My friend in college had one. They are pretty cool pets, you can take then out of their cage and hold them. You can even hold them by their tails (the first time I saw this, I was shocked, but apparently they can be held this way w/ no problems). They also take "dust baths" in some special dust that you can buy them.
The only issue is that they poop constantly, everywhere. They apparently cannot be toilet trained.
I don't have any experience with chinchillas, but to me the nicest small animal (if you can get past the thought) are pet rats. When my son was in 3rd grade, his teacher had rats as pets in the classroom and she told us how nice they are, don't bite, etc. We were a little squeamish at first, but we ended up getting two rats for our kids and they were great. We had tried hamsters and gerbils in the past, but you couldn't really get them out to play with them, and they would bite. The rats never bit unless you tried to stick your finger in through the bars of the cage (I think they thought you were poking food in to them). You could handle them, too, because they weren't as squirmy as hamsters and gerbils.
And by the way, rats are like cats, always cleaning themselves. They're very clean animals.
thanks everyone! I was playing with my friend's one, but it seemed scared, since she she had her 4 chihuahuas around, and kept hiding in this box thing in its cage. He was so cute though! Very soft, but I'm still trying to get past the fact they are basically rats lol. She kept telling me how they look so cute taking the dust baths too. I'm hoping a white one will help although my friend said they're rare. I'd love a hamster, but those and gerbils aren't allowed in Hawaii.
That's so weird that hamsters and gerbils aren't allowed in Hawaii!
My experience with chincillas is very limited, but I used to have a math teacher/family friend who loved them and always had them as pets, they are so so soft! I was never bitten, but I think a lot of that depends on the animal. Any animal will bite you if they're nervous, and just because they bite once, doesn't mean that they'll ultimately make a bad pet. At a pet store I think there's so much going on that it can make them more nervous.
Have you ever considered the dwarf rabbits? My coworker has them and I want one so badly now! They're so small! Like 3lb, and they can stay in a cage during the day, they're litter box trained, and you can take them out when you're home and let them jump around w/o a problem from what she says.
And yes, I too have heard that rats make great pets. I had a friend in grade school that had them and they were always very friendly. They definitely just have that whole city rat stigma that makes people a little squeemish about them though!
The potty thing would do me in on a chinchilla. I think they're adorable and wouldn't mind otherwise and saw one just yesterday at petsmart. I wish they could be litterbox trained like rabbits. I had a couple of house rabbits years ago and they were great but I was always paranoid of their chewing, even though my house was considered "bunny-proof".
Chinchillas are sooooo cute!!! I have always wanted one, but I already have a very demanding spoiled cat and a 4 foot long corn snake, so it's not for me at the moment. I've heard that some people think chinchillas are mean and others think they make great pets! Maybe they all have different personalities!