Buying the perfect cage for your new chinchilla can be an overwhelming task, but we’re here to help you find the perfect Chinchilla habitat. You’ll want to consider their personality and common behaviors, needs, and how to keep them safe from potential injuries.
So, take your time and do your research – your chinchilla’s cage is where they will spend most of their life so look at like an investment. To help you out, here are some facts we think you should know before jumping into buying a chinchilla cage.
Even though we refer to chinchilla in the singular form throughout the article, chinchillas are social animals that will be happier if kept in pairs.
1) Chinchillas are notorious chewers
Chinchillas like to chew but it’s for a good reason. Chewing is an intrinsic behavior that helps chinchillas wear down their teeth naturally and avoid serious dental complications.
Unfortunately, this could mean they’ll even chew their cage, so it’s recommended that you avoid using any plastic in your chinchilla’s cage setup. You want to avoid plastic because it’s an indigestible material that could lead to serious complications like impaction.
Instead, you should look for cages with galvanized steel or iron wire siding because chinchillas aren’t able to chew through these tough materials.
Finding a cage without plastic trays might be a bit more difficult but luckily there are online retailers who sell custom galvanized steel trays if this an option for you. Otherwise you can try to reduce your chinchilla chewing on plastic by providing a variety of toys and wooden chews.
2) Chinchillas need A LOT of space
The amount of space a chinchilla needs to live a healthy and happy life might surprise you. But once you factor in cage accessories and their active nature, a small enclosure will start to feel claustrophobic quickly, so keep this in mind when getting your large Chinchilla cage setup.
It’s recommended that each chinchilla has a minimum 2 square feet of space so if you are planning to house multiple chinchillas you will need to adjust this number accordingly.
When looking at cages, keep in mind that your chinchillas will need: water bottle, food dish, hay rack, exercise wheel, toys, cozy places to hide, and space for a dust bath tray.
Some recommended cages include Midwest Critter Nation, Exotic Nutrition Mansion Cage for Small Animals, and Homey Pet Three-Tier Wire Cage.
3) Chinchillas like to climb and jump
As previously mentioned, chinchillas are active animals that need space to move around. This includes vertical space as chinchillas are likely to be seen jumping, bouncing, and climbing during their most active periods.
You can accommodate this behavior by choosing a cage that is tall with 2-4 levels. Don’t worry about using wire ladders or ramps even if they come prepackaged with the cage – chinchillas don’t need them (they can jump as high as 6 feet!) and they are a potential safety hazard anyway.
4) Chinchillas are sensitive to heat, drafts, and humidity
Before purchasing a cage, you’ll want to consider where you’ll be placing it in your house. Chinchillas originate from the Andes mountains where the temperature and humidity are both low, so their domesticated counterparts don’t tolerate heat and humidity well.
An ideal temperature range is 60°F to 70°F with a humidity level of 40% to 60%. The well-being of your chinchilla will be compromised if exposed to temperatures higher than 80°F even for short periods of time.
Like heat, drafts are uncomfortable for chinchillas, so you will want to avoid fans or placing the cage near furnace vents.
5) Wire floors can hurt your chinchilla’s feet
While looking for a cage, you’ll likely see two types of flooring: solid and wire mesh. Wire mesh is considered easier to clean but it can be damaging to a chinchilla’s delicate feet.
When the spacing on the grid is too wide (larger than ½ x ½ inch) it is possible for their feet to become stuck possibly causing injury.
Additionally, long term exposure to this type of flooring is irritating and will eventually develop into pododermatitis (sore hocks).
By choosing a cage with a solid floor, you can avoid these potential injuries. If you can’t find a cage with a solid floor, a good solution is placing a wooden block on some of the wire mesh. This will let your chinchilla find relief whenever they need it.
Before buying a chinchilla cage you need to consider their common behaviors, needs, and potential hazards.
If you still need help, check out reviews online for the cages you are considering. You will be able to learn the pros and cons of each cage from people who understand what a chinchilla needs.
As a bonus, you might be able to save a lot of time (and money!) finding the perfect cage for your chinchilla.