Complete Guide to Chinchilla Cage Setup and Design

Complete Guide to Chinchilla Cage Setup and Design

Mastering Chinchilla Cage Setup Tips, Tricks, and Expert Advice

IN THIS ARTICLE

Hailing from the Andes Mountains in South America, chinchillas are wonderful animals to keep as pets. They’re beloved by owners young and old for their adorable appearance and sociable nature. However, a proper chinchilla cage setup is essential in ensuring that these fluffy pets are happy and healthy.

With the best chinchilla cage setup, these cute little furballs can thrive. They’ll happily jump about, explore their surroundings, and get the exercise and comfort they need. But, if your chinchilla habitat cage isn’t quite right, your pet could suffer. This guide will cover everything chinchilla owners need to know about chinchilla housing.

Understanding Chinchillas Natural Habitat

In the wild, chinchillas live on the rocky Andes Mountains, thousands of feet above sea level. The land they live on tends to be rocky and barren, with quite cool temperatures year-round. That’s why both domestic and wild chinchillas have such thick and cozy coats, insulting them against the cold.

They also have very strong hind legs for jumping across the land and searching for food — bark, grasses, and plants — which they mainly do at night. During the day, they spend most of their time hiding inside little cracks and caves, safe from predators.

All of this information can be used when keeping chinchillas as pets and thinking up chinchilla cage setup ideas. For example, every good chinchilla enclosure should have platforms, helping to exercise the chinchilla’s strong legs and letting them jump about. 

Choosing the Right Chinchilla Cage

Chinchilla mansion

Before you head to pet stores and ponder over adequate chinchilla supplies or chinchilla food, you have to pick out the right cage. As with most animals, larger cages are better than smaller ones. Indeed, the cage should be an absolute minimum of 3′ x 2′ x 2′, and ideally, you should try to get one even bigger than that.

When it comes to chinchilla cage size, height is arguably the most important measurement. Chinchillas need a lot of vertical space, since they like to jump and climb very much. A high cage can better emulate the mountainous environment in which these creatures have evolved.

In terms of materials, a chinchilla cage needs to be made from strong and sturdy materials. It should be chew-resistant, too, as chinchillas like to nibble on things, and the cage will also require proper ventilation for comfort. Most commercial cages from pet stores will be made of metal with soft edges to reduce chances of injury. But, if you’re planning a DIY chinchilla cage setup, you’ll need to design it with care.

It’s also important to buy a cage with horizontal bars (even if they are only supportive). These allow the chinchilla to climb up the bars and move about more easily. They also allow you to hang accessories on the side of the cage easier. Also, there should be an inch of space between each bar to let the chinchillas fit their paws through and climb comfortably, while still preventing them from escaping.

What Is the Best Placement for a Chinchilla Cage?

Once you’ve picked out a cage with plenty of space, you’ll need to place it in the right area. Again, this is something that needs to be considered with great care, as chinchillas can be quite sensitive, delicate creatures. They need to live in the right conditions to avoid health issues and help you avoid trips to the chinchilla vet.

First, think about temperature. What temperature do chinchillas like? Well, given their native habitat and thick fur, they cope well in mild spaces and don’t enjoy excessive heat. A little natural light is essential, but the cage shouldn’t be placed in a very sunny or hot spot. Ideally, find an area with a stable temperature (around 60 to 75 degrees Fahrenheit) and no drafts.

Your pet friend will also benefit from quite a peaceful area for their home. Try to find a spot that isn’t too busy in the home, and keep the cage away from anything that could cause lots of noise or vibrations, like a TV or music system. Chinchillas can easily get stressed out and suffer due to loud sounds, and such stresses could lead to a shorter chinchilla lifespan.

What Do Chinchillas Need in Their Cage?

So, what do you need for a chinchilla? Well, before you buy a chinchilla or start searching for “chinchillas near me,” it’s important to have a good idea of everything you’ll need to buy and provide for your pet. As well as a good quality cage, chinchillas will also require a range of other essentials, like food, bedding, toys, and more. Here’s a quick rundown of all you need.

Bedding and Substrate

Every chinchilla cage needs bedding material spread out across the floor space. It soaks up urine and waste and gives your chinchilla something gentle to walk over and sleep on.

There are several different bedding options out there. In general, chinchillas benefit from very soft, absorbent, and non-toxic materials, such as fleece, kiln-dried pine, or aspen shavings. Try to avoid materials that could be toxic or harmful to your pet, like cedar, or bedding materials with synthetic fragrances mixed in.

Water Bottle/Dispenser

Fresh water is absolutely vital at all times for chinchillas, and most cages should have at least one water bottle attached to the sides — you might like to add a secondary bottle or dispenser if you have multiple animals in the same cage.

Every pet owner should regularly verify that the bottle works properly. It’s best to opt for glass models over plastic, too. Your chinchillas may try to nibble the bottle and could easily bite through a plastic one. 

In terms of placement, make sure that the bottle is easy to access and placed at a comfortable height for drinking.

Food Bowl

Chinchilla Quality Cage Coop Cup

Of course, along with water, chinchillas also need food. Their diet should mainly consist of hay, but they may also eat pellets, along with the odd chinchilla treat, like goji berries. And you’ll need a good bowl to store it all in.

It’s best to opt for a heavy and stable bowl. This will reduce the risk of it tipping over if the chinchillas jump inside or lean on the side. Ceramic and metal bowls work best, and the bowl is best placed on the cage floor for easy accessibility and to decrease the chance of spilling. Remember to clean the bowl regularly for your pet’s comfort and safety.

Hay Feeder

When it comes to what do chinchillas need in their cage, a hay feeder is also an essential addition. As stated above, hay is a core component of every chinchilla diet.

It’s vital for their well-being, and a hay feeder can be attached to the side of the cage, providing easy, 24-hour access to hay. Opt for a design that aims to reduce waste and keep it topped up throughout the day.

Chinchilla hay Feeder

Hiding Spots

In the wild, chinchillas hide in little cracks and caverns to escape from the cold and predators. Even as pets, they retain that behavior. This is especially true if other animals are present in the house — chinchillas and cats, for example, can easily develop a prey-predator relationship.

All good cages should therefore include a couple of hiding spots, like a wooden nesting box.

Dustbowl

Chinchillas don’t need to be bathed in water, but they do like to take sand or dust baths from time to time. This is crucial for their fur healthy, and owners need to provide a little tray or bowl, ideally filled with volcanic ash, for them to bathe in daily.

Exercise Equipment

Chinchillas are very active animals that like climbing and jumping around. The best cages therefore need to include some exercise gear, like safe wheels, multiple ledges, and platforms to climb and jump to, along with tunnels.

However, choose your exercise items with care and avoid anything that could cause a chinchilla to overheat, like big plastic exercise balls.

Chinchilla Quality Cage Chin Spin

Hammock

Chinchillas tend to rest a lot during the day and will appreciate some cozy spots to sleep in. A safe, comfortable hammock made of soft fabric is a great idea, but make sure not to suspend it too high up to reduce the risk of falls and injuries.

Toys

Chinchillas also have a playful side and will enjoy playing or gnawing on toys. Common chinchilla toys include gnawing blocks and pumice stones, as well as little wooden balls, vine rings, and grass mats.

Avoid little plastic items or anything made of toxic materials that could pose a health or choking risk. And try to introduce new toys often to provide mental stimulation.

Decorative Items

When coming up with chinchilla cage ideas, you might also like to think about aesthetic additions. Climbable branches can make the space seem more “wild” and fun. Various decorative accessories exist specifically for chinchilla cages to make it look more like the mountainous terrain the animal is used to.

This can add to the overall chinchilla cost, but such items can enrich your chinchilla’s life and living space. Just try to avoid anything sharp or toxic.

Common Mistakes and How to Avoid Them

If you’ve never owned a chinchilla before, it’s easy to make mistakes, even when you’re trying to keep your chinchilla safe. Here are a few common chinchilla cage setup errors and how to avoid making them:

  • Small or low cage: The cage needs to be big. Chinchillas need plenty of room to move around, and they especially need vertical space. Remember, if you have more than one chinchilla, an even bigger cage will be needed.
  • Wrong placement: Cage placement can have a huge impact on the health and happiness of any chinchilla. Make sure to find a space that is well-lit and with a consistent temperature. Avoid near windows, radiators, A/C vents, or any other dangers.
  • Wrong materials: Many materials are toxic or pose a health threat, including various types of wood such as birch, cedar, or some oaks and pines, among others. Choose appropriate materials to keep your little friends happy, and ask for expert advice if and when you need it.

Begin Your Chinchilla’s Dream Home Journey!

Overall, there’s a lot to take into account when building a beautiful, safe, and happy chinchilla home. Make sure to think carefully about the key factors, like cage size, placement, bedding materials, and plenty of toys to keep your chinchilla happy. For the best quality chinchilla supplies, cages, and accessories, check out the Quality Cage collection.

FAQs

What do chinchillas need in their cage?

Chinchillas benefit from branches and platforms in their cages that help them jump and climb, along with some wood, rope, or cardboard toys to gnaw on. They also need cozy bedding, lots of hay, along with a nest box to sleep in.

Can chinchillas have blankets in their cage?

Yes, fleece blankets can work as bedding material to line chinchilla cages. They feel soft and comfortable underfoot, but you’ll need to wash and change the blankets often to avoid smells and bacteria.

Where do you put hay in a chinchilla cage?

Hay can be scattered across the platforms of the chinchilla cage, or in the nesting box. Many chinchilla cages also have an attached hay rack, which you can fill with hay for the chinchilla to eat.

Do chinchillas need to come in pairs?

Yes, it’s best to keep chinchillas in same-sex pairs for companionship. Alone, chinchillas can get bored and sad and will require lots of attention on a daily basis.

Questions?

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Author: Joshua Paulson and Quality Cage Team

Josh is the owner and CEO at Quality Cage Crafters since 2015. During his time at Quality Cage Crafters he has been able to learn from tens of thousands of pet owners and pet educators. He blends his ambition for manufacturing and passion for animal care to create solutions for pet owners, breeders, animal rescues, and zoos. He has brought together a team of great animal lovers to create high quality pet care content for the Quality Cage Crafters audience.

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