Chinchilla Care



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 dust 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 you wish.  


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 native habitat. 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. 


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.


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.