Chinchillas are rodents that, in the wild, live in the Andes Mountains in Chile. They are prized for their soft fur, which saw them driven close to extinction, and they are considered good pets for adult and older children: their shy temperament means that they are not ideally suited to life with young children. Although no rodent species can be considered nonallergenic, they are considered allergy-friendly because they do not produce dander so it is very rare for any person to be allergic to this small animal.
Read on to see whether a chinchilla is a suitable allergy-friendly pet for you and to discover other animals that might be suitable for allergy sufferers.
Chinchillas are medium-sized rodents that live in the mountains of Chile. They live approximately 20 years in captivity, and although they are a relatively common pet, they are not as popular as animals like guinea pigs, hamsters, and rats, all of which tend to prefer human contact and being handled.
Are Chinchillas Allergy Friendly?
The chinchilla is renowned for its luscious fur. Unfortunately, its coat was very nearly its downfall, as the animal was hunted and farmed close to extinction to gather its fur. They are still considered a “vulnerable” species by the International Union for Conservation of Nature, or IUCN. As well as being hunted for their fur, the Chinchilla has a very limited natural habitat, in the Andes Mountains, and the lack of different habitats means that a fall in the population in Chile can have a devastating effect. There are believed to be approximately 10,000 chinchillas left in the wild in Chile today. They are protected by law, but many are still hunted.
Chinchillas As Pets
Their conservation status means that you should only consider adopting or buying captive-bred chinchillas. They are not really lap pets and do not enjoy cuddling. They are quite shy, but they are also quiet and unassuming: they do not require a lot of attention to remain happy and healthy. If you want one that does enjoy human contact, though, you will need to ensure that you handle it regularly and from when it is young.
What Other Pets Are Good for People With Allergies?
Chinchillas are considered allergy-friendly, but they may not be an ideal pet for you or your circumstances. The following animals are also thought to make good pets for allergy sufferers.
1. Bearded Dragons
The bearded dragon is the most popular lizard pet. It enjoys spending time with and playing with humans, can live up to ten years in captivity, and because it has no fur and does not produce dander, it cannot cause allergic reactions in this way. However, it should be noted that they can carry salmonella so you will need to clean your hands before and after handling them, and bearded dragons are not recommended for children under 5, for this reason.
It may sound like an overly safe bet, but goldfish and other types of fish, such as bettas, make surprisingly good pets. There is no risk of allergic reaction because there is water and a fish tank between you and them, and although you can’t pet the fish, they have been proven to help alleviate stress, depression, and anxiety. You will need to invest in a tank and decent setup and ensure that this is kept clean with a weekly cleaning schedule, but along with the daily feeding of flakes or pellets, this is the extent of pet care for goldfish.
Bird allergies do exist, but if you suffer allergic reactions to cats, dogs, or chinchillas, and are not allergic to birds, then a budgie represents a good alternative. Also, while it is possible to be allergic to birds, it is less common with budgies because they do not produce the wing powder that larger birds do and that can be a major cause of bird allergies.
4. Siberian Cat
The Siberian cat is an ancient cat that originally comes from the forests of Siberia. It is accustomed to the cold and has long hair to help protect against snow and other wintry conditions. Its long coat is the reason that most people assume the breed to be bad for allergy sufferers. It produces less of the Fel 1 protein that is produced by other cat breeds and is the primary feline allergen that causes reactions in humans. It does require some care, however, to ensure that its coat remains free of tangles and knots.
Similarly, the poodle is considered one of the best dog breeds for those with allergies. Its coat is a single layer coat that sheds minimally and the poodle, whichever size you prefer, is not known for producing large volumes of saliva, which is another major source of allergens. The poodle is also intelligent, loving, and loyal, and this list of traits makes it a very good choice of pet.
Are Chinchillas Hypoallergenic?
No land mammal can be considered truly hypoallergenic, but the rodent’s soft fur does not produce dander and it does not shed its coat too frequently or too heavily, so it is considered allergy-friendly so it is a good choice for adult allergy sufferers, as well as a pet for older children. Other animals that are often described as being hypoallergenic include fish, lizards, and several species of cat or dog.
Featured Image Credit: benjamingross83, Pixabay
Nicole is the proud mom of Baby, a Burmese cat and Rosa, a New Zealand Huntaway. A Canadian expat, Nicole now lives on a lush forest property with her Kiwi husband in New Zealand. She has a strong love for all animals of all shapes and sizes (and particularly loves a good interspecies friendship) and wants to share her animal knowledge and other experts’ knowledge with pet lovers across the globe.