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Small Pet Spa Day: Chinchilla Dust Bath Basics

chinchilla dust bath

What’s on the schedule today? Ah, a chinchilla dust bath. Just what your fluffy friend needed. Did you know that chinchillas have 60-70 hairs sprouting from just one hair follicle? They have the densest fur of any land animal! 

Definitely something that we want to take care of. But that thick fur is a doozy to dry out. For the sake of skin health (more on that later) you don’t ever want to get your chinchilla wet. 

So how do we keep the chins clean?! Enter the chinchilla dust bath, an essential part of your chinchilla’s routine that mimics the dry volcanic ash their wild counterparts roll around in to stay clean in the dry Andes mountains.  

Chinchillas Need Dust Baths To Keep Their Skin Healthy

Most chinchillas love to roll around in their dust bath. Who doesn’t love flopping into a pile of dust? It’s fun to watch your chin get excited and stir things up in their dust bath. 

Dust baths help absorb excess moisture on your chin’s skin as well as make sure the natural oils on their skin are evenly distributed.

Without a chinchilla dust bath, your chin’s coat will become greasy and damp. As mentioned earlier their thick coat stops their skin from being able to completely dry when it gets wet. Moisture can get trapped under their fur leading to skin inflammation and fungal infections. 

It’s also important to make sure your chinchilla’s enclosure is completely dry. Quality chinchilla bedding helps keep everything tidy.  

What To Use For A Chinchilla Dust Bath?

It’s important you don’t go collect sand or dust from your backyard and call it a chinchilla dust bath. Chinchillas need material from their native home, the Andes mountains! Or at least, material similar to what is found in the Andes mountains.

The dust used for chinchillas needs to be made and packaged specifically for chinchillas. Usually, packages will be labeled with chinchilla dust and it will look like fine gray sand. You may also see it called chinchilla bath sand. As long as it’s clear on the package that it’s made for chinchilla baths. 

Chinchilla dust and sand are usually made from pumice, volcanic pumice, or something very similar to this material. Chinchilla dust should be finer than sand, more silky even!

It’s best if you have an enclosed dust bath so that there is less dust scattered around and the mess stays contained. A bath house if you will! Just make sure there’s enough room for your chin to roll around in it! You need 1-2 inches of dust at the bottom of your container. 

How Often Should A Chinchilla Get A Dust Bath?

A chinchilla should have a dust bath two times a week. It’s important that you only add the dust bath to their enclosure for short periods of time and only twice a week.

chinchilla dust bath

Put the dust bath in the same place each time and it’s best to have it available when your chinchilla is most active. Evening time is probably the best but you know your chin. Make sure your chinchilla is relaxed for their dust bath and there aren’t any extra stressors. They need to feel safe in order to use it properly. 

Depending on your chinchilla, you could have a dust bath available up to four times a week. Some chinchillas are reluctant to really get rolling in the dust while others are all in. Four is probably the max you want for the week though. 

Can A Chinchilla Have Too Many Baths? 

Sorry chins, can’t have too much of a good thing. While you don’t want your chinchilla to be damp you also don’t want them to be too dry. If your little fluffy friend spends too much time in their chinchilla dust bath their skin, feet, and ears will dry out. 

If they get used to the dust bath being there they may also decide to use it as a litter box. And that would defeat the purpose of having a place to dry off in! 

How Often Should You Clean Out A Dust Bath? 

You can reuse the dust from one chinchilla dust bath 2-3 times. Once you see the sand starting to clump or look dirty you definitely need new sand. 

Wild Chinchillas and Their Love For Dust

Wild chinchillas use volcanic ash for their dust baths. That’s what's in their backyard in the mountains in South America! 

The Andes mountains (where chinchillas originated from) have a very dry climate but it’s pretty cool temperature-wise. This makes it the perfect spot to live if you have a thick warm coat. Their fur keeps them warm and they don’t need to worry very much about getting wet.

And when they do, they have plenty of dry volcanic ash to help absorb the moisture. It’s their way of self-cleaning and grooming. Many pet owners have observed their chinchilla having extra stress when they don’t have a dust bath available when they need it. 

chinchilla dust bath

An Active Spa Day It Is

For everyone who's seen a chin hop in their dust bath, you know they aren’t sitting back with cucumbers on their eyes. They almost instantly flip and roll and shimmy their way through the sand. Their spa looks a bit like a tumble gym. 

So naturally, a chinchilla dust bath is a highlight of any chin (and parents) week! Let the good times roll. To the dust bath!


Chinchilla research is continuously growing! If you have any doubts or concerns contact your exotic vet.

We are not veterinarians, and none of our information should be construed as veterinary advice.

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