When choosing a cage for your chinchilla it is important to pick one that is an appropriate size. By choosing a cage that is the right size for your chinchilla you will help keep them happy and healthy. There are several factors that can help you determine how big your chinchilla’s cage should be. The size of your home, the number of chinchillas you have, and whether or not you plan to breed your chinchillas are all things to take into consideration. As a general rule of thumb, when picking out a cage for your chinchilla think bigger is better!
Chinchillas are naturally active animals native to the Andes Mountains in South America. In their natural environment they live in colonies called herds, but they can be successfully kept alone as pets as long as they get human interaction. Chinchillas love to jump, climb, crawl, and play around. By providing your chinchilla with room for him to move you will help keep his mind and body healthy.
The recommended cage size for a chinchilla is 2 ft x 2 ft x 3 ft, or 12 cubic feet. This number is for the living space for the chinchilla and does not include the legs, stand, or anything on the outside of the cage. If chinchillas live in a cage that is too small it can be detrimental to their health. Without adequate room to exercise chinchillas are prone to depression, behavioral issues, and health problems. When stressed, chinchillas will commonly chew their own fur.
When choosing your chinchilla’s cage, make sure it is conducive to their needs and fits comfortably in your home. Chinchillas need to be kept in a dry, well-ventilated area. They cannot sweat, so their environment must be kept at temperatures between 60-75° to prevent hypothermia or overheating.
When choosing your cage it is important to consider the size of your home and the space you have available for your chinchilla cage. Remember, the bigger the cage the better. Measure the space in your home where you will be keeping your chinchilla to figure out the biggest size cage it can accommodate. Chinchilla cages should be tall and need to have multiple levels so they can climb and jump around. Most chinchilla cages have three levels, each level being one foot tall. If you are custom building a cage you may want to give it four levels but it does not need to be excessive in height.
If you are constrained by how high your cage can be, you may need to custom build a large, wide cage that only has two levels. If you choose to have a shorter cage make sure it still has 12 cubic feet of living space. Chinchillas love climbing. By adding ladders and ramps in between the levels of the cage you will be encouraging your chinchilla to behave how they would in their natural environment.
Having at least 4 square feet of floor space is important for your chinchilla to live comfortably. Ideally, at least 2 sq ft of this floor space will be a solid surface. If your cage is made of wire, you want to give your chinchilla a place to sit where they can get away from the pressure points made from standing on the wire. If your chinchilla doesn’t have a way of escaping the pressure of the wire they can develop sores on their feet and potentially other health problems.
You can lay a piece of wood down in the corner of your cage to provide the solid surface. This space will also be an ideal place to put the bowl for your chinchilla’s frequent dust baths.
If you choose to put an exercise wheel or other large item in your chinchilla’s cage you may need to increase the amount of solid floor space in the cage. Exercise wheels should only be placed on solid surfaces to reduce the risk of them falling over and injuring your chinchilla. You will need to clean and sanitize the solid floor space of your cage often since droppings and other messes are likely to accumulate here.
If you are keeping multiple chinchillas together it is important that you have a cage that can accommodate them. If you keep too many chinchillas together in too small of a space they may become aggressive, depressed, and fight for resources. The rule of thumb is to have a minimum of 6 cubic feet of space per chinchilla. The standard 2 ft x 2 ft x 3 ft cage is the smallest sized cage that can house two chinchillas.
If you are going to keep three or more together you will need to look for large specialty cages or you may need to custom build your own. You can keep as many chinchillas together as they will happily tolerate. Just make sure that you keep boys with boys and girls with girls or you will probably end up with babies. If you have multiple chinchillas living together in one cage you should provide multiple food and water sources so that one chinchilla does not become possessive of the resource.
Ideally you should provide one food and water source for every two chinchillas you have living together. By giving your chinchillas plenty of space you will encourage healthy social interaction and reduce the likelihood of unwanted behaviors.
You may want to provide your chinchilla with a hut or a hideout for them to sleep in. If you have two or more chinchillas it is essential that each chinchilla has a hut or a place to go for privacy. Chinchillas will often go into their huts during times that your household is busier or noisier than normal as well.
These huts do not need to be large. An 8 in x 8 in x 5 in hut is a good size for each chinchilla. Huts can be bought or made, and can sit on the floor or be hung from the sides of the cage. Huts should be made of wood that is free of chemicals, paint, or other wood treatments. Chinchillas will chew on their huts so it is best to avoid plastics or other materials that can be harmful if ingested. Another option for a good sleep area is a hammock that hangs from the top of the cage. This is a comfortable place for your chinchilla to sleep and to get away from other chinchillas.
Space for Breeding
If you plan to breed chinchillas you will need a lot of space to do so. It is recommended that the male and female chinchillas you intend to breed live in separate cages next to each other before you put them in together. Each cage will need to be set up just as you would normally for a single chinchilla. Once the chinchillas seem to accept each other you can put one chinchilla into a smaller wire cage and place that into the large cage with the other. This is a good way to introduce them slowly and get a feel for when they are ready to be put into the same large cage together.
When you have two chinchillas that you are hoping will mate, you do not want to put them into a small cage together. They still need to have a minimum of 12 cubic feet of space and separate huts to retreat to for privacy. This will help to reduce aggression and anxiety during this time. When the female chinchilla is getting close to giving birth, you may want to move her to a smaller cage or block off the top levels of her cage. Babies can climb almost immediately after birth and you do not want to risk them falling from big heights.
To help keep your chinchilla happy and healthy, do your best to assess the space available in your home and turn that into an enjoyable new habitat for your chinchilla. When choosing a cage, bigger is better. The minimum cage size for your chinchilla should be 12 cubic feet and have multiple levels to encourage him to run, jump, climb, and crawl. Your chinchilla needs approximately two square feet of solid floor space to keep him comfortable.
When housing multiple chinchillas, having a minimum of six cubic feet per chinchilla is as well as sleeping huts are important for them to live comfortably with each other. Breeding will require multiple cages and more space in your home than having just one chinchilla. Whatever your situation is, try to provide your chinchilla with a living environment that will mimic his natural habitat and remember – bigger is better when choosing a chinchilla cage.