Cages and Set Up

The subject of cages has a wide variety of opinions, as does the set up for them. I will begin with what I prefer for mine. These preferences come from learning experiences with my chins and I will share them with you.

  1. Cages should be totally made of metal. They should not be made of plastic, not even the floor. They will eat through it and escape. Not to mention the medical problems that can occur from eating the plastic. They are little Houdinis.

  2. The holes on the cage should be no more than 1" x 2". It is amazing how flat a chin can make itself and be able to squeeze out. Their skeletal frame is very small and they can just flatten all that skin and fur and slide out. Again, I speak from experience. I had a chin do that and I just couldn't believe that she got out of that little hole.

  3.If you are planning on breeding and having babies, make sure the holes on the cage are NO MORE than 1" x 1/2". New borns are born VERY active and will escape out of holes any smaller. Yep, that's another learning experience. My first litter had 3 kits. I awoke on the morning after their births to find only 2. One had escaped, never to be found. Something you never ever forget!

  4. Cages that have wire bottoms are preferred by some owners. If you prefer a wire bottom, make sure that the holes are no larger than 1/2" x 1/2". Add a wood house or a piece of marble slab, so that their feet have a rest from the wire. Mine have marble, which helps keep them cool and a large piece of pvc tube that they lie in and it gets their feet up off the wire. If you prefer a solid wood bottom, that's ok. You will need to add pine wood shavings. (Refer to Care section--DO NOT use cedar shavings)! Cedar can kill your chinchilla.

  5. Do not use aquariums for your chin's home. They will overheat in them and die within minutes of HEAT STROKE. (Refer to Care section).

  6. Do not use colored newspaper, other paper or cardboard with colored ink to line cages. It gives off chemicals that can harm your chin.

  7. A cage 2'x2' is a good size for one chinchilla, but you can always go larger if you want. Just remember to keep those holes SMALL! If you have a larger cage, you need to add shelves that are graduated, so that they aren't jumping from the very top to the very bottom. Make them kind of like steps. They can break their legs very easily. This concludes the cage section.

This next section begins with the set up of the cage. The following are necessities your chin will need in the set up of their home.

1.  Food Dish--Preferrably one that hangs on the side of the cage. They will potty in one that is set on the floor of the cage.

2.  Hay Rack--If you choose to use loose hay rather than hay cubes. The rack pretty much keeps the loose hay in place and from spreading all over the cage.

3.  Water Bottle--You can use plastic or glass, but if they can reach the bottle and it is plastic, they will eat a hole in it. There are guards you can purchase to go around the bottle to prevent them from reaching it. Some chins just won't bother and plastic will be fine. Just have to see what yours does.

4.  Chew Items-- These would usually be made of wood (refer to "safe woods" list at the end of this section). or pumice stone. Their teeth grow constantly and they must ALWAYS have something to chew on.

5.  Hiding place--You can put a pine box in the cage, a large PVC tube, or a large coffee can (no sharpe edges). If you prefer, you can flatten it on one side so it won't roll. Remember-- nothing made of cedar!!

6.   Large Play Wheel (optional)--Although there is some controversy about these wheels, they may be added if you choose. Of the many veterinarians I have spoken with about the wheels, most prefer some exercise rather than no exercise at all. So, if you can't get your chin/chins out at least everyday for some kind of exercise, then a wheel is ok. The largest is always the best.

DO NOT use the large exercise floor balls for more than 10 min. maximum. Chinchillas can overheat in them and die of heat stroke!!

  Safe Woods List

Aspen
Apple
Elm
Hazelnut
Manzanita
Pear
Pecan
Pine
Quince
Willow


Unsafe Woods List

Almond
Cherry
Fresh Pine Branches
Grapefruit
Cherry Mahogany
Redwood
Sumac
Tallow
Chestnut
Cedar
Lemon
Orange
Oak
Plum
Walnut

Unsure--so do not use the following.
Birch
Ash
Juniper

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