Welcome home, little chin. Your castle awaits.
Yes, castle. Well, at least that’s how you want your chinchilla – who will spend a significant amount of her 15 to 20 year lifespan in that cage – to look at it.
Chins can live quite a long time, up to 20 years or more as we just mentioned, and you want to make sure those years are happy and comfortable. That’s why it’s so important to spend time thinking about and preparing her cage for her.
Go for durability.
Sure, you may want to upgrade your chin’s cage – whether to make it easier for her to move around as she grows older or to provide her with even more space – as the years pass. Still, there are a few types of cages you want to avoid now and in the future.
Never, ever buy plastic or wood housing. Those little chinny teeth love to chew. Two of their favorite things to chew? You’ve got it. Wood and plastic. That gorgeous wood or plastic home you’ve fallen in love with online? It’s no match for your chin’s teeth.
You want durability. Metal provides that durability and your chin won’t be able to chew through it. Win-win.
Avoid toxic materials
Not all metals are safe for your chin. Avoid the toxic metals, including brass, copper, and zinc. Instead, always look for cages (and toys) that are made from the safe metals – stainless steel, aluminum, and nickel, gold or silver plated.
The bigger the better
Good philosophy when considering the best cage for your chin: The bigger the better. Ask yourself: If you had to live the cage for 20 years (minus time out for playing and socializing), would you be happy?
The perfect habitat
Let’s take a look at all the things you need in the cage to ensure your chin gets the royal treatment:
- Solid floor. Never, ever, ever keep your chin on wire floors. Can you imagine if you had to stand barefoot on wire floor all day? Agony, right? Well, your chin will feel the same and she’ll have no way to escape it.
- Bedding. A few rules you’ll want to keep in mind when choosing bedding. Never use cedar or undried pine. Both are believed to cause liver problems and respiratory illness in chins and other small animals. Opt for a paper based-bedding, such as shredded newspaper.
- Water bottle. Avoid water bowls, especially with energetic chinchillas. A water bowl is just an accident waiting to spill, causing your chin’s bedding and other belongings to become soggy. Instead, opt for a sturdy water bottle that will attach to the side of the cage.
- Hay rack/basket. Keep those tiny chin teeth healthy with unlimited hay. Use a hay rack or basket and always refill as soon as you see it get a little low on the green stuff.
- Food bowl. Choose a food bowl that works best for your chin's needs. A sturdy bowl on one of the cage's levels will work. Or, you may find a stainless steel bowl that you connect to the side of the cage works better for both you and your chinchilla.
- Wheels. This is for you. A cage sat atop wheels will just make your life, especially on cleaning days, so much easier. Just wheel the cage into a different spot instead of having to bend like a contortionist trying to clean behind it.
- Exercise wheel. This is for your chin. An exercise wheel, with a solid floor (not metal or grates at all when it comes to delicate chinchilla feet), will help your little one get the exercise she needs, usually in the morning or in the evening. Despite popular belief, chinchillas are crepuscular. Click here to read how to keep your chin safe when using an exercise wheel.
- Hiding spaces. We all have times when we just want to hide out alone, right? Your chinchilla is no different. Provide plenty of spaces – such as cardboard tubes and wooden hides – so your chin can get away when she wants to.
- Shelves. Chin cages typically come with floors, identified by shelves. Their little teeth will destroy plastic; how quickly really depends on your chin’s determination. Some people make their own wooden floors – also chewable. It all comes down to your personal preference as to what type of shelves to use.
- Toys. Chins need mental and physical stimulation just like you and me. Toys help provide that. A chin may destroy a wood house but will certainly love wooden toys. Consider rotating your chin’s toys – giving so many one week then replacing with others another week and so on – so she doesn’t become bored.
These are just some of the basics that every chinchilla house should have. You can be as elaborate or as simple as you want. Just keep in mind that your little one will live in that space for much of her life and you want her to be happy.