Pellets: Good brands include Mazuri, Oxbow, and Tradition. It should be a pellet only food, no added treats.
Roughly 2 Tb per chinchilla per day, (however if the bowl is empty fill it) in addition to unlimited hay.
Hay: Timothy is the best, but varity is good to keep up interest, as well as different hays wear down teeth differently. All grass hays are good, but if you are already feeding an alfalfa based pellet food alfalfa hay should be limited.
Treats: Oats (not quick or instant oats), Rosehips, Rose Petals, Rose Buds, Shreddies, Cheerios
One treat per day maximum, a couple times a week is better.
No fruits (fresh or dried)
No Veggetables (fresh or dried)
No animal parts (leather, eggs, bone, hoof, antler)
Filtered water is best, tap water can contain giardia and other contaminates, the safe levels for humans is NOT the same for chins. Use either a water filter that filters micro cysts and particles out or buy bottled water that is reverse osmosis filtered. Boiling tap water before giving it to the chin also works to kill the giardia cysts. Giardia primarily causes diarrhea, and it is hard to treat, requiring vet trips and medicine, or your chin will die. Youll also need to do full cage sanitization cleaning during and after treatment.
Minimum cage size for 1-2 chinchillas is 2'x2'x2', larger and taller is always better. The cage should not contain exposed plastic shelves, although non toxic it can cause an intestinal blockage if swallowed. Plastic shelving should be covered in fleece fabric or replaced with wood or metal. For cages with plastic pans such as the Ferret Nation, Critter Nation, or Feisty Ferret cages the easiest way to cover the pans is by making or buying pillow case style fleece covers that you just slide the pan inside of. Wooden ledges and perches are prefered, they give the chinchilla more hoping options as well as something safe to chew on.
*** Fleece (anti-pill, blizzard, artic, polar) is the only chinchilla safe fabric, it doesn't unravel like other fabric so chinchillas are less likely to chew it and if they do you are able to notice before they have eaten too much, small amounts can be passed. If you do have a chinchilla that chews fleece though it must be removed and another option used, it's not digestable and will cause a blockage if enough is swallowed.***
A mentioned fleece works so long as the chinchilla doesn't chew it.
Wood shavings, pine or aspen. Cedar should NOT be use as it is posionous.
Other bedding to avoid would be carefresh, if you chinchilla has access to the bedding since some chinchillas eat it and it expands when wet and could cause an intestanal blockage.
A wood house to hide and sleep in, either the standard huts or the bendable wooden bridge type. Fleece hanging houses are popular with some chinchillas.
A hammock made of fleece, the type made completely of fleece including the straps or one with metal hooks.
Tubes are another popular hiding place for chins, either fleece covered or not, 4" or larger water grade pvc pipe, metal pipe, clay pipe, or cardboard tube.
The minumum size wheel for a chinchilla is 14" diameter if the chin is small, 15" if larger. Chinchillas spines don't bend backwards like most rodents, they arch, meaning when in a wheel too small for them they are bending the wrong way which will lead to back injuries. Also as stated before no plastic wheels, aside from everyone I've seen being too small, the chinchilla could chew on it, ingesting plasic, and also most are plastic on plastic causing plastic dust which the chinchilla is inhaling. Not all metal wheels are safe either, the ones with spokes and bars can and have caused broken legs, feet, tails, and necks. There are currently no chinchilla safe wheels sold at big box pet stores. Safe wheels can be bought online, and include
the metal flying saucer (standard or large size)
the chin spin (15")
and the silver surfer
Although chinchillas enjoy wheels they aren't needed, so no wheel is better then an unsafe one.
Chinchillas under 6 months should not be given wheels (or out of cage playtime), their energy is needed for growing and wheels can cause weight loss, even in adult chinchillas that dont know when to quit.
Those large plastic run around balls sold in pet stores are extremely dangerous to chinchillas. They do not allow proper ventilation causing the chinchilla to over heat in a matter of minutes. Also they are unsanitary, chinchillas poop almost all the time and end up running around being pelted with their own poop, and if they have peed, getting coated in it.
Food and Water:
Ceramic bowls, heavy enough to not be tipped, or coop cups that attach to the cage work best. Free feeders are convenient but allow for large amounts of waste, contaminated food, and you are unable to measure food intake easily.
Glass water bottles are best, chinchillas chew through plastic bottles, change the water frequently to keep it fresh and free of mold and fungus.
Chinchillas require dust baths, not water baths. Glass fish bowls, large bowls, cookie jars, and plastic dust houses all work well. In this case plastic is fine to use since the bath should never be left in the cage for very long or unsupervised.
General Care and Facts:
- Chinchillas should be bathed in a dust bath, using fine chinchilla dust not bath sands (they can damage their coat) and not water. Depending on climate and time of year offer them a bath 1-3 times a week. If the coat looks greasy offer more, if the skin (on ears and feet) looks dry and/or cracking offer fewer bathes.
- Fewer baths are better then too many, greasy fur will not kill a chinchilla, where as an infection that gets in from cracked dry skin can.
- Dry skin can be treated using Bag Balm or pure vitamin E oil.
- Chinchillas live 15-20+ years
- Chinchillas are native to a low temp and low humidity environment, and require similar in captivity. Temps below 75F and humidity below 50%, ideally below 40%, in most areas of the world air conditioning is the only way of maintaining these conditions year round. They can survive very low temps, below freezing, so long as their water doesnt freeze.
- When getting a new chinchilla its best to isolate the new chinchilla in a different part of the house for 30 days. This not only allows the chinchilla to settle in to its new home but also gives enough time for any possible illness to show up before you allow contact with existing chinchillas.
- Most chinchillas are not cuddly, and most do not even like being held.
- It can take days to years to fully bond with a chinchilla, it all comes down to personality. -The best ways to bond include, sitting by the cage talking, reading aloud, singing, and just being there quietly watching. Treats can also be useful during the bonding precess, just keep the one treat a day rule in mind, sticks can be used unlimitedly for more frequent treat giving.
- Chinchillas vary in size from 400-1,000+ grams.
- The best way to weigh a chinchilla is with a scale that measures grams (most kitchen scales do). Also weigh the chinchilla at the same time each time since weight can vary due to when the chinchilla has last eaten, drank, pooped, or peed. Many times the first sign of illness is weight loss, before they even show other symptoms of being sick.
- Make sure the wood given is safe and properly prepared (cleaned, boiled and baked dry) before giving it to a chinchilla.
Pine (Kiln Dried)
Pine cones that have been opened, free of seeds, washed, baked, and dried.
Spruce (kiln dried)
Fir (kiln dried)
Not Safe Wood:
Woods thats produce fruits with pits(example: cherry, plum, etc.)
All Citrus woods
Fresh Cut Pine or Pine cones
Chinese Snake Tree