Chinchilla Shopping List

chinchilla-shopping-list

I remember when I rescued my chinchilla, Jasper. Jasper showed up at my doorstep in nothing but a tiny dog carrier. Yes, I said dog carrier! The woman who owned him lived in a van and had this poor little guy living in a tiny space not even big enough for a mouse! Anyway, before bringing this guy home I did some quick research and quickly made a shopping list of everything my new chinchilla was going to need. Unfortunately, I couldn’t find just one site that had all of the information that I needed! Luckily for me, I had a few hours before I was supposed to pick him up, so I did my shopping list research and away I went to purchase what I needed. I had to read five or six different articles to make a complete shopping list. I have typed up the results of that research into one resource for you. Below is my chinchilla shopping list.

The absolute bare minimum items that you will need include:

(1) Cage: Midwest Deluxe Critter Nation is the cage I use and recommend.

(2) Basic Accessories you will need include: 

(3) Travel Carrier – I prefer the 32.5-inch crate made by Prevue Pet Products or the 24-inch Super Pet Mfh Rabbit Cage  if you have a tight budget is acceptable.

 

In the rest of this article, I’ll give more info on toys your chinchilla will enjoy, supplements to keep him/her healthy, acceptable treats, and types of wooden chews you can provide.

 

Toys Your Chinchilla Will Enjoy

Please take a moment and read my full post about Best Toys And Exercise Wheel For Your Chinchilla.  It will really help you to make sure you get the right size wheel and don’t just buy according to the cute pictures on the front of the packages. Although some wheels show a chinchilla on the front of their packaging, doesn’t mean its safe for your chinchilla!  Here are the items which are suitable to leave in your chinchillas’ cage I generally recommend:

  • hanging parrot toys (Don’t forget to check that they are made from safe trees.)
  • sisal ropes (again designed for parrots, but chins love them)
  • pieces of pumice stone
  • some rabbit or large hamster toys
  • wood or branches, e.g. Safe woods are Apple Arbutus Ash, Aspen, Beech, Birch, Cottonwood, Crabapple, Dogwood, Elm, Fir, Hawthorn, Hazelnut, Larch, Magnolia, Manzanita, Mulberry, Kiln-Pine (not fresh pine), Pear, Poplar, and Sequoia.
  • stuffed Booda buddy

DIY Toys For Your Chinchilla

Make your own toys: It is not very hard to make hanging toys with wooden blocks and it is much cheaper to make them at home than buying them. You just need some wooden blocks, wires (or chains), wire cutters, and a drill. If you don’t have a drill, you can drive a nail through the blocks.

  • Branches: i.e. apple branches. Chinchillas love to chew apple and pear branches so I would highly recommend using these trees. Of course, you need to make sure that no chemicals and such have been used on the trees.
  • Empty toilet paper rolls: Chinchillas’ all time favorite! These are great to hide treats in.
  • Popsicle sticks
  • Plain cardboard boxes
  • Rocks: Rocks of different sizes that have been cleaned and boiled.

Tip! ~ I know I have listed many things above but take a look around your house. You will find things that would be great new toys for your chinchilla. Just watch for glue, tape, staples, etc. Common sense stuff.

Optional, But will help keep your Chinchilla healthy and happy!

Other items you may wish to purchase right away or could need in the future are listed below.

Treats

Treats which can be given are:

  • fruit, try fruits with seeds, not stones or pits, e.g. raisins, dried cranberries, dried strawberries, dried blueberries, dried rose hips, a banana chip, or a piece of apple, pear, a half of a fresh or frozen grape, or kiwi.
  • veg, e.g. piece of carrot, flaked peas, parsley, chard, romaine, a dandelion leaf (small and washed). Avoid anything gas forming, e.g. broccoli, cabbage.
  • dried herbs, if available you can pick herbs, then after washing them, hang them upside down (in bunches) in a warm area until they have completely dried out. Herbs suitable for chinchillas include oregano, comfrey, mint, nettle, dandelion, and raspberry leaves.
  • grain, e.g. rolled oats, oat grouts, healthy cereals low in sugar like Shredded Wheat, plain Cheerios or Cornflakes.
  • nuts and seeds, very sparingly – e.g. almonds, sunflower seeds, pumpkin seeds, flax seeds
  • commercially prepared, e.g. chinchilla crackers (produced for chinchillas and available in the US & UK), a small piece of dry toast, or an alfalfa-based animal treat.
  • unsalted peanut in the shell, uncooked pasta…

 

Meds & First Aid

  • Acidophilus for balanced gut bacteria
  • Albon – Diarrhea Treatment
  • Antibiotic cream – For minor cuts
  • Baby Oat Cereal
  • Baby wipes
  • Charcoal – balances gut ph
  • Cheek retractor to check molars
  • Eye Wash
  • Gauze
  • Griseofluvin
  • Grooming Combs
  • High-calorie supplement for weak or sick Chins
  • Lavender oil for small abrasions or cuts
  • Lidocaine
  • Life Line helps with appetite
  • Lube
  • Medical tape
  • Ophthalmic Ointment
  • Pedialyte for Electrolyte dehydration
  • Powdered Goat Milk – kit formula
  • Shredded Wheat Biscuits – Diarrhea Treatment
  • Simethicone – For Bloat
  • Tinactin

How to Build a Chinchilla Cage – Make a Homemade Chinchilla Cage

How to Build a Chinchilla Cage – Make a Homemade Chinchilla Cage

Most people will not have the time or skills to build their own DIY Chinchilla cages but if you do then this page will give you a good guide on how to begin. If however you just want to get your Chinchilla cage and get going with owning a pet Chinchilla then see our Best Chinchilla cage recommendations page.

HOMEMADE CHINCHILLA CAGE

Do be very careful if you are constructing and building a DIY Chinchilla cage because if you don’t get it right you might find your Chinchilla gets his feet and legs trapped in a corner of the cage. Also be careful with the materials you use for the cage because many types of wood are treated with toxic chemicals which can poison and kill your pet. Make sure the wood is untreated.

Do not build your Chinchilla cage with wire mesh that a Chinchilla can get caught up in if the gaps are too large. Unfortunately, many well-meaning people try to save money by building their own Chinchilla cages and they don’t realize the dangerous environment they have created. Do not use any plastic – your rodent Chinchilla will chew on it and ingest the plastic.

Be careful with shelving inside your Chinchilla cages because they must be solid, your Chinchilla will jump and leap about from shelf from to shelf. Be careful not to have a situation where falling or slipping from the top shelf means your Chinchilla falls all the way down to the bottom, stagger the shelves.

BUILDING CHINCHILLA CAGES

Why build Chinchilla cages? You will save money. Animal cages, if you can find them locally, are still quite expensive. A large cage could easily cost you $300 or more. If you are shopping on the Internet or mail-order (which you might have to do with limited local options) and now you’ll have to add in high shipping costs. Building a cage for your Chinchilla, even a large one, should cost well under $200.

Even more importantly, though, is the opportunity to build the Chinchilla cage you want. If you buy one in a pet store you are settling for someone else’s design. The cage you find might not fit your space, or be particularly attractive. If you build your own cage you can create the size and shape you want – in addition to a few, convenient upgrades you won’t find in a pet store cage. I’ve noticed the average Chinchilla owner will want to upgrade about two years from their initial purchase: so why not build the cage you really want in the first place?

CHINCHILLA CAGE PLANS AND DESIGN

For the frame, I recommend 1×2 lumber (ash or pine, whatever is inexpensive). Get enough to create a complete 3d box for the frame of your cage. You’ll some 2-inch wood screws to build the frame. The melamine panels (get them cut where you buy them, or cut them with a circular or table saw) fit inside the frame, attached with Liquid Nails or another adhesive. You can caulk the edges to make them watertight.

Build a door or doors the same way (a frame of wood) but staple wire to the door so you can see inside the cage. Other considerations include covering the outside with a plywood (for a nice furniture look), staining the exterior pine, building shelves, and attaching wheels to the base if you want to move the cage around easily.

Although the process may sound daunting, all of these steps could easily be completed by a beginner. Just carefully plan your Chinchilla cage before you buy anything, and ask for help at the big box store or lumberyard you buy at (have them make the cuts for you). Eventually, you will have the Chinchilla cage you’ve always dreamed of.

For more help and ideas, be sure to read some of the DIY Chinchilla cage post in our Chinchilla Cage category. I’ll have pictures and many more details there, and I’ll be happy to help you through the process.

VIDEO ON BUILDING A CHINCHILLA CAGE

This video below is a very clever use of shelving units. This gives you a good idea of whether you can do it yourself or whether you are better off just buying a Chinchilla cage right now with no hassles and no time wasted! Watch the video on how to build a Chinchilla cage:

Treasures of many have an Etsy shop where she crafts fleece Chinchilla cage covers.  I’m going to try out some of her items as well as items from a few other places. I’ll let you know what I think of the products once I’ve had a chance to test them out.

What Do Chinchillas Need In Their Cage?

What Do Chinchillas Need In Their Cage

Chinchillas are naturally playful and cheeky little pets, but this wonderful friendly nature will only come out if you set up your Chinchilla’s living environment so that it is as happy as it can be. A depressed Chinchilla does not make a good pet! Part of making your Chinchilla happy is setting up their cage with some basic chinchilla cage accessories.

The bare minimum that your Chinchillas needs are a durable and safe exercise wheel, a water bottle that’s easy to clean, a food dish and hay rack that they can not be knocked over, cage toys and an adequately sized cage that is properly placed within your home.  Here is a list of items I use:

Size of Chinchilla Cage

Without a doubt, this is the most important tip for Chinchilla cages. Just like human beings we all want our house to be as large and as big as possible, money permitting of course! Well, Chinchillas are absolutely no different, so depending on the money you are able and willing to spend on your Chinchilla cage, it is always advisable to buy the biggest, largest size of Chinchilla cage your money will buy you. Chinchillas don’t necessarily need a mansion but they are very active pets who love to jump from branch to branch.

Choosing the Best Chinchilla Wheel

No matter what the size of Chinchilla cage you have buying a Chinchilla wheel, also known as Chinchilla exercise wheel enables your Chinchilla to run and run until it’s little legs are absolutely exhausted. A Chinchilla wheel in effect makes even a small Chinchilla cage bigger by enabling the Chinchilla to exercise itself and remain fit and healthy. What happens with the Chinchilla wheel is that it spins and the Chinchilla runs on top of it or inside it. The wheel is ideal if you are unable to allow your Chinchilla outside its cage very often. (note: Chins need out of their cage every day for a minimum of 30 minutes!)

Bottles and Feeders

Make sure you have a bottle which allows your Chinchilla to drink as often as it cares to. Keeping your Chinchilla hydrated is absolutely essential for its health and well-being. Remember that Chinchillas will chew anything in sight so glass bottles are best or metal tipped bottles that hang on the outside of the cage. For feeding your Chinchilla, make sure that the food bowl is ceramic or glass as once again a plastic one will soon be eaten by your Chinchilla which actually could kill it if it ingests the plastics. Ideally attach hopper-style feeders to the outside of the cage for ease filling, changing and cleaning.

Placement of the Chinchilla Cage

Many people mistakenly put their Chinchilla cage where they can see it on a regular basis. Many people end up putting their cage in the lounge or living room where they spend much of their time. This environment is actually bad for your Chinchilla because there is lots of noise either from your family or from the television. In all honesty, the best place for your Chinchilla cage is in a quiet area where they may have peace and quiet and not suffer from stress and shocks. Don’t forget to not put the cage in a cold, overly hot or draughty area. Chinchillas appreciate a regular temperature which is not susceptible to regular changes.

Chinchilla Toys

Once again Chinchillas can certainly be like human beings. As human beings, we love to play and be entertained. Your Chinchilla is the same. So once again when it comes to your Chinchilla cage make sure the contains a number of toys and activities to keep your Chinchilla stimulated and busy. There are a whole host of accessories which you can buy for your Chinchilla cage. Chew toys are especially good because your Chinchilla does need to grind its teeth down, so these are practical as well as for pleasure. Look for safe-wood chew toys, hanging parrot toys with bells, tubes, boxes, and swings. There are many more, but that should get you started. If you are unsure what is or is not safe-wood for your Chinchilla, please read “What Are Some Chinchilla Safe Wood for Chews, Shelves, And Toys

 

 

DIY Chinchilla Cage ~ BATMAN – ROBIN – JOKER

DIY Chinchilla Cage-cage

THE STORY

It happened last year in December when I was busy chatting in a local BBS, that one of the chatters asked for someone who might like to get two Chinchillas for free because his meant to be male chin has proven to be female and has given birth to two young chinnies. As I’m fond of animals in common (I’ve had a dog, a cat, a horse, and some fish at home) and of chinchillas in special ever since I met one at my friends home, I simply ignored all the voices in my head who whispered that my flat was too small, my time too short and my electronic stuff too valuable to get some pets which look like exploded mice and behave like critters.

Batman & Robin

Alas, four weeks and several-chin related books later I went to the chatter to give two of his four furballs a new home. The owner introduced me to two male chinchillas, a standard grey which was 9 months old and a half black velvet at the age of 5 months. For a few bucks, I also got a large cage and some equipment (the chins came for free) and went home… as the proud owner of the grey “Batman” and the black “Robin”. Within the next days, I came to the conclusion that…

  • Batman and Robin are girls and
  • …I needed a larger cage to compensate my jumping balls’ energy.

The following weeks I devoted my time to the observation of the furry things hopping around in their new (self-made) cage and in my flat. Despite my skepticism, Robin and Batman went along fine with each other… they cooperate in any respects: They share a bed (sometimes their sleeping positions remind me of the Indian “Kamasutra”), pellets and any unhealthy thing B they find… usually power cables, pieces of wallpaper or sheets of paper. To get these things, they developed a special strategy:

  1. The deliberate, cunning Batman (she’s the elder one and a born leader) distracts my attention while
  2. the hectic bouncing ball Robin gets the desired object and transports it into the cage (which is a quite difficult task sometimes).
  3. Batman suddenly turns around and hops into the cage and
  4. my Chinchillas enjoy their quarry (usually in the only corner of the cage which cannot be reached without effort).

Normally the two Ladies are pretty arrogant and standoffish towards me… they won’t let me touch or scratch them… unless… yes, unless I will offer some raisins… typical female. 😉

Joker

In June I saw a gray male baby chin in a pet store (he was 3 months old, small and all alone without any sitting boards or other Chinchillas in his tiny glass cage) and I decided to get a mate for my two Ladies. I took him with me and named him Joker.

Unfortunately, my Ladies do not (yet) like him very much; in fact, they tend to chase him away every time he approaches… but this only happens when they are closed up in one cage… once all three Chinchillas run free, there’s no hostility… they just ignore each other. So I put Joker in my second chin cage, in plain sight of the Ladies cage. Who knows … maybe the time will come (when he’s grown up), when Robin’s and Batman’s point of view will change… 😉

Unlike the females, Joker is very affectionate. He enjoys to be scratched under the chin, likes it to jump around my boyfriend’s and my feet and sometimes he even lets us hold and pet him… for a few moments and a raisin.

THE PICTURES

So here you can see a few pictures of my beloved fur balls… boy it took a great deal of action for me to catch them standing still enough for taking a picture. Finally, I gave up and went back to the old “My chinnies want some raisins?”-trick.

 

DIY Chinchilla Cage-cage

The Cage

This is a scheme of my self-built chin cage (the one where Batman and Robin live in)… it seems to be a standard procedure to build a cage by your own when you get Chinchillas; either you build a large cage and let them out for supervised exercises once a day (app. 1 hour) or you buy a standard pet cage (the hugest and probably most expensive you find) and let the critters out for half of the night… eating up your house.

This cage has a height of 150 cm, a width of 100 cm and a depth of 50 cm. It is totally built from wood and has a wire mesh at the front side with two large doors in it. The edges of the boards are additionally bite-protected by aluminum strips and the floor is covered by first newspapers then pine shavings, which are changed every two weeks (there is a drawer to make cleaning easier). For their teeth and also for climbing exercises, I secretly took a big branch from my mother’s holy cherry tree when she was not there to forbid it… the chins love it. 🙂

The upper half of the cage can be separated by inserting a small board… maybe I will need it once my two Lady-chins give birth to babies… who knows. As you can see, my chin house has two entries (like the ones from Rene), because otherwise Batman tends to block the only entry and Robin has to start a fight every time she wants to get in or out.

For my little male Joker I chose the second way (the one with the expensive cage and the ripped-to-shreds power cords, books and door frames) because after all, I still had the cage in which my females arrived. I think it is big enough for one chin, especially when you consider the fact that Joker is allowed to run free from ca. 21.00 to 2.00 every night.

 

 

Article & Photo Credit: Vera L. , Thank you very much!

 

 

DIY Chinchilla Cages ~ Office Filing Cabinet ~ Cheap Chinchilla Cage!!

DIY-Chinchilla-Cage-1

We have two identical large cages for our chinchillas, plus two smaller ones. They are actually office filing cabinets, with the sliding doors removed. If you add a wire mesh front, and slide-out litter trays, the result will be perfect.

The big ones are 1.50 meters (4″11′) wide, 1 meter (3″3′) high, 0.5 meter (1″8′) deep.

We feel this type of cage has the following advantages :

  • The mess the chinchillas make is better contained inside the cage, compared to one that is completely made of wire mesh.
  • They are much easier to clean.
  • Our chins feel safer inside this cage. Their instinct still warns them of all movement around them, and this way they don’t see as much.
  • Because they are attached to the wall, we can easily stand in front of the cage and lean inside, allowing them to play on our head and shoulders.
  • And with a simple board of wood, they can still climb down and run around on the floor.

And now for the pictures :

DIY-Chinchilla-Cage-1
One of our two cages. Tante Truus is awake, the others are still sleeping. The picture is not too clear, but it will give an idea of the size of the thing.

The cage is not completely done yet. We want to add a big branch from a fruit tree or whatever. The mesh panel in the center is a door, so we can easily access every part of the cage for cleaning or to pick up one of the chinchillas. The sleeping house has two openings. I did this, because they used to fight a little in their old house about who could sit in front of the one opening that one had.

As you can see, the cages are attached to the walls, so we can look the chins ‘in the eye’. The piece of wood you can almost see in the back of the room is ‘the ladder’ they use to climb up and down if we let them run free.

DIY-Chinchilla-Cage-2
An overview of our ‘chin room’.

And here is another silly picture I found : a detail of the sleep house. Even with two openings, it can be hard to get out of the house ! Note the depth of the litter pan.

DIY-Chinchilla-Cage-3
And this is the third and smaller cage. We use it to house a couple of chins we want to breed or if the female is getting close to giving birth. This picture also shows how we clean the litter trays. The wire you see was part of the Christmas decorations and is not a permanent setup.

DIY-Chinchilla-Cage-4
I got a lot of email from people asking me to show more constructional details. OK, for those interested…..
DIY-Chinchilla-Cage-5
This is another overview of one of the chins cages, giving an idea of the size of it. Note Sammy getting out of the last cage to go for a walk.
DIY-Chinchilla-Cage-6
Having suspended cages opened the need for an alternative way to let the chins run free. This works well for us. We always send the cats out of the room when the chins are released, we never trust them near our furballs.
DIY-Chinchilla-Cage-7

 

 

Article & Photo Credit: Rene and Bernice, Thank you both!

Do You have a DIY Chinchilla Cage? Why not send in the details and have it published right here on Chinchilla Stuff?

Chinchilla Environment ~ Chinchilla Proofing Your Home & Fixing Boredom

Chinchilla Environment ~ Chinchilla Proofing Your Home & Fixing Boredom

Hopefully, this article will impart some helpful hints, from chinchilla-proofing your home to preventing vices associated with boredom, such as fur-chewing.

Daily Exercise

Chinchillas really do appreciate extra exercise away from their cages. Many breeders are unable to do this; simply because with such large amounts of stock, they would not have enough hours in the day or enough pairs of eyes to supervise them sufficiently. However, the average chinchilla owner with just a couple of chinchillas should be able to make time for them to have a daily run.

Chinchillas will happily take as much exercise as you can allow them, from 15 minutes to a couple of hours a day.

The most important thing to remember when allowing chinchillas out of their cages is that they MUST be supervised at ALL TIMES. Otherwise, they can get themselves into trouble in the blink of an eye!

It is best to slowly increase their exercise time, especially if the chinchilla is not accustomed to being away from its cage. Ideally, the cage should be positioned so that the chinchilla can return to it for food, water, and security whenever it wishes. If this is not possible, then a ramp can assist. Start by allowing the chinchilla about ten minutes of exercise at a time – gradually increasing the time as the chinchilla becomes more accustomed to the exercise (and fitter!).

Chinchillas do not know when to stop and can sometimes exhaust themselves, so ensure that they return to their cages within a sensible time period.

Give the chinchilla a small treat when play-time has finished, and give the chinchilla a sandbath after exercise too. These will encourage the chinchilla to return to its cage more willingly or, better still, voluntarily. Try not to chase the chinchilla around when trying to return it to the cage as this will only make the chinchilla resent being caught and handled.

Obviously, due to a chinchillas susceptibility to the heat, it is recommended to only allow a chinchilla limited exercise on a hot day, confined only to the cooler evening hours.

Chinchilla-Proofing Your Home

If you are allowing a chinchilla the freedom of a room or two, then you will have to take measures to ensure that the chinchilla will not harm itself or your possessions.

Wall & Painted Surfaces

Skirting boards and other painted or non-painted wooden furnishings around the house can be sprayed with a “stop-chew” spray manufactured especially for pets. This is not 100% effective with chinchillas though. However, care must be taken to ensure that a chinchilla does not chew painted surfaces where the paint may contain lead (such as in older houses) – as this will result in lead poisoning. Always keep your chinchilla away from the lead-based paint.

Electrical

. Electric cables can be protected and covered with a rubber “cable-tidy,” a length of garden hose that has been slit open and popped over any cabling will work in the same manner, or simply cables can be unplugged and put out of reach.

Plants

Plants should be removed from the room. There are a lot of plants that are poisonous to pets including chinchillas.

Windows & Doors

Windows and doors should be shut firmly – and family members informed that the chinchillas are out for their daily run.

Toilets

Toilet lids should be closed (many a chinchilla has drowned in toilets, sadly).

Watch Your Step

Watch where you walk too, chinchillas move fast and can get under your feet, but it is unlikely they would survive getting heavily stepped on, as they are fragile little things.

Other Pets

Any other pets that may interfere with the chinchillas should be excluded from the same room while the chinchillas are free (although, chinchillas usually seem unafraid of dogs and cats).

Tiny Holes

Any tiny aperture (believe me, chinchillas can fit through the tiniest gap) should be blocked up to prevent the chinchilla squeezing through or behind objects such as fire-places or bookshelves.

Supervision

Above all, never leave them unsupervised.

 

The Sandbath

A daily sandbath, although performing a necessary fur-cleaning service, also helps with the general well-being of chinchillas.

They are very clean animals and dislike getting soiled in any way. If they are deprived of a sandbath for any length of time, they can get quite depressed and uncomfortable.

20 minutes a day is usually adequate for a chinchilla’s health and well being. Too little sandbaths will result in dirty fur and an unhappy chinchilla, and too many may dry the chinchilla’s skin out (especially those chinchillas kept indoors that may also feel the drying effects of central heating as well).

Use ONLY volcanic pumice or sepiolite (both available in pet-shops) and not silver/play or builders sand.

The sand can be sieved regularly to remove any debris, droppings or wet areas and can be replaced completely every now and then.

 

Cage-Toys

There are plenty of toys available on the pet-market that is suitable for chinchillas. Most wooden items manufactured for pets make great “chews.” Chubes are excellent (vegetable cardboard tunnels), lava bites (made from pumice), the list is endless.

Avoid anything made from plastic or rubber, as if ingested by the chinchilla, could cause an intestinal blockage.

Various kinds of wood twigs and branches make excellent chew-sticks or “climbing-frames,” and the bark can be eaten to provide a treat that is excellent for dental health (as they require much chewing and may help to wear the teeth).

All wood should be sourced from an area that has not been sprayed with chemicals, and the wood should be scrubbed clean and ideally “seasoned” for a couple of weeks too.

Apple-tree twigs and branches come top of the list, and most chinchillas adore eating the bark. Eating, cooking and crab apple trees are all suitable, so are pear trees.

Medlar trees and any other fruit tree are great too – as long as the fruit does NOT contain stones. Hazel and willow are ok – but are not as favored.

Some people also give their chinchillas the tough; woody rose “prunings” (minus the thorns) and dry, seasoned, open pinecones. I have not tried them with my chinchillas – so cannot comment on their suitability from personal experience (yet). I have tried Hawthorn though – and the chins love it and sill strip and eat the bark. It is also safe to give them a few leaves too but introduce these slowly to avoid stomach upsets.

Give the chinchilla one or two of the above items at a time but don’t overdo them or they will lose their novelty for the animals. And please don’t over-clutter their cages, so the poor chinchillas cannot move for toys!

 

Hay

Hay fed ad-lib can prevent boredom, as the chinchilla can munch on it as and when it wishes. Hay (as mentioned in a previous article) also provides the main source of fiber in a chinchilla’s diet too, which is good for digestion and tooth wear.

Wheels vs. Balls

There are a couple of the most expensive “exercise” aids available to pet-owners these include giant-sized “exercise balls” and the (rarely available) chinchilla wheel.

In my opinion, exercise balls are wholly unsuitable for chinchillas. Chinchillas enjoy exploring their environment and not getting stuffed into a plastic bubble. Also, the rolling momentum of the ball makes it very hard for the chinchilla to stop in them, and they can quickly become over-heated and exhausted. This often results in chinchillas having fits. I, therefore, cannot recommend them.

Chinchilla wheels, on the other hand, are usually loved by chinchillas, once they have got the hang of them. They are getting much easier to get hold of in the UK & US. Extra-large wheels, manufactured for rats are not suitable.

Chinchilla wheels need to be at least 14″ in diameter, have fully enclosed bearings, and be of solid construction (not runged) to protect tails and toes from getting trapped. The “Exotic Nutrition 15″ Chin-Sprint” and the “Chin Spin Chinchilla Wheel” (both manufactured specifically for chinchillas) can currently only be imported from the USA and Europe.

If you can get hold of a wheel they are well worth the effort – my chins have two superb 15” wheels, one of each of the above!

Companionship/Breeding

Chinchillas do enjoy company, but there are a few considerations to bear in mind when purchasing a pair of chinchillas or buying a companion for an existing pet.

Firstly, chinchillas are territorial and require an introduction period before being accepted into the same cage together. This time period can vary according to the temperament and age of the chinchillas and whether or not it is a same-sex pair or an opposite-sex pair that you are trying to introduce.

If you wish to keep an opposite-sex pair together, then you will have to bear in mind that they WILL breed, so you will need to be prepared for this eventuality. Extra cages will need to be purchased to wean any offspring, and the original pair will also need to be separated from time to time to avoid over-breeding the female, which can be detrimental to her health. Castration of the male is a feasible option, to prevent unwanted litters, but ensure that the vet has performed the operation before, and do some research on the subject first (I will endeavor to write an article covering this, in the near future, for Fur & Feather).

Young females are the usually the easiest same-sex pair to get together, but there are exceptions to every rule.

If you prefer to keep a single chinchilla, then you will need to bear in mind that YOU will become it’s bonded “cage-mate,” and will, therefore, need to ensure that you spend as much time as possible interacting with it.

Can Chinchillas Live Outside? – Housing Chinchillas Outside

Housing Chinchillas Outside-11

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.

Light

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!!

Appliances

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.

Shed Adaptions

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.

Ventilation

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:  BUILD YOUR OWN STORAGE SHED!

What Do Chinchillas Need

What Do Chinchillas Need

Once you see a chinchilla, you will not be surprised why many people desire to have this rodent as a family pet. They are very cute! When you take care of them correctly they could live up to 17-20 years. There are a few important things to take into consideration before purchase this small animal. Since they are rodents, their teeth never stop growing. Another important thing is that they need a sand dust bath on a weekly basis.

What Do Chinchillas Need?

There are a few important basic things to take into consideration before you purchase this small animal. Since they are rodents, their teeth never stop growing. Another important thing is that they need a sand dust bath on a weekly basis. They need a safe place to live, food, water, regular grooming, toys & vet care plus plenty of playtime!

  • A Place To Live
  • Safe Cage Interior
  • Food
  • Water
  • Proper Hygiene
  • Active Playtime 
  • Toys For Entertainment And Stress Relief
  • Vet Care

A Place to Live

What Do Chinchillas NeedOther than meeting the health demands of their chinchillas, pet parents are responsible in making certain that their home is ideal for taking care of a small animal. Prior to buying your chinchilla, be sure to take this in mind. Your funny companion will live in a cage but he will need a space outside the wire mesh to exercise.

If you would like them as pets, ensure you have sufficient place exactly where they could maneuver around, look for food, and also play. These creatures are also very sensitive to noise. In reference to that, you need to keep the chinchilla pet in a quiet spot.

Apart from noise, they’ve got this sensitivity to heat. This is why you must place the house in locations that are far from heat, with low humidity and also moderate temperatures.

It is best to place a chinchilla in a large cage where they can remain healthy as well as amused. These animals want to run around and hop, so the housing should be high and tall. The residence should have a number of levels. A wire mesh serves as the flooring. To help make the cage more enjoyable for your own chinchilla, you must add playing accessories. Give your pet something to chew on by placing natural wood sticks.

Safe Cage Interior

In general, pet owners cover the floor with safe wood shavings. If that is not on hand, make use of shredded cardboard that does not have any ink! Never use newspaper!  It is important that your chinchilla receives the correct amount of bedding materials, which you should change twice a week. Additionally, put a wooden house inside the cage. This will be the exclusive place where the domesticated rodent can hide or relax.

Food

Wild chinchillas are naturally inclined to live in dry climate. Plants and vegetables which grow in mountainous areas are what precisely they normally eat. Their diet consists of leaves, herbs, and very few specific fruits. Hay is the ideal food for chinchillas as long as it is green in color, never buy brown looking hay! It is also good to feed them grass. Aside from that the point that it has got low calories, it’s also protein rich. If you are not careful when choosing what food to provide your pet; their health will be jeopardized. The perfect food for a domesticated chinchilla is Oxbow essentials, APD-Alffy Pellets (American Pet Diner) and Mazuri pellets

High fat and sugary foods are not appropriate for chinchillas. Food products like snacks, raisin, and nuts can make your pet fat. That’s the reason why they should be averted too. Dry apples or banana chips could be provided as snacks. It is also helpful to realize that chinchillas aren’t fond of eating fresh plants.

Water

Keep your chinchilla well hydrated by adding freshly filtered water in its cage. Always keep the water bottle clean, and replace the water every day to avoid bacteria growth.

Grooming and Hygiene

Another important item that must be placed inside the cage is a special sand and box. Like most products today, you can get this online or you can go to the local pet shop close to you. This is important for their grooming since the only way for chinchillas to keep their coat thoroughly clean is to do the dust bath. Chinchilla dust bathing must be completed two to three times weekly.

When are Chinchillas most awake and active? Active Playtime

What Do Chinchillas Need

Chinchillas are Crepuscular (derived from the Latin word for “twilight”), and not nocturnal as most people think. Being crepuscular means that your pet chinchilla will be most active and awake during the low light times of day, which are at dawn and dusk. Sub-categories of crepuscular are the terms matutinal (or “matinal”), meaning active at dawn) and vespertine, (referring to active at dusk). Chinchillas are not the only animals casually described as nocturnal that are in fact crepuscular. You might be surprised to learn that cats and dogs are also crepuscular, along with rabbits, ferrets, guinea pigs, hamsters, mice, skunks, and rats!

If you are wondering why chinchillas are primarily active at dawn and dusk, think for a moment about how they adapted to survive in the wild. Chinchillas are a preyed upon animal, and many predators hunt intensely at night. Other predators are active at mid-day and see best in full sun. So the low light of dawn and dusk would have provided some respite from being hunted. There is also the likely possibility that being out and about at dawn and dusk was a way of avoiding the hotter mid-day sun, while still capitalizing on available light.

So, the moral of the story for pet chinchilla owners are:
1. Although your chinchilla will get some sleep at night, be sure to allow your chinchilla some privacy and quiet to sleep during the day as well.
2. Socialize and bond with your chinchilla in the evenings when they perk up and are more active.
3. If you’re not an early riser, make sure your chinchilla’s cage is not near or in your bedroom, since they will be up and active with the dawn’s early light!

Do Chinchillas Need Toys?

If you trek to the Andes to have a look at chinchillas’ natural habitat, you won’t see a variety of fun-shaped, colorful, sisal-pumice-wood combination chew toys laying around or hanging overhead. But what chinchillas DO have in the wild is lots of natural stimulation, activity, and herd interaction. Wild chinchillas are constantly busy foraging for food, and hopping and scurrying around the rocky terrain taking care of their young, grooming themselves, dust bathing and avoiding predators. They don’t have time to be bored because they are busy with day to day survival activities. And yet even then they still find time to ‘play’ with various natural objects.

For your pet chinchilla, out of cage playtime with tunnels and obstacles, and a variety of chew-friendly chinchilla toys are key ingredients to “recreating” the natural activity that your chin is missing. There isn’t a whole lot of rock jumping to be done inside a wire cage, and that food bowl is pretty easy to find – no foraging required! Chinchilla-safe toys and playtime provided by you are necessary to satisfy and serve some of your cchinchillas’ basic needs:

Chewing – Chinchillas chew on objects instinctively to meet their health needs (keeping their constantly growing teeth in check!) It is annoying to some people that the cute toys they buy for their chinchilla are inevitably destroyed by chewing. But enjoyment and stimulation through play and chewing is precisely the point to providing them! Chewing satisfies both physical and psychological urges by exercising a chinchillas jaws and by occupying his mind. If you don’t give your chinchilla some chew toys, I guarantee he will FIND something to chew that might not be an item you agree with!

Exercise – Pet chinchillas do not have to run from predators, search for food, or navigate rocky terrain like their wild brothers and sisters. No matter how big a cage you have or how much time they spend on their wheel or saucer, your chin still needs the activity of outside of cage and toy playtime. Without adequate exercise, your chinchilla will become overweight.

Boredom – One of the main reasons to provide toys for your pet is to prevent boredom. Don’t take it personally, but as much as you may interact with your pet chinchilla, it just does not have the same busy life that its wild brothers and sisters do. Many chinchillas in captivity become bored and depressed when their environment is not enriched with toys. Your pet chinchilla relies on you to provide variety in his life.

Stress Reduction – Imagine how stressful it is for a little chin who has to learn to adjust to the sights, sounds and smells of your home, get used to the comings and goings of other pets and people in the house, learn what can be chewed on and what can’t, all while feeling confined. The diversion that toys provide can lessen the stresses of life as a pet. Toys are a great way to help your chinchilla vent its extra energy.

Interaction with YOU! – You are a very important figure in your chinchillas life. Chinchillas are social creatures, and you are a key member of his/her herd! And so your pet wants to play with you. The shared fund of playtime with you, among toys and playground items is a great way to interact with and bond with your special friend!

 Proper Vet Care

You must be vigilant since most chins will hide/subdue most health issues until it has become quite desperate. This is when most keepers will run for the first vet office that will see their pet. WARNING! Chins are still basically wild animals. They will hide all symptoms and health problems very well until they are quite sick and literally miserable. If you suspect your chin is not feeling well, you have to get to a qualified vet ASAP. Many chins have been lost this way. Please don’t have this happen to you. It is best to find a vet that has experience in exotic animals and have experience in treating chins. Find this clinic and speak with the vet as well as the staff before you need them.

 

Chinchilla Hurricane and Emergency Preparedness – Go-Bags And Beyond

Chinchilla Hurricane and Emergency Preparedness

While watching the news this evening, I hear some pretty scary things about this approaching hurricane in the southeast! Hurricane Michael is a powerful category four hurricane which is expected to cause extensive and severe damage in the southeastern United States and will likely become one the worst natural disaster to hit the United States. Disaster relief plans are in operation in the affected communities. I urge all pet owners to be responsible for your pets, especially small pets like chinchillas who cannot run away or care for themselves! Here is what you need to know to prepare your pet for this and other emergency situations to make the journey less stressful.

Travel Tips:

  • Always keep in mind that chinchillas can easily succumb to heat stroke. Make sure you have adequate climate control and cooling equipment handy in case temperatures and/or humidity rise to dangerous levels en route. Before the hurricane hits freeze jugs of water, ice packs, anything that can be used to cool your chinchilla down.
  • Bring along familiar comforts and cage items – toys, chew blocks, etc.
  • Provide fresh water either via a cage-attached water bottle and/or make sure you have access to refill water regularly.
  • Bring your chin’s regular food along (both pellets and hay). During travel is NOT the time to change your chinchilla’s food brand!
  • Use a carrier or transport cage which can be securely locked and that is completely chin safe. A nervous chinchilla may be even more inclined to chew, so even chins that typically ignore plastics might ingest some on a stressful trip.
  • Of course, provide a box for your chinchilla to hide in and feel secure/safe, as well as to rest its feet (if the carrier cage bottom is all wire).
  • Talk to your chinchilla so that he/she knows you are nearby. If you have established trust then this will help to calm it.
  • Generally, emergency shelters do not allow you to bring in pets. Call ahead of time and find out for sure. If they do not allow pets, have a list of hotels that do accept pets and be prepared to go to one of them.
  • Important papers: Keeps all of your updated pets licenses, vaccine records, pedigrees and such in a ready to go folder and keep this folder in your go-bag.
  • Make a care sheet with instructions in case you have to board your pets someplace.
  • Keep your Go-Bag supplies fresh and check yearly for expired items. Replace anything that is old or expired.
  • Bottled water is super important!
  • Have enough carriers for all your pets. Label all carriers with live animal warnings and your name and address.
  • Keep all cages away from windows. Objects and trees can shatter windows and cause damage to cages and animals during a hurricane.
  • If you have a generator, I recommend that you purchase a small window ac unit if not you need to have a backup plan to evacuate your chinchillas to somewhere with ac. Call local kennels and vets ahead of time to ask them if they have generators and AC in case of power outages, find out if they will open for emergency situations such as hurricanes, and ask if they are willing to care for a chinchilla.
  • Make sure to have enough gas on hand for your generators and cars. Many gas stations run out of gas during natural disasters or do not have power for the pumps to work.

For Air Travel and Border Crossings:

  • Find out ahead of time and be sure to have the documents you need in order to travel your chinchilla along, especially if you are going to another country – import license, veterinarian health certificate, etc.
  • Check with the airline to determine if you will be allowed bring your pet as a carry-on luggage (preferable) or if they can arrange for a pressure-controlled animal compartment.
  • Line the cage with blank newsprint rather than wood shavings or hay since those are not allowed by some airlines.

When one of our chin friends lived in Florida, for every hurricane that came near them they were out of power for at least 3-6 days. They have a generator, portable AC unit, and a backup Window AC unit if needed. They also have a second room to use in case of damage to the current chin room.

They had to evacuate for one of the hurricanes. They loaded 30+ chins and one dog in their car and headed out of Florida. They also had to hand feed new kits on this trip. They found a baby bottle warmer, the perfect thing to heat up the formula and a cooler full of ice to keep the formula cold.

Go-Bags

Each member of our family has a “Go-Bag.”  A Go Bag is a heavy duty backpack that has supplies already ready to go, should an emergency occur. The idea is that you can just snatch it up and go. We have go-bags ready for our chinchilla’s too!

Here is what’s in our Chinchilla Go-Bags :

  • Acidophilus for balanced gut bacteria
  • Albon – Diarrhea Treatment
  • Alcohol for sterilizing or cleaning
  • Antibiotic cream – For minor cuts
  • Baby Oat Cereal
  • Baby wipes
  • Bedding
  • Bottled or Jugs of Drinking Water
  • Cal-Mag chewable
  • Charcoal – balances gut ph
  • Cheek retractor to check molars
  • Chinchilla Pelleted Food
  • Desenex – Prevents and Treats Fungus, added to dust bath.
  • Dust Bath Containers and Dust
  • Exercise Wheel, 15”
  • Eye Wash
  • Gauze
  • Grooming Combs
  • Hanging Treat or Hay Balls for Hay
  • High-calorie supplement for weak or sick Chins
  • Lavender oil for small abrasions or cuts
  • Lidocaine
  • Life Line helps with appetite
  • Lube
  • Medical tape
  • Needles
  • Ophthalmic Ointment
  • Paper Towels
  • Pedialyte for Electrolyte dehydration
  • Powdered Goat Milk – kit formula
  • Q-tips
  • Scalpel for necropsy
  • Shredded Wheat Biscuits – Diarrhea Treatment
  • Simethicone – For Bloat
  • Small Animal Exercise Pen
  • Small Food Bowls for Pellets
  • Small Huts or Chube Tubes for hiding
  • Syringe for injecting anesthetic
  • Timothy Hay and Hay Cubes
  • Tissue scissors for amputations or necropsy
  • Trash Bags
  • Travel crates (see my note below)
  • Treats and ChewsVitamin C chewable
  • Water bottles
  • Wire cutters for anterior teeth trim
  • Ziploc Bags & Containers to store supplies

Note: I prefer the 32.5-inch crate made by Prevue Pet Products because of its accommodating size. This works well for my sets that are housed together. If they normally live together, I wouldn’t want to add stress for them by separating them into different cages during the emergency. If you only have one chinchilla or chinchillas who are housed separately or if you have a tight budget, then you may want to go with something like the 24-inch Super Pet Mfh Rabbit Cage

 

Helpful Link:

NOAA Hurricanes and Pet Owners: https://www.ready.gov/animals

Pet-Friendly Hotels: https://hotels.petswelcome.com/chains

Resources:

APA

Hurricane And Emergency Procedures For Pets – Uvma.org.(n.d.). Retrieved from http://www.uvma.org/emergencyprocedureforpets.htm