Can Chinchillas Get Wet?

Many chinchilla owners ask the question: can chinchillas get wet?  It certainly is a valid question to ask, and an important one for us as chinchilla owners to understand.  You see, when it comes to the answer, the short answer is yes, but the long (and perhaps more correct) answer is no.


Wow – now doesn’t that sound confusing!  Let’s look at this in a little more detail.  You see, the relationship between chinchillas and water is all down to the whole reason that so many have been bred – their wonderfully soft, luxurious fur coat.


Unlike most other animals, chinchillas don’t have any outer guard hairs that repel water from the coat.  Consequently, they have very thick, soft, fluffy coats, which are not very resistant to water. This dense fluffy fur acts as a sponge, retaining water close to the skin and this then prevents the coat from drying easily.  And as you can no doubt appreciate, sitting around in a thick, soggy damp fur coat for a long period of time is not going to do any chinchilla (in fact, any animal whatsoever) any good.


So, chinchillas can get wet – it’s a myth that their hair will fall out, or that a chin will instantly die if it gets wet. But at the same time it is not good for a chinchilla to get wet, simply because they take a long time to dry.  This in turn can cause it to catch a chill and become ill. Also, as the moisture is retained close to the skin, this can result in a fungus growth that can cause infection of either the skin or fur – or both. If your chinchilla gets wet it’s best to towel dry it immediately, and then use a no-heat hair dryer to remove all traces of moisture from the coat.


It’s Time to get Dirty….


Like many wild animals, chinchillas take a dust bath to keep their fur in tip-top condition. This is how they keep clean.  In their natural habitat chinchillas take regular dust baths in volcanic ash. In captivity, their natural behavior can be replicated by providing them with a sand/dust bath at least twice a week to maintain their coat in a healthy condition.


Check out this to see a couple of baby chinnies loving their very first dust bath!



Video from YouTube and uploaded by ChinTubeHD


Specially formulated chinchilla bath dust, consisting of pumice grit, can be purchased from most pet stores that cater for chinchillas. The dust absorbs excess oils from the coat, keeping it clean, soft, and fluffy. If your chinchillas coat looks scruffy or oily it’s probably due for a dust bath. However, if the chinchilla’s skin becomes too dry and he begins scratching himself, a sure sign of dry, flaky skin, you can reduce the frequency and duration of the dust baths.


Chinchillas thoroughly relish their dust baths, and they should be regularly provided.  It’s best to provide the dust bath in a container that prevents the dust from flying everywhere as they tend to bathe with vigor – and it’s soooo much fun to watch…  It’s also advisable to remove the dust bath from their cage once bath time is over to prevent them using the dust bath as a litter box.


So, to sum up and answer the question “can chinchillas get wet?”  Yes they can, but they don’t like it, and it’s not healthy for them. If your chinchilla should accidentally get wet, make sure that you dry it quickly in the way mentioned above to prevent any ill-effects.


So, it’s over to you guys, because we’d love to see some photos and videos of your little chaps (and chapessess), enjoying their dust baths.  We don’t know about you, but watching a chinnie rolling and flipping in his dust bath is one of the many pleasures of owning a chinchilla.  So why not head over to our photo and/or video page and share your little treasure with the rest of our SPS community.


Till next time – love those chinnies…


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