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What You Need?

CAGE:  Some people buy their cages pre-made.  If this is your plan, make sure you know what you're getting.  Most pre-made cages have a pull out tray below a wire cage-bottom. Most people view this as a positive attribute. Ensure that the cage has a cage fence with spacing of 0.5 inch X 0.5 inch. This is to cater for the future when there are Chinchilla births. Baby Chinchillas are small and can easily escape from bigger opening cage fences. If it is, your chinchilla could get his/her leg hung and broken. Don't think it won't happen to you.  This is extremely common because of chinchilla activity levels.  To help avoid this do not buy a ferret cage.  Keep in mind size limits: 2' X 2' with overhead  "jumping room".

They are native to the Andes Mountains where they inhabit rocky ledges hence supply them climbing shelves and ramps in your cage. There are cages are available that have multiple levels, shelves and/or platforms which allow the chinchilla to climb are ideal.  For ease of cleaning, a pull out tray is a nice feature, and if possible there should be a tray for each level so dropping don't fall onto cage furnishings below. Galvanized wire makes the best cage material, as chinchillas will chew plastic readily.  To give the chinchilla a break from the wire floor, a wooden platform can be provided, which they will also appreciate for chewing.  Also, a house should be provided (e.g. out of wood).

FOOD:  A good diet is so important to chinchilla health. Before you buy food, you will need something to put it in!  There are different types of food for the chinchillas. Always be sure that any food, timothy hay or alfalfa you use is fresh, free of mold, mildew and toxic weeds.

In Singapore's environment where air might be damp, good care must be taken to ensure that a mouldy condition doesn’t arise. You will want to keep the chinchilla on the same diet the breeder had them on for at least a couple of weeks. If you want to change the diet, the new diet must be introduced slowly. They are:

park_chin_alfalfa.jpg (8917 bytes)Hay Varieties--- Edible hay comes in all sorts of variety. Among all, the most common hay fodder being fed to chinchillas would be timothy and afalfa. Timothy hay generally gives the impression that it is more parched when compared to the other varieties. Since timothy is less damp than most hay, it is known to be less susceptible to mold if any. If we use loose Timothy hay, we offer it in the morning and evening . It is good for their digestion and keeps things moving. You can’t give a chinchilla too much fresh hay. For most owners, when diarrhea occurs, alfalfa feeding is reduced while an increment in timothy hay is imminent.

kaytee_timothy_hay.jpg (15286 bytes)

Alfalfa is also a common class of hay found in many pet stores. It is mostly found as leaves, straws or in the form of chewable cubes. When placed in the same tray as timothy hay, most chinchillas will sift and pick out the alfalfas since it is a better favourite.

When buying your chinchilla's hay there are a few things that you should be aware of. The very first thing to know is to never take hay from a local field just to save a few dollars, because it can end up costing you                                               more in vet bills.

There are three reasons not to:

Pellets: Pellets should be given as part of a chinchilla's daily diet. The proper pellets give chinchillas the nutrients they need for proper growth and development. Two teaspoons of pellets should be allocated to each chinchilla everyday and untouched pellets ought to be cleared daily. It is also reasonable to mix a bag of pellets with a teaspoon of vitamins to give chinchillas a healthier lifestyle as well as a good shiny fur.

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 discarded.

Treats: A fun way to own a chinchilla is to feed them treats every now and then. Chinchillas are notorious little beggars when it comes to raisins. It is always a soft and warm sight to see them waiting at the cage door with their paws up, eagerly anticipating a nice little treat from the owner.

                                 Eight in One Ultra Blend Chinchilla TreatEight in One Ultra Blend Chinchilla Treat

Treats have always been given to chinchillas as controlled food. It is unwise to give huge amount of goodies to them on a daily basis because it is inadequate for their digestive system. For example, Pregnant/lactating females, we usually supplement their diet with a small amount of calf’s manna and sometimes an 1/8 tsp. yogurt as a treat. Our chinchillas tend to favor the strawberry, banana or mixed berry yogurt flavors, and usually make a terrible face the first time we offer it. For example, an adult chinchilla should be able to eat one small sized raisin without coming up with complications such as diarrhea.

You will only want to give your chinchilla one very small treat a day. Some acceptable treats are apple, carrot, dried cranberry, sunflower seeds, and raisins. I think that your chinchilla should receive one raisin per night to prevent constipation. You can mix 1 or 2-shelled sunflower seeds with their pellets. If you want to give your chinchilla a dried cranberry, it is ok to give them 1 cranberry. However, if you want to give your chinchilla a very small piece of apple or carrot, I would recommend not giving the raisin that night. Some people feed their chinchillas different types of nuts, but I advise not to, because they are very high in fat.

You can make your own supplement. Ingredients can be found at a local health food store, or feed store. The following recipes is taken from Laurie Soehn.

Recipe #1

Recipe #2

Recipe #3

Recipe #4


DO NOT give baby chinchillas treats until after they are 4 months old. And even then, do it gradually. Their digestive systems are not developed well enough and the treats can cause diarrhea. A baby chinchilla with diarrhea is not fun for the baby, the mom, its siblings or for you to clean up. Expectant mothers should have hay available at all times. You can either feed a couple raisins to help alleviate constipation, or part of a plain shredded wheat biscuit to help alleviate diarrhea.


WATER BOTTLE: A rabbit water bottle is generally a good buy: inexpensive, easy cleaning. If you are able to get a glass water bottle Definitely buy it! (Remember the teeth.)  Try to find a bottle that hangs from the cage in a metal hanger.  If you have to get a plastic bottle, and it is not protected by a metal hanger, the chin will eat through it quickly.

FOOD BOWLS: Chinchillas love to sit as high as they can be.  If that means sitting on top of a food bowl 1 inch off the ground, then they'll do it.  The yucky result is chinchilla poo and pee in the food.  One recommendation I've heard is to buy one of those ceramic frog pot & pan scrubber holders.  They can't eat it, can't sit on it easily, and they can't stick their rear ends in it. It should be a heavy ceramic bowl to reduce tipping, and it must be cleaned daily. For feeders, hopper style feeders that attach to the outside of the cage are nice because they can't be tipped and the chinchilla won't be able to urinate in their food.

  feeding bowl

Chinchillas will eat about one or two tablespoons of chinchilla pellets per day.  Don't feed them rabbit food; there's still a debate about this.   As for treats they can have one or two per day, consisting of:  raisins, Cheerioes, dried cranberries, Corn Flakes, or dry oatmeal.  Don't let them talk you into giving them more! You'll need some timothy or alfalfa hay!.

TOYS: Toys can be provided too - blocks of wood and tree branches (only wood that has not been exposed to pesticides) will be appreciated.  Some of the wooden parrot toys make good toys as well.  It is important to provide toys that will stand up well to chewing and that do not have small or plastic parts that could be ingested.  In addition, a "chinchilla block" or pumice block can be provided for chewing and this will aid in keeping the teeth trim.

Wheels can provide excellent exercise, although you may find that unless the chinchilla is introduced to the idea at a fairly young age it may not take to running on a wheel.  A 15 inch wheel is preferable, and one that attached to the cage via a system of ball bearings on the side with the other side completely open makes it a little safer for the chinchilla (as does one with a flat running surface instead of open wires).  It is also possible to get translucent plastic balls in which the chinchilla can "roll" around the house by running - keeping the chinchilla and the furnishings safe.  I actually do a special report on exercise wheels so please click on the picture below it which is showing a chinchilla coming out of the running wheel. Again, getting a chinchilla used to this at an early age will make them most comfortable with this.

You might want to buy a running wheel for your chinchilla to work off some of that energy. Recommended is a wheel at least 12" in diameter with a flat/solid running surface.  Sources: ChinsToGo and Valley View Chinchilla Ranch, Jim & LurLee Adams, 752 Busch Dr., Vista, CA 92083, 619-726-6356.

Chinchillas must chew!  If they are not allowed to chew their teeth will over grow and it can kill them. Get some non-treated pine 2X4s or dowels. Available at Wal-Mart, Lowe's. Home Depot, etc.

Bedding: Must use pine shavings as litter bedding. It has been identified by Pet industry people that pine shavings generally are better absorbers as litter bedding. Change litter bedding regularly (say once a week), to avoid build up of infectious bacteria. Magots can be found in the litter bedding if not changed for a long time. From my experience, pine shavings have better absorbent properties than other kinds of beddings. If need be add baking soda powder to the shavings as deoderizers of Chinchilla pee. Never use Ecualyptus, Red Cedar, Redwood, and Plywoods, as litter absorbers due to their toxic nature to Chinchillas.

If you have a paper shredder you can shred your newspaper and use that as your bedding or you can even just line the droppings tray or bottom of the cage with newspaper. This makes it very easy to clean, because you can just fold the mess into the newspaper and throw it away.

Dust Bathing: We offer our chinchillas a dust bath daily or every other day as time permits. They love to bathe and their coats look wonderful. We put 1/8 to ¼ cup of dust in a container and put it in the chinchilla’s cage and they watch as they frolic. It protects the chinchilla's coat by eliminating extra oils and moisture, leaving it healthy and clean. You can use many types of containers from Pyrex bakers to Tupperware. Our favorites are the chinchilla bath houses because they contains the dust well. A good dust is Kaytee, but only the type in the clear plastic bottle. We remove the dust bath after 3 or 4 minutes otherwise the chinchilla will soil the dust with droppings or urine.

Bathing is very important for maintaining a healthy chinchilla. They require a "dust bath" at least twice a week but would prefer one daily. Chinchilla dust, is actually volcanic ash can be purchased at most pet stores. Since they will roll on their sides vigorously covering themselves, we use a plastic pet container on its side with the small opening to keep most of the dust on the inside instead of everywhere else in the room.

Bath House:
You can purchase the dust for your chinchilla at a pet store. I believe they sell specific dust bath containers, but a number of things will work well and be cheaper to purchase. We do not recommend putting the bath container in their cage, because the chinchilla will urinate and defecate in it, making it un-usable. We actually recommend purchasing a cat litter box with the attached hood. These work great; just put your chinchillas in there and they can roll around all they want without hurting themselves or making a huge mess. These boxes are very easy to clean and sterilize, if the need ever arose.

This picture is designed for the interesting and unique sand bathing behavior of pet chinchillas.  It will fit any pet chinchilla cage.  It neatly contains excess dust and sand and doesn't allow it to spill out on to the cage floor.  Promotes clean and healthy fur naturally.  Just add a packet of the Chinchilla Bath Sand and watch your pet toss and turn while performing the most entertaining bathing behavior right before your eyes.  A daily bath is vital for your pet and now easy for you with this bath house.  It can be tucked into any corner, at any level on a cage, or attached to the outside of Super Pet cages. 


Sleeping House:  A chinchilla should always be provided with a sleeping box. Chinchilla prefer to sleep on the highest level of their cage. This box gives the chinchilla a safe haven, especially during the day while they sleep. You can either purchase these, or build one yourself. If you are going to purchase one or build one out of wood, the safest wood to use is untreated pine. Do not use cedar, redwood, or plum; these are toxic to chinchillas.


Your chinchilla will chew a wooden sleep house up, so you will eventually need to replace it. You can find a sleeping box made out of very hard plastic that can be used for a wide variety of small animals, including chinchillas.


Most important is the sleeping house or hideout place for our Chin. It should be closed and have a entrance in front. You can have the house somewhere mounted towards the top of the cage, most of our Chins seem to like high spots for sleeping.


Chew Block: Chinchillas' teeth grow continuously, so it is quite important to give them something hard to chew, so they can keep them down to a good size. Some people take their chinchillas to a vet so the vet can dredge them down, but this is totally unnecessary since you can easily provide them with a chew block. You can use the chew sticks that pet stores carry for hamsters or you can use a branch from an apple, pear, or mulberry tree.


You can also use a block of unfinished pinewood. Do not use branches from a cherry, plum, or citrus tree; they are toxic to chinchillas. You also need to make sure that the trees you get your branches from have not been sprayed with pesticides of any kind. You can also use branches from a pine tree as long as they have dried out and contain no pine tar. Another wood that you can use safely is manzanita wood


Medicine and Vitamins: Vitamins are good supplements for chinchillas. Most of the vitamins drops require you to drip 3 drop per ounce of water. I would advise not to apply the vitamins to the hay, as you would be able to know whether the hay is wet with vitamins or pees. You can purchase Supra-Cell or Sun Seed (Sun Drops Vitamins) at all Pet Kingdom stores. There are two types of Supra-Cell. They are N700 (For very wet and squished poo) and N500 (For abnormally moist poo).