The following information is provided as a general guidline for chinchilla owners. A great video on chinchilla basic care
CARE TIPS FROM THE RALSTON RANCH
Chinchillas need fresh daily water-
Chinchillas have very sensitive digestive tracts and are very suseptible to bacteria, algae and mold. Without fresh water and weekly washing out of their water bottle a chinchilla can die an untimely death from bacteria or algae growth in their water.
Fresh pellets (see our feed page for a selection of quality chinchilla pellets)
The majority of a chinchilla's diet should be fiber. High quality pellets are the easiest way to help keep their diet balanced. Once again the pellets should be fresh and stored in an airtight contain to prevent molding. The colorful diets at the pet store may look like a good choice but don't be fooled by them. Treats should only be offered sparingly and not mixed with their food. Most large chain pet stores do not carry quality chin food. Feed stores and ranch suppliers are most often a better place to find a quality diet. Treats
We recommend 1 treat a day, either 1/2 of a plain shredded wheat or rose hip. More than that can lead to overweight or diabetic chins. Nuts are high in fat and should be avoided. Check out our treat page for a wonderful selection of safe treats for your chin. Cages There is no such thing as too big of a cage! Chinchillas need to have room to jump and climb a cage for one chinchilla should be at least 2'X2'X2' with a minimum of two wood shelves. If the cage is wire then there should be some wood or carpet lining for the chinchilla to rest on. Also avoid wire shelves as your chin could get a leg trapped and break it. Ferret Nations (available online and at major pet stores) is a popular cage as is the Quality Cage Chinchilla Mansion (available online here)
If you are going to use shavings in your chin cage only use untreated pine or aspen. Cedar shaving can cause irritation to the lungs and should be avoided for any small animal. Care fresh bedding is another safe option for your chin. Also check out our fleece cage liners as a environmentally friendly alternative.
Toys Chinchillas absolutely love toys and anything to chew on. Make sure that everything you put in the cage is safe to chew on and within safe distance from the ground in case your chin gets a foot stuck. Never put any heavy objects on a shelf that could fall off and injure or kill your chin. See a great selection of chinchilla safe toys and chews here.
Chewing Chinchillas have to chew to keep their teeth ground down. Providing something for you chin to chew on is essential to their health and survival. A KD pine house is a great home and chew toy for the chin, so are pumice stones. Make sure that anything you use is not painted or treated. Never use wood from fruit trees that contain pits as it is toxic to chinchillas.
We recommend giving your chinchilla a dust bath twice a week. Use a volcanic dust that does not contain silicone as it can cut the fur and cause eye irritation. Blue Cloud is our preferred dust and you can find it in our chinchilla store. To give your chin a dust bath place a cup of the volcanic dust into a container large enough for you chin to roll around in. You can purchase products made specifically for chins here or use a large round glass fish bowl or even a large shoebox. Remove the container after 10 minutes to avoid it becoming a bathroom for the chin. We wash our dust bath houses out once a week to clean out any bacteria.
A chinchilla should never be given a bath in water. Their fur is so dense that it doesn't dry out well. Fungus and skin issues can arise if a chin gets wet.
80 degrees is FATAL for chinchillas. Chinchillas are extremely suseptible to heat and humidity. If you cannot keep your house below 75 degrees especially during the summer months then you are risking your chinchillas life. If your house gets above 72 degrees put some ice in your chins cage for him to chew on or freeze a block of granite or marble then wrap it in a towel for him to lay on. This will not prevent heat stroke if the temperture gets above 80 degrees though. Don't play with your chinchilla if it is too warm. Keep your chin as inactive as possible to help keep their body temperature down. Also do not blow a fan on a chin. Chinchillas do not have sweat glands and blowing air on them does not cool them down as it would a human. If your chinchilla does show symptoms of heat stroke (i.e. bright pink ears, laying on side stretched out, extremely lethargic) gently put him on a towel and hold him in the refrigerator with the door open for 5 to 10 minutes. Do not submerge your chin in cold water this could put him in shock. If your area is in for a heat wave and you can't properly cool your home try to find a friend, relative or chinchilla breeder who can keep your chinchilla in a cool environment until the high temperatures are over.
Chinchillas need exercise. We recommend the fying saucer wheel made by Meadowbrook Chinchillas. This is the safest and most ergonomical wheel on the market. You can buy them on our site here. Never give your chinchilla a wire wheel as this can cause them to break their legs. Also round wheels disrupt the natural curve of a chinchilla's spine and can cause back problems for your chin.
When holding your chinchilla be sure not to squeeze too tight. Chinchillas have floating rib cages and their bones are broken very easily. It is best to sit down while holding your chin. Chinchillas do not have good depth perception and a frightened chinchilla may try to leap from your arms and injury itself.
If your chinchilla has diarrhea then its digestive system is out of balance. Diarrhea requires intervention to prevent the untimely death of your chin. Acidophilus may help your chin get back on track. We carry acidophilus pills made specifically for chinchillas here. Always consult with your mentor breeder and veternarian before starting any treatments.
BUDDY THE AMAZING CHINCHILLA
Buddy is owned by Linda Clark of Cascade Chinchillas