Chinchillas love to be busy, obviously also as the teeth continually grow they need access to good gnawing material. As a chinchilla pet owner, the last thing you want to do is unintentionally give your chin a piece of wood, or any item, that may make him sick or worse yet, cause death!
Untreated wooden levels placed in the cage make for great exercise as well as giving your Chinchilla a good source of chewing material. Also, untreated wooden houses provide a hideaway for your friend to sleep and feel safe, but obviously he will enjoy chewing on it as well! Eventually, after a few months, most wooden objects will need replacing as they will either get mostly chewed away or will become soiled, so make sure that it is easy to replace these items.
The following wood lists: safe woods in GREEN, and unsafe woods in RED, have been compiled from various unverified sources. Aside from kiln-dried Pine and Aspen, the other woods’ appropriateness for a chinchilla should be verified by an exotic veterinarian. Do not rely upon these lists solely, as they are only provided as a general information reference and are not meant to replace the advice of a qualified veterinarian. Although we strive for accuracy of our chinchilla information, ChinchillaStuff.com is not liable for any consequences or action you take based on these wood lists. If you are a vet or have consulted with a vet regarding chinchilla safe wood varieties, and have something to add or correct, please submit a comment below!
SAFE Woods, If Properly Prepared
- Aspen (kiln-dried)
- Birch (White, grey, broadleaf, silver and common)
- Black Currant
- Kiwi Wood
- Pine (kiln dried)
- Red currant
- Sickle bush
- Star Fruit Wood
- Hickory – unsure
- Pine cones are only safe if properly prepared
Ash (conflicting information)
NO !! Not safe for chinchillas!
- Black Locus
- Box Elder
- Cherry Mahogany
- Chinese Snake Tree
- Chinese Tallow
- Honey Locus
- Hydrangea Yew
- Oak (of the Solanaceae family)
- Poison Ivy
- Poison Oak
- Fresh Pine Branches
- Red Pine
- Redwood (any variety)
- Weeping Fig
Printable Safe Woods List:
Safe-And-Toxic-Tree-List-For-Chinchillas Word .doc
Your chin should have shelves inside the cage to jump onto. I use dried white pine for mine. NEVER use plywood, it contains glues which are toxic to chins. Keep in mind, anything inside the cage will be chewed on, at least a few times, so it all needs to be safe. Some chins like to play in the ferret tunnels sold in pet stores. I buy the 4-inch PVC white PVC pipe at my local hardware store. It is safe for them to chew and they love running on it and through it. Wooden toys made for parrots are also good toys for chins. Keep away from the ones with leather or rope. These aren’t good for your chin. Branches from unsprayed fruit trees such as apple or pear are OK as are birch, hazelnut, and willow. Don’t give them branches from trees that have pitted fruit, such as peach and plum, cherry, etc. they are also toxic.
Tubes and Boxes
Another fun and easy toy to get hold of for your pet is the inside of a toilet roll. There have been debates over whether this is safe for your Chinny as some say that it can be eaten and cause a blockage. All I can say to this is that I have always allowed my Chinchillas toilet roll tubes on a regular basis and have never had any problems with this. I have, however, enjoyed watching my Chinnies shredding them! You can also try allowing cardboard boxes without any print on them. The reason that cardboard boxes without print are best is that some of the inks used for print can be toxic for your Chinchilla should he ingest any of it.
Swings and Wheels
We also provide our animals with wire swinging tunnels. These are clipped to the ceiling of the cage ( obviously not suitable if you have a tall cage, due to the risk of injury ), and you can then get to see a Chinchilla using its tail to balance as he sits on it. As well as watching them curl up inside the swing and rock themselves to sleep! There are also Chinchilla wheels on the market, Exotic Nutrition 15″ Chin-Sprint or 15″ Chin Spin Chinchilla Wheel – Handmade in the USA are the ONLY two wheels that I feel are safe! I have heard some very sad stories of chinchillas getting their legs caught in the slats of the wired wheels, so if you can’t afford to get your chin one of the two safe wheels that I’ve listed then don’t get one at all, the others are unsafe!
Do-It-Yourself Hop’n Chew Toy
This super simple chinchilla toy can be assembled in less than an hour! Here’s an easy way to give your chins a safe place to hop, climb, and chew. A few pieces of white pine, a few screws and a few minutes of your time can create an interesting addition for your chinchilla’s play time. It’s small enough and light enough to store in a closet when not being used. It’s Jasper approved!!
- 3 pine boards, 18″ x 5 1/2″ x 3/8″ ( For the landings. They come in this size so no need to cut them.)
- 4 pine boards, 18″ x 1 1/2″ x 1 1/2″ (For the risers. Have 6″ cut off two of the boards at the time of purchase.)
- 1 pine board, 16″ x 12″ x 3/4″ (For the base. We purchased a 48″ board and had it cut into thirds.)
- 6 wood screws, 2 1/2″ x 8 flat head (To attach risers to the base.)
- 6 wood screws, 1 1/2″ x 8 flat head (To attach the landings to the risers.)
- Power drill
- #8 Countersink for a power drill
- Phillips screwdriver
- Medium grit sandpaper
- Lay out the risers and landings in a way that makes it easy for your chin to get from one level to the next.
- Mark the position of the risers on the base.
- Countersink and attach the risers to the base using the 2 1/2″ long screws.
- Countersink and attach the landings to the tops of the risers using the 1 1/2″ long screws.
- Give the toy a light sanding.
Do you have any 2 x 4′s lying around? You could build your chin some steps, a balance beam, a jungle gym out of them. You could really have fun creating stuff for him to play on. You could also use that PVC pipe again on a 2 x 4 creation. Just be 100% absolutely sure it is made from the safe wood list above!
Other than that, paper towel rolls and the toilet paper tubes are lots of fun. Try stuffing one full of hay and put a bite-sized nonshredded wheat in it. They will dig and tear at it until they find the “prize” in the middle.
How to Prepare Wood Chew Sticks for Chinchillas
Recipe to Make Your Own Chinchilla Wood Chew Sticks
- Start with an UNTREATED Chinchilla-safe wood variety. Wood from a known organic source is ideal.
- Cut wood into the desired sizes (approx 3 inches is just about right for your chinchilla to handle)
- Scrub wood pieces with a stiff bristled brush to remove all dirt, lichens, bird poop, or other “natural additives”
- Boil wood pieces for approximately 20 minutes in salt water
- Lay wood pieces on a towel or rack and allow to dry for a couple of hours
- Place on cookie sheet and bake in 200 – 250-degree oven for 2 – 8 hours (baking time depends on thickness of wood)
- Bake till dry and stiff, but not burnt. Adequately prepared wood will have small cracks on the cut ends.
Store your homemade wood treats in a cardboard box, or paper bag to ensure airflow and continued drying. If you store in a plastic bag or airtight container you could trap in any remaining moisture and mold could grow.
Serve your wood chew sticks to your pet chinchilla with pride and love!
- 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!