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 Handle A Chinchilla Mom And Chinchilla Baby (Kit)

How To Handle A Chinchilla Mom And Chinchilla Baby

Once you have confirmed that your chinchilla is pregnant, provide that chinchilla with plenty of extra hay, food, and water. Expectant mothers will drink and eat quite a bit more, so it is imperative that more food and water are at the chinchilla’s disposal. Some people will stop giving calf mana to there chinchillas once they know they are pregnant. People have reported that calf mana can cause larger babies and therefore causes the mother to have a more difficult birth. This could result in the baby getting stuck in the birth canal.

A chinchilla’s vagina opens before the chinchilla gives birth. Each chinchilla is different, so this can occur a week before she delivers, a few days before she delivers, or on the day of delivery. If you do not know your chinchilla’s due date, it is best to remove the chinchilla from her partner once you see she has opened. This will prevent breedback from occurring.

Breedback is when the female chinchilla has delivered her litter, and the male will breed her again. This causes a lot of stress on the chinchilla’s body because she is feeding and looking after kits on the outside, and nurturing kits on the inside. Breedback takes a lot out of a chinchilla mother. If breedback does occur, make sure the chinchilla gets a long break before she is put back into breeding.

After the female chinchilla has given birth her vagina remains opens for approximately ten days. Once her vagina has closed the male chinchilla can be put back in with her to help raise the kits. Monitor the female and male closely to ensure nothing negative happens. Also, monitor the female’s genitalia after she has given birth. Sometimes females can get infections, so watch for any discolored discharge or bad odor. If you see any signs of infection, the chinchilla will have to be taken to the vet for antibiotics.

HowToHandleAChinchillaMomAndChinchillaBaby

Chinchilla Births

If you’re lucky enough you will get to witness the birth of your chinchilla’s kits. People often miss the birthing because it usually occurs in the early morning. However, chinchillas can give birth at any time during the day or night. If you have a cage with multiple levels, the chinchilla will go to the very bottom level to give birth; this usually happens about a week before the birthing. When the time to deliver comes, your chinchilla will begin to start stretching. She will walk around the cage stretching her back legs.

Once the contractions start your chinchilla may be sitting on all four legs or standing on her back legs. If the chinchilla is having contractions while on her back two legs she will stand straight up when having the contraction. She will then go back to sitting on her back two legs. If the chinchilla is on all four legs having contractions, she will lean forward during the contractions. You may even be able to see the sides of your chinchilla become really indented during each contraction. It is not uncommon for chinchillas to grind their teeth while in labor, some will even let out squeaks of pain.

Once the water breaks your chinchilla’s stomach may become soaked with water, however, this doesn’t always occur. Sometimes when the water breaks the water will just go into the shavings, and there will be no visible signs of the water had broken.

You may notice your chinchilla monitoring her vagina during the process of her labor. Once the chinchilla is ready to deliver a kit, she will bend down and pull the kit out with her teeth. She will then proceed to clean the kit off. Sometimes with first-time mothers, they become a little eager to clean their baby. This can sometimes result in the kit getting injured. If you notice your chinchilla becoming a little too eager with her kits, you can remove the kit and start to dry it off yourself.

In the case of multiple litters, the mother chinchilla may start to have contractions right after delivering her first kit. She may then ignore the kit that was just born and move on to begin delivering the second kit. If you see this happening, remove the kit and start to dry it off until the mother chinchilla can focus her attention on it.

The mother chinchilla will deliver an afterbirth, and in most cases, this signifies the end of the birthing. However, there have been cases where the chinchilla is not finished. Chinchilla’s have two uterine horns and can hold kits in both horns. The afterbirth may just be the ending of one of the uterine horns.

Once your chinchilla has finished giving birth, it is best to pick her up and check her stomach to make sure there are no other chinchillas inside her. By gentle pushing her stomach, she should feel squishy, but if her stomach still feels hard and you can still feel lumps, she still has kits inside her. Give the chinchilla some time to see if she has the kits on her own. If her labor has stopped completely, she should be taken to a vet. Some chinchillas can go hours between kits, and some will have one right after the other.

If a kit becomes stuck in the birth canal, you can gently try to ease the kit out with the chinchilla’s contractions, *most kits often die when they become stuck, and you have to work them out*. This should only be done if you are confident in handling your chinchilla under stress. If you are unable to get the kit out, the chinchilla needs to be taken to a vet. The faster you get the kit out, the better chance you have of saving the mother chinchilla. Kits that becomes stuck are fatal to the mother chinchilla. Chinchillas will bleed during delivery, but not a whole lot of blood will be noticeable. If you notice your chinchilla is bleeding quite a bit and continues to bleed after she has finished delivering all the kits, she needs to be taken to a vet.

HowToHandleAChinchillaMomAndChinchillaBaby

Chinchilla Mother’s Milk

It is always best to find out if the mother’s milk is coming in before you decide to hand feed any kit. Finding out if the mother chinchilla’s milk has come in can be tricky if your chinchilla does not like to be held. Make sure to hold the chinchilla firmly so it cannot get loose. You then gently spread the fur covering the teat, you should be able to visibly see an elongated red/pink teat. Gently squeeze the teat at the base of the chinchilla’s skin in a downward motion, this should cause milk to come out of the end of the teat.

Do not worry if on the first day no milk appears to have come in. Chinchilla mother’s milk usually does not come in on the first day. To help the mother’s milk to come in you can put a water bottle, consisting of half water and half unsweetened cranberry juice, into the cage. Make sure you provide the chinchilla with a water bottle with just water in it as well. During the first week of life, make sure you weigh the kit often to make sure the mother is providing them with enough milk. Kits should gain 2-5 grams per day.

HowToHandleAChinchillaMomAndChinchillaBaby

Hand Feeding Kits

Only start hand feeding if it is absolutely necessary. Hand feeding should take place every 2 hours for the first week the kit is born. You can get away with 3 hours at night. Then increase the time between hand feedings by an hour of each additional week. Week 2 feed every 3 hours, week three every 4 hours, etc.. At night you can increase the time by an hour as well. You may have to go back to hand feeding every two hours if the kit is not gaining.

This is what I used while hand feeding, but it may have to be modified to each specific kit.

When starting to get a kit to hand feed gently hold the kit in one hand in an upright position. Place your fingers over the legs to prevent the kit from getting loose. Try not to hold the kit too tightly, just enough so it cannot get away from you. Then, place the syringe on the lips in the kit, and allow one drop to sit on the kits lips. The kit will then lick the drop off its lips. Continue to do this until the kit gets the hang of hand feeding.

You do not want to rush the kit into hand feeding because you then run the risk of aspiration. You will know the kit has aspirated if it starts to make a coughing noise and milk starts to come out of the kit’s nose. Don’t be alarmed if this happens, because chances are it will occur when your kit is starting out at hand feeding. If this happens put the kit’s body into your hand (make sure you support the neck) and bring the kit up to your body, then swing the kit down towards your legs. This will force out any fluid remaining in the lungs. If not a lot of milk has entered the lungs of your kit then the kit should be able to cough it out by itself, just make sure you wipe off the milk coming out of the nose to prevent it from going back into the nose.

Hand fed kits should be weighed at every feeding during the first week. It’s much slower for weight gains in hand-fed babies. This is because it takes them a while to figure out the whole hand-feeding process. If your hand feeding a kit and the kit is not gaining any weight and has started to lose weight, you need to start hand feeding more often. If the kit is not gaining and not losing you can try to feed them more often. During the first week of life, kits should be taking anywhere from 1 – 3 full syringes. One syringe equals one cc.

HowToHandleAChinchillaMomAndChinchillaBaby

Recipe for Hand Feeding

  • One can of goat’s milk (if goat’s milk cannot be found you can use evaporated milk)
  • One can of water
  • One tablespoon of live active bacteria culture yogurt
  • One tablespoon of dried baby rice cereal
  • Two drops of light corn syrup (I didn’t use this in my mixture because it gave the kit diarrhea)

This mixture only stays good for two days. You can freeze the rest in ice cube trays

Is Owning A Chinchilla Difficult?

Owning a chinchilla is not difficult! Here is my personal shopping list, created from the things I use daily! (Chinchilla Shopping List) Here are a few brief instructions that will make owning a chinchilla easier: 

  • Keep your chinchilla cool, below 70 degrees and away from a draft.
  • Give your chinchilla a large size cage.
  • Supply your chinchilla with superior food.
  • Be kind and gentle with your chinchilla!
  • Play with him every day
  • Let him out of his cage every day for at least 30 minutes, preferably 2 hours.
  • Give them good chew toys
  • Provide good water – no fluoride or chlorine!

The privilege of owning a chinchilla

Chinchillas are from South America found mainly in Peru and Argentina. These little fur balls love to leap and climb. As a pet, you will be amazed at the heights they jump during playtime. Chinchillas require a lot of exercise and lots of playful interaction with their owners. Since these animals are from mountainous regions, they are adapted to cool, non-humid air conditions. When having a chinchilla as a pet, it is mandatory that they have proper air-conditioning during the warmer seasons. We here at ChinchillaStuff.com have high humidity during summer months this is deadly to a chinchilla. A fan will not cool chinchillas. They do not sweat or pant like other animals so if you use a fan to try to cool them you will only be blowing hot air on them and creating more stress. Temps most comfortable for our pet chins are 64-72 leaning on the cooler side. Temps above 75 in combination with humidity will kill your loving pet. Wintertime most people keep their home at 68-72, and the air is drier; this is fine for the chinchilla.

Chinchillas are inexpensive.

Chinchillas are inexpensive to own the main investment of the chinchilla his cage (see my chin cage) and some accessories can range from a total of $200 to $350 on an average depending on the cost of the cage and of the chin. Chinchillas do not require shots, but please be sure there is a vet near you that can care for your chin if it should get sick or injured. Chinchillas live 15 to 20 yrs, and many are capable of reproducing up into their teens. The key to long life is to get your chinchilla from a reputable breeder who will assist you on your questions as needed, has pedigree information on your pet, and explains a proper diet for your chinchilla. There are a variety of foods on the market, and it is important that you know what to look for and avoid in chinchilla feeds. Breeders that have worked with chins for many years are best suited to explain a healthy diet. It is wise to follow exactly the diet that the breeder recommends since their herd has done well on this routine. Some breeders differ in the diet; this does not mean one is wrong over the other, it means this is what has worked best for them and their chins.

Chinchillas are very smart.

They learn their name in a short period of time; they recognize different people within the house. They will bond to the whole family but may still have a favorite. Chinchillas look at everything as fun and adventure. Always make a new experience positive, so your chin learns that it is always safe. Chinchillas are the “Boss.” They feel the need to always be in charge, respect this and your pet will love you all the more. Always expect more from your chin and you’ll get more! They can learn continually and have a long memory. Some chins are very trainable while others train you 🙂 .

Chewing

Chinchillas need to chew; their teeth grow throughout their life and hays, chew toys, good feed and filtered water all benefit the teeth.

Water

Water is a big concern because tap/city water contains chlorine and fluoride this blocks calcium absorption and can be poisonous to your chin. Well, water has softeners in which contain high amounts of sodium or potassium, these can kill your chinchilla. Purified bottled water, filtered water: filtered refrigerator water, reverse osmosis, carbon filtration systems or distilled are recommended. Some bottled water has sodium added so read your labels; nothing should be added.

Chinchilla feed

Chinchillas eat a specially formulated green pellet designed to fit their nutritional needs. Rabbit pellets should not be used one reason is the vitamin A content is higher, and the calcium is lower than what is needed to meet the needs of a chinchilla which can cause liver damage. Some countries can’t get chinchilla pellets and have substituted with rabbit pellets. This is true with guinea pig pellets also; they are designed to meet the needs of the guinea pig. Be sure to use a top quality chinchilla pellet only.

When shopping for good chinchilla food, you need to be aware of several things;

  1. First, the pellets should contain no corn. Corn, due to the way it is stored it can contain aflatoxins (fungus) that can kill your chinchilla. To research aflatoxins, you can check with the Dept. of Agriculture.
  2. Many feeds found in pet stores are medicated; your chinchilla doesn’t need this daily medication, and it can affect their health over time.
  3. Third, there should be an expiration date on the product. Most feeds have a 3 to 6-month shelf life after this time the nutritional value breaks down, and the food is no longer good.
  4. In our home, we use Oxbow pellets because we feel it is the best on the market for chinchillas. We get this feed shipped in fresh on a regular schedule. A chinchilla eats about two tablespoons of pellets daily; this is about 1.5 pounds per month. The average pet owner purchases 2lb every 4 to 5 weeks.

Hay

The diet is not complete without hay. Alfalfa and timothy hays are among the favorites used. Alfalfa is high in nutrition and highly valued for its protein and calcium content. Alfalfa hay is needed for nutrition and for fiber. The other benefit is for good chewing to help keep the teeth warn properly. Timothy hay is especially good for fiber and dental purposes. The Timothy hay and the alfalfa hay both have different textures this creates the chin to chew in different directions keeping the teeth worn more even. Both hays are found in loose bundles or in pressed cubes. The hays should be free of glue binders and pesticides.

Vitamins

We use a whole grain and seed blend that is fortified with vitamins and minerals, Seward’s Vitagrain Supplement. Our chinchillas each get one teaspoon of this product daily and find it to be their favorite part of feeding time. This makes a great bonding tool if you feed it to your new chin out of your hand. Never give more than the recommended amount even though they beg you for more!

If Liquid pet chinchilla vitamins are used instead of our Vitagrain Supplement, this should be added to the water, but it is mandatory that the water bottle gets scrubbed out daily to prevent bacterial growth in the water. A dirty water bottle can lead to bacterial growth that can cause illness and tooth loss in your pet. Always follow dose directions on the bottle.

Treats

Use good judgment on this. Read your labels. I only use natural products for my chins. Spoon size shredded wheat is loved by chins and safe for a daily treat. Other cereals contain BHA, BHT, Trisodium phosphate, sugar, salt, and colors, YECK! Read labels!!! The shredded wheat should not be the frosted or fruit filled type. An occasional unsalted, non-roasted, non-oiled sunflower seeds in the shell are great, or pumpkin seed is healthy and loved by chins. Unsweetened banana chip, ½ raisin, rose hips, unsweetened/unsulphered papaya are safe treats too. Peanuts are not a safe treat. Peanuts can be affected by aflatoxins like corn and should never be given to your pet. Too many treats will make your pet too full to eat the pellets needed in the diet to maintain good health so only one or two little treats daily.

Dust bath

There is one product that I consider safe and superior above all others! Blue Cloud Dust is what I personally use and is real volcanic ash. This is a soft absorbent natural product. Chinchillas in the wild roll in volcanic ash to keep their fur in top condition. A bath should be offered 2 to 3 times weekly for a 10 to 20 minute period. This same dust can be used through the week but should be thrown away at the end of the week. Thoroughly wash the container with a mild soap, such as dish soap rinse completely, dry and place the fresh dust for the week. Do not sift the dust and use for longer than one week. Bacteria will grow in the dust and can cause health problems for your pet. If the dustbin is left in the cage it will get used as a litter box and you will need to discard the dust. Ordinary sand is not suitable for bathing since it will not properly clean your chin and it will damage the beautiful fur there is also the risk of getting into your pet’s eyes or yours.

Chinchilla Bonding – What You SHOULD And SHOULD NOT Ever Do!

Chinchiall Bonding

Chinchillas are such a wonderful pet. Most people have no idea how lovable, clever and smart these little animals are. This is not a pet to purchase if you are not a long-term commitment person because a chinchilla has been known to live as long as 35 years. Most chinchilla house pets have a life expectancy of 15-20 years. You want to be sure that this pet will be loved and tended to for all these years. This is a new family member, and it will need regular care and attention.

Proper Chinchilla Bonding Involves:

  • Healthy, Regular Habits for eating, sleeping and playtime.
  • Vet Care when needed.
  • Being Gentle And Calm
  • Let him out to run in a safe room
  • Never Chase your chinchilla!
  • Love Him!

Healthy Habits

Chinchillas really are a special little pet. They have a cheerful disposition and are ready to play upon seeing you. To maintain good health, a chinchilla should be on a regular schedule for eating, sleeping, time out of the cage for playtime, etc. You’ll need to spend at least 2 or more hours daily with your chinchilla. The more time you spend with your pet, the better the pet and your bond.

Vet Care

Chinchillas are low maintenance and have no foul odors if maintained properly. Chins don’t require shots from your vet. It is a good idea to know of a vet that can treat your chin if it should get ill or have an injury.

Chinchilla Bonding 101

When you get your new chinchilla home set the cage up right away with food and water. Then take the chinchilla and place it in the cage. Let the chin explore its new home and take a nap until the evening. Baby chinchillas need reassurance. They need to know you love them and will care for them. They are a baby so treat them like a baby. Do not leave a baby chin alone the first evening when you bring it home. You need to be there when it wakes up, around 6-7pm. Take it out of the cage even if it squawks at you. Pick it up cuddle it and talk softly to let it know everything is ok. If you put on a large overshirt and place the chin inside between your shirts, it will feel secure. When a chin can’t see you, he thinks you don’t know where he is so when hiding in the shirt this provides security but the chinchilla can hear your voice, your breathing, and your heartbeat and can smell you. This creates the chin to get used to you and bond with you. Sit in your favorite chair, watch TV, read, work on the computer. Let your chin run up and down your sleeves, peek out at you from the neckline, run down your back or nap. Do this for one hour daily for three days, and your chin will think you are the greatest thing in the world!! During this time do not let your chin have free run time. When the chin comes out of the cage, you want it to be excited to come out to be with you. If you let your chin run loose before it is bonded to you, it will look forward to coming out of the cage to be free not to be with you. I like to see people wait for 2 to 3 weeks before giving floor runtime. Allow the chin to run on your lap and the sofa but avoid the floor for a couple of weeks.

Ready To Run

When you are ready to let your chin run lose, you need to be sure the area is chin proofed! Be aware of electrical cord and low lying furniture. You can roll up a towel or stuff a pillow in front of dressers etc. so the chin can’t go under where you can’t reach to retrieve him. Beware of lazy boy chairs and the springs underneath. Most people like to let them run in the bathroom it’s small and easy to chin proof or a hallway that you can close doors and block off. SPECIAL NOTES: Be sure to remain seated while letting your chin run around. It is very easy to step on or kneel down on a chin at play. Close the toilet seats, chins look up and only see something to jump up on not knowing the lid is up. Wet chinchillas are susceptible to pneumonia which is life-threatening.

Chewers!!!

Chinchillas are chewers their teeth grow throughout their life and must be worn down so be sure to provide safe, non-toxic branches, pine blocks or pumice stones for your pet. Also, remember when your chin is out playing watch that those electric cords are not accessible because they will chew them! Tape up wires or local hardware stores care plastic tubing with a cut up the side to place your wires in to prevent damage.

Chin Psychology

Chinchillas can be trained to use a litter box and can be trained to go back in their cage upon demand. When you get your new chinchilla to spend a lot of time carrying him around with you. Don’t let him (her) run free until your sure your pet trusts you (about two weeks). During this time when you put your chin back in its cage after the door is closed make a crinkling sound from the treat package then give the chin a treat. When you are ready to let your chin out for free play be sure to give it enough time to really play (at least an hour). Never trick or tease your chin they are smart and have a long-term memory, and they won’t trust you. Never chase your pet to put it in the cage. Chin psychology is needed! Slowly approach your pet then luring it into a corner, casually talk to it, wave your left hand around slowly to get its attention and gently with your other hand scoop up your pet. If you fail, try again but don’t get upset with your pet and frighten it. Dropping a towel or small blanket over your chin puts the chin in darkness, causing him to stop and calm down. Then gently while talking to him pick up the covered chin and gently return him to his cage.

Is that True?

Yes, it is true chinchillas will lick your face or lips as a sign of affection. Yes, they learn their name and come when called if you are always patient and gentle with them. And be sure to rub behind their ears, under their chin, and on their chest because they adore this!

What Do Chinchillas Eat? Diet, Food, Treats & More

what do chinchillas eat - feeding vegetables

If you’re thinking about getting a pet chinchilla, one of the most important things for you to consider is diet. To allow your pet to live a long and happy life, you need to make sure he or she is getting the right nutrients to not only survive but thrive. Chinchillas are unique animals with extremely sensitive digestive systems which need special care to avoid health problems.

A Healthy Chinchilla Diet

Did you know that chinchillas are primarily herbivores? Their diet in the wild would be primarily made up of seeds, roots, and leaves although they have been observed eating insects and small bird eggs. In captivity, chinchillas do best with a completely herbivorous diet. A chinchilla’s owner needs to focus on providing adequate nutrition to help their chinchilla thrive and live a long, healthy life.

Chinchillas can be fed pellets, but that alone is not enough for a healthy diet. They should also be offered unlimited amounts of hay on a daily basis. Pellets should be chinchilla-quality. High-quality chinchilla pellets should include a carefully balanced nutritional ratio: 16-20% protein, 2-5% fat, and 15-35% fiber. Their diets should also include healthy servings of vitamins A, D, and E.

Try to avoid food mixes: chinchillas are prone to picking out what they like most from a mix, and that could be a dangerous habit! If they’re not eating the entire mix, they will miss out on necessary nutrition. Most chinchillas should be fed approximately two tablespoons of pellets per day: one tablespoon in the morning and one tablespoon at night, times when they would naturally feed. Make sure to put it in a small dish to keep it from getting soiled or spilled!

Avoid substituting chinchilla-quality pellets for pellets made for other animals, such as guinea pigs or rabbits. These foods will typically not include the necessary nutritional values for the care of a sensitive chinchilla, and worse, it could cause health problems such as liver damage.

Chinchilla Diet No Rabbit Pellets
Chinchilla and rabbit pellets may look similar, but they have different ingredients and nutritional value. Photo credit: Andreas Rühle

A controversial topic for chinchilla diets is corn: some owners choose to feed pellets that include corn in the ingredients while others feel it causes bloating or digestive issues. It is generally recommended that owners avoid pellets or treats that have corn listed in the first few ingredients. Most pellets will include corn, so it’s almost impossible to avoid it all together, but higher quality foods will contain smaller amounts.

In the wild, chinchillas’ diets would include a large amount of roughage, a material found in vegetables that assist with digestion. Therefore, in addition to pellets, you should be offering your chinchilla hay for their overall health and to help mimic the diet that chinchillas would feed off of in their natural environment. It also helps keep their teeth healthy!

Chinchillas should be offered loose hay rather than hay in cubed form. Different types of hay contain different amounts of protein, and a hay mixture is likely to be your best bet to provide the highest quality food for your pet. Seek out a hay mixture that includes orchard grass, blue grass, timothy grass, and alfalfa. It is best to have hay available at all times for your chinchilla. Make sure to store it in a dry place, though, to avoid mold.

chinchilla-diet-hay
Hay makes up a large part of a chinchilla’s diet. Photo credit: Andrea

Of course, don’t forget water: your chinchilla should always have fresh water available. Choose a suitable water bottle with a metal spout to give them constant access to fresh water. Avoid feeding your chinchilla distilled water, as trace minerals required for good health are absent in distilled water. You should also monitor your chin’s water intake as a sudden increase or decrease could signal health problems.

What Do Chins Eat Besides Hay and Pellets

Many chinchilla owners enjoy feeding their pets treats, but an excess of treats can cause a variety of digestive issues, teeth disease, and obesity. So, how can you ensure that you’re feeding the right treats to your pet to advance your chinchilla’s health, not damage it?

Many pet stores carry nutritious natural treats, which oftentimes are an excellent form of treat to share with your pet; be careful, however, because there are also a number of treats offered in pet stores that are marketed for chinchillas but do not contain the correct ratio of vitamins and nutritional sources and may be high in sugar and fat, which can do severe damage to a chinchilla’s digestive system. Be particularly careful to examine the labels to ensure that there is not an excess of sugar or ingredients such as honey in the treats.

Other natural foods that can be used as treats include mountain ash berries, fruit tree twigs, dried rose hips, dried herbs, and marshmallow root. Chinchillas often enjoy raisins or dried fruits, but should not be offered more than 3-4 raisins a week as these are extremely high in sugar. Try cutting the raisins into multiple pieces to make the treats last longer!

When choosing a treat, avoid grains, treats with high amounts of vitamins and minerals, fruits, oats, and treat sticks. These ingredients can wreak havoc on your pet’s system, putting them at risk for serious illness.

Can Chinchillas Eat Carrots?

Carrots should not be a staple part of your chinchilla’s diet, but they are not toxic to your pet. Stick with feeding carrots like you would feed other “extras,” or treats: extremely sparingly. Any extra foods that throw off the careful nutritional ratios could be damaging to your chin.

You might also want to check out this video of a chin eating a piece of carrot:

Can Chinchillas Eat Apples?

Can chinchillas eat apples? Yes!
Chinchillas should be given apples only sparingly

Apples are also permissible, but keep in mind that an excess of sugar can lead to obesity and fatty liver issues for your chinchilla. Only feed them small amounts of fruit as a treat.

Safe and Unsafe Foods for Chinchillas

Given their sensitive digestive system, a number of foods are toxic to chinchillas and can make them extremely ill. If you’re looking for a creative food to treat your chinchilla with, try carrot, celery, potato, pumpkin, or squash. However, avoid the following foods!

Anything containing animal ingredients—Chinchillas are herbivores, meaning they only consume proteins from plants. Their systems are not designed to eat meat or other animal products.

  • Chocolate – contains theobromine which is toxic to chinchillas
  • Nuts and seeds – it is a common misconception that because chinchillas are herbivores and rodents, it is safe for them to be fed nuts and seeds. However, the high amount of fat, proteins, and oils damages their digestive system. Protein intake of over 20% per day can put your chinchilla at risk for liver damage.
  • Tree bark – not only are a number of different types of wood toxic to chinchillas, but trees are often sprayed with pesticides which can be deadly to your pet.
  • Vegetables – although vegetables seem like they would be healthy for a herbivore, they can cause your chinchilla to bloat. You should avoid the following toxic vegetables in particular: asparagus, broccoli, cabbage, lettuce, peas, rhubarb, and spinach.

With a healthy diet, your pet chinchilla will live a long and happy life. A responsible chinchilla owner should carefully research the different do’s and don’ts of chinchilla care before acquiring their new pet, which will ensure that your pet will be carefully taken care of for the rest of his or her life.

Chinchilla Hair Rings – What It Is And How To Remove It – Video Demo

Some male chins are more prone to hair rings than others. Breeding males should be regularly checked – especially if they are “novice breeders.”

However, males that are not used for breeding can still get hair rings too – and should periodically (monthly) be briefly examined.

Usually, the first symptom of a hair ring will be that the penis will look rather swollen, maybe a red or purple color too (congested). The foreskin may not be covering the penis in the usual way either, and the male may be licking at himself more than usual, and in severe cases he may sit hunched up, reluctant to eat or move. A normal looking penis will be the usual skin-color for your chin, and will look “pointy” – this the foreskin completely covering the penis.

To perform a full examination 

  1. Two pairs of hands are easier than one – unless you are experienced at doing this.
  2. Restrain the chin in a suitable way – wrapping in a towel can help
  3. Application of cold water can help reduce any swelling before checking – but do be careful not to cause freezer-burns by applying ice directly onto such a tender anatomical part!!
  4. Liberally apply water-soluble lubrication to the penis – such as KY
  5. Gently push the foreskin back
  6. While holding the foreskin back – gently pull the penis out of the sheath – it kind of “telescopes” outwards. If no hair ring is visible – then apply a little more lubrication – and gently push the penis back in-situ.
  7. If you do see a hair ring – then GENTLY remove it with your fingers – by gradually “teasing” it apart. This is safer than using scissors. Be very careful when removing a hair ring and use plenty of lubricants.
  8. When you are sure that there is no hair ring. Carefully pull the foreskin down, back over the penis – making sure it is fully covered – and “pointy-looking” again.

ALWAYS PERFORM THIS PROCEDURE WITH THE UTMOST CARE OR SERIOUS DAMAGE CAN RESULT

Some breeders do not retract the penis after removal of the ring. Instead, they prefer to allow the penis to retract itself – and that way they know all is well.

However, if it does not retract then assistance (and veterinary advice) is needed – as some damage has obviously resulted. If a chin is suspected of having a hair ring – it should never be left – as it can restrict the blood flow to the penis – causing it to atrophy – which is extremely painful and requires major surgery and can even be fatal.

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.

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.

 

10 Things I Purchased Prior To Bringing Home My New Chinchilla

10 Things I Purchased Prior To Bringing Home My New Chinchilla

(1) CAGE

It is best to get a cage that is stainless steel in design, such that acidic urine from chinchillas will not get it rusty. The bottom of a cage usually comes in two varieties: A grilled wire mesh bottom or a solid bottom. A wire mesh bottom is supposed to be easier to clean (if litter pan slides out and doesn’t lift out) than a solid bottom cage. However, there are cases where chinchilla feet has been caught! For this reason, I prefer the solid bottom cages! Yes, it may take a little more time to clean, but my chins safety is worth that extra 2-3 minutes!  DO NOT buy a cage with a lot of plastic on the inside (some ferret cages) NO plastic shelves and running tubes, or NO cages with PVC coating. They will just gnaw and chew it off. Solid bottom cages are a tad messier because of shavings. But this can be resolved by getting urine guards which can easily be homemade. I also prefer these as chins if kept on all wire floor without having any access to bedding can get sores on their feet. Keep in mind size limits: 2′ X 2’X 2’ is the smallest recommended size for 2-3 Chins need plenty of jumping and running room. I highly recommend the Midwest Deluxe Critter Nation.

Often Pet shops and other such suppliers will sell an overpriced plastic or wooden cage that is not right for your chin. On many occasions, I have seen long tall birdcages being sold as suitable cages for chins, which they are not. Generally speaking, these pet shops never know where the chin is going, so don’t care about the type of cage it lives in, whereas a reputable breeder will usually offer advice and further contact after a purchase has been made with them.

A clear airflow is needed but not drafts, these can kill a chinchilla, as can heat exhaustion if the temperature exceeds 78 degrees f. The cage should not be positioned in direct sunlight as it can become too hot for them. The room in which the cage lives should by light airy and dry, NOT damp, as this can cause fur fungus.

When transporting the chinchilla you should think carefully as to what you will carry it in, as if it is a long distance trip it will chew a plastic carry box, which could make it ill. Also, a cardboard box will pose no obstacle to a chinchilla, not to mention ventilation is poor.  I prefer the 32.5-inch crate made by Prevue Pet Products.

(2) WATER BOTTLES &  (3) FOOD CONTAINERS

A good container for drinking water is important for chinchillas. They come in the form of plastic bottles, and glass bottles. When you are having a plastic water bottle, be sure to have a proper water guard for it because a chewed plastic bottle will leak until it is empty. I use the Choco Nose H220 Patented No Drip Top-fill and highly recommend it to all of my friends. The top-fill design is easier to clean. I DO NOT use the plastic screw holder that comes with it, instead, I use the top cage clip. The plastic screw holder is a choking hazard if your chinchilla chews it, and he will! DO NOT USE WATER TRAYS OR BOWLS. Be sure to clean the bottle and change the water DAILY. In failing to do so, bacteria will grow and will cause illness to your chinchilla. For your chins food, I have tried several things. I finally found something that works best. First off, DO NOT USE BIN FEEDERS. These are dangerous due to chins climbing into them and suffocating. There have been reports of this. Bowls are recommended, I myself do not recommend any that do not attach to the cage because a lot of the food gets wasted from your chins running and jumping and playing. Kicks food out, tips bowl over, etc. I use the Living World Lock and Crock Dish. The dish mounts onto the side of the cage. Elevate the feeder some too, to keep chins from perching on it as much (although some still might) and so it doesn’t hurt their back.

(4) SHAVINGS

Shavings are a must to absorb urine when the chinchillas’ pee. Other than using a litter pan filled with shavings, the bottom of the cage should also be lined with ‘safe shavings’. There are many forms of shavings available, but the one that I most suggest is the Kiln Dried Pine Shavings. DO NOT Use Cedar Shavings! OR any shavings with scents/perfumes, or oils to reduce odor!! It can cause respiratory distress. Kiln Dried Pine Shavings is the best for most chins Just make sure that it is 100% kiln dried all natural pine. Do not ever use newspaper to line the cage.

(5) DUST BATH

10 Things I Purchased Prior To Bringing Home My New ChinchillaJust like everyone else, Chinchillas need to be kept clean. Because their fur is so fine they can’t be given a normal bath with soap and water. When it comes to their bathing, they have an extraordinary way of doing so. They bathe in ‘dust baths’. Most chinchillas love their baths. Chinchillas taking baths can be a real messy affair. Dust powder will start spewing from the moment they enter the ‘bathtub’. Also, watch your chinchillas while they are taking baths because they can quickly pee in it and will dirty themselves again.

It is highly recommended also that you always keep some anti-fungal powder (this isn’t absolutely necessary with just one or two chins as pets though) in the dust bath for a preventative against fur fungus/ringworm. I ONLY recommend Tinactin, which can be found at most grocery and drug stores. Put a teaspoon per cup of dust bath. Only a cup of dust bath is recommended. Refresh with all new dust and powder WEEKLY. Sooner if soiled. They should get into their dust bath 2-3x a week, and don’t let them stay in there for too long, or they will do their ‘business’ in there, therefore not exactly making it a clean haven anymore. Do not give your chinchillas dust baths every day because it will dry out their skin. I recommend about 2 – 3 times per week.

(6) HAY

Hay is one thing that Chins eat daily. Edible hay comes in all sorts of varieties. Among all, the most common hay fodder being fed to chinchillas would be Timothy and alfalfa. I only recommend LOOSE Timothy hay and it can be free fed, they must have this forage in their diet. All chinchilla pellets primarily are Alfalfa based so they do not require an excessive amount of more alfalfa for it is too high in calcium. This is why Timothy hay is recommended. Alfalfa cubes, however, should be given in moderation, a small cube per week. Its good for their teeth and kinda like a snack. 2nd Cut Timothy hay is the best.

The hay that I recommend and use are either found at Amazon. Pet store hay is NOT RECOMMENDED unless it’s a fresh bale from a feed store. Pet store hay (ie: Petsmart/Petco etc.) is typically stale, brittle, and too old by the time it gets on the shelf. It is typically brownish in color. HAY IS NOT GOOD IF IT HAS A BROWN TINT TO IT. Hay should be a bright green color and fairly pliable. I give loose timothy hay daily.

(7) PELLETS

Pellets should be given as part of a chinchilla’s daily diet. I give mine Oxbow Essentials and I prefer all babies of mine to be on this diet. It is all natural, and the chins poo looked most healthy, and the pregnant chins lactated much better. I have been on Mazuri and Kline also, and this by far is my favorite feed. Here is it’s analysis:

Guaranteed Analysis

  • Crude Protein (min) 18.00%
  • Crude Fat (min) 2.50%
  • Crude Fiber (min) 18.00%
  • Crude Fiber (max) 23.00%
  • Moisture (max) 10.00%
  • Calcium (min) 0.60%
  • Calcium (max) 1.10%
  • Phosphorus (min) 0.25%
  • Vitamin A (min) 10,000 IU/kg
  • Vitamin D (min) 900 IU/kg
  • Vitamin E (min) 190 IU/kg

INGREDIENTS:

Timothy Grass Meal, Soybean Hulls, Wheat Middlings, Soybean Meal, Cane Molasses, Sodium Bentonite, Soybean Oil, Salt, Lignin Sulfonate, Limestone, Yeast Culture (dehydrated), Vitamin E Supplement, Choline Chloride, Zinc Proteinate, Zinc Sulfate, Ferrous Sulfate, Niacin, Copper Sulfate, Selenium Yeast, Vitamin A Supplement, Folic Acid, d-Calcium Pantothenate, Copper Proteinate, Riboflavin Supplement, Manganese Proteinate, Biotin, Manganous Oxide, Thiamine Mononitrate, Magnesium Sulfate, Vitamin B12 Supplement, Sodium Selenite, Pyridoxine Hydrochloride, Cobalt Carbonate, Vitamin D3 Supplement, Calcium Iodate

The most common chinchilla diet and most readily available is Mazuri which is now also carried at Amazon. This would be the ONLY food I’d ever recommend from a pet store. Mazuri is a DECENT and suitable feed. However not my TOP choice due to the corn it has in it. Any other Pet Store pellets tend to not be very fresh and they have little to NO nutritional value. Some are also full of colored treats. PLEASE DO NOT feed your chin pet store pellets!! If you want your chin to live many years you will get them on a decent feed. Do note that proper air-tight containers must be used to hold pellets after the seal is opened. If the pellets have a strong stench or smell oily, it is best to discard them.

(8) CHEW TOYS

Chinchillas having long and sharp teeth is not a joking matter. First of all, a chinchilla’s sharp frontal teeth can draw blood if it were to bite the owner unintentionally. Secondly, long unground teeth can be fatal to a chinchilla because it can be so overgrown that it can end up puncturing a chinchilla skull. Therefore, it is also the duty of a chinchilla owner to become a good ‘dentist’. There are hundreds of chew toys available for chinchillas, ranging from chew blocks, wood, pumice stones, etc. The best ruling guide is to use materials as natural as possible to avoid any complexities. Getting some non-treated pine 2×4’s or dowels is always a plus.

I give my chins hanging bird wood chews. They love to chew on them and not only do they like to chew them, but they like to play with them! These can be found at Amazon or any pet store. Do not use any with plastic, rope, nuts, or anything that the chin could digest wrong, other than wood. Certain edible branches are great to have in their cage also, you can find these at your pet store in the bird section, or from Amazon which I find to be MUCH CHEAPER. They also make all kinds of other wood chews for chinchillas. NO PLASTIC TOYS! they can bite off a piece of plastic and choke, not to mention it’s bad for their digestive tract.

(9) FUN STUFF

Chinchillas want to have fun too! Peek-a-boo items, tissue boxes, and perches are excellent considerations for a chinchilla’s home.

  • First, there should be one hideout area in the cage for frightened chinchillas.
  • Second, a wooden perch such as Niteangel Natural Wooden Platform; very popular with most chinchillas.
  • Third, an exercise wheel so that the chaps can run their extra miles. DO NOT USE WIRE WHEELS OR ANY WHEELS FROM PET STORES! They can get a leg caught and can get broken. There are ONLY TWO different types of wheels I will recommend which are the Exotic Nutrition 15″Chin-Sprint All-Metal Chinchilla Wheel and the 15″ Chin Spin Chinchilla Wheel – Handmade in the USA . Unless you can get one of these wheels then don’t get a wheel at all! These are the only safe ones.

And NEVER ever put your chinchilla in one of the large running balls that look like hamster balls. The ventilation is very poor in them, and they get overheated very easily, also due to overexerting themselves to make it “go”. Chinchillas can and HAVE died of heat strokes in these. They are a HUGE NO NO!

(10) TREATS

Just as human have themselves a favorite treat, Chinchillas do too. They should be rewarded when having good behavior (for ex: coming straight to their cage after play time). Chinchillas are notorious little beggars when it comes to raisins. Treats have always been given to chinchillas as controlled food. It is unwise to give a huge amount of goodies to them on a daily basis because it is inadequate for their digestive system. Just as a five-year-old child eating a whole bag of candy is bad, it’s bad to give a chin too many treats. The only difference is that the chin won’t be able to tell you his/her tummy hurts, and a child will scream about it. Raisins and Peeled Apple Chunks are nice treats, but you can also go to Chin World, or LoneStar Chinchilla to find even more chin approved treats. Keep in mind ‘moderation’! I give each of my chins three raisins every morning.

IF ILL

It is more than likely that a chin will get sick from time to time. The best way to get a sick chinchilla on its feet is to see a vet immediately. However, there is some precautionary that can be taken by the owner beforehand. Also, you can help cure some problems by yourself.

Diarrhea

For the example, general diarrhea might be cured with the reduction of moistened edibles such as raisins and alfalfa hay. The staple diet for the ill chinchilla should then consist of water, pellets, and timothy hay. I also give mine Pedialyte when diarrhea occurs so that the chin does not become dehydrated as easily. And a small piece of burnt bread can be given, the charcoal eases the stomach. If the symptoms still persist after two to three days, the chinchilla must then be seen by a vet for an appropriate examination. As a rule of thumb, an illness left unchecked for a few days is usually fatal for any chinchilla.

Fungus

Two other common illnesses are skin fungus, and hair rings. Both of these need to be quickly treated. The best treatment and prevention is putting a teaspoon of Tinactin foot powder in your chinchillas’ dust bath, OR an oral antibiotic such as Griseofluvin if it is a really strong strain of fungus. *No chin should be given Griseofluvin if under 6 months old, or is pregnant or lactating. Also, the dosage should be carefully prescribed by a vet based on each individual chins weight. Skin fungus can sometimes be hard to detect if a chins skin on feet, nose, ears etc. becomes scaly, red or inflamed, this is a sign. Another visible sign is hair loss. Small patches of lost hair can become huge in a matter of days. They need immediate attention! The skin fungus is highly contagious to humans and other chins. If your chin comes down with this it must be removed from any other chins. And whatever chins the sick one was caged with must be treated also. DO NOT touch anything after you have touched a chin with skin fungus until you wash your hands well with anti-bacterial soap. Once the condition it cleared up with the chin, cage and EVERYTHING your chin has had contact within the cage needs to be sterilized. The Fungus bacteria live for a very long time.

Hair Rings

The other common illness is “hair rings”. Hair rings are pieces of hair that get stuck on a male chins penis. Either from not cleaning properly or trying to mate. If hair rings are not detected, the penis shaft will get swollen, red and irritated looking and could possibly lead to urination problems and impotency. Honestly, if a hair ring becomes highly visible from an outside glance, you have let it go too far and not keeping close enough check on your males. YOU SHOULD CHECK YOUR CHINCHILLA MALES MONTHLY!

To look for a hair ring the penis shaft must be gently pushed back toward the chins body until the penis emerges. Once the tip of penis comes out continue holding shaft back and gently take your other hand to pull penis completely out (This normally takes two people. Look for any signs of hair on the penis. Hair rings on the penis can be easily removed using tweezers (be careful with them). A lot of time the patch or ring of hair comes off in one piece and is fairly easy to remove.

If a hair ring gets VERY bad to where it is extremely irritating and the penis will not go back in the shaft. Then your last option is to hold the chinchillas’ genitals under lukewarm running water and thoroughly rinse penis and use anti-bacterial soap. Do this twice a day, and if you do not notice a difference within the second day. You must see the vet ASAP!

BREEDING

Gestation is 111 days from proof of copulation. If you know that your chin is pregnant then it is recommended that 2 weeks before the due date you should provide a bottle of cranberry juice mixed 50/50 with water. This helps with the lactation of the mother, and good for babies too. Keep the juice in with the mother and babies 2 weeks after the birth also. DO NOT USE ANY JUICE WITH PRESERVATIVES OR SACCHARIN. Also, do not let chins give birth in ANY cages with a wire floor, ramps (Babies are small and delicate and could easily get injured.), or cage wire openings more than 1-inch x 1/2 an inch big. Babies could escape an opening any larger than this. Father must be removed from cage 2 weeks prior to birth to prevent breedbacks unless you know the exact due date and believe you can catch a birth. If this happens, immediately remove for 10 days. A female Chinchilla goes into heat directly after birth. Baby chins need to be removed from parents after 8 weeks (when they are fully weaned) So that there isn’t any interbreeding. Preferable same-sex kits should go to each their own cage. Females in one, Males in the other to prevent interbreeding. Males can become sexually mature as young as 12 weeks! There are nightmare cases where VERY young chins become pregnant and either have babies with deformities (due to close relation with father) or chins that are TOO small to have successful births resulting in either the death of the mom, babies or severe mutilation of babies.

Love your Chinchilla and keep it happy and healthy!!