Bathroom habits. No one ever wants to talk about them, but it is something every living thing on this planet must deal with. Chinchillas are one of them. This may come as a shock to you, but chinchillas do pee and poop.
When they live as pets, chinchillas rely on their owners for help dealing with the effects of their bathroom habits. They cannot exactly clean up after themselves. Some common questions that come up about cleaning up after a chinchilla is how to deal with the small animal’s pee, especially in their cages. Here are some tips:
Problems Associated With Chinchilla Urine
While urine may be sterile—yes, even in chinchillas—it can still cause some problems if left untaken care of. Most of these gross complications are simply due to lack of hygienic care. They are usually easy to clean and fix, but why not avoid the problems to begin with? Here are some reasons to make sure you are keeping up with your chinchilla’s urinary habits.
For the most part, chinchilla pee does not smell. However, if their pee is left to dry, it will begin to smell nasty. It does not matter if the pee dried in their cage shavings or somewhere outside their space, chinchilla pee will begin to stink if you do not clean it up as fast as possible.
If the pee has dried in their shavings, do not worry as much, because that is what the shavings are there for, but you must make sure you are changing said shavings regularly.
2. Stained fur
Wild chinchillas are pros at conserving their water, so the result is their pee is not very diluted, or clear. Stained chinchilla fur is very noticeable, as it typically is a big, random splotch of yellow on their otherwise untouched fur. These stains can technically occur anywhere, but they are most common around the chinchillas groin or bottom area.
This problem is the direct result of poor cage hygiene. When a chinchilla’s cage shavings or cage bottom has not been clean in a while, it can cause pee-saturation on the areas the chinchilla walks.
Most chinchillas choose one corner of their space to designate as the bathroom, and they will sometimes sit in this area—which can cause the fur stains—but this could be avoided with regular cleaning of the cage.
3. Infection/pee burn
Just like humans, chinchillas can get Urinary Tract Infections (UTIs). This is, again, a direct result of a chinchilla living in unsanitary conditions. A UTI is simply the buildup of bacteria in the urethra and bladder, which can be dangerous should the infection get into their bloodstream.
It can be very painful for the animal, and you may not recognize their trouble until it is too late to help them.
Furthermore, if urine is stained onto a chinchilla’s skin for a prolonged period, it may cause irritation and even infection on the poor guy’s skin.
4. Stained cage
When a cage is not cleaned regularly, it runs the risk of being permanently stained—especially if it is a wooden structure. As has been covered, chinchilla pee is naturally darker than a human’s, so it can stain things easily when left to sit for a long period of time. This can be easily prevented by regularly cleaning your chinchilla’s cage, along with changing the shavings should you use them.
How to keep chinchilla cage from smelling
1. Cleaning cage often to remove urine stains from the cage helps prevent the area from smelling. The lesser you clean, the more these smells will accumulate and become overwhelming.
2. Using a litter box helps preventing urine from staining onto your chinchilla’s fur. Put some bedding into the litter box to absorb urine to create an odorless environment.
When choosing a litter box, avoid choosing one that’s made of plastic because chinchillas will chew through it and cause health problem.
The one we use is made by Quality Cage Crafter. Their litter pan is made of metal and comes with a splash guard that prevents messes from leaving the cage. This litter pan is easy to clean, and can be easily screwed onto the corner of the cage. Saves us a ton of trouble.
How to Clean Chinchilla Urine from Their Cage
No one wants to live in a messy home, and chinchillas are no exception. As a good owner, it is your due duty to take on this responsibility. Overall, cleaning a chinchilla’s cage is fairly simple, and should be done once a week, minimally. Here is a short, step-by-step guide:
Step 1: Do it during playtime.
Obviously, you cannot clean a chinchilla’s cage with they are in there. It would just defeat the purpose and make your task much more difficult than it needs to be. So, the optimal time to clean a chinchilla’s cage is during their routinely allotted time for when they are out of their cage for their free-range playtime.
Let them out, as normal, and while they are playing, clean away!
Step 2: Remove their food, water, and other miscellaneous things.
So, now they are out of the cage and jumping and hopping away, first take out their food and water. You do not have to do this every week, but make sure to occasionally use soap and water to clean their food dish and their water bottle—like every other week.
Once this is done, make sure to take out any other things that might be just lying around, and then, you are ready to take out the bedding. If you have any fleece liners, bedding, or shavings anywhere in the cage, now is the time to remove those. If any of these things are especially gross, throw them away or wash them.
Step 3: Use a safe cleanser.
After making sure the cage is completely empty—including any stray shavings or pieces of fabrics—it is time to wipe it down. It is very important you do your research on your cage cleaners.
Some people think it is fine to use straight bleach products, but it can be toxic to your small animal! Most experienced chinchilla owners have found that a water-vinegar mixture works best to counteract any of the dried urine in the cage.
Once you have that figured out, wipe away! Make sure to give the whole cage a good wipe down! Also, do not leave out the underneath side of the cage and the area around the cage—if it is on a tabletop or something. Chinchillas are known to spray their urine when alarmed or threatened, so just go ahead and wipe the whole area down to be safe!
Step 4: Rinse with water.
This is a very important step—because you do not want to just wipe down your pet’s cage and then stick them back in it. The chemical would linger and could be toxic for them. Vinegar will not kill them, but would you want to sniff straight vinegar for a week?
Take a completely separate towel soaked in plain water, and wipe down the cage the exact same way you washed it with the cleanser. The goal is to remove any of the excess cleaner, so feel free to rinse and wipe the cage down a bit more than you did with the cleaner.
Step 5: Wipe dry.
Now that you have cleaned off the cage, just take a dry towel and wipe up any excess water. You do not want to put new bedding in on a wet floor, as it can cause more smells, so give it a few minutes to air dry before you put everything back in as your chinchilla is inevitably still bouncing around.
Then, you are done! Their cage is clean!
How Often to Clean Chinchilla Cage
As a guide, a chinchilla’s cage should be cleaned at least twice a week. You should clean your chinchilla’s cage as often as you see visible stains or smell.
Take this positively as an opportunity to maintain a clean and fresh environment for your beloved pets.
If you clean your cage often, you will find each cleaning session a breeze because there will be just a few stains.
On the contrary, if your cleaning sessions are far and few, you will probably have trouble trying to scrub those nasty stains off the cage
How to Clean Urine Off Chinchilla Fur
So, cleaning their cage of their urine is easy enough, but cleaning it off them…Well, it is another story. Chinchillas are not meant to get wet, so it is inadvisable to give them a bath with soap and water.
Treating a slight stain:
It is much easier to get rid of a pee stain on a chinchilla’s fur if it is caught early, when it is faintest and slight. Here are some things to try:
A dust bath will help soak up some of the excess urine from their fur, and will lessen the stain. At the very least, it will make sure it does not get any worse.
You could even add in some corn starch into their dust bath to help. A single dust bath will probably not fix the whole stain right away, but after a few, the stain will start to disappear.
The next thing to try is wiping them down with a damp washcloth or unscented baby wipes. The goal here is to pick something that will not leave their fur wet.
This will be slightly uncomfortable for them, and you have to be careful not to squeeze them too hard. Wiping them down will remove any excess urine, which will naturally help lift some of the stain.
Treating a heavy stain:
If the stain is just being super stubborn after trying both of these methods, you will probably need to hand wash them. Yes, chinchillas are not meant to get wet, but they will not die from it. It can, at certain time, be helpful for their overall health. It can be dangerous if not done right, though, so be very careful.
Use an unscented, gentle soap to wash them. Again, when lathering them, just be careful not to manhandle them too roughly. Washing them is easy, but drying them can be difficult, as their fur is very thick and holds onto water.
Rubbing it for a long time with a towel is effective for drying them, but it will probably be uncomfortable for both parties. You can try to use a hair dryer—just only on a cool setting! If you use a heat setting, you risk overheating the small chinchilla, which can kill them.
Cleaning up after your chinchilla is just part of being a chinchilla owner. Overall, just be conscious of what their habits are to make sure you know when and where to clean, and make sure you are keeping their space clean. Dealing with things like their pee will not be difficult, so long as you make an effort to keep up their hygiene.