You can choose to have a wire bottom cage or a cage which rests in a pan. If you choose a cage that rests in a pan or has a solid metal bottom you will want to use natural pine shavings that contain no oils or tars. Do not use cedar shavings as they can be toxic to chinchillas. If you choose a wire mesh bottom cage, the size of the mesh is extremely extremely important. The mesh bottom of the cage should be no larger than ½" x ½". If the wire is larger, a chinchilla can get a foot caught in the mesh. In its distress, a chinchilla can chew off its foot, break a leg or the leg trauma may necessitate amputation. Why take a chance! If using a wire bottom cage, be sure the chinchilla has areas where it can sit or rest where its feet are not directly on the wire. We use houses or shelves and sometimes wood planks (which we change regularly because they can harbor bacteria). Chinchillas can develop sores on their feet from the continued direct contact with the wire.
Chinchilla Wheels. When choosing a wheel, do not select a wire mesh wheel or hamster wheel. Many chinchillas have had legs amputated and been killed when caught in these wheels. Choose a wheel that is solid all the way around.
Chinchilla Toys. Many chinchillas enjoy hanging toys with bells on the bottom and wood blocks (usually pine or fir) stacked on the chain. They delight in chewing off the blocks and like the sound of the bell. It is important that chinchillas have adequate items to chew as their teeth continually grow. We often supply wood blocks, hanging toys, pumice blocks, booda bones, etc. If you use any wood in the cage, be sure to change it often as wood can harbor fungus and bacteria.
Be sure your chinchilla has a little hideaway house so s/he can have somewhere to go when s/he needs to feel safe. They do truly enjoy their houses and often feel comfortable lying on their sides or backs totally relaxed.
Water Bottles. Many good water bottles are available. Heavy glass water bottles are nice because they can be sterilized in the dishwasher, but be sure the drinking tubes are very heavy glass so the chinchilla does not bite through them. There are also many varieties of plastic water bottles from Lixit and Nivek which also work well. Be sure the bottles do not leak, especially if the chinchillas sit on litter. Damp litter is very unhealthy for the chinchilla. If using plastic water bottles, it is important to put a sheet metal guard between the water bottle and the cage. Chinchillas will chew through a plastic water bottle at every opportunity. We cut a piece of sheet metal large enough to shield the water bottle and make a hole for the water nozzle. This has worked very well. Also, be sure the water bottle is securely fastened to the cage as the chinchillas enjoy unhooking the wires that hold it to the cage. Change the water daily as a constant supply of fresh water is vital to a chinchilla's health.
Food Dishes. We like to use stoneware crocks that sit on the bottom of the cage. This allows us to monitor the food intake to be sure the chinchillas are eating well. Although, sometimes the chinchillas will soil the dishes and the food, they can be easily washed and refilled. We tend to use different size crocks depending on the number and age of the chinchillas in the cage. Crocks that are 4" and 5" tend to work well. There are also metal feeders which hook onto the side of the cage. However, with these, the chinchillas tend to pull out the food and it scatters over the cage bottom.
Food. A good diet is so important to chinchilla health. We recommend feeding your chinchilla twice per day (morning and evening). Chinchillas enjoy a routine and look forward to being fed at the same time each day. We have used Mazuri pellets and occasionally mix in a bit of calf manna "enhancer" just for a bit of variety. We use 1 to 2 heaping tablespoons of Mazuri pellets per chinchilla per day. Our chinchillas have maintained excellent health on this diet. We offer Timothy Hay, alfalfa hay and alfalfa cubes. If we use loose Timothy hay, we offer it in the morning and evening . It is good for their digestion and keeps things moving. You can’t give a chinchilla too much fresh hay. Always be sure that any food, timothy hay or alfalfa you use is fresh, free of mold, mildew and toxic weeds. If your chinchilla eats "bad" hay, diarrhea often results. This can sometimes lead to intestinal problems which, if untreated, can lead to an untimely death to your pet.
Treats: We all love to spoil our animals, but do not give your chinchilla too many treats. We usually give ours a tiny piece of dried whole wheat toast or a little piece of plain shredded wheat cereal in the morning when we feed them. We will give one of the following in the evening (usually after their dinnertime): a raisin, a craisin, a dried banana chip, a tiny piece of dried guava, an unsalted sunflower seed.. Too many treats, especially raisins can cause diarrhea. Some chinchillas can to
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· 1 decade ago