~ Chocolate Chinchillas ~



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Basic Chinchilla Care

The Most Important Investment: The Cage 
The ideal cage is 18" Deep x 24" Length x 18"-28" High, with a wire floor, and a pull-out tray.  
The absolute most important thing is that you are able to clean the cage easily. When you put your arm through the door, you should be able to touch the back wall & easily access every point in the cage...Not only will that make your cage easy to clean, but it will also make it easy to remove your Chinchilla from the cage without having to chase him. Chasing is guaranteed to ruin your bond & relationship.
Next, a Wire Floor with a 'Pull out tray' is a must. The wire floor will keep your animal clean by preventing him from sitting in his own urine, and  also allows proper airflow. I have a solid surface in every cage and all of my Chins sleep on their wire floors - Especially when it gets hot. It helps the Chinchilla to adjust his own temperature - Hot = Sit on bars/ Cold = Sit on tile.
You need a pull out tray to easily clean the mess without having to take your Chinchilla out of the cage. If you have a wire floor, there will be no way for the animal to escape when you pull out the tray. Avoid "Drop in pans" at all costs or you will be in cage cleaning hell.
As far as picking up a cage (as opposed to ordering online)...PetSmart and perhaps Farm-N-Fleet.
Check out  Midwest Critter Nation Single Unit: $146 36"L x 24"W x 39"H Much larger than I would ever use, but pet people seem to like it. This cage comes with a rolling stand. http://www.petsmart.com/product/index.jsp?productId=3402796
www.MartinsCages.com : The Chinchilla Cabin (R-670), The Chinchilla Lodge (R-680).
I hope that helps! Please let me know what you end up doing - it will help me know what to recommend to new Chinchilla owners in the future.
WATER: I recommend Water Treated by Reverse Osmosis. There are Chinchillas that do well with any water other than softened. It is not necessary/recommended to put additives of any kind in their water. The clearer the better. Never add fruit juice to the water bottle.

Free Feed Hay & Chinchilla pellets - Ideally purchase from a feed store or a Breeder that does a relatively high turnover. Chinchilla pellets such as Mazuri, Tradition, Shoots' Some also do well on Rabbit pellets such as Manna Pro Sho, Nutrena, & Purina Advanced Nutrition.  If there seems to be excess waste, lessen the amount of pellets given as necessary. Likewise, if all pellets are eaten, increase the amount. Keep feed in an airtight, rodent-proof container in order to keep it fresh and uncontaminated. Chinchilla pellets begin to lose their nutritional value after about three months, discard any feed older than 6 months. These older pellets make good fertilizer. Keeping the diet as close to pellets & hay as possible will ensure a healthy animal.

100% Loose Timothy Hay or 100% Alfalfa Cubes are best. Hay is an extremely important part of your chinchilla's diet. Alfalfa may also be given to growing chinchillas. In either case, be sure that the hay is free of dust, mold and weeds, and watch for diarrhea.

Chinchillas love treats, but only feed in moderation as many health problems may result from excess. Good Choices: Dried papaya, dried apple, dried Carrots, Rose Hips, oats, & shredded wheat. A striped sunflower seed may be offered occasionally, but no more than one or two per month. Straying away from a healthy diet too much will cause digestive problems from diarrhea to severe malnutrition and compromise overall beauty. Fresh fruits & vegetables, peanuts, chocolate, and junk food are unacceptable. These items cause problems for the chinchilla's digestive system - they may be difficult to digest, toxic, may cause an intestinal blockage or bloat, or may be too high in fat or sodium.

Bad Diet is the #1 killer of pet chinchillas. Most health problems can be prevented &/or treated successfully with a healthy diet & LIFELINE - If you have a Chinchilla, you should never be without this product.  I also Highly recommend taking the advice from a experienced Chinchilla-knowledgeable Breeder as opposed to someone who doesn't actually own these animals. Sometimes for peace of mind it's best to See an Exotics Veterinarian. Arboretum View Animal Hospital is a vet that I recommend.

ORDER LifeLine HEREhttp://www.chocolatechinchillas.com/id4.html

My cages are L 24" x W 18" x H 18" - This size is optimal for Introducing & Breeding in pairs. Try to keep their cage out of direct sunlight, away from humidity (house plants) and drafts - both hot and cold. Always keep at least one spot in the cage wired as opposed to solid flooring - This will allow the Chinchilla to easily regulate body temperature. Temperatures should never range over ten degrees for a Chinchilla. Their most comfortable temperature being between 68 F and 72 F. Chinchillas enjoy having a shelf to perch on.

All wooden additions to their cages should be free of aromatic oils or glues. Good choices are untreated Pine, Manzanita, & Pecan. Do not use fiberboard, cedar, oak, or walnut. If possible, take the entire cage outside a few times a year to wash and allow to dry in the sun. (shelves and houses too) should be taken outside and sterilized. Be sure to allow the cage to dry completely. This thoroughly cleans and disinfects the chinchilla's living area.

For bedding use pine or aspen shavings (you can determine if kiln dried by feeling; fresh chips are usually a bit sticky - check the label on the bag). These may be found at most feed and pet stores. Corn cob litter is not advisable if it is accessible to the chin, as any nibbling of it will eventually pose a health problem. Bedding should be changed at least Once per week. (Every other day is what works best for me). Cedar, redwood, eucalyptus, plywood and other aromatic woods or those containing glues are potentially toxic to chinchillas.

I use & recommend Blue Cloud Dust, though any dust for a pet is adequate. Chinchillas have a large amount of lanolin in their fur and must be provided with a dust bath on a weekly basis (at the very LEAST), daily is perfectly acceptable provided no dry skin or scaling results. Every 2 -3 days is ideal. Chinchilla dust may be purchased at most pet stores, But it’s a LOT cheaper on-line or from a Rancher. Adding ½ teaspoon of anti-fungal powder to dust once a month aids in preventing any fungal problems in their fur (keeping the humidity low also helps with this problem). SuperPet dust bath houses are suitable - place vertically in the cage to save on dust. A Chinchilla can easily enter the opening at the top.

I recommend a Pumice Cube in every cage. Medium Fiddle Sticks Critter Logs also make a good long lasting toy. Chinchillas NEED to gnaw in order to keep their teeth worn down to the proper length. Keep appropriate items in their cage for them to chew on such as small blocks of untreated pine, pesticide-free branches of apple, mulberry, or hazelnut tree, or Pecan Wood. Coconut shells are a HUGE favorite! Do not use cedar, walnut, oak, wood from trees with pitted fruit, plastic, or vinyl for them to chew on.

Although chinchillas may live alone, they are social in the wild and are happy with a companion. They will groom each other and snuggle while sleeping. Use caution introducing them to each other and observe their behavior - be prepared to break up a fight. Since they are nocturnal, try this introduction during the day - their sleepy time. A small, neutral enclosure packed with treats, a dust bath, and toys sprinkled around helps new chins get used to each other if approached properly.

Handling : Chinchillas are easy to hand tame If you need to pick up your chinchilla suddenly, do so by grasping the base of their tail. Never squeeze around the ribs. Chinchillas dislike being chased, grabbed, or unsolicited handling & restraint.  However, They do enjoy being rubbed or scratched around their ears, chin, chest, and face. If they don’t like what you’re doing, they’ll push you away or bark at you...Chinchilla are very good at letting you know what they like & don't like as you will soon find out!

Just a Note~

Recommended Food: FRESH Feed store Mazuri & Lifeline
Recommended Hay: 100% Alfalfa Hay Cubes: Feed Store
Recommended Water: Water treated by Reverse Osmosis- (Aquafina is comparable)
Additional Comments:
Chinchillas can be nervous in a new home. Keep an eye out for diarrhea. Make sure you see your new chin eat and drink within 48 hours. Feeding Lifeline will prevent such problems