When bringing home an adorable new chinchilla, the last thing you are probably contemplating is poop. Chinchillas may be cute beyond words, but their bathroom habits most definitely are not!
In this article, we will unwind the many reasons why chinchillas seem to have an endless supply of poop and how to keep it from taking over your home.
Summary of today’s article:
- Why is my chinchilla a poop machine?
- Best practices for keeping chinchilla poop contained in your chinchilla’s cage
Chinchillas have a well-deserved reputation for being poop machines. It can be shocking for a new chinchilla owner to realize that their pet is constantly pooping, especially if they have never experienced this type of animal behavior in the past.
Let’s take a closer look at chinchilla poop and the reasons why your chinchilla appears to be pooping everywhere.
What Does Chinchilla Poop Look Like?
Healthy chinchilla poop will be solid, brown, and dry. Chinchilla poop is rather small and is often compared to mouse droppings.
Unlike the feces of many other pets, chinchilla poop is odorless. Chinchillas are very clean animals, so the fact that their poop isn’t stinky only helps them score more points in that regard.
Normal bowel movements are a sign of your chinchilla’s good health. As a pet owner, one of your many duties is to become familiar with your chinchilla’s regular bathroom habits.
Be sure to note any changes in the appearance or frequency of your chinchilla’s stool. If they are not pooping very often, this may be a sign of an intestinal blockage and they should be seen by a veterinarian right away!
Diarrhea or feces that is an odd color may also be a sign of trouble. Runny poop can be caused by too many treats, nutrition deficiencies, or even parasites. If you notice anything unusual about your chinchilla’s poo, consult your vet to make sure that they are not sick and their dietary needs are being met.
Why Do Chinchillas Poop So Much?
It’s no exaggeration to state that chinchillas are pooping constantly. Chinchillas will poop anywhere and at any time. Most chinchillas will defecate an average of 250 times per day!
Chinchillas have very small digestive systems and are unable to control their bowels. Additionally, the majority of a chinchilla’s diet consists of grass hay.
Due to the high fiber nature of your chinchilla’s food, it should come as no surprise that they are non-stop pooping! Although chinchillas can be trained to urinate in designated areas if taught from a very young age, training them to poop in a specific spot is considered to be impossible.
Some chinchilla owners have noted that their pets don’t poop as often during playtime outside of their cages, however, this appears to be somewhat rare. Chinchillas will poop all over their cage, and if you handle your pet, expect that they will also poop on you!
Thankfully, chinchilla poop is easy to clean and does not soil clothing.
Now that we have established that your chinchilla will be constantly pooping, let’s discuss the best ways to keep that massive mountain of poo from escaping your chinchilla’s cage!
Tip #1 Create Physical Barriers To Keep Chinchilla Poop From Leaving Their Cage
One of the best ways to keep your chinchilla’s poop in their cage is by utilizing physical barriers. Scatter guards are a common and effective choice.
Scatter guards attach to the bottom portion of the cage bars and block items like shavings, food, and of course poo from falling out. Most scatter guards are available in sizes ranging from 3”- 8” in height and a variety of lengths.
These guards can also be added to taller areas, such as ledges, where you may notice poop exiting the cage. Just like all items in your chinchilla’s cage, you will want to purchase scatter guards that are made from chinchilla safe wood.
Your chinchilla will end up treating the guards as a chew post, which is an added benefit. Many vendors will also create custom guards, and due to their accessibility, scatter guards should be the first line of defense to keep chinchilla poop in the cage.
Tip #2 Use A Cage With A Wire Bottom And Slide-out Tray
Having a cage with a wire bottom and slide-out tray makes poop containment and removal super easy! As described, these types of cages have a wire bottom and a metal tray that pulls out from beneath the wire flooring.
Bedding is placed in the cage as normal, however, when it comes time to change shavings or remove pieces of poop, all you have to do is pull the tray out. Always watch for your chinchilla’s toes before sliding out the tray to clean.
Deeper trays are preferable as they catch more poo and prevent your chinchilla from sitting right on top of urine soiled shavings. To make cleaning even easier, consider using fleece as a cage liner instead of shavings.
Fleece acts as a washable, urine-absorbent pad and is completely safe for your chinchilla as long as they do not consume it.
Be wary of cages not designed specifically for chinchillas as they may not be appropriate and can contain harmful elements. Look for a cage with a metal tray as chinchillas will chew on just about anything and plastic can break off easily, creating a safety hazard if swallowed.
Coated bars will also present a problem if chewed. You’ll want to find a cage with 1/2″ x 1/2″ wire flooring as chinchillas can get their legs caught in mesh that is spaced too far apart.
When using a cage with a wire bottom, be sure that there are plenty of chinchilla safe wood planks along various parts of the floor so that your pet has the option of standing on something solid. Ideally, your chinchilla’s cage would be tall and equipped with a ton of ledges, so the time spent on the bottom level would be minimal.
Tip #3 Make Sure Your Chinchilla Is Happy And Entertained
Surprisingly, some chinchillas will throw their poo! This practice can be somewhat off-putting and can often explain how droppings end up outside of your pet’s cage.
There are many reasons why your chinchilla may be throwing their poop, however, the most common reasons circle back to the chinchilla responding to their environment. If your chinchilla is feeling bored, they will find an activity to occupy themselves.
Be sure that your chinchilla is entertained with plenty of toys and other creature comforts. Another reason for acting out may be that your pet is feeling neglected and throwing poop is a way to express anger or get your attention.
Your chinchilla must have adequate playtime outside of their cage, not only to explore and stretch their legs but to also bond with you. If you have any other pets in your home who you have seen eat the discarded chinchilla poop, it is imperative that you train them to stop engaging in this behavior.
Just like your chinchilla will throw poop to gain affection from you, they may also do the same to receive attention from other animals in your household. If your chinchilla notices that a pet dog, for instance, always comes over to their cage to eat poop that has fallen on the floor, they may be inclined to intentionally toss poo in an attempt to have social contact.
Train your other pets to avoid encouraging the poop throwing as is one type of symbiotic relationship that should not be encouraged!
Tip #4 Keep Your Chinchilla’s Cage Clean
One of the simplest ways to keep chinchilla poop in the cage is to just cut down on the amount of poop in the first place. This may sound like a daunting task, but a little prevention will go a long way!
Begin by fully cleaning your chinchilla’s cage, and all items in it, weekly. Once you have started with a clean slate, periodically remove droppings throughout the day from your chinchilla’s cage so that they aren’t accumulating.
It’s very easy to use a portable hand vac or vacuum attachment to remove poop from ledges and hammocks. You may also try a hand broom and dustpan for tidying up.
Tip #5 Set Up Receptacles Near Your Chinchilla’s Cage For Overflow
Finally, if you have tried the suggestions above and are still experiencing a bit of poop overflow, it may be time to invest in receptacles outside of your chinchilla’s cage. A strategically placed wastebasket or two can work wonders, especially if there is one specific area that seems to get hit the most.
If your chinchilla’s cage is in a room with carpeting, try placing a rubber office chair mat underneath their cage that extends beyond the area where poop tends to land. This mat will provide a smooth surface that is easy to sweep or vacuum, unlike carpet that can hide small droppings.
At the end of the day, it will most likely be a combination of tactics that lead you to full chinchilla poop containment!