Chinchilla Care

Housing

 

When it comes to your chin house, everyone will have a different idea for the perfect cage.  If you are just getting a pet or a couple of chins a good guideline to follow is a    2’ x 2’ x 2’ cage with ledges or different levels.  If you are getting into breeding or multiple chins then there are baby-safe cages and runs that may be more practical.  Just about any pet store will have a cage suitable for a chin and there are thousands of online stores selling custom cages.  If you are handy you can build your own cage.  If you use wood make sure it is out of a safe wood such as kiln dried pine and NO woods that are glued together.  Many people use melamine because of its ease to clean, just make sure they can't chew on the edges. Check out my links page for websites to get cage building materials or custom built cages.

There are a few things to remember when purchasing or building your chin house:

1.      Chins need a lot of ventilation to stay healthy and comfortable.  Wire cages or wood with large wire doors are the best.

2.      They will chew on everything they can so any wood that they can chew on will get chewed and need to be replaced periodically.  This also means no plastic, which if consumed can cause intestinal blockage.

3.      If breeding, babies will fit through wire 1” x 1” or larger so they must be in a baby safe cage with small spacing and not too drafty.                   

Once you have your cage you need bedding for it.  The best bedding to use is kiln dried pine shavings, you can get from most ranch supply stores, pet stores, and even many large department stores.  Stay away from shavings that are not properly treated as they can carry parasites, bugs, and toxic materials.  Also do not use cedar as it can burn their feet when wet.

Feeding

 Like any animal chins need a variety of food to maintain a healthy diet.  They need an alfalfa or timothy pellet for their main diet.  Some people measure their pellets and others free feed.  The top brands of pellets consist of Oxbow, Tradition, and Mazuri depending on what you can get in your area.  Many people also buy rabbit pellets such as Purina Show Rabbit or they get them from a local pellet mill.  When getting pellets from a local mill, make sure they don't use corn in the pellets.

Along with pellets chins need a small handful of hay each day.  If you feed alfalfa pellets then a timothy hay would be given and vise versa if you use timothy pellets.  If you get hay locally make sure there are not many weeds and it is not discolored.  If there is any mold or black hay DO NOT feed it. 

Many people also give their chins supplements and treats.  Just remember that treats are just that and should not be given to often or in large quantities.  Also stay away from pellets that have dried fruit or other stuff in them as they are usually not healthy.  When giving supplements to your chin you should do a lot of research on what you are giving your chin and if it is really necessary.  As with people supplements should be given if they need them and designed around their specific needs. Unnecessary supplements will not be beneficial and may do more harm then good.

Chins need to have fresh water available at all times.  For a pet chin a rabbit water bottle will work just fine.  I use class water bottles because they will chew on the plastic ones and cause them to leak.  If you have multiple chins it is very time consuming changing water bottles and an automated water system may be installed.   I have installed a gravity system that works great. 

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