A Chinchilla's Needs

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    There are many things a chinchilla needs to have to be comfortable in its new home. Here is a list of the things you will need before bringing a chinchilla home.
 
The Chin Supply Check list
Hay
 
Food
Your chinchilla should be fed a specially formulated chinchilla food. I recommend either Mazuritm, Traditionstm, or Oxbowtm. While all of these brands are usually not available in a single location, you should be able to find one of them nearby. Beware of some foods available in pet stores. Some of these are heavily laden with treats or other fillers, which are not good for a chinchilla in the long run. I feed my herd Mazuritm which is manufactured by Purinatm, because it is readily available in my area. (Checklist)
 
Hay
Chinchillas also need to have some kind of hay readily available. This should either be Timothy or Alfalfa depending on the pellet you feed. If you use an alfalfa based pellet you should use Timothy Hay. Hay can be fed loose or in compressed cubes. You should assure that the hay you feed is free of pesticides as these can seriously harm your chin. (Checklist)
 
Water/Water bottle
Your chinchilla will need water available at all times. Water should be changed daily or every other day at the most. When changing water, the bottle should be cleaned with a bottle brush or rag to ensure no algae is being allowed to build up in the bottle.
 
Chinchillas need to have a hanging water bottle. Almost any kind will due. I use both glass and plastic water bottles for my chins. A water dish or bowl is not appropriate for use with chins. (Checklist)
 
Dust
Chinchillas use dust baths to remove excess oil, dirt, and moisture from their coats. They should be offered a dust bath one to two times a week. If they are living an area where humidity is higher they may need a bath every other day.
 
There are many types of chinchilla dust available. The ones known to me are blue sparkle and blue cloud. Dust can be gotten at most pet stores where chins are available. (Checklist)
 
Dust House or Pan
You will need a place to put the dust for you chinchilla to use. You should be able to remove the dust from the cage whenever it is not in use. Usually a chin will dust immediately after the bath has been offered. After they are done bathing the bath should be removed.  The dust can be reused many times. However it should be changed if it because too full of droppings or foreign objects like bedding.
 
There are bath houses and pans available at many pets stores. Other alternatives include large shallow fish bowls or shoe box sized Rubbermaidtm (or similar brand) storage containers. I recommend these because after use the lid can placed on them and they are easy to store. (Checklist) 
 
Cage
When choosing your new chin's home, it is important to keep in mind that chins like to climb. The taller the cage and the more ledges there are to sit on, the happier your new pet will be. The base dimensions of most chinchillas cages are around 18"x24". While the height can be as much as 5'. The best kinds have a removable droppings pan that allows for easy cleaning. There are many cage companies that can be found on the internet. Since I received my cages from another breeder and I don't know where they came from I do not recommend one brand over the other. 
 
The other important thing to keep in mind when buying a chinchilla cage is the wire spacing. The maximum spacing for a chinchilla is 1"x2". If you ever intend on having baby chinchillas in the cage or you are adopting a smaller chin, the spacing should be 1" x 1/2". Anything bigger and you will be going on your very first chinchilla hunt. (Checklist)
 
Bedding
The bottom of your chinchilla's cage should be lined with some kind of absorbent bedding to absorb waste. There are many kinds of bedding that can be used for chins. Pine shavings, Care-Freshtm, and recycled paper pellets are some examples. By recycled paper, I mean paper pellets being sold specifically as animal bedding, not just yesterdays newspaper. Cedar shavings should never be used as chinchilla bedding. It is poisonous to them if it is ingested. For my chins, I use pine shavings that are purchased from my local farm supply store. This is the most cost effective for me.
 
A chinchilla's bedding should be changed once or twice a week depending on how many chins are in a cage. Used bedding can often be reused as compost or mulch.(Checklist)
 
Chews
Your chinchilla will need objects to chew on to keep its teeth healthy. Chews come in many forms from lava rocks to wooden sticks. Most chins go through chew sticks very quickly while the lava rocks last a little longer. Chews can be bought at most pet stores, just be sure that the chews are intended to be used with chins. You can also make your own chew blocks from untreated pine lumber that you may have lying around. If you make you're own chew blocks, do not use treated or water proofed lumber. (Checklist)
 
Treats
Treats should be fed to a chin very sparingly. They will eat every one you offer, but too many treats can ruin their diet and their health. Treats range from certain kinds of dried fruits, like papaya, to plain shredded wheat (not frosted). Most chins should not be fed more than one treat a day. Chinchillas under six months of age should not be given treats. They are hard for them to digest and can cause sickness, blockage and death.( Checklist)
 
Toys
There are many chin safe toys available. Wheels, hammocks, cuddle buddies, houses, and more. There are far to many for me to go through here. While these are not necessities of life, all chins appreciate having things to do while they are running around their cage. (Checklist)