Once you decide a chinchilla is right for you, here is what you need to know:
Housing: Chinchillas are very active, quick and agile little animals, and will benefit from having a large cage to bounce around in. Stay away from plastic. It is not durable, and many times the chinchilla will chew and ingest the plastic.
Stick with stainless steel or metal cages, such as the Ferret or Critter Nation from Marshall (www.marshallpet.com) or also any of the cages by Quality Cage. (www.qualitycage.com)
Diet: Chinchillas are fiber-eaters and should have an 80% grass hay diet, including Timothy, Oat and Orchard Grass. Alfalfa is NOT a grass hay. Excessive alfalfa in the diet can lead to obesity and even bladder stones from the calcium content. Use alfalfa as a treat only.
Pellets should be fed in moderation, no more than a tablespoon per day, per chinchilla. Use a PLAIN pellet, like Oxbow Chinchilla Deluxe, or Kaytee Timothy Complete. Gourmet pellets do not get digested properly and can lead to impaction and death.