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Chinchilla Food and Diet

Choosing the right food is an important part of getting any kind of pet, and chinchilla food is no different. For information on chinchilla dust or cages – check out our Ultimate Chinchilla Supply List here.

The last thing you want when raising a pet is to accidentally cause harm by giving them something bad for them. It is important to understand each animal’s dietary restrictions, sensitivities, and recommendations. Chinchillas, like every pet, have unique recommendations for an optimal diet.

In this article, we’ll discuss the core foods that make up a pet chinchilla’s diet, what kinds of treats and snacks are recommended and the best dishes for chinchilla food and water.

What to feed a pet chinchilla

Chinchillas are herbivores, which means that all of their nutrients come from eating plants. Chinchillas also have sensitive stomachs, so their diet should be kept relatively simple and straightforward. A good food pellet, unlimited access to water, and fresh hay will keep your chinchilla and its digestive system perfectly happy.

Choosing food pellets for chinchillas

The biggest part of your pet chinchilla’s diet will come from a commercially created food pellet. Pellets like these are made specifically to help your chinchilla keep a well-balanced diet, engineered to contain optimal amounts of various nutrients.

It’s important to note that not all pellets are created equal. Pellets found in pet stores are often filled with sugars from fruits or lots of cheap food fillers. When searching for the best food pellet for your chinchilla, avoid pellets that contain corn, vegetables, fruit, seeds, or nuts. These ingredients are typically high in sugars and/or fats, which can cause obesity and obesity-related health issues if given to your chinchilla regularly.

How often to give a chinchilla food pellets?

Chinchillas are not animals that typically have problems with eating more food than they should. As long as you are providing a pellet that is made from the right, quality ingredients, many chinchilla owners simply keep their chinchilla’s food dishes filled so they can eat when they want throughout the day.
oxbow chinchilla pellets

What pellets should I feed my chinchilla?

Chinchilla keepers swear by Oxbow’s Essentials chinchilla pellets. Made with alfalfa, soy, and wheat, Oxbow’s chinchilla food provides a great base for your pet chinchilla’s diet.oxbow chinchilla pellets

Choosing a food dish for chinchilla pellets

spill proof chinchilla food dishes
Heavier dishes are less likely to spill.

When it comes to picking a food dish for your chinchilla, there’s really no way to go wrong. Some people just use small, generic food dishes that are fine for any pet. If you go this route, a small stainless steel dog food bowl might be a good option.

If your pet chinchilla has problems with spilling their food, a heavier ceramic food dish may be a better option to help keep their food where it should be.

Hay for chinchillas

Pet chinchillas should have a consistent supply of hay provided to them in their cages. The specific type of hay chinchillas need is called timothy hay. Timothy hay comes from timothy grass (also called cat’s tail), a grass that is native to most of Europe.

Timothy hay is recommended for chinchillas and other small rodent pets because it is rich in long fiber. Also, since it is necessary for chinchillas to keep their teeth filed down, the abrasive texture of timothy hay helps chinchillas in the dental department as well as nutritionally.

Good-quality timothy hay for your pet chinchilla should be green, rather than brown or yellow. It should have a sweet, fragrant smell and the stalks shouldn’t be brittle. You will also want to make sure the hay you are getting is clean and free of mold, dirt, or other random debris.

Where to buy hay for chinchillas

If you can’t track down a local source for fresh timothy hay for your chinchilla, don’t worry. Many larger brands have made it a point to make hay easily accessible. Kaytee timothy hay is available in large quantities on Amazon, making it easy to keep your chinchilla well-stocked and happy.
kaytee timothy hay for chinchillas

Hay holder for chinchillas

You can buy a variety of different hay holders for your chinchilla’s cage on Amazon and at other pet retailers. However, these types of holders can often just cause messes by spreading hay outside of the cage or allowing your chinchilla to urinate in them.

Many owners recommend simply stuffing hay in an empty paper towel or toilet paper roll and letting your chin get it out of there. This way it doubles as a toy too!

Constant access to water

It should be a no-brainer that chinchillas, like most living creatures, need unlimited access to water to stay hydrated. You’ll want to make sure your chinchilla’s water is always available and clean. To keep it clean you will need to to get a water bottle your chinchilla can easily and safely drink from. Any kind of open containers, such as bowls, could get contaminated with food particles or waste matter.

Water bottle for chinchillas

Finding a good water bottle for small pets like chinchillas can be challenging. They often leak, or due to their design, quit supplying water. To make sure your chinchilla always has access to water, placing two water bottles on their cage might be a good idea.

The most recommended water bottle on Amazon is the Choco Nose No Drip Water bottle. Many reviewers with pets of all kinds swear by this bottle and its lack of leakage. Even in cases where leaks have happened, it appears that Choco Nose customer service has sent replacement bottles.
no drip chinchilla water bottle

What else do chinchillas eat?

Beyond their core diet, there are a couple of other things that chinchillas eat, some of which might surprise you. What treats are safe or recommended for chinchillas will vary depending on who you talk to, but we have put together a few tips below.

It’s normal for chinchillas to eat their poop

You may have noticed your chinchilla eating the occasional turd or two. While this may be alarming or gross, don’t worry. This is a completely normal habit for these animals.

Due to the way that chinchilla digestion works, there is often a good amount of nutrients that they do not absorb from their food on the first go round. Because chinchillas in the wild live in a pretty sparse habitat, it is important for them to get all the nutrients possible. Therefore, don’t be surprised if your chinchilla eats some of its own poop.

What treats are safe to feed chinchillas?

When deciding what treats to give your chinchilla, a good rule of thumb is that less is more. Although we all want to make our pets happy and give them treats, you don’t want to accidentally cause any health problems.

Avoid any fresh fruits or veggies. This is another limitation caused by the chinchilla’s natural habitat – they’re simply not set up to digest these items. Dried fruits and veggies don’t have the same risk, but the high sugar content can lead to diabetes.

rosehips for chinchillasA pretty safe choice are rosehips. Derived from the rose plant, these make great chinchilla treats and are a good source of Vitamin C.

Find what works for your chinchilla’s diet

As always, we do our best to bring together the most recommended items for your pet. While this is usually a great starting place, please always consult your veterinarian to make the best decision for your individual pet.

Is there anything missing or incorrect in this article? Contact us and let us know!

The Best Chinchilla Cage

Find out why this is the best chinchilla cage

Setting up the best chinchilla cage for your pet chinchilla is the first step in making your little furry pet feel at home. Looking for more chinchilla pet supplies? Check out our Ultimate Chinchilla Supply List here.

Chinchillas are recommended mainly for experienced and very committed keepers, so make sure to take note of the specific requirements for this unique pet rodent. From the cage itself to the accessories you keep in there, getting this right will go a long way in making your pet chinchilla happy in its new home.

Keep reading to find out what makes a good chinchilla cage, how to properly use your chinchilla’s cage, and what the cage recommended by most chinchilla keepers is.

What makes a good chinchilla cage?

There are a lot of factors you should consider when finding a cage for your chinchilla. Although many cages look similar and may be appropriate for many different types of animals, chinchillas, like each pet, have their own unique requirements and considerations. Even if a cage is ok for other small rodents, it might not be right for your chin. Below are some questions to ask yourself when shopping for the best chinchilla cage:

How big should a chinchilla cage be?

Generally speaking, your chinchilla’s cage should be as large as you have the space to accommodate. At a minimum, your chinchilla’s cage should be 3 feet by 2 feet by 2 feet. If you are keeping multiple chinchillas in one cage the rule of thumb is at least 2 square feet per chinchilla. Along with floor size, height is a very important factor. In their natural habitat, chinchillas have all the room they need to run and jump. Knowing this, you should get a cage that is high enough for these kinds of activities, even up to six feet high.

To ensure the safety of your chinchilla, taller cages should have multiple levels to allow for climbing and jumping. These shelves will keep them from hurting themselves if they accidentally fall, and allow their feet a rest from the wire bottom of the cage.

The only time to avoid larger cages is if you have a pregnant chinchilla. A one level cage will be necessary when a mother chinchilla gives birth to keep the new baby from climbing, falling, and injuring itself.

Where should I keep my chinchilla’s cage?

It’s hard to have a cage too big for your chinchilla. The determining factor will be the space you have available to keep your chinchilla cage. Your chinchilla’s cage should be elevated up off of the ground. Because rodents are prey in the wild, this will help your chin feel safer.

You will also want to keep the chinchilla cage out of direct sunlight to avoid it getting too hot. To prevent your chinchillas from getting too cold, the cage should be away from any drafts or heating and cooling elements. The ideal temperature range for pet chinchilla is between fifty and eight degrees Fahrenheit. Low humidity is also crucial to your chinchilla’s overall wellbeing.

The best place for a chinchilla cage is somewhere central to your house so your chin doesn’t feel isolated, but out of the way of high-trafficked areas or places where a larger pet like a cat or dog can pester it.

How far apart should the bars of a chinchilla cage be?

It is very important that your chinchilla’s cage has the right amount of space between the bars for your pet chinchilla. If the space between the bars of your chinchilla’s cage is too wide, your chinchilla will be able to escape and get into trouble. Out of their cage unsupervised, your chin may get itself hurt or damage your property.

The best cages for chinchillas will have a bar spacing of no greater than one inch. Any bigger and you risk your chinchilla being able to escape. If your chinchilla’s head fits through the bars, he will be able to get his body through as well. Even at one inch, you will need to take steps to modify your cage for smaller, baby chinchillas as needed.

The best chinchilla cage is easy to clean

One of the biggest challenges of keeping any pet is cleaning up after them. With larger, domesticated animals like dogs and cats, you can housebreak them and provide training for when and where they should relieve themselves. With smaller pets like rodents, it requires slightly more work to keep clean.

A key factor in having an easy to clean chinchilla cage is getting one with a removable tray at the bottom. Being able to remove the tray will allow you to quickly and easily clean up messes without having to disassemble the entire cage. This will make the process less stressful for both you and your pet chinchilla.

Does my chinchilla cage need toys and accessories?

The short answer: absolutely! The main necessities for your chinchilla are obviously food dishes and water bottles. Along with these, you may consider additional accessories to keep your chinchilla entertained and happy.

Cages with multiple chinchillas should have hiding spots where your chinchillas can get some alone time, along with ramps and platforms to enable safe climbing and exercise.

One of the chinchilla’s most distinguishing habits is taking a dust bath. Read more about chinchilla dust baths here to find out why they do this and the best dust to provide a chinchilla for its bath.

Does my chinchilla need to be in a cage all the time?

A pet chinchilla needs a well-thought-out cage and habitat to make it feel at home. The majority of your chinchilla’s time will be spent in its cage, so it should be well equipped to keep your chin entertained but safe. Some keepers choose to let their chinchillas have time exercising and playing outside of their cage. In their natural environment in the mountains of South America, chinchillas have the freedom to run and jump around – sometimes as high as six feet! Giving your chin the opportunity his distant relatives have is considered by some to be key to your pet chinchillas happiness.

If you give your chinchilla time to be out of its cage, here are some things to consider:

Safety first

If you let your chinchilla exercise outside of its cage, it should be on flooring where they can get traction and won’t slip. Carpet is always better than hardwood floors or a laminate of any kind. You will also want to make sure your chin can’t access any electrical outlets or wiring, as they are curious and love to chew on things.

Avoid confrontation

Many chinchilla keepers have more than one pet chinchilla. If you are letting them exercise outside of their cage, you will need to keep a close eye on them. Only chinchillas that live in a cage together should be allowed to exercise outside of their cage together. They can be territorial and may respond negatively if they are interacting with a strange chin they are not used to dealing with.

Get your chinchilla back into its cage safely

The easiest way to train your chinchilla to return to its cage after exercise time is to feed it upon immediately returning. They respond well to routines and should pick this up quickly. If your chin doesn’t want to return to its cage, there could be a variety of causes for this. Maybe they aren’t tired enough and need more exercise time. Or maybe their cage needs to be a more welcoming and interesting environment.

Ferret Nation: the best cage for your chinchilla

Don’t let the name fool you. Many chinchilla keepers recommend Ferret Nation as the best chinchilla cage you can buy. It has the ideal blend of safety and fun features that make it the best home you can find for your chinchilla.

The two-story Ferret Nation cage is a great choice for chinchillas

Ferret Nation chinchilla cage size and shelf spacing

The Ferret Nation cage comes in both a single level and two-level model. For chinchillas, we recommend the two-level model to give them plenty of space to run and play. Both cages have a floor space measuring in at 36 inches long by 25 inches wide, but the height of the two-level model extends over five feet at 62.5 inches.

With a cage height so high, you need to make sure there are shelves spaced throughout the enclosure to allow your chinchilla to rest and to avoid injury in the event of a fall. Each level of the Ferret Nation cage has a shelf halfway, connected above and below by ramps. The ramps are covered to keep your chinchilla’s feet from slipping while running up and down them.

The entire floor space for each story of the Ferret Nation cage comes covered by a plastic tray. This plastic tray is easily removable, allowing you to quickly and easily clean your chinchilla’s cage as needed.

Ferret Nation chinchilla cage bar spacing

As mentioned earlier, one of the most important features of your chinchilla’s cage is the bar spacing. The Ferret Nation cage has 1 inch between the bars, making it safe for most chinchillas. If you have any doubts, you could also check out the Critter Nation cage, which has only half of an inch between the bars.

Ferret Nation chinchilla cage bonus features

Along with the proper sizing and spacing discussed above, the Ferret Nation has a handful of bonus features that help set it apart as the best cage for your chinchilla.

This cage was designed with safety in mind, and as a pet owner that is always a top concern. With the tall height of the two-story Ferret Nation cage, it is important to avoid it tipping or being knocked around. The Ferret Nation cage has locking casters that allow you to easily move your chinchilla’s cage for cleaning or repositioning. Once locked, the casters will help keep your chinchilla’s cage in one place and safe from accidents.

The Ferret Nation cage is also designed to provide all the entertainment and stimulation your chinchilla needs. Located in the cage are multiple points of attachment for various accessories. From hammocks to tubes, the Ferret Nation will help you make your chinchilla cage a chinchilla home, decked out with everything your pet needs to be happy.

Choose the best cage for your chinchilla

Hopefully, the factors outlined in this guide can help you make a decision when choosing the best chinchilla cage you can find. If you have any questions about what is right for your individual pet, please consult your veterinarian.

At the end of the day, the most important thing is the health and happiness of your pet. Please contact us if you feel there is any information incorrect or missing from this guide to choosing the best chinchilla cage.

If you’re looking for more recommendations for your pet chinchilla, check out our Ultimate Chinchilla Supply List here. Our goal is to be a resource for keepers like you and help connect our readers with the best pet supplies out there.

Want to show off your chinchilla and its awesome home? Tag us using @petsupplygeek on Instagram, Twitter, or Facebook.

The Best Dust for a Chinchilla Dust Bath

Chinchilla dust baths are just one part of owning this pet. Looking for more chinchilla pet supplies? Check out our Ultimate Chinchilla Supply List here.

If there’s one thing you know about chinchillas, it’s probably that these cute little rodents are known for their chinchilla dust baths. If you’re thinking about getting a pet rodent, you will definitely want to know what you are getting into when you choose the right pet for your family.

Today we’re going to take a minute and understand a little bit about chinchillas, and why your chinchilla takes dust baths. Since this is such an important part of your pet chinchilla’s life, you’ll want to make sure and buy Blue Cloud chinchilla dust, widely considered the best dust for chinchilla dust baths.

What are chinchillas?

Chinchillas are a type of small rodent native to South America. There are two different species of chinchilla: the long-tailed chinchilla, and the short-tailed chinchilla. In the wild, they are found in dry, rocky areas.

Chinchillas are crepuscular critters. This means that rather being mainly active during the day or night, they are most active during dawn and dusk. They have become increasingly rare in the wild as illegal hunting has pushed them toward extinction.

Caring for a pet chinchilla

As pets, chinchillas have very specific needs and should only be owned by people with the experience and time to properly care for them. There are several specific traits about them that create this difficulty.

Chinchillas don’t sweat, making it very important that you keep them in a range between 60 and 70 degrees Fahrenheit. Chinchillas regulate their temperature through their ears. A sign that your chinchilla is too hot is warm, red ears. Always consult a veterinarian with any concerns about your chinchilla’s temperature.

Chinchillas teeth never stop growing. This is a trait shared with many other rodent pets, like rabbits. If you get a chinchilla you will need to make sure you understand how to properly trim their teeth and provide ways for the chinchilla to naturally grind them down on toys or other accessories.

Again, if you have any questions or doubts about caring for your chinchilla, always consult your veterinarian.

The chinchilla dust bath

One of the most well-known traits of the chinchilla is their need to take dust baths. Chinchillas take dust baths because of their incredibly dense fur.

The only mammal with fur more dense than a chinchilla is the sea otter, clocking in 165,000 hairs per square centimeter. This density keeps the sea otter completely dry at skin-level. For comparison, chinchillas have 20,000 hairs per square centimeter.

Why do chinchillas take dust baths?

Chinchillas take dust baths to properly clean their dense coat of fur. The chinchilla dust bath removes dirt and oils from the chinchilla’s fur, which sheds throughout the year. The thick fur coat helps protect the chinchilla from fleas and other dangers.

The chinchilla fur coat does not come without consequences though. If a chinchilla gets wet, it can be next to impossible for the fur to dry. This can cause fungal growths and infections, making it very important for pet chinchilla owners to provide adequate time and supplies for their chinchilla to take a dust bath.

How do chinchillas take dust baths?

Chinchilla’s bathe themselves by rolling around in a fine dust mixture derived from volcanic ash. As a pet, chinchillas need a container that can hold enough dust to be about 2 inches deep. The process takes about 10-15 minutes and once you provide the container of dust there’s little for you to do but set back and let your little pet go to town.

After your chinchilla is done bathing you can remove the container of dust from their enclosure. The dust mixture should be changed at least once a week – especially when looking clumpy or dirty.

How often do chinchillas take dust baths?

Chinchillas should be given the opportunity to bathe themselves two to three times per week. If a chinchilla bathes too much, their skin can get dry and irritated. Some owners have no problems letting their chinchilla take a dust bath daily. The most important thing is paying attention to the health of your specific chinchilla and making sure their skin does not get dry and irritated.

In more humid weather, chinchillas may need to bathe more often to keep their coats dry and free of fungus.

A chinchilla dust bath is best with Blue Cloud dust

Oxbow’s Poof! Chinchilla Dust Bath is made from 100% Blue Cloud dust and can be bought here.

The best dust to use for a chinchilla bath is derived from pumice. Pumice is a light, porous rock that is formed from rapidly cooled volcanic lava. Dust forms from this type of rock in chinchillas’ natural habitats in South America and can be purchased to use for your pet chinchilla’s dust baths.

The best dust to use for a chinchilla dust bath is Blue Cloud dust. Among chinchilla owners, this is considered the gold standard. Blue Cloud dust is mined by the Blue Cloud Mineral Company in Southern California for the sole purpose of providing material for chinchilla dust baths. Other very similar variations include Blue Sparkle and Blue Beauty.

The quality of the dust you use for your chinchilla’s dust baths is very important. You want to make sure that the dust your chinchilla is bathing in has no sand, glass, or other potential irritants mixed into it.

Many people see videos of chinchillas bathing themselves and assume that the mixture they are rolling around in is some sort of sand mixture. Sand is very dangerous to use for your chinchilla’s dust baths. If you let your chinchilla bathe in sand, their skin can end up irritated and infected.

Where can I buy Blue Cloud chinchilla dust?

Blue Cloud chinchilla dust can be bought in bulk from certain suppliers or wholesalers. However, it is also available from a variety of different brand names.

We recommend Oxbow’s Poof! Chinchilla Dust, made from 100% Blue Cloud dust. Oxbow’s Blue Cloud dust is available in a 2.5lb container on Amazon. A container of this size should last at least 2-4 months depending on your chinchilla’s bathing frequency and how often you change out their dust.

  Get Blue Cloud Chinchilla Dust Here

With Amazon Prime, you can even subscribe to automate your chinchilla dust bath shipments, making sure your chinchilla always has a fresh supply of dust available.

Try Amazon Prime 30-Day Free Trial

How to keep your chinchilla’s dust bath from making a mess

One of the downsides of having a chinchilla is the mess that their frequent dust baths can create. All the rolling around a shaking in such a fine mixture can cause the Blue Cloud dust to live up to its name and create a literal cloud in your house!

Get your chinchilla its own bath house here!

Often times people will use a spare container they have lying around the house, maybe a large bowl of some sort. One common solution to this problem is to use an enclosed cat litter box. However, there are specific chinchilla bathhouses made for this purpose that will take up less space than a litter box.

Pet supply company Kaytee makes a chinchilla dust bath house made specifically to address this problem. This chinchilla bath house is durable, doesn’t take up too much space, and keeps your chinchilla’s dust where it belongs, in the bath!

  Get a Chinchilla Dust Bath House Here

Making the best dust bath for your chinchilla

Hopefully, this has provided some insight into why it is important to provide your chinchilla with a great bathing environment. As always, make sure and adjust any recommendations based on what works the best for your specific pet, along with any advice from your veterinarian.

Do you have a pet chinchilla? We would love to see pictures or videos of them enjoying their dust baths! Tag us or post using @petsupplygeek on Twitter, Instagram, or Facebook.