There is a common misconception that
chinchillas cannot get wet or their fur will fall out almost instantly. Chinchillas can get wet, but they do
need to be dried immediately. Their fur is so dense that it has a difficult time air drying and retains moisture
easily. When moisture is retained in a warm environment fungus grows, fur and skin will rot, and you will have a
difficult infection to manage. Therefore, rolling around in the dust produces a much nicer looking chinchilla
than water will.
A chinchilla's coat can become very oily. A regular dust bath is an absolute necessity for chinchillas.
Chinchillas bathe in dust. They require a dust bath to keep the oils down. Taking a vigorous dust bath is
one of their natural behaviours, and is how chinchillas keep their lush coats clean and healthy. Not only does this
dust bath help to keep their thick fur smooth and silky, it is thought to be relaxing and fun for chinchillas.
Make sure your pet bathes in a
dust bath at least once a week. Allowing your chinchilla
to bathe in pumice dust several times a week in a container used exclusively for dust baths will help keep
your chinchilla looking and feeling great. Indeed, chinchillas really get into their baths, rolling and
flipping in the dust with great eagerness.
A special type of sand which is extremely fine is used for the dust bath. This sand can be found in your local pet
store along with the bathtub. Always use store-bought chinchilla dust for bathing. This is specifically made
for chinchillas and this purpose. When the chinchillas roll in this dust, it penetrates their coat down to the skin
and absorbs oil and dirt from the fur.
Set out the dust and let them roll.
You can also use another medium sized container as the tub if you wish.
Other powders or sand may look or feel
similar, but just won't work the same way -- chinchilla dust is made to mimic what they would have access to in
their native habitat.
Normal sand should not be used as it has sharper edges and will bother the chinchillas skin. The dust must be spot
cleaned every day to remove dirt such as droppings, hay or urine, etc. It should be completely changed once a week.
If you have more than one chin they should have their own separate baths to reduce the risk of spreading
Keep in mind it is dust so you may want to
move the cage before doing that. What may be easier is to fill a cat litter box with the dust and let the
chinchilla have at it outside or in a separate room. Special houses are sold for chinchillas to bathe in, but
any plastic container with tall enough edges to prevent all the dust from coming out will do.
A heavy, tip-resistant bowl or deep dish can be used. It should be slightly larger than the chinchilla. Glass fish
bowls or canisters can be used and work well. Also, a plastic house-type container with a rounded bottom can be
purchased for this purpose. Fish bowls and the plastic house-type baths have the advantage of being fairly
enclosed, which can help minimize the amount of dust flying around the room. It is ok to let them roll
around for about 20 minutes several times a week.
The dust should be at least a couple of
inches deep in whatever container you use, so that the chinchilla can effectively roll in it. "Blue Cloud
Chinchilla Dust" and "Blue Sparkle Chinchilla Dust" are two commonly recommended dusts, but just make sure you
get one made specifically for chinchillas.
Place the bath in the cage every evening when the chinchillas are active. The dust bath should only be made
available to the chinchilla intermittently, rather than left in the cage indefinitely. Sand will be sprayed
everywhere, but this is part of having a chinchilla. It is fine to re-use the dust for several baths. Make sure to
scoop out any waste when the chinchilla is done each bath. If the dust starts to look clumpy or dirty, discard and
use fresh dust. The dust can be reused, as long as any wastes are removed.
Too much bathing can dry the skin, and if the dust is left in the cage chinchillas will often sit in the bath
and/or use it as a litter box. Offer the dust bath to your chinchilla at least twice a week, typically in the
evening when they are getting most active. Twice a week is usually sufficient, though you can offer the bath more
frequently if your chinchilla's fur starts to look rough or feels damp or oily. In humid weather, baths should be
offered more frequently. Usually 10 to 15 minutes is plenty of time for a chinchilla bath. If your chinchilla has
dry, flaky skin or seems itchy, decrease the bathing time and frequency a bit.