Shopping for New Chin Owners And our Recommended Vendors
New Chinchilla Checklist
Getting a chinchilla? Wondering what you absolutely need? We consider ourselves pretty avid shoppers.
Here’s our consolidated list:
1. Appropriately Sized Cage and Considerations: A cage for a chinchilla should be at least 3 feet x 2 feet x 2 ft with 2 square feet of floor space per pet. Don’t let that limit you though, your cage can be as large as you can accommodate. It should have: No exposed plastic parts, a solid floor, appropriate wiring spacing (an inch or less for adults). Be mindful when purchasing of how you are going to provide a solid floor. One of the most popular cages (we have them) are the MidWest Homes Critter Nation and Ferret Nation. Other options include Quality Cages chinchilla cages shown above. Pros and cons?
We have both the Ferret and Critter Nations from MidWest. Some state that the Ferret Nation is better because of wire strength. We have not had issues on that front, but there are only 3 cross bars on each panel, so your ability to place ledges is more limited than with the Critter Nation. As Ferret Nation add ons are cheaper, we took to mixing and matching the panels in each cage to give us more flexibility. A Ferret/Critter Nation can be purchased as a single unit and added onto for up to 3 levels. That is a substantial amount of flexibility when it comes to growing your cage. However, the plastic pans will need to be covered or removed for pet safety as well as the metal ramps. We personally forgo the ramps and place wood ramps, ledges, and wall hammocks underneath. Your flooring options include fleece covered pans (check out ChinChic for these or order custom from us), tile (get it cut at your local hardware store), and metal pans (check out Quality Cages for galvanized and powder coated options (most cost effective option with free shipping!) or Bass Pans for metal replacements for the plastic pans). Whatever your choice, our 5.5 inch Wood Scatter Guards will help keep messes in the cage.
While you are not able to add on to the Quality Cages shown above, they come chinchilla safe with no need for these extra steps. There is zero plastic.
Weigh your options and consider customization, budget, and floor space before purchasing. We are not recommending Prevue Hendrix products here as many people have had to replace. We don’t feel having to replace your cage is a reasonable consideration when purchasing. Spend a little more and keep it for a lifetime.
Plan to invest in a travel cage as well. Not many adequately sized cages will fit in your vehicle for a long trip to the vet or evacuation. Think ahead so you aren’t doing what we did during the California fires, waiting for your Quality Cages Collapsible Travel Cage to arrive while your pets essentially live in a carrier. We don’t know of any other easy store, easy assemble travel cages to be honest. While we have used Martin’s cages in the past, they are not easily assembled.
Chewy offers fast shipping on food and 30% off your first autoship.
3. Dust: Your chinchilla needs a safe, quality dust for bathing. The frequency of bathing really depends on how clean your chin is, how often they are handled, and how healthy their skin is. Dust is an absolute necessity. We only recommend Empress Chinchilla Certified ChillDust which is 100% pumice. We are an authorized reseller but you can find it at many retailers. A good sized bathhouse is in order too. We personally found ourselves large mason jars for this purpose or a candy jar. I prefer glass. You can sterilize your bath if you have a fungal outbreak.
4. Cage Accessories and Enrichment: Your cage needs ledges and hides. Whether your hides are tunnels, fleece houses, hammocks, nest boxes, houses etc, your pet is a prey animal and is highly intelligent. They need an enriching play space where they feel safe. You need to plan these appropriately as well. Make sure your chinchilla cannot fall more than 18 inches. Stagger ledges and houses and hammocks to ensure a large fall cannot occur. Some chinchillas are spiderman and some are clumsy as all get out. Get a good blend of wood, fleece, and metal products. We recommend galvanized, powder coated, or stainless steel for metal. Aluminum is lightweight and comes in many colors but can become sharp when chewed, bend and flex, and create a springboard effect. Click the metal ledge picture above to see a good variety of steel ledges offered on Etsy. Your chinchilla needs wood too. And in variety and large supply. Toys, ledges, and houses will provide ample chewing material for your rodent’s dental health. Our shop is fully stocked with numerous options and you can find many online.
5. Food Dishes: You will need some kind of bowl or rack for hay, a bowl for pellets, and a good water bottle. Bowls should be safe when chewed whether its a coop cup or a ceramic dish, it should be safe. No plastic and no zinc plated metals. Most water bottles leak slightly or will eventually. You can prevent this from being a huge problem by putting a dish underneath or a fleece drip pad. If using a hay rack, make sure your animal CANNOT get stuck inside.
6. Chews: Chinchillas need to keep their teeth trim by consuming fresh hay and chewing safe items. Like most things, this can be as simple or as elaborate as you chews =P. A good variety to try out to see what your chin is into would be apple wood, pumice, and vine. Hanging toys, toss toys, and loose chews would cover a good variety. Something our shop offers that are unique are our refillable stainless steel toys. You can refill with our refill packs or your own for a more ecofriendly option than buying toys hung on wire.
These are things you don’t necessarily NEED but might WANT.
Here at Whiskers & Fluff, our shops is packed full of cute things. Pillows, beds, photo worthy prop shelves. Just shop around!
Wheels: You may find you need a wheel if you don’t have much time for playtime or a small cage with limited enrichment. Quality Cages has arguably the highest quality wheels and offers replacement bearings so you can keep your wheel for a lifetime. Like with your cage, you are better off spending more to have a wheel for a lifetime rather than replacing every few years. Also they offer free shipping to US customers.
You may also want a Litter Pan. Some use a pyrex dish with aspen shavings. I personally use a Quality Cage Litter Box. The aspen is never pulled out and it looks very nice.
Cool Metal Tunnels
We have 4 tunnels from Jouets on Etsy. They are very thick, heavy duty aluminum and have never shown any chew damage.
Ridiculously Awesome Custom Fleece
Chinnie Boutique is a Facebook Group which you can join for amazing custom fleece houses and beds and much more. She also has Chinchilla plushies (these are for humans)