Chinchilla Cage Accessories
Even with daily playtime, your chinchilla will still most likely spend the majority of their time in their cage. Therefore it's important to ensure your cage has the correct set up to provide both a sense of security, as well as mental stimulation.
Listed below are the required items and then the optional items you might like to include in your chinchilla’s cage, along with links to where you can buy these from.
Please remember plastic is not safe for chinchillas
and their cage must be totally free from it
This article is aimed at adult chinchillas, for pregnant and baby chinchillas (kits) please click here.
1. Safe Bedding
The safe bedding for chinchillas are aspen, kiln dried wood shavings (safe wood only!) and non pill fleece. These all help to absorb the chinchilla's urine, preventing them from sitting in it afterwards and helping keeping them clean. When using wood shavings, otherwise known as sawdust in the UK, please ensure the wood they’re made from is kiln dried and from the safe list. If the manufacturer using generic terms such as softwood, ask exactly what types of wood they’re made from. For example Snowflake’s wood shavings actually contain cedar which is toxic to chinchillas!
Carefresh is not safe! Please do not use carefresh bedding for your chinchillas - when eaten it can swell and cause fatal intestinal blockages. This is also the same for any paper or card based bedding, along with cat litter.
More about Non Pill Fleece
If you haven't heard of fleece bedding before, this is something that has become increasingly popular with pet owners over recent years. The fleece should be non pill (also known as anti pill, polar or blizzard fleece) and can be used to cover the cage floor in replacement of traditional bedding such as aspen or kiln dried pine shavings, and to cover up any plastic shelves.
You can either buy pieces of fleece and cut it to the size you need, or you can buy pre-made fleece cage liners if you find that easier.
If you are making your own fleece cage liners, it's best to prepare it with the simple instructions below before putting it in your chinchilla's cage. This is so the fleece absorbs your chinchilla's urine, rather than remaining in a pool on top of the fabric for your chinchilla to sit in.
- Wash the fleece on a hot cycle with detergent but no fabric conditioner
- Allow to dry
- Repeat steps 1 and 2 approximate 3-5 times
- Test if your fleece is ready by pouring liquid onto it, if this goes through to the surface beneath your fleece is ready. If it still pools on top then repeat the above until the fleece absorbs this.
Chinchillas need to be able to chew constantly to wear down their ever growing teeth and help them keep healthy. Therefore their cage should include lots of safe chews for them to gnaw on.
Lava ledges are popular for this and can be bought from most pet shops. Sticks and other chews made from safe woods are also great for chinchillas.
3. House or enclosed place to hideout
Being prey animals chinchillas need an enclosed place, such as a house within their cage, where they can hide and feel safe. You can buy or make wooden houses yourself as long as they're made from safe wood.
Hide out cubes and hammocks are also suitable as long as they're made from non pill fleece. This is absolutely vital, unfortunately there have been many cases of distraught owners finding their chinchillas dead, hanging from the threads of hammocks and hide outs that are made from fabric that isn't non pill fleece.
Houses made from seagrass are also safe, but you will probably find they will be eaten quickly when left in the cage!
4. Multiple Levels
Chinchillas like to jump, so need multiple levels in their cage. Shelving can be solid metal or made from safe wood.
Any plastic shelves must be completely covered in non pill fleece.
Please ensure there are not any large drops between levels (no more than 40cm/16inches) as chinchillas can easily fall and seriously injure themselves otherwise.
5. Food Bowl(s)
Ceramic or metal food bowls are generally the best option as plastic is not suitable. You may like to buy one bowl for your chinchilla's pellets and one bowl for their hay. Please don't use wire hay balls or racks. Chinchillas can easily get their limbs or head caught in these, resulting in broken limbs and amputation being required, or even accidentally hanging themselves.
6. Water bottle(s)
Glass water bottles are the best. Plastic water bottles should only be used with very small cage bar spacing when you are certain your chinchilla will not be able to chew these. It's always best to buy 2 water bottles in case one breaks.
Where to buy chinchilla water bottles
Where to buy chinchilla water bottles
A safe wheel is a great way for chinchillas to have some exercise in their cage and use up some of that endless energy! Unfortunately wheels sold in most pet shops are not safe, they are too small, usually made from plastic or wire mesh and some even have a spoke that chinchillas can easily catch their tails on.
There are 2 types of safe wheels for chinchillas - a traditional running wheel or a flat disc, commonly known as the flying saucer wheel. Traditional running wheels (pictured left) must be at least 14" wide however 16" is best, with a running diameter of at least 5". They must be made from metal not plastic and not have a spoke.
The flying saucer wheel (pictured right) should have a diameter of at least 13 3/4" and again be made from safe metal or wood not plastic. These types of wheel have the advantage that the spine assumes a more natural position in use, however some chinchillas may take longer to understand how to use this type of wheel.
Vector Graphics with thanks to Freepik