My family decided to add a pet, and considering a chinchilla. While researching about the chinchilla I kept wondering what I would have to use in the cage. If you are where I was you probably have the same questions.
What Bedding Should be used for Chinchillas? There are several options for bedding when setting up your chinchillas cage. Most common are wood shavings, paper bedding, hay, fleece lining, and fabrics.
I’m sure you have lots of questions about each one, read on and I will go into more details.
Do they need bedding?
Yes, you need some kind of bedding in your chinchilla cage. The first purpose of the bedding is to absorb urine. You do not want your chinchilla to be crawling through pee that has puddled. The next reason is that a chinchilla’s feet can become damaged if left standing on a hard surface all the time. This can be very hard to fix once it happens.
They do not need bedding to burrow in or to make a nest out of. Some small animals like mice and hamsters need the bedding for this. Chinchillas have very dense fur so do not need to build a nest, and they do not burrow in the wild, their front legs are not designed for it.
There are many, many choices in wood shavings for beddings. You need to consider that your chinchilla will probably chew on these shavings at least a bit. It is best to avoid any shavings that have been bleached, dyed or had fragrances added. This may be more appealing to you, but some of these can be extremely harmful to your little furball when chewed on.
Wood shavings are good for both odor control and absorption. They are not as soft for your chinchilla’s feet. I will give you some do and don’t uses on wood chips.
Wood shavings do produce dust, and this can affect the respiratory system of your chinchilla, or you if you have allergies. Kiln-dried shavings produce less dust and have fewer oils that could be toxic to your chinchilla.
GOOD WOOD SHAVINGS
The best wood shavings to use are; Aspen and Kiln Dried Pine. You can get these in different sized shaving and even in pellets, You also need to be careful to avoid the ones that may have sharp edges that can cut the feet of your chinchilla. Because of oils in the woods, they must be kiln dried, this breaks down the oils so they are not toxic to your pet.
BAD WOOD SHAVINGS
Avoid all use of Cedar shavings, these can cause respiratory illnesses and allergies in your chinchilla, they can also adversely affect the liver. Also, avoid mixed wood shavings, this may be a cheap mix but without knowing for sure what types of wood are in it, and the drying method used in this blend it may be toxic to your chinchilla.
There are a number of beddings that are made from recycled paper. These are softer on the feet of the chinchilla, and very absorbent. They do not do as well at controlling or covering up odor as the wood chips.
If selecting paper bedding you will want to make sure that your chinchilla isn’t eating it. A bit of chewing won’t hurt but you don’t want them ingesting much of this or they can get a blockage in their digestive system causing them to not eat or drink. This is called stasis and even if you get them to the vet the damage may have become fatal.
I would avoid the risk of this bedding unless I know my chinchilla wasn’t going to be eating it. There are some that say they are low dust, otherwise, there is usually a lot of dust especially if you make it yourself.
These linings are ideal for the feet of your chinchilla. And chinchillas usully do not chew on the fleece. Your chinchilla is likely to take a nibble or two and then leave the fleece alone. If you find your chinchilla is chewing it more than that you will want to remove the fleece from the cage.
Poop sticks to the fleece and doesn’t end up outside the cage as much. Urine goes through the fleece so it isn’t pooling up for your chinchilla to be tracking through.
There is virtually no dust with this item. This can be taken out shaken and then washed and reused. It will need to be hung dried so multiple liners are the best way to go.
These can be hard to find for some cages and may have to be made by you. However, there is no ongoing cost and no storage problem when using them. They will not be knocked out of the cage to make a big mess.
Fleece is the only fabric that is safe for you to use in your chinchilla cage. It does not have threads that unravel as other cloth does. Other fabrics as they are chewed on will get into the digestive system and can block it up. If you do choose to you something like a towel in your cage be sure to check it often for any sign of being chewed. This will mean a trip to the vet and possibly death.
There is still the best to come. I will tell you what I think is the best solution for bedding and let you know what else you need for a cage with a chinchilla. And also something that you can do to cut down on your chinchilla chewing on the bedding.
The Safest and Best Option
Use a small amount of absorbent and odor control bedding in the bottom of the tray then add a fleece liner on top. This will keep the mess of the bedding to almost nothing. It will also allow urine to be absorbed away from the fleece, letting it dry faster and keeping the odor at a minimum.
This method will keep your chinchillas’ feet in good condition without any risk of cutting. It will also keep them from ingesting any of the bedding. No mess, no odor, no eating the bedding, fleece dries faster, and chinchillas’ feet in good condition. Clearly the best option for your chinchilla.
Changing The Bedding
This should be done at least once a week. If you’re not using the fleece liner, scoop out any wet bedding as you notice it. And replace all bedding weekly. This should be done no matter what bedding you use. This should be a routine along with washing everything in the cage.
Other Items Needed
Your cage will also need a hay rack, a food bowl, a water bottle, ledges and ladders, a hiding place, lots of toys, and chews, A wheel if your chinchilla is over 8 months.
The more toys and chewing options that are available for your chinchilla the less likely they are to chew on the bedding. This will keep their teeth the proper length and give them something to do. And keep hay available at all times.
Yes, you need some sort of bedding for your chinchilla cage. Use caution in your choices, and be sure you know what your chinchilla is doing, (eating the bedding). Give your chinchilla options for chewing.