Chinchillas are really fun animals to have around, especially since they have such high intelligence level to be able to connect with their owners emotionally.
This is why we as chinchilla owners are obliged to give them the best home, but cage setup is an aspect which most novice keepers tend to neglect, often favoring the cheapest of most budget-friendly option. While that’s okay sometimes, most of the time, it’s not, and we’ll tell you why!
In today’s article we’ll be taking you through the do’s and don’ts of setting up a home for your chinchilla, what to look out for, and what to avoid. Let’s dive in!
Tip #1: Get a vertical multilevel cage
Did you know that chinchillas can jump up to 6 feet? This is important to know because height is more important than width when it comes to selecting a chinchilla cage.
You’ll realize after keeping them for a while that chinchillas tend to jump around all over their cages when they get excited. Therefore, providing them with large chinchilla cages is one of the most important factors you need to consider.
Yes while some cages might be cheap and seem feasible, always do your research first before you buy anything. Take note that vertical cage are only suitable for adult chinchillas; If you have a baby chin, it is better to keep them in a cage with just single tier.
CCG is using: Midwest Deluxe Critter Nation
Tip #2: Always metal; No plastic
Choosing a durable cage is extremely important because chinchillas have a very long lifespan and they chew, a lot. Cages made of plastic and anything other than metal tend to not last long with chinchillas due to their ever-growing incisors.
Chewing on plastics can also cause long term health issues for your pet for obvious reasons. The same can be said for any chinchilla accesories or equipment within your pet’s reach. Hence, metal cages are always the recommended go-to options as they cannot be chewed off unlike their plastic counterparts.
Always remember rule number 1 – No plastics.
Tip #3: Use 2 water bottles (glass ones!)
Overheating is the number one killer of chinchillas, so they still need to drink lots of water. And having 2 water bottles attached at both sides encourages them to drink more water.
Chinchillas are also prone to having kidney stones that can really cause serious health issues in the long run. Drinking plenty of water helps to dilute substance in the urine and flush things out to effectively prevent any stones from forming.
When it comes to choosing material, use glass bottles instead of plastic ones to prevent chemical leeching. Chemical leeching is when heat causes chemicals to be released into the water from plastic. This obviously sounds like slow poison isn’t it? So, I repeat – use a glass bottle instead of plastic. And if possible, get one with flat back as well, so that it hangs nicely outside of the cage.
CCG is using: Lixit Chew Proof Flat Back Glass Bottle
Tip #4 Choose horizontal bars over vertical ones
Whether choosing a large cage or a chinchilla carrier, always choose one with horizontal bars over vertical bars because:
- Horizontal bars (usually have smaller gaps) gives you greater flexibility to attach accessories such as ledges, chinchilla wheels, water bottles and hay racks.
- I often have difficulties attaching stuffs on vertical bars; they are just difficult to be secured in place.
- Vertical usually has bigger gaps, allowing their small legs to get through and get stuck
Due these reasons, I personally prefer the Critter Nation over Ferret Nation.
Tips #5 Follow our Facebook page
This has got to be the easiest one to achieve. Chinchilla Care Group is a growing website that aims to cover every topic under the sun regarding chinchillas. In here you will find a great plethora of useful information that are shared by real chinchilla owners.
If you ever have a question about your fur buddy you cannot find answers on, simply ask it on our Facebook and we will be there for you! And do remember to like and follow the page so that you don’t miss out on our new posts updated regularly.
Visit our Facebook page here.
Tip #6 Choose a heavy food bowl
Chinchillas have very strong legs and sometimes they jump around violently. The last thing you wish happen is to have a full bowl of fresh pellets to be kicked and tipped over by your chins.
Therefore, it is important to choose a heavy and durable food bowl because chinchillas tend to chew on pretty much everything within their reach.
Hence, I generally like to go with bigger ceramic bowls as they tend to be heavy and chew proof. This ensures that when my chinchillas happen to jump or push against it, the food does not spill.
Some keepers like to use metal bowls that can attach to the sides of cages, these kinds work fine as well! The important thing about choosing a food bowl is its ability to withstand abuse and chewing.
CCG is using: Living World Ergonomic Dish
Tip #7 Keep humidity and temperature in check!
Beware of overheating! Beware of humidity! Beware of heatstroke!
This is so important that I have to say it thrice.
Let’s face it – Chinchillas are not the easiest pets to keep and the biggest reason is because they cannot tolerate heat or humidity. That is why overheating kills many chinchillas every year.
Their natural habitat is in the high mountain where the air is cool and dry. So ideally you will want to maintain your room temperature below 65°F and humidity below 55%.
Even if your room has aircon, I doubt you will leave it on for 24 hours every day. And so I recommend that you at least get a 2-in-1 hygrometer that helps you keep humidity and temperature in check. It’s usually not expensive (10 bucks or so), but gives you (and your chinchillas) a peace of mind so why not!
CCG is using: ThermoPro TP50 Digital Hygrometer
Tip #8 Ceramic hideouts are cooler choices
Hides help to give your chinchilla a safe place to rest, out of view from the rest of the world. This aids in reducing stress and helps to create a cozy environment for your chinchillas. Sort of a nest if you will.
Usually these hides come in the form of a small wooden or ceramic fixture. I tend to go for ceramic just because they are cooler for the chinchillas and helps with the heat transfer better than wood.
Some people recommend wooden hides as they can serve as a dual-purpose chew toy. I personally prefer a cooler and more washable ceramic hideout. Besides, there are plenty of other choices for chew toys so why bite your house?
CCG is using: Small Pet Hideout Ceramic House
Tip #9 Use an IP camera instead of “Pet camera”
As mentioned above, chinchillas are a bunch of fur kids that need supervision. They get exhausted easily, and tend to hurt themselves if unmonitored for prolonged hours. This is why I installed a camera in my room to monitor them since I cannot be in the room all the time.
Now this might sound excessive to some people, but I personally feel this is absolutely necessary and will come in handy.
Think about if your chinchilla suddenly falls sick one day, you can still monitor through camera while cooking dinner. And what if your lady chinchilla gets pregnant? You will definitely need closer supervision when that happens so it’s always better to be prepared than to get caught off-guard.
But wait, don’t just get one that’s marketed as “pet camera” because those are pretty expensive for what it does. All you need is a budget IP camera that does the same job at half the price. Even if you are feeling super rich you might as well spend it on better cage or hay for your chinchilla.
CCG is using: Wyze Cam Pan 1080p Camera with night vision
Tip #10 Pinterest is your best friend
When it comes to design ideas, I personally like to first do some research on Pinterest because a picture speaks a thousand words!
Save some of those images on your desktop to shortlist the ideas. Next create a shopping list on what you need to purchase in order to create that environment. But don’t forget to come back to this page to validate the dos and don’ts before making any big purchases!
Remember, creating the perfect home for your chinchilla is a journey that requires ongoing improvements, so take your time when choosing and setting up your cage, and you’ll be rewarded with a happy and healthy chinchilla for a long time to come!
We hope you’ve enjoyed reading this article as much as we’ve enjoyed putting it together! Cheers!