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 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

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 Hammock – Super Easy Hammock For Your Chin


Want to make super easy hammocks for your chin?

  1. Get 1″ diameter ring binder rings from an office supply store,
  2. Buy a half yard to a yard of fleece,
  3. Cut a large triangle out of fleece,
  4. Poke a hole in each corner,
  5. Open up the ring binder rings,
  6. Put a ring binder ring through each hole
  7. Attach to the corner of the cage with the ring binder rings.


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.


. 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 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.


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.


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.



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 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!


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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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


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.


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.


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!


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.


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.


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.


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!


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!!


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.


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:

Pet-Friendly Hotels:



Hurricane And Emergency Procedures For Pets – Retrieved from

Need A Chinchilla Cage Setup Idea? – If I Can Do It, You Can Do It!


I’ve just built this cage. It has plenty of shelves and has a pull-out litter tray in the base.  Would you like to know how I built it? It was not nearly as difficult as I thought it would be! Before we get started here are some important tips to remember when building your Chinchilla cage:

(a) You can either build it out of wood (NO pesticides, NO treatments, NO unsafe woods). Or out of a metal bird cage, or something of similar sturdy stature. Don’t get any sort of coated woods. WAY too many things are TOXIC to chinchillas if ingested, and we all know how much they love to chew on anything/everything.

(b) The safest way to secure wood on wood would be screwed. But, make sure they are somewhat removable without completely damaging the external wood, in case you have to replace that shelf from chewing, staining, etc. I would personally suggest a metal frame with wooden shelves because you can get those metal screw/bolt and wingnut things that you can secure in the wood but hold tightly in place on the metal. (Like the ones on the back of high-quality wheels!)

(c)  If you have the cage in a corner of a room, where at least 2 sides are covered, you can have the ease of shelf replacement and still let them feel secured by enclosure. I wouldn’t say go for vinyl covering so much, because they can just chew it off and ingest, as with everything 


On this page, you will find details of its construction together with hints and tips gained from my experiences. I will not include exact measurements as it was built to fit into a specific alcove – you may require a slightly different size. It was not too difficult to make and should be possible with very little DIY experience.

First Step To Building A Chinchilla Cage

Your first step will be to decide if you want a cage with solid sides and top or mesh sides and top. Also, will it have a solid base or a mesh base with a litter tray? Remember that solid sided cages do not allow the air to flow as freely and in summer are likely to be warmer for your chin than a cage with mesh sides and top. This cage has a mesh base with pull out litter tray.

Step Two

My next step was to find a local supplier of large rolls of cage wire. The wire needs to be of an appropriate size and gauge (thickness); 3/4 inch square galvanized welded mesh is fine (1 inch will be too big if your chin is likely to have babies). 16 gauge wire is ok if the cage has a wooden frame as this one does, but if building a self-supporting cage then you will need 12 or 14 gauge wire, as these are thicker and stronger.

To avoid extra wire cutting try to buy wire which is the same width as the height of your cage, e.g. for a 2-foot high cage look for a roll 6 meters long by 24 inches wide, for a three-foot cage then 6 meters long by 36 inches wide.
Alternatively build your cage to the height of the available wire, bearing in mind the recommended maximum cage height is 3 foot – this is to help avoid injuries from falls.

Next, I drew a rough sketch of each section on paper jotting down the expected measurements of each section. I then added up the lengths of each section to work out the expected amount of wood needed for the frame of the cage. An ideal wood to use both for the frame and interior shelving is untreated pine which can be bought from a timber merchant or DIY store, never use plywood, as it is toxic to chinchillas.

If you are confident of your measurements then you can ask the timber merchant to cut the lengths of timber you require.

The litter tray and base

Chinchilla-Cage-Setup-Ideas-Cage-Building-1Once I had bought a litter tray I constructed a frame for the tray.

For the vertical sections at the side and back of the frame I used the same wood as I did for the main body of the cage; I then attached these side sections to thinner sections of wood to form a base which the bottom of the tray rests on, at the front the thinner wood creates a letterbox effect. The frame is held together with screws, which is why thinner wood is used underneath.

The tray itself provides some support to the piece of wood above it at the front (allow a little clearance both for the tray, and to fix a screw from this piece of wood into the front frame of the cage) – this piece of wood supports the wire mesh at the front of the floor.

I cut the mesh to the exact size I needed before attaching it into its permanent position. I used 14mm staples and a generic staple gun.

Skirting board is what I used as the cover for the front of the litter tray. The timber merchant was kind enough to cut it to 5.5cm from its original 8cm height. My litter tray has just a tad bit of an inset, so I used a thin piece of wood to fill the space behind the cover. And then I attached the handle. The handle was super easy, I just drilled holes in the front of the litter tray, placed the screws into place from the rear and then screwed the handle into place.


Hand saws are lousy, but jigsaws are great!!
Before screwing the wood together pre-drill a hole in the wood to prevent it from splitting.
Fit the drill bit in the drill so that you will be drilling no deeper than necessary.
If building the cage to fit in a specific space then allow a little leeway in case it ends up a little wider/taller.
Check your measurements as you go, and update your rough sketches as you go.
If sandwiching the wire between the front and side section (to keep sharp edges from the chin) remember to amend your measurements as this will add an extra mm or two on each side.

The main body of the cage

This cage was constructed so that individual sections can be removed and replaced, therefore the remainder of the cage consists of:

  • a front panel,
  • a back panel,
  • two side panels,
  • and a top panel.

The sections were constructed such that the side panels fit between the front and back panels, to give the cage a neat appearance when viewed from the front. On the front panel, the door is positioned centrally to allow greater access to all parts of the cage. The individual panels can be seen here (to reduce loading time on this page).

The mesh was cut to size for each section and any sharp edges were filed down before being stapled into position, again using 14 mm staples. Where possible the cut edges of wire and the staples were positioned where the chins could not reach them. The side panels were fixed to the back panel with screws, and then the top was added before turning the cage upside down and fixing the bottom into place.

Because the base is quite deep either very long screws are needed, or it is necessary to countersink the screws used to fix the base into position. To countersink drill a hole the width of the screw head in the underside of the base, but be careful not to drill too deep. Next pre-drill a hole for the screw – when the screw is inserted it will lie below the level of the wood.

Flush fitting hinges hold the door in position, and two hook and eye fixings keep the door closed – I used two to be certain there would be no escapes! Before fixing the front panel in place I cut the shelves to size and fixed them in place. To prevent the screws from passing through the wire a thin piece of the baton was placed on the outside of the wire and the screw inserted from that side. You can see this in the picture below. Finally, the front was fixed in position.

To ensure two screw holes in a baton line up with two screw holes in the shelf, hold the baton where it needs to be on the shelf then drill holes in the baton and the shelf at the same time.


The upper shelf in this picture has been shaped in order to give more space to land safely when jumping down to the short shelf below.

Again for safety reasons, the edges of the short shelf have been rounded.

Clyde and Avra provided quality control – here you can see Clyde examining the mesh while Avra makes sure the shelves are up to scratch.

She will check the shelves for chewability later.




Chinchilla Care Sheet


Before bringing your chinchilla home:

  • Ensure you have a cage set up and ready,
  • Be sure that your family is aware your new pet will need peace and quiet to settle into their new home.
  • Ensure your chinchilla is not unduly disturbed by other pets such as cats and dogs.
  • Ensure that any younger children understand a small animals nervousness and that they will need to be gentle and patient

 Setting up a Chinchilla Cage

There are many types of cages which will make a wonderful home for your chinchilla. The one we use is the Midwest Deluxe Critter Nation. As chinchillas love to run around, choosing as large a cage as you can accommodate comfortably would be a wise decision. We don’t feel a cage should be smaller than 24″ x 24″ x 18″ as this allows a single chinchilla some running room. Two-story cages are larger and nice if you are accommodating several chinchillas. You can buy your cage or make it yourself. It is nice to incorporate shelves, a hideaway house, toys and a wheel for exercise. Our preference is to use ½” x ½” on the bottom and 1″ x ½” on the sides and top. This is especially important if you are planning to breed a pair of chinchillas. Babies are great escape artists and can get out of wire mesh that is larger than 1″ x ½.” Also, if you have babies, it is best to have them in a single story cage with no shelves as they can fall or be injured by a jumping adult.

You can choose to have a wire bottom cage or a cage which rests in a pan. If you choose a cage that rests in a pan or has a solid metal bottom, you will want to use natural pine shavings that contain no oils or tars. Do not use cedar shavings as they can be toxic to chinchillas. If you choose a wire mesh bottom cage, the size of the mesh is extremely important. The mesh bottom of the cage should be no larger than ½” x ½.” If the wire is larger, a chinchilla can get a foot caught in the mesh. In its distress, a chinchilla can chew off its foot, break its leg or the leg trauma may necessitate amputation. Why take a chance! If using a wire bottom cage, be sure the chinchilla has areas where it can sit or rest where its feet are not directly on the wire. We use houses or shelves and sometimes wood planks (which we change regularly because they can harbor bacteria). Chinchillas can develop sores on their feet from the continued direct contact with the wire.

A standard chinchilla cage is constructed of strong wire mesh; this mesh should not be coated in plastic which could be chewed and swallowed. Wooden shelving should be provided inside the cage to give them a place to rest off the wire; they will also appreciate a wooden house or box to retreat to.

Accessories you will need include: 

  • a hay rack (unless one is built into the cage),
  • a water bottle,
  • a food dish which cannot be knocked over,
  • a dust bath,
  • food, and hay,
  • Chinchilla dust or chinchilla sand. Do not use ordinary sand as this is too coarse.
  • Litter – wood based cat litter is ok. Alternatively, you may line the litter tray with newspaper provided the chins can not reach the paper. Do not use sawdust as this is too fine, and do not use cedar wood shavings (cedar is harmful to chins).
  • exercise wheel

The cage is best placed where other animals will not bother your chinchilla; away from drafts; not directly in front of a radiator; and not in direct sunlight where they may be at risk from heat exhaustion. A good spot is against the wall, or in the corner of the room where the chinchilla will feel
less exposed.

When your chinchilla arrives home, place them in their new cage and leave them alone for the rest of the day. Before they start to interact with you, they need time to settle in, investigate their home, and become accustomed to all the new smells and sounds around them.

Exercise Wheel:

When choosing a wheel, do not select a wire mesh wheel or a hamster wheel. Many chinchillas have had legs amputated or have been killed when caught in these wheels. Choose a wheel that is solid all the way around. The ONLY two that I have found to be safe are the Exotic Nutrition 15″ Chin-Sprint and the 15″ Chin Spin Chinchilla Wheel (Handmade in the USA)

Water Bottles:

Many good water bottles are available. Heavy glass water bottles are nice because they can be sterilized in the dishwasher, but be sure the drinking tubes are very heavy glass, so the chinchilla does not bite through them. There are also many varieties of plastic water bottles from Lixit and Nivek which also work well. Be sure the bottles do not leak, especially if the chinchillas sit on litter. Damp litter is very unhealthy for the chinchilla. If using plastic water bottles, it is important to put a sheet metal guard between the water bottle and the cage. Chinchillas will chew through a plastic water bottle at every opportunity. We cut a piece of sheet metal large enough to shield the water bottle and make a hole for the water nozzle. This has worked very well. Also, be sure the water bottle is securely fastened to the cage as the chinchillas enjoy unhooking the wires that hold it to the cage.

Chinchillas need access to fresh water at all times. It is important to change their water daily and keep the water bottles clean so as not to breed bacteria.


Chinchillas enjoy chewing and need to chew to prevent their teeth becoming overgrown; chewable toys are therefore ideal for chinchillas. Avoid toys that have small or sharp, metal parts, or have plastic parts. If (or when) your chinchilla chews these they will end up swallowing the plastic
and could end up with a blockage in their intestine.

Many chinchillas enjoy hanging toys with bells on the bottom and wood blocks (usually pine or fir) stacked on the chain. They delight in chewing off the blocks and like the sound of the bell. It is important that chinchillas have adequate items to chew as their teeth continually grow. We often supply wood blocks, hanging toys, pumice blocks, booda bones, etc. If you use any wood in the cage, be sure to change it often as wood can harbor fungus and bacteria.

Be sure your chinchilla has a little hideaway house so s/he can have somewhere to go when s/he needs to feel safe. They do truly enjoy their houses and often feel comfortable lying on their sides or backs totally relaxed.

Food Dishes:

We like to use stoneware crocks that sit on the bottom of the cage. This allows us to monitor the food intake to be sure the chinchillas are eating well. Although sometimes the chinchillas will soil the dishes and the food, they can be easily washed and refilled. We tend to use different size crocks depending on the number and age of the chinchillas in the cage. Crocks that are 4″ and 5″ tend to work well. There are also metal feeders which hook onto the side of the cage. However, with these, the chinchillas tend to pull out the food, and it scatters over the cage bottom.

[alert style=”warning”]Items which are also suitable to leave in your chinchillas’ cage are:

  • hanging parrot toys
  • 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., kiln-dried pine (not fresh pine), apple, pear, or willow.[/alert]


Two words: Hay and Pellets

All a chinchilla needs are good quality hay and pellets; and fresh water – a very basic diet is, without a doubt, the best diet for them.

Hay needs to be available at all times as it is essential in helping wear down their teeth and keep them in trim. If your chinchilla is not eating its hay then reduce the amount of pellets you feed to encourage eating of hay. You can’t give a chinchilla too much fresh hay.

It is also a good idea to provide a cuttlefish bone to chew on as this provides calcium which is essential for healthy teeth.

You will see mix foods which say they provide a well-balanced diet however problems which become apparent when feeding a mixed food are:

  • Most mix foods contain treat foods.
  • Given a choice, most chinchillas will pick out their favorite food and choose not to eat the rest. Chinchillas can become picky – they will tend to eat more treat foods and less of the other ingredients.
  • A diet rich in treats is not considered a good diet for a chinchilla.
  • A mix of food is formulated to provide a well-balanced diet based on the assumption that all ingredients are eaten.

We recommend feeding your chinchilla twice per day (morning and evening). Chinchillas enjoy a routine and look forward to being fed at the same time each day. We have used APD-Alffy Pellets (American Pet Diner) and Mazuri pellets. Our chinchillas have maintained excellent health on this diet. We offer timothy hay, hay cubes, and alfalfa cubes.

Always be sure that any food, timothy hay or alfalfa you use is fresh, free of mold, mildew and toxic weeds. If your chinchilla eats “bad” hay, diarrhea often results. This can sometimes lead to intestinal problems which, if untreated, can lead to an untimely death to your pet.

When changing your chinchillas’ diet do it slowly to decrease the risk of digestive problems. Start by mixing in a little of the new food into the existing food, then throughout a one or two weeks (approx.) gradually increase the quantity of new food, and decrease that of the old food.

Feeding Treats

Although pellets and hay are all that a chinchilla needs they can be given some treats. All treats offered should be low in salt, sugar, fats, and oils. Therefore commercial foods, e.g., biscuits, crisps, crackers, etc. should be avoided. Nuts and seeds should also be avoided or given only occasionally as
they are high in fats and oils, for example, pecan nuts contain approx. 70g of fat per 100g. All treats should be given in small quantities, and only one or two each day as too much fresh fruit, veg, and grains can cause digestive problems. Peanuts and corn should not be given.

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, grape, or kiwi.
  • Veg, e.g., a 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 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.

When introducing a new treat, do it slowly – introduce one treat at a time, and when first feeding it to your chinchilla only give a small piece. If you have just bought a chinchilla and are not sure if they have been given fruit before then start by only give one small piece at first.

Fat/oil content of nuts and seeds

The table below is provided for information only to allow a comparison of different nuts and seeds. The fat/oil content is expressed as a percentage, e.g., sunflower seeds contain 47.5g oil per 100g. I know sunflower seeds, pumpkin seeds, and flax seeds can be fed to chinchillas – I can not guarantee that all the items listed below are safe for chinchillas to eat!

Nut or seed type Fat/oil content (%)
Pumpkin 45.6
Peanut 46.1
Sunflower 47.5
Cashews 48.2
Pistachios 53.7
Almonds 55.8
Hazel 63.5
Brazil 68.2
Walnuts 68.5
Pine nuts 68.6
Pecans 70.1
Macadamia 76.9


Possible problems resulting from feeding peanuts

Your chinchilla will benefit from some essential fatty acids provided by nuts and seeds. However, it is believed that too much fat in a chinchillas diet may make them prone to hepatic lipidosis. Hepatic lipidosis tends to occur in animals which cannot metabolize fat well. It is literally fat infiltration into liver cells – fat globules build up in the cells until they are unable to perform their natural function. Severe hepatic lipidosis can cause major problems and even death.

Peanuts may also be a source of aflatoxins. This carcinogenic mycotoxin is produced by certain fungi and is a potent poison. It remained undiscovered until 1960 when 100,000 young turkeys died after eating contaminated feed. Aflatoxins appear to work by modifying the structure of DNA in the liver cells resulting in highly corroded livers. It is thought that there is a link between primary hepatocellular carcinoma and the consumption of aflatoxins. Foods most likely to be contaminated are corn, peanuts, and cottonseed, although it has also been detected on other foods.

While many chinchillas are given peanuts as a treat with no apparent ill effects, it is considered better to avoid peanuts, give seeds as a treat instead, and reserve other nuts as a ‘special’ treat.

Sugar and fiber content of dried fruit

This information is included because a few owners have reported tooth cavities in their pets. While the diet of those animals is not known, it seems sensible to limit the amount of sugar your chinchilla eats.

Dried fruit is often high in sugar because the sugar that is naturally present in the fruit becomes more concentrated by the drying process. It is, therefore, best to avoid feeding fruit with added sugar to your chinchilla.

Information in the table below is based on dried fruits to which no sugar was added. Once again this table is provided for information only to allow a comparison of different dried fruits. The sugar/ fiber content of each fruit is expressed as a percentage, e.g., raisins contain 71.4% sugar, and 5.8% fiber per 100g. All these fruits can be fed to chinchillas – in small quantities, e.g., one or two raisin-sized pieces.

Fruit Sugar content (%) Fibre content (%)
Banana 29.6 6.0
Cranberry 57.1 28.6
Mango 62.0 ?
Strawberry 71.4 7.1
Raisin 71.4 5.8
Blueberry 81.8 9.1
Apple 84.6 11.5
Pineapple 86.4 4.5


Changing your chinchillas’ food

Changing your chinchillas’ diet should be done slowly to decrease the risk of digestive problems. Start by mixing in a little of the new food into the existing food, then throughout a one or two weeks (approx.) gradually increase the quantity of new food, and decrease that of the old food.

When introducing a new treat, again do it slowly – introduce one treat at a time, and when first feeding it to your chinchilla only give a small piece. If you have just bought a chinchilla and are not sure if they have been given fruit before then start by only give one small piece at first.

Taming and Handling

A chinchilla can live up to 20 years, so you have plenty of time – take your time getting to know your chinchilla, a weeks progress can suffer a severe setback if you inadvertently scare your pet.

Remember that chinchillas are timid and can easily become frightened; each chinchilla is different and the time it takes to develop trust between you and your new chinchilla will vary with each animal – some animals can take six months or more to trust their owner completely. It is worth remembering that in the wild a chinchilla is a prey animal – and they have evolved to be alert to dangers, and to run and hide if there is something they are not sure of.

Approach the cage slowly and speak quietly and gently to your chinchilla, offer them a raisin or some other small treat. Chinchillas are naturally curious so after a while, s/he should come to the side of the cage and accept the treat. When your chinchilla is happy with this try reaching into the cage and offering a treat, do not pursue your pet – be patient and let them come to you, and allow them to explore your hand and arm. As your chinchillas trust in you increases you can try stroking their back, and in time you may be able to pick them up. It has to be said here that some chinchillas will never like being picked up.

Exercising Your Chinchilla

It is important for chinchillas to have exercise. A safely constructed wheel (not wire) in your chinchilla’s cage provides both entertainment and exercise. A wheel (if your chinchilla enjoys using it) also helps to keep your chinchilla from becoming overweight and lethargic. If you have a spare room, a closet or a bathroom that you can “baby proof,” use this for your chinchilla to run free. They leap, jump and ricochet off the walls with abandon. If you are sitting on the floor, they will use you to leap upon as well. It is important to be there to supervise a chinchilla’s playtime to ensure there are no mishaps. Be sure toilet seats are down; garbage cans are covered, no cupboards open no electric outlets are exposed or cords accessible to the chinchilla. We usually take a few chinchilla toys (toilet paper rolls, PVC pipe tubes, plastic balls, whiffle balls, etc.) and spread them on the floor. Chinchillas are very nosy and love to explore the toys, carrying them around the room. Often your chinchilla plays so hard, s/he wears himself out and then goes right to sleep when you put him/her back in the cage.

Whichever play area you chose you will need to chin proof. This involves ensuring that:

  • no electrical (or telephone) wires are available for chewing,
  • they cannot get behind or under any gas fires, fridges, freezers, washing machines, etc. where they may become stuck or may come to harm,
  • you have no objects lying around that you really don’t want to be chewed,
  • the toilet seat is kept down – chinchillas have died or been badly harmed by toilet incidents.

Your chinchilla will need to be supervised at all times. When you leave the room for five or ten minutes, you may walk back in to find your pet has managed to climb up and reach some electrical wires or has discovered the delights of wallpaper stripping!

Use caution – while your pet is outside the cage it is extremely important to know their whereabouts, they can move very quickly, but at other times they can move very quietly – it is very easy to turn around and tread on your chinchilla! Likewise, before sitting down check the seat, your chinchilla may have pinched that spot.

Getting your chinchilla back in the cage can be a challenge. It is a good idea to avoid chasing them, especially if you are still working on gaining their trust. One method is to offer them their bath when they hop in just take them back to their cage.


The most important thing to keep in mind is that by the time you notice your chinchilla is feeling poorly, they may have been ill for some time. If an infectious illness is suspected isolate them from other chins, then take them to the vet as soon as possible rather than try to guess what may be wrong
and possibly give inappropriate treatment.

Having said that chinchillas tend to be healthy animals. Problems that may occur include overgrown teeth, diarrhea, constipation, heat stroke, fur fungus, eye infections, colds, hair ring.


Chinchillas can get overgrown teeth or tooth spurs. If your chinchilla appears to be having difficulty eating, is reaching their paw to their mouth frequently, and particularly if you notice wetness around the mouth or on the chest then take it along to the vet as soon as you possibly can. These symptoms may indicate tooth problems which in some cases can require surgery – treatment is best undertaken before the chin loses too much weight and weakens through lack of food.

Chinchillas can also develop cavities – so beware of giving too many sweet treats!

Digestive problems

These can occur due to change of diet, too much fruit, and vegetables, or through illness. Again a visit to the vet is in order. A chin with constipation may benefit from extra exercise, while in the event of diarrhea the following may help: withhold all treats, offer your chin charcoal in the form of bird
charcoal, or extremely well-done toast (completely blackened).

Heat stroke

Chinchillas generally will not survive temperatures over 75 degrees for extended periods. They can become very stressed even at 70 degrees if humidity is high.  If kept over 80 degrees, chinchillas can suffer heat stroke and die. Keep your chinchilla in a cool place, being careful to avoid drafts. It is important to have a good exchange of air in the room. You should consider acquiring an air conditioning unit if you have chinchillas in your home (and perhaps a backup unit if you have many chinchillas). We repeatedly warn people of the heat dangers to chinchillas since chinchillas cannot perspire as we do.  We are adamant about instructing people not to put their chinchillas outside during the summer months because of the risk of heat stroke.  If you leave your chinchilla outside in the sun, on a porch or even under a tree during very hot weather, you will be killing your pet.  So many chinchillas die from heat stroke every year, and it doesn’t have to happen!

In the book, Joy of Chinchillas, there is a section that talks about heat stroke.  The following is an excerpt from that section:

 Chinchillas can die from heat stroke, and it is preventable!  If temperature (in degrees Fahrenheit) and humidity add up to 150 (e.g. temperature is 90 degrees Fahrenheit and humidity is 60%, the sum equals 150) then that is dangerous to the chinchillas.  The chinchilla comfort zone is 65 degrees to 80 degrees Fahrenheit tops.  They can tolerate cold far easier than heat (of course, they have a nice fur coat).  Humidity should be around 30% to 40%.  Below 25% humidity even humans develop dry cracked skin – so, decrease bathing which causes dry skin if done excessively.  Remember, if you are uncomfortable from either heat or humidity, your chinchilla will also be uncomfortable.  The rule of 150 goes for humans too, and if the temperature plus humidity is 150 or above you also are in danger of heat problems.  If you are in danger, how much more your chinchilla, which cannot sweat nor take off its nice fur coat!!!”

Air movement by fans cools just by circulating the air, so use fans to blow air around your chinchilla.  Don’t blow air directly on your chinchilla, but cool the environment instead.  Having access to an air conditioner can save your animal’s life.  Filling your chinchilla’s cage with jars of ice, or dishes of ice cubes, so they can lie next to the ice to cool off, also helps.  (Chinchillas sometimes chew on ice cubes, and though this is thought to crack teeth, it is not as yet been proven.)  Other ideas are:  soaking them in cool (not cold) water, turning the water sprinklers or misters onto the cage or spraying the cages with water, or putting wet sheets over cages and using a fan to speed evaporation can also cool off your chinchilla.  Anything to cool them off will make a difference and can save a life. Heatstroke is fatal…

A chinchilla suffering from the effects of heat may lie on one side and remain motionless, the ears may become pink – this is most noticeable in beige chinchillas or those with pale colored ears. They may also have difficulty breathing.

To keep your chinchilla cool:

Keep the heat out

  • If the sun shines in through the window, then ensure the cage is not near the window. Keep the curtains at least three quarters closed when the sun is on the window.
  • A thin dark material over the window will help keep out the sun, but let in the air.
  • Consider buying curtains or blinds which have thermal properties – these keep out heat in summer and retain heat in winter.
  • For a chinchilla room, or chinchilla outbuilding you could paint cool glass on the window. This is used on greenhouses to provide shading and will wash off. Look for it in shops selling gardening products.

Let the heat out

  • Opening the windows may cool the room down, however, if there is no breeze you may simply be letting warm air in!

Cool the cage area 

Some methods have been suggested to do this:

  • Find some really cheap tins of soup/beans etc. Remove the labels and freeze them. When they are frozen run them under a warm tap for a moment to remove the white frosting (the kind your fingers may stick to!), dry them and put them in the cage.
  • Fill and freeze ice cream containers, or use frozen tins, ice packs, or terracotta tiles. When frozen place them on top of the cage. Warm air rises and cold air sinks, so the temperature in the cage below should fall. You may want to ensure condensation does not drip into the cage.
  • Large beach stones (or similar) can be frozen and put in the cage – your chin can sit on them and try chewing them. Alternatively, use terracotta pots/tiles.

I use ice packs on top of the cage if I am out all day during very hot weather; however, if you use any water-filled plastic container (e.g., ice packs for picnic boxes) then ensure your chin cannot chew the plastic and make it leak! Note that terracotta tiles are best wetted before freezing.

Fur fungus

If your chins have fur fungus the vet will prescribe an antifungal powder which can be mixed in with the bath sand – the fungus should start to clear in a few days. Do not confuse this with fur biting – some chins bite their own (or other animals) fur so that it appears short and bristly – it is thought this
can sometimes be caused by stress.

Eye infections

If your chins eye is closed and has a discharge coming from it, then this may be an infection, or it may the result of a scratched eyeball. Until you see a vet you can make the chin a little more comfortable by trying to keep the eye open: make some tea (no milk, no sugar) and allow it to cool,
use some cotton wool dipped in the tea and wipe the eye from the inside corner outwards to clear away the discharge.


Cold symptoms in chins are similar to those in humans, including a runny nose! Ensure your chin is warm enough and is continuing to eat and drink. If the chin has problems breathing or appears to have a fever then see a vet immediately.

Hair ring

A male chinchilla may develop a penile hair ring if they do not clean themselves properly. This can result in severe discomfort and even death, it needs to be carefully removed, either by the vet, or yourself (if you are confident and have a friend to hold the chin). A little lubricant like Vaseline or KY
jelly can help.