Many people, especially breeders prefer to house their chins in an outside unit. This is quite feasible, but unless you have a native climate similar to the Andes, an outdoor housing may not be suitable for chinchillas, and certain adaptations will need to be carried out. Ideally, a well-ventilated, insulated, brick-built outhouse is perfect, but failing that, a wooden shed can be adapted for use.
Personal note: For anyone other than breeders, I would not recommend housing your chinchillas in an outdoor building! Your chin needs plenty of love and needs to see you. You can’t bond with your chin if he is living in a separate home from yours!
For those of you interested here are a few hints and tips.
East facing windows are ideal (for ventilation and natural light). This way, chinchillas will only get a little morning sun (provided they are not in direct sunlight). A day/night cycle is very important for chinchillas as it enables them to “set” their biorhythms by means of hormone production. In hot weather the windows can be painted with greenhouse paint, to reflect the sun.
Vermin and Security
Any windows and doors should have mesh covers, to stop vermin from entering or chins escaping,, and the door should be able to be locked to stop unwelcome human intruders!!
Electrical sockets are important, for lighting and appliances. For safety reasons, always ensure the power-source is always connected to a circuit-breaker.
A dehumidifier is essential, especially if the climate has a tendency to be wet or damp, as a chinchilla’s dense fur is highly absorbent and in warm and moist conditions can also harbor fungal organisms.
Air-conditioners are also highly recommended during the warmer weather, as chinchillas cannot tolerate heat.
Heating is only necessary for the winter if their drinking water is likely to freeze up. Fully enclosed electric ceramic tubular heaters are ideal and present no fire-risk.
Single-cage heating is better during the cooler weather, for use if a chinchilla is ill or litters are expected, as new-born young are vulnerable to the cold. A reptile heat-pad is suitable (do not allow the chinchillas to chew these under any circumstances!!) or you can make your own cage-heaters by placing a low-wattage bulb into a biscuit tin – and placing that under a portion of the cage.
The entire shed (especially the roof) should be lined with loft insulation, for warmth in the winter and cool in the summer (using non-toxic, fire-retardant rock-wool or similar). The shed can then be lined inside with marine-ply (or similar) throughout and painted white (if desired). The floor can be covered with cheap linoleum, so floors can be cleaned with pet-safe disinfectant.
A white-painted roof helps reflect heat in the summer, and/or a secondary roof can be added, to provide a heat-reflecting cover. Ensure that there is at least a 4-inch gap between the 2 roofs, to allow an air-flow.
Stable doors can be useful – so the top part of the door can be opened for extra ventilation (adequate ventilation is vital for health). A “through draft” is very important, so vents should be fitted at opposite ends to allow a breeze to ventilate the shed.
This all may seem rather complicated, but once correctly set-up, a shed or out-building can provide a safe and comfortable living environment for chinchillas, no matter what the weather.
Photos & Inspiration Credit: NathanaelScheffler BUILD YOUR OWN STORAGE SHED!