Chinchillas are active and energetic animals that need a large sized habitat. Chinchillas can’t roam free within your home because they are naturally inclined to chew (wires, furniture, etc.) and they can’t be litter trained. There is a wide variety of chinchilla habitats and cages for sale at pet stores that vary in size and price.
Chinchillas like to jump and play, so an ideal habitat will be about 4x4x4 feet in size and will have at least one shelf that your chinchilla can jump onto. Solid material such as wood or plastic is good for the base of the habitat. If the base of the cage is wire, the wires should be less than 1 inch apart – this ensures your chinchilla’s feet will have enough support (otherwise their feet can be hurt.)
The rest of the cage should be made of metal, not wood, because chinchillas can chew through wood. However, make sure the cage is not made of galvanized wire, which contains zinc and is toxic to chinchillas.
Placement of your chinchilla’s habitat is important too. Chinchilla’s can overheat very easily and do not tolerate rapid temperature changes well. The room temperature should never exceed 80 degrees F and high humidity should be avoided. A temperature of 60-70 degrees will be most comfortable for your chinchilla. Try to keep the habitat out of a sunny area so the temperature doesn’t shift or increase with the sunshine. Also avoid drafty or cold areas!
The bottom of the habitat should have 1-2 inches of bedding. Bedding can be purchased at pet stores and is typically made of high quality paper or hardwood shavings. You can also place a towel in your chinchilla’s habitat for additional comfort, but make sure that your chinchilla isn’t chewing and eating the towel.
Wet or soiled bedding should be removed daily and all of the bedding should be changed at least once per week. To prevent disease and bad smells, all of the surfaces of the habitat should be cleaned once per week as well.
Your chinchilla habitat must have a food dish and a water dispenser. The water dispenser will usually hang from the side of the cage and dispense water when your chinchilla licks the spout. Your chinchilla should have clean, fresh water each day. Water bottles are pretty inexpensive (less than $10) and can be found in a variety of styles and colors. These All Living Things® Water Bottles for Small Animals from PetSmart® have cool patterns and colors!
Jennifer Kean is a writer and pet-lover who owns two rescue kittens (lifetime cat owner too!) and has a 40 gallon fish tank!