Chinchilla: Good housing is essential
If you decide to buy a chinchilla as a pet, you must provide good housing. Because this animal is mainly active in the evening and at night, it is better not to keep it in the bedroom. Chinchillas are also sensitive to drafts and moisture. His cage must meet certain requirements, such as the bars of the cage may not be covered with plastic, there must be sufficient boards in the cage and the cage must be safe. Make sure they cannot escape and that they can take their daily sand bath.
A chinchilla is sensitive to moisture, drafts, temperature and stress. When they are in danger, they can contract pneumonia. The cage should be open as much as possible, by means of mesh or bars. The bars should not contain plastic as they will gnaw on this. It is also better not to place plastic objects in the cage because of the gnawing. You can place walls in some places in the cage to prevent material from falling outside the cage. A shielded wall can also give the chinchilla a little more rest. There are special cages for chinchillas, but you can also use an aviary or make your own. For the size applies: the bigger the better. Usually you keep a chinchilla with at least two, then the minimum size is 1.20 meters high, wide and deep.
Types of cages
A beginner will often choose a wire cage as they are easy to obtain. Then choose a spacious cage, without plastic and with large doors. A big disadvantage of a wire cage is that there is always rubbish next to the cage. You can prevent this by shielding the bottom. When you build a cage yourself, you can choose aluminum, MDF, plexiglass or furniture panels. For example, you can use an existing cabinet or display cabinet as a basis. Chinchillas will gnaw on the wooden boards, you will have to replace them every now and then. Some sellers claim that chinchillas cannot gnaw through hard plastic, but don’t underestimate the strength of a chinchilla, they will gnaw through it.
A mesh bottom is sometimes chosen because it is hygienic and maintenance-friendly, but it is unsuitable for the chinchilla because it can injure itself. If you still want a mesh bottom, make sure there are enough gnawing stones and houses and the like on the bottom, so that it does not have to walk over the mesh all the time. It is important that there are enough seating boards. For this you can use spruce wood where you trim the edges with aluminum strips to gnaw. A chinchilla should be protected from a fall from a great height, especially when it comes to baby chinchillas as they don’t always know how to get down safely. You can place a thick tree branch in the cage, such as a willow, hazel or apple tree.
Location of the cage
Chinchillas are mainly active in the evening and at night, so it is better not to keep the cage in your bedroom. Choose a quiet place for the cage, where they won’t be too disturbed during the day. When no one is home during the day, the living room is a suitable place. When there is too much activity during the day due to children or barking dogs, you better find another place. Do not place the cage in a place where there is a draft or direct sunlight. Chinchillas don’t like to be approached from above, which is why they like being able to sit high up in a cage. Often they will also go to sleep high, because then they feel safe. Because chinchillas don’t tolerate our humid climate so well, you shouldn’t keep them outside.
Place a house, such as terracotta or wood, in the cage so that he can retreat to feel safe. A house is not a must, but it does have a shelter. Make sure the house is secured if it is not at the bottom, otherwise it could fall down. Because you always have to be able to reach the chinchilla, it is better to have a house without a bottom or where the roof can be removed. They usually sleep on the top shelf in the cage against each other.
The sand bath
They do not like water and wash themselves daily with a sand bath. For this you need special chinchilla sand. Put this sand in a metal sand bath that does not tip easily. The sand removes dirt and grease from the coat and bathing is also a way to release stress. You can leave the bath in it for a while a day. Some choose to always leave it in the cage. Then droppings can enter. The chinchilla will not bathe in a dirty sand bath, so make sure it is clean.
A chinchilla cannot tolerate a moist environment very well. That is why you should choose a good ground cover such as wood fiber, beech chips or pressed wood fiber granules. Many types of bedding are available. They vary in absorption capacity, fragrance release, dustiness, comfort and price. In general, you should change the bedding weekly. If necessary, you can refresh a toilet corner more often. Do not use straw as bedding, as it can contain fungi and bacteria that are harmful to the chinchilla. You can use hay balls. You can put this in a rack or put it on the bottom for protection if the chinchilla falls down.
When you choose a plastic drinking bottle with a metal drinking spout, you have to place the bottle outside the cage otherwise it will be chewed. These bottles are available at any pet store. If you want to place a bottle in the cage, buy a glass drinking bottle with a metal spout. Change the water daily and keep the bottle clean.