Unusual pets: Chinchilla

Chinchillas. They often seem like very quiet, sleepy little balls of fluff at the pet store—and that’s it. But don’t be fooled.

Chinchillas. They often seem like very quiet, sleepy little balls of fluff at the pet store—and that’s it. But don’t be fooled. They’re a lot more interesting than that quietness would imply, says Canton resident Amanda Hexamer, the caretaker for 7-year-old chinchilla Lola.

“I think that’s the biggest misconception,” she says of their seemingly sedate demeanor. “They all have personalities. Lola is a little person. She is such a big character in a little body.”

After a summer of pet sitting Lola, who was her sister’s pet, Hexamer became smitten with the bundle of fur. When summer was over, Hexamer didn’t want to part with the chinchilla.

“She became part of my life,” she says.

Lola has her own room where she gets to run around, bounce off the walls—literally—and burrow into blanket forts Hexamer makes for her. She also has her own special bathtub, where she takes dust baths (in nature, chinchillas bathe in sand).

Hexamer grew up with cats and dogs as pets and admits that getting used to a chinchilla was a little challenging. It took awhile for Lola to come to life after she left the pet store.

“For me, it was hard realizing she wasn’t going to cuddle up like a cat or a dog,” Hexamer says. “She’s just affectionate in other ways.”

Although Lola is more interested in running around than cuddling, it’s common for Lola to stop long enough to perch on Hexamer’s shoulder while she reads a book or uses the computer.

“She’s a very sweet animal, very attuned to people,” she says. “I would definitely pick another one if I had the chance. It’s been a fun journey.”