Gold Heart Chinchillas
This is the just a few things you need to know about chinchillas before you bring the little guy or girl home.
This information comes in the Chinchilla Care Booklet by The Chinchilla Club. The full 17 page booklet is given with every purchase of my chinchillas
Chinchillas need to be housed in a wire cage with openings no larger than 1 inch x 2
inches. If you are getting a young chinchilla or are planning to have babies in the future
the openings should be 1/2" x1". They love to chew and will escape from a cage made
with a plastic bottom. Aquariums do not have enough ventilation and a chinchilla will
overheat in one. If you use a wire floor cage be sure the wire opening are no larger than
½”x ½”. You should add a wooden box or shelf to the cage so that the chinchilla won't
have to stand on wire all the time. Cages with solid bottoms are a good choice.
Chinchillas tend to make a bigger mess using this type of cage because they can push
shavings out at night while they are playing, but I like this type better. There is no chance
of foot injury from slipping through the wire floor and the shavings are warmer and
eliminate drafts. This type cage is especially good for breeding since babies can die
quickly from a chill when they are first born.
Make sure that the cage you choose will give your chinchilla plenty of room to move
around. Chinchillas need to be able to climb, run around, and play. They have a lot of
energy, and need exercise. If your cage is too small and your chinchilla can't run around
outside the cage regularly he will become very unhappy. We recommend 24"x24" as a
good starting size with enough height to include a shelf or two. However with chinchillas,
bigger is always better!
Make sure there are no toxic paints or plastics on or near your cage. A chinchilla will
chew on anything! If you only have one chinchilla, you should only have to change the
shavings once a week. (Remember NO Cedar shaving!! Cedar will kill a chinchilla.)
Most chinchillas will find one spot in their cage to urinate. Once you discover where it is,
you can clean that area more often if you like. Remember a chinchilla is a rodent so it
will leave droppings everywhere. You can not train a chinchilla not to leave droppings
wherever it goes. You should remove your chin every few months and disinfect the cage.
Important points to keep in mind :
· No Cardboard with lots of ink
· No Cedar Shavings!!
· No wire spacing big enough that the chinchilla's feet can slip through.
Your chinchilla will need a food tray for his pellets. The best choice would be one that
hangs on the side of the cage. If you choose to use a dish instead your chinchilla will use
it for a bathroom. The food will also be spilled frequently. A hay manger is also a good
idea to keep the hay off the of the cage floor.
Glass bottles are best since chinchillas will chew a hole threw plastic ones. If you do use
a plastic bottle you can protect it by wrapping it with small mesh wire. We have also
found that cutting the bottom and a small portion of the top off of a 1 litter soda bottle
will allow you to slip it around the real water bottle to keep your chinchilla from chewing
it. Water bottles should be washed with soap and water every time you refill them to
avoid bacteria problems. Be sure to rinse the bottle out thoroughly.
Chinchillas have teeth that are constantly growing, so they need to have things to chew
on. Untreated pine wood, pumice stones, and apple tree branches can be used as chew
toys. Another thing chinchillas love is a hiding place. This can be a pine box, a large
piece of PVC, or a large coffee can flattened on one side so it won't roll. You must be
sure that nothing is made of cedar. Shelves and solid chinchilla wheels can be added to
give your new pet things to play on. If you have a wire shelf in the cage, make sure the
grating is 1/2" x 1/2" or smaller so that feet can't slip through. I prefer wooden shelves
made of untreated pine because they can be used as a chew toy as well, however you will
have to change them from time to time.
Chinchilla wheels attached to the side of the cage with one side completely open are the
safest. If you are not able to purchase this type of wheel you may choose to use the
common metal wheels found in most pet and super stores. This type of wheel has cross
bars on each side of the wheel as well as a stand that attaches to the center. When the
wheel is spinning these two bars cross one another causing a scissor effect. This is very
dangerous for a chinchilla jumping in and out of the wheel. I suggest hanging the wheel
from the Top of the cage so that the scissor effect will be at the top of the wheel and the
bottom of the wheel (where the chin will be entering and exiting) will be clear.
Once you have chosen a cage you need to find the best place to put it. You need to find a
spot that will not have a draft in the winter and will stay cool during the summer. Keep
the cage out of direct sunlight. Because of their thick fur, chinchillas can get overheated
very easily, which can be deadly! Make sure there are no electrical wires near the cage.
You may also want to keep the cage away from drapes. It is surprising how far out of the
cage a chinchilla can reach, and if he can reach it he will probably chew it. Lead paint
will kill a chinchilla. If you have lead based paint in your home, keep your chin far away
Room temperature and Heat
The humidity in a room plays a huge part in what temperatures a chinchilla will be the
most comfortable. Areas with higher humidity will need to keep the chinchilla room
cooler then areas of low humidity. A good rule of thumb is to add the humidity and the
temperature together. The sum of these two number should never be greater that 150. If
you don’t know the humidity in your area its best to keep the room below 70 degrees
During the warmer months there are a few things you can do to help your chinchilla stay
cool. First, move the cage to the coolest room in the house. If you are able to place a few
tin/metal baking pans in the freezer to make them cold you can then alternate these in the
cage for your chinchilla to lie on. A small bowl of ice can also be placed in the cage for
the chinchilla to cuddle up by. Just be sure the bowl isn't deep enough for babies to fall
in. Don't blow a fan directly at the cage. It won't do much for cooling your chinchilla off
since he doesn’t sweat like humans. Also, the fan could frighten your chinchilla causing
him to begin fur biting. (Chinchillas cool down using the blood flow to their big ears. The
outside air cools the blood before it is returned to the rest of the body. You can tell a
chinchilla is hot when its ears begin to turn more pinkish red and the veins are more
evident. This is easier to see on pink eared chinchillas.)
Bathing & Grooming
Chinchillas have very dense fur with a lot of lanolin. They require a special dust bath a
few times a week. Use a dish that is large enough for your chinchilla to roll in. Pour about
an inch of dust in the dish and place it inside the cage. Your chinchilla will jump in and
have a wonderful time. Only leave the dust in the cage for about 15 minutes. Always use
chinchilla dust. Never put your chin in real sand. The dust can be reused for about a week
or until it begins to look clumpy. Scoop out all of the pellets before you store it away for
the next use. If your chinchilla urinates in the dust you can not reuse it. If you are
breeding your chinchillas, wait 10 days after a birth to give mother and babies a bath.
When mom gets hers let the babies bathe too. If you have more than one cage of
chinchillas, each should have their own container. Using the same dust for multiple cages
is a good way to pass on a sickness. Do not wash a chinchilla with water. If you do
happen to get your chin wet roll him up in a towel immediately and keep him warm.
A chinchilla's main diet is made up of Chinchilla pellets. We recommend Mazuri 5M01
Chinchilla Food. Calf Manna is a great source of Calcium for your chinchilla. We suggest
4 parts Mazuri to 1 part Calf Manna. You can find both products at
www.lonestarchinchilla.com. Another good choice for chinchilla pellets is Manna Pro
Classic Show Rabbit Pellets. This has almost the same make up as the Mazuri. Most feed
stores can order this for you. Your local Wal-Mart store may be able to order it as well.
Stay away from the food that contains fruit. Do not give your chinchilla gerbil or other
rodent food as a main diet. Find one kind of pellet and stick to it. Chinchillas have very
delicate digestive systems so changing their diet too drastically can cause sickness and
even death. We keep our chinchilla feed dishes full. There is no need to measure their
feed since they will only eat when they get hungry. However, if you have a chinchilla that
becomes fat or has soft, sticky pellets you will need to cut back on the feed. On average 1
lb. of pellets should last about 20 days when feeding a single chinchilla.
Give your chinchilla unlimited access to timothy or alfalfa hay. We recommend a mixture
of the two since each has different nutritional values. Both can be bought in almost any
pet store either as loose hay in a bag or as pressed cubes of hay. Either one is fine
however some chinchillas won't eat the cubes. This is given ALONG with the pellets.
Chinchillas love to get treats; however, you can only give a small amount a day. An adult
chin may have 1-2 raisins a day, or a small wedge of apple. If your chinchilla becomes fat
or develops diarrhea (soft, sticky pellets) you need to cut back on the treats. For diarrhea
you may need to stop treats all together for awhile.
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