Chinchillas are really active animals so they need plenty of space where they can run around and act naturally.
You’ll need to make their home interesting and exciting for them because they love to explore – if they don’t have enough to do they might get bored and that will cause health problems.
The right enclosure for your Chinchillas
We recommend giving your chinchillas a large indoor enclosure or, if possible, giving them their own room in your house. It’s also good to give them a safe and secure exercise area outside of their enclosure. This will provide them the space they need to exercise, explore and act naturally.
To make their home an interesting and exciting place to live, add:
- Lots of different levels and platforms to climb up and jump from. Make sure that if your chinchillas accidentally fall off a platform they won’t drop more than 60cm.
- Boxes, tunnels and tubes to play in. These will also give your chinchillas a safe place to hide out.
- Wooden branches to chew and naturally wear down their teeth.
- A large exercise wheel with a good solid base can help them get extra exercise.
- Interactive toys can help stop your chinchilla from getting bored. Have a range of these and swap them around regularly to keep life exciting for your pet. You can read more about keep your chinchillas active on our chinchilla health page.
- Your chinchillas will need a nest box to hide and rest in. You can read more about the ideal nest box below.
- Give your chinchillas a regular dust bath. You can read more about this on our chinchilla health pages.
Cages often aren’t big enough for chinchillas to live in happily, so we wouldn’t recommend them as the right home for your pet. If you have to keep your Chinchillas in a cage, follow these tips to make sure it’s suitable:
- It should be at least 2 metres high, 2 meters wide, and 1 meter deep.
- It should give your chinchillas enough space that they can get away from each other if they want to.
- The cage should give them plenty of room to run around. If this isn’t possible, they’ll need a safe exercise area outside of the cage for them to use every day.
Nest boxes: a place to hide and rest
In the wild, chinchillas are hunted by other animals. They like to have lots of hiding places so they feel safe and secure. If your chinchillas don’t have a place to hide they can start to feel very stressed.
A good nest box will give your chinchillas a place to go if they feel frightened. Each of your chinchillas should have one of their own but it’s good to also give them a large nest box where they can curl up and hide together if they want to. We also recommend giving them a spare nest box so they have plenty of choice.
Nest boxes should be:
- Quiet and secluded and around 25cm x 25cm x 25cm
- Lined with clean, dry bedding. Hay, shredded paper, recycled wood pulp or cardboard litter are suitable bedding types.
- Any bedding used should be dust-free. Don’t use shredded newspaper because the ink can be toxic for small pets like chinchillas.
A safe enclosure
Any enclosure for your chinchillas should be indestructible because chinchillas love to chew things! A wire enclosure is durable and easy to clean but make sure you give your chinchillas some solid floor space to stand on. They can develop ‘pododermatitis’ – swollen feet and sores on the bottom of their paws - if they spend too much time standing on bare wire.
You can also line the floor of their enclosure with wood shavings or wood pulp bedding. Make sure it’s dust-free as dusty bedding can cause problems for their lungs and eyes.
The best spot in your home for chinchillas
Our houses can be stressful for small pets like chinchillas – there can be lots of strange sounds, sights and smells. Placing your chinchillas’ enclosure in a calm and quiet part of your home can help keep their lives stress-free.
- Keep their enclosure at the right temperature. It should be between 10 – 15°C and out of the way of draughts or direct sunlight. Chinchillas have very thick coats and can quickly get too hot. Temperatures over 30°C can be deadly.
- Put their enclosure in an area of the house that is away from busy or noisy areas. Noises and vibrations from TVs and music systems can make small pets stressed.
- Check their enclosure is secure so your chinchillas can’t escape.
Keeping your chinchillas' home clean
You’ll need to regularly clean out your chinchillas’ enclosure and nest boxes so that everything is safe and hygienic. It’s best to clean them out during the evening when they’re naturally active, rather than waking them up in the morning.
Chinchillas like being surrounded by their own smells so cleaning their enclosure can be quite stressful for them. To help your chinchillas feel at home after you clean them out, use an unscented pet-safe cleaner and keep back a handful of bedding that’s been used but is still clean. It’ll give your chinchillas a nice, familiar smell to come home to.
- Remove any wood shavings or bedding that are wet and dirty.
- Clear out any uneaten fresh food.
- Clean the food and water containers before refilling them.
- Remove any dirty bedding, change the bedding on or below the enclosure floor, and dust off levels and platforms.
- Strip the enclosure out completely.
- Scrub it thoroughly inside and out with a scent-free, pet-safe cleaner. You can buy these from pet shops or on our online shop.
- Only let you chinchillas back in when their home is completely dry.