There is a common misconception that
chinchillas cannot get wet or their fur will fall out almost
instantly. Chinchillas can get wet, but they do need to be
dried immediately. Their fur is so dense that it has a
difficult time air drying and retains moisture easily. When
moisture is retained in a warm environment fungus grows, fur
and skin will rot, and you will have a difficult infection
to manage. Therefore, rolling around in the dust produces a
much nicer looking chinchilla than water will.
A chinchilla's coat can become very oily. A regular dust
bath is an absolute necessity for chinchillas.
Chinchillas bathe in dust. They require a dust bath to keep the
oils down. Taking a vigorous dust bath is one of their
natural behaviours, and is how chinchillas keep their lush
coats clean and healthy. Not only does this dust bath help to
keep their thick fur smooth and silky, it is thought to be
relaxing and fun for chinchillas.
Make sure your pet bathes in a
bath at least once a week. Allowing your
chinchilla to bathe in pumice dust several times a week
in a container used exclusively for dust baths will help
keep your chinchilla looking and feeling great. Indeed,
chinchillas really get into their baths, rolling and
flipping in the dust with great eagerness.
A special type of sand which is extremely fine is used for the
dust bath. This sand can be found in your local pet store along
with the bathtub. Always use store-bought chinchilla
dust for bathing. This is specifically made for chinchillas and
this purpose. When the chinchillas roll in this dust, it
penetrates their coat down to the skin and absorbs oil and dirt
from the fur.
Set out the dust and let them roll.
You can also use another medium sized container as the tub if
Other powders or sand may look or feel
similar, but just won't work the same way -- chinchilla dust
is made to mimic what they would have access to in their
Normal sand should not be used as it has sharper edges and will
bother the chinchillas skin. The dust must be spot cleaned
every day to remove dirt such as droppings, hay or urine, etc.
It should be completely changed once a week. If you have more
than one chin they should have their own separate baths to
reduce the risk of spreading diseases. Read more about
Keep in mind it is dust so you may want to
move the cage before doing that. What may be easier is to
fill a cat litter box with the dust and let the chinchilla
have at it outside or in a separate room. Special houses are
sold for chinchillas to bathe in, but any plastic container
with tall enough edges to prevent all the dust from coming
out will do.
A heavy, tip-resistant bowl or deep dish can be used. It should
be slightly larger than the chinchilla. Glass fish bowls or
canisters can be used and work well. Also, a plastic house-type
container with a rounded bottom can be purchased for this
purpose. Fish bowls and the plastic house-type baths have the
advantage of being fairly enclosed, which can help minimize the
amount of dust flying around the room. It is ok to let
them roll around for about 20 minutes several times a week. For
a good chinchilla bath cage, use
Lixit Chinchilla Bath.
The dust should be at least a couple of
inches deep in whatever container you use, so that the
chinchilla can effectively roll in it. "Blue Cloud
Chinchilla Dust" and "Blue Sparkle Chinchilla Dust" are two
commonly recommended dusts, but just make sure you get one
made specifically for chinchillas.
Place the bath in the cage every evening when the chinchillas
are active. The dust bath should only be made available to the
chinchilla intermittently, rather than left in the cage
indefinitely. Sand will be sprayed everywhere, but this is part
of having a chinchilla. It is fine to re-use the dust for
several baths. Make sure to scoop out any waste when the
chinchilla is done each bath. If the dust starts to look clumpy
or dirty, discard and use fresh dust. The dust can be reused,
as long as any wastes are removed.
Too much bathing can dry the skin, and if the dust is left in
the cage chinchillas will often sit in the bath and/or use it
as a litter box. Offer the dust bath to your chinchilla at
least twice a week, typically in the evening when they are
getting most active. Twice a week is usually sufficient, though
you can offer the bath more frequently if your chinchilla's fur
starts to look rough or feels damp or oily. In humid weather,
baths should be offered more frequently. Usually 10 to 15
minutes is plenty of time for a chinchilla bath. If your
chinchilla has dry, flaky skin or seems itchy, decrease the
bathing time and frequency a bit.