierarchies, meaning one of your chinchillas will always be the one to get picked on.

Hierarchies are perfectly healthy. However, interactions can sometimes turn into aggressive fighting. In this case, it is better to separate your chinchillas to avoid significant harm.

4. Hypoglycemia

Your chinchilla could be prone to having low blood sugar. This can happen to anyone, but when it happens often, it’s called hypoglycemia and could be genetic.

Your chinchilla may faint from low blood sugar when you take them out of their cage due to excitement. Offer one raisin, which is high in sugar to assist.

5. Epilepsy

Epilepsy is purely genetic and would be an instance of not knowing that your chinchilla was suffering until you notice their playing-dead behaviors.

Epilepsy may be triggered by speaking loudly to your chinchilla, your chinchilla getting excited by something, such as going up to its cage or rough playing. There may not even be a trigger at all.

Your veterinarian will diagnose your chinchilla with epilepsy if they have two seizures with no cause. There is no cure for epilepsy. But if diagnosed, your veterinarian will help your chinchilla have the best life possible.

6. Thiamine deficiency

Thiamine or vitamin B1 is equally important for chinchillas as it is for us. The body cannot make thiamine, which helps us have a healthy nervous system, so being thiamine deficient could be why your pet is having seizures.

Thiamine deficiency is usually caused by accidentally under-fulfilling a proper diet. Your chinchilla can immediately get healthy again once you restore sufficient thiamine.

Dark leafy greens, alfalfa, and oat bran are excellent sources of vitamin B1. Always ask your veterinarian’s opinion before feeding new things to your chinchilla.

Your veterinarian will likely give your chinchilla some vitamins if suspected of being deficient.


The practice of curling up into a ball and retiring to sleep is only one aspect of hibernation in smaller animals.

As an animal goes into hibernation, it lowers its heart rate and slows down its metabolism to conserve energy throughout the colder months. In addition, a slower respiratory rate and a lower body temperature are symptoms of this health issue.

Chinchillas do not hibernate, although they are known to sleep for quite extended periods of time. Thankfully, this is the case. Yet, the sleeping patterns of chinchillas have been linked to a number of health issues.

For instance, chinchillas can suffer from sleep disorders including insomnia, sleep apnea, and torpor, all of which are typically brought on by mental and physical conditions like cold weather, lack of food and and stress.


Thank you for visiting for the best information to help you enjoy the life of your pocket pet companion in a fun, safe & healthy way.


My name is Anna and I work full time in my local pet shop where we sell many animals that I write about on this site. I love all animals and love writing about them.