Chinchilla Care

Feeding:

Pellets are given and available to the chins all day long. We give Mazuri Chinchilla pellets which are very good  and Oxbow is also a great brand.  I believe in free-range feeding, so we leave pellets available to the chins all the time.

 

We also keep alfalfa and timothy hay cubes available.  Water should be changed every day or two.  No other additives to the water are necessary, especially water soluble vitamins which loose their potency when exposed to light. Watch their bottles because the little buggers like to nibble holes in them if they’re plastic, just check every day to make sure it's full of water, and if the litter underneath it is wet, look for leaks.  No fresh fruit or veggies should be given or even dried fruits, it upsets the balance of bacteria in their digestive tract. Diarrhea is best prevented rather than having to treat for it, but now and then a juvenile will overeat and have soft droppings.  A burnt crust of bread can help, but again only a small amount or a piece of plain Wheat Chex cereal can be given.  Do not ever ignore diarrhea, it can cause rectal prolapse or rapid dehydration and can even be deadly.

 

Bedding:

We use a pelleted newspaper product called Yesterday's News in the trays under our cages and Carefresh litter, which is a soft recycled newspaper product, in our nest boxes.  Even though kiln-dried pine is considered okay, our vet still does not recommend it as it still causes respiratory issues in small animals.  Newspapers work well in the trays of cages with mesh floors and chins love to chew up the litter, whatever it is.  Just make sure they have something to lie down in and a shelter to sleep under. 

 

Housing:

We provide large, tall cages for our chins. They really require more height as opposed to width for their climbing and jumping. We also provide a wheel, either Flying Saucers or the Chin Spin from Quality Cage for exercise.  Wood like Manzanita branches are also good and untreated pine shelves for resting and chewing are great.  The more you give them to chew in the cage, the less they will be interested in your furniture when they are running. A wooden nest box is nice for them to sleep in and chew on, and if possible, place it high in the cage, as they like to sleep up high. Crockery dishes are preferred over plastic, again because of the chewing, and also because they can tip the plastic ones over and roll them around the cage.  You can also purchase dishes that attach to the side of the cage, these prevent them from peeing in their food.  Even the odd toilet paper roll becomes a great toy that they love to destroy.  Any wood toys are great, just make sure if they are colored wood that it is non-toxic and doesn't contain minerals or other "bird" treats which aren't chin friendly.

 

Getting to know your chin:

Again, patience is the key here, too. Chins have long memories about things they don't like, and short ones on things they do like. Give a new chin a week or so to become accustomed to his new environment by leaving him to explore his cage.  Then let your chin explore you by putting your hand in the cage and letting them come to sniff it. Slowly move your arm into the cage and you can even put your face up to the door. Let them sniff you and even nibble your eyebrows or lashes, but don't try grabbing them; they are very curious animals and it won't take long for them to come to you. You can "bribe" them with a treat, like a rose hip or malva flower, by putting one in your hand or on your shoulder.

 

Grooming:

Chins take care of their own fur, they only require the occasional dust bath.  Grooming them either with a brush or a fine-tooth comb is generally done when chins are being shown.  When combing or brushing, always brush from the rear forward and always brush against the grain of the fur.  Once in a while you may need to give a chin an actual bath - either because of a spraying mate, or a fight in the nursing cage. You can always use shampoos for cats, but nothing with flea insecticides or any other additives, and make sure you dry the chin completely with a towel and blow dry their fur on a warm setting. DO NOT LEAVE THEM WET! They could get sick and even get pneumonia, so make sure they're as dry as you can possibly get them before putting them back in the cage.

 

 

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