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  #1  
Old 05-09-2018, 01:19 PM United States
Red Red is offline
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Default Chinchilla Setup

Hello! I figured I would just write out the general setup I'm planning on using if I get a chinchilla. It would be awesome if you guys had any advice, or could critic it!

Room: I live in Arizona. The lack of humidity is nice, but it makes it hard to keep the room cold enough. To fix that, I will have the cage inside a big indoor greenhouse I have for our rabbit that has a separate air conditioner hooked up to it.

Cage: I have a single critter nation cage with one of the metal Bass pans, so I'm planning on using that. I am probably going to get a wheel, a bunch of wooden shelves and lava ledges, at least two hides, and a hammock or two if he likes them. I also plan on sewing a few double layered fleece mats for the cage floor that I can alternate and wash every week.

Play pen: Since I don't have a huge cage, I would prefer to have a free range area. I am hoping I could use the walls of the greenhouse as one side of the play pen, and some connected plastic panels as the other. It won't be the most secure thing in the world, but since I'll be out there the entire time, and even if he got out it'd still be contained, I think it will work.

Playtime: I am home most of the time, so I will be able to spend at least an hour with him a day. Free ranging will be a big part of that, but I also want to teach him some easy tricks. Of course, only if he enjoys trick training, but I have found that my pets have been a lot happier when they are learning.

Food: My rabbits have always done incredible on Sherwood, and they have Chinchilla food, so I figured I would try it.
Here's the link: https://store.sherwoodpethealth.com/...inchilla-food/

That's pretty much my plan!
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  #2  
Old 05-09-2018, 03:33 PM Canada
Jaysburn Jaysburn is offline
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Sounds pretty good. With all of those things, especially any plastic or fleece, keep a very close eye on him for a while. Chinchillas WILL chew plastic, and some (rarely) will chew on fleece. If he chews on your fleece at all, you have to remove it and cannot use it. I would recommend litter training him with fleece as your bedding, as it will get stinky really quickly if he's peeing on it. I personally use Aspen bedding as litter.

Make sure your wheel is at LEAST 12", preferably 15", as chinchillas don't "run" they hop, and smaller wheels do not accommodate this well and can cause back problems. Again, plastic is bad, go for metal if you can. If you do get plastic, keep a very close eye on it every day. If your chinchilla starts chewing it, remove it.

Lava (pumice) ledges and wood shelves are a must and great, but keep in mind that chinchillas chew the crap out of everything and you will need to replace these quite often so budget for that, as well as chew toys/sticks which are a must to keep them entertained.

Your play area sounds well thought out just again make sure the chin isn't chewing the plastic. Chinchillas don't purposely swallow things they chew on in such ways but can by accident.

My only advice during playtime is to have nice cool areas for him to relax, getting a couple granite cooling slabs you can keep in the fridge and swap out when necessary works well. Chinchillas overheat very easily and can run themselves to death during extended playtimes.

For the tricks, that is great and all, but be extremely sparing with any treats you give them. Pet store bought treats generally suck, and even many things posted online that say they are good for chinchillas (raisins for example) really are not. Do NOT give any treats at all until it is at LEAST 8 months old, preferably a year. That said, switching in some Oat or Alfalfa hay rather than Timothy can make a good treat for them.

Put a lot of research into them before you get them. Chinchillas are very different than rabbits, and even most rodents, and have very different needs and wants and a whole lot more energy. High energy and high intelligence leads them to getting bored, and a bored chinchilla will most certainly start doing things you don't want it to do.

The best advice I can give is; research, research, research. The more you know the better, and if you read any conflicting information, ask a community such as this one rather than guessing; always better safe than sorry.

Also make sure you find a good Exotic vet with experience with chinchillas before getting one.

Also I should mention as my girlfriend is a Veterinary student with a masters in Animal Welfare: Having a single chinchilla is a serious animal welfare concern. Some are grumpy and don't like others, but generally speaking chinchillas are very social creatures and do much better with a friend, preferably a litter-mate they've been with their whole lives. If you get two or more, make sure you have multiple of pretty much everything (food bowl, water bottle, hay feeders, etc. etc.) to prevent territory squabbles.

Chins also love television, it's a great way to prevent boredom throughout the night when they are awake and you are asleep.

Sorry for the rant, just saying things as they come to mind. Let me know if you have any questions!
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  #3  
Old 05-09-2018, 06:26 PM Canada
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Amethyst Amethyst is offline
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You shouldn't house a chinchilla and a rabbit in the same room, rabbits can carry diseases that may not affect the rabbit but can be deadly to chinchillas, one common example is Pasturella. You should also make sure you wash your hands between handling the rabbits and chins.
I'm also not sure about a greenhouse being a suitable "room". You don't want the chin to be in direct sunlight, and I'm not sure how sealed a greenhouse is to keep cold air in. If it's too sealed the air will get stale, how will you air it out without losing the cold air? Maybe I am misunderstanding, I'm not sure I understand what you mean by indoor greenhouse.

The cage sounds fine, you may find that you need to change the cage more then once a week when using fleece, unless you litter train the chin. The pee smell can build up, so most people change the fleece a couple times a week. Also keep in mind that fleece is only safe if the chin doesn't eat it. Most chins don't seem to, but some do, and it can cause a blockage if enough is swallowed.

The play pen idea could work, so long as the chin can't chew on the plastic.

I've found chins are like cats when it comes to doing tricks, you need to show them what is in it for them. They are quiet smart though, so some people have had success teaching some basic tricks. Chins are social animals, so a minimum of an hour a day is required, everyday, especially if you only have one.

I've never heard of that food before so I can't comment too much on that. The protein does look a bit low and the fat seems a bit high compared to foods I know to be good. If you want to do your own comparison, Mazuri, Oxbow Chinchilla Deluxe (not the new garden one), and Hubbard Life Chinchilla (formerly Tradition) are the most commonly recommended chins foods.
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  #4  
Old 05-10-2018, 12:01 AM United States
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Originally Posted by Amethyst View Post
You shouldn't house a chinchilla and a rabbit in the same room, rabbits can carry diseases that may not affect the rabbit but can be deadly to chinchillas, one common example is Pasturella. You should also make sure you wash your hands between handling the rabbits and chins.
I'm also not sure about a greenhouse being a suitable "room". You don't want the chin to be in direct sunlight, and I'm not sure how sealed a greenhouse is to keep cold air in. If it's too sealed the air will get stale, how will you air it out without losing the cold air? Maybe I am misunderstanding, I'm not sure I understand what you mean by indoor greenhouse.

The cage sounds fine, you may find that you need to change the cage more then once a week when using fleece, unless you litter train the chin. The pee smell can build up, so most people change the fleece a couple times a week. Also keep in mind that fleece is only safe if the chin doesn't eat it. Most chins don't seem to, but some do, and it can cause a blockage if enough is swallowed.

The play pen idea could work, so long as the chin can't chew on the plastic.

I've found chins are like cats when it comes to doing tricks, you need to show them what is in it for them. They are quiet smart though, so some people have had success teaching some basic tricks. Chins are social animals, so a minimum of an hour a day is required, everyday, especially if you only have one.

I've never heard of that food before so I can't comment too much on that. The protein does look a bit low and the fat seems a bit high compared to foods I know to be good. If you want to do your own comparison, Mazuri, Oxbow Chinchilla Deluxe (not the new garden one), and Hubbard Life Chinchilla (formerly Tradition) are the most commonly recommended chins foods.
I can figure out a way to keep the chinchilla and rabbit separate, thanks for letting me know about the dangers of keeping them near each other!

The greenhouse is really just used to section of a part of the room so I can keep it cooler using a separate air conditioner. It has windows and a big door that I can open to for most of the day, I just want to make sure I can keep it cool enough.

I'm fine with washing a couple fleece mats a week, though I am planning on litter training if possible. I'll definitely keep an eye on the fleece to make sure there isn't any nibbling (:

I figured Chins would be a lot like rabbits when training, not very food motivated, but smart enough to learn if they wanted to. I'd love to teach him some easy tricks like paw, and more practical ones like walk onto hand. 1 hour is the least I would spend with him a day, most of the time would probably be around 2 hours of interaction. There are also a couple other people in my family that would also play with him if I am especially busy one day.

Thanks for the advice on the food! I have tried Mazuri and Oxbow for my rabbits and it didn't work very well, so I wasn't planning on using those brands. However, chinchilla food and bunny food is different, and if other people have had good results I'll look into it!

Thank you for all the info, I really appreciate it!
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  #5  
Old 05-11-2018, 10:03 PM United States
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Jaysburn View Post
Sounds pretty good. With all of those things, especially any plastic or fleece, keep a very close eye on him for a while. Chinchillas WILL chew plastic, and some (rarely) will chew on fleece. If he chews on your fleece at all, you have to remove it and cannot use it. I would recommend litter training him with fleece as your bedding, as it will get stinky really quickly if he's peeing on it. I personally use Aspen bedding as litter.

Make sure your wheel is at LEAST 12", preferably 15", as chinchillas don't "run" they hop, and smaller wheels do not accommodate this well and can cause back problems. Again, plastic is bad, go for metal if you can. If you do get plastic, keep a very close eye on it every day. If your chinchilla starts chewing it, remove it.

Lava (pumice) ledges and wood shelves are a must and great, but keep in mind that chinchillas chew the crap out of everything and you will need to replace these quite often so budget for that, as well as chew toys/sticks which are a must to keep them entertained.

Your play area sounds well thought out just again make sure the chin isn't chewing the plastic. Chinchillas don't purposely swallow things they chew on in such ways but can by accident.

My only advice during playtime is to have nice cool areas for him to relax, getting a couple granite cooling slabs you can keep in the fridge and swap out when necessary works well. Chinchillas overheat very easily and can run themselves to death during extended playtimes.

For the tricks, that is great and all, but be extremely sparing with any treats you give them. Pet store bought treats generally suck, and even many things posted online that say they are good for chinchillas (raisins for example) really are not. Do NOT give any treats at all until it is at LEAST 8 months old, preferably a year. That said, switching in some Oat or Alfalfa hay rather than Timothy can make a good treat for them.

Put a lot of research into them before you get them. Chinchillas are very different than rabbits, and even most rodents, and have very different needs and wants and a whole lot more energy. High energy and high intelligence leads them to getting bored, and a bored chinchilla will most certainly start doing things you don't want it to do.

The best advice I can give is; research, research, research. The more you know the better, and if you read any conflicting information, ask a community such as this one rather than guessing; always better safe than sorry.

Also make sure you find a good Exotic vet with experience with chinchillas before getting one.

Also I should mention as my girlfriend is a Veterinary student with a masters in Animal Welfare: Having a single chinchilla is a serious animal welfare concern. Some are grumpy and don't like others, but generally speaking chinchillas are very social creatures and do much better with a friend, preferably a litter-mate they've been with their whole lives. If you get two or more, make sure you have multiple of pretty much everything (food bowl, water bottle, hay feeders, etc. etc.) to prevent territory squabbles.

Chins also love television, it's a great way to prevent boredom throughout the night when they are awake and you are asleep.

Sorry for the rant, just saying things as they come to mind. Let me know if you have any questions!
Thanks for all the information! I don't plan on having any plastic in the cage, and I will definitely keep an eye on the fleece. I have several kinds of bedding stocked up, so if it doesn't work out, I can easily switch to paper or aspen. I will probably do bedding at first until/if he learns to use the litter box.

My plan is to get a chinspin or flying saucer, which I should have enough money for by the time they reach 6 months.

For the ledges, I figured I would just keep a stack of pre-cut wood ledges with the necessary holes drilled so I can just switch the hardware whenever they get too chewed or peed on. I will also try to stock lava ledges, but they are a bit more expensive.

The way the pen is set up I don't think they will be able to chew it (I know I shouldn't underestimate them though But I will change things up if I it seems like they are going to chew it. I will definitely try to get some cooling stone, there is a place near me that I think will have the m so it shouldn't be too hard.

I have read a lot of different things about what treats you can and cannot use, though I know anything but their staple diet should be given very sparingly. Would it be okay to give something like a single sugar free wheaties type cereal once every one or two weeks? I also read rose hips are okay, is that true?

I will be sure to do tons of research. I know chins are nothing like bunnies, and being exotics are way more high maintenance. I have had some experience with exotic pets and high energy pets, so I sort of have an idea as to what to expect.

I have read a lot of stuff about chins getting aggressive towards each other as adults, so I wasn't sure about getting two. Is that usually from a lack of space and duplicated things?

Thanks for your help!
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  #6  
Old 05-13-2018, 12:13 PM Canada
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Amethyst Amethyst is offline
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I wouldn't use paper bedding, it stinks pretty quickly when peed on and is not really safe since chins like to eat it.

Just a heads up between the chinspin and flying saucer, the chinspin takes up less floor space, and the flying saucer has a learning curve and not all chins can figure it out. My guys love their flying saucer though, they use it for running, as a jumping pad, as a slid, a swing, so way more fun then the drum style wheel they had before, lol.

Cooling stones are not a replacement for a cool room, they are more extra cooling for after running around. I know some people have had luck checking out local building centers and hardware store to get left over granite or marble for cheap to use as cooling tiles.

I'm not too sure about Wheaties, but Cheerios and Shreddies are ok, rose hips are good too, same with rose petals and blooms, various herbs are also good (Fuzzies Kingdom has a whole list of safe treats). Mostly you just don't want any nuts, seeds, fruits, vegetables, animal products (bone, eggs, milk, ect), and no sugar or human junk food.

It really depends on the chins, my current two are 11 years old and are twin brothers so been together for their whole lives. There are a couple things that can cause issues, one is as you mentioned people not having two of everything, resource guarding is a common issue. Also lack of space, they need to be able to get away from each other, just like humans they need alone time some times. Another thing that can happen is if you get two kits once they hit puberty their temperaments can change, and cause them to not like each other anymore. Lastly it can happen for unknown reasons that one day they don't want to be friends anymore, just like not all friendships/relationships last forever. So if you do decide to get two just be prepare to need to house them separate, if you don't have the space for more then one it's best of just get one. They are social animals though, so even another chin in the same room can be beneficial.

I have also had luck with having multiple chins play together, but not live together. Growing up we use to have male chin playtime and female chin playtime in groups.
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10 Cats: Mystic, Coon, Rascal, Lucky, Mittens, Shadow, CJ, Tiger, Tux, and Nessie
3 Dogs: Bear, Loki, and Blaze
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Old 05-13-2018, 04:22 PM United States
Red Red is offline
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Originally Posted by Amethyst View Post
I wouldn't use paper bedding, it stinks pretty quickly when peed on and is not really safe since chins like to eat it.

Just a heads up between the chinspin and flying saucer, the chinspin takes up less floor space, and the flying saucer has a learning curve and not all chins can figure it out. My guys love their flying saucer though, they use it for running, as a jumping pad, as a slid, a swing, so way more fun then the drum style wheel they had before, lol.

Cooling stones are not a replacement for a cool room, they are more extra cooling for after running around. I know some people have had luck checking out local building centers and hardware store to get left over granite or marble for cheap to use as cooling tiles.

I'm not too sure about Wheaties, but Cheerios and Shreddies are ok, rose hips are good too, same with rose petals and blooms, various herbs are also good (Fuzzies Kingdom has a whole list of safe treats). Mostly you just don't want any nuts, seeds, fruits, vegetables, animal products (bone, eggs, milk, ect), and no sugar or human junk food.

It really depends on the chins, my current two are 11 years old and are twin brothers so been together for their whole lives. There are a couple things that can cause issues, one is as you mentioned people not having two of everything, resource guarding is a common issue. Also lack of space, they need to be able to get away from each other, just like humans they need alone time some times. Another thing that can happen is if you get two kits once they hit puberty their temperaments can change, and cause them to not like each other anymore. Lastly it can happen for unknown reasons that one day they don't want to be friends anymore, just like not all friendships/relationships last forever. So if you do decide to get two just be prepare to need to house them separate, if you don't have the space for more then one it's best of just get one. They are social animals though, so even another chin in the same room can be beneficial.

I have also had luck with having multiple chins play together, but not live together. Growing up we use to have male chin playtime and female chin playtime in groups.
Okay, I'll stick to wood shavings then. If I end up using fleece later, are there any safe options for an absorbent layer underneath?

I think I will probably get a chinspin to start, and maybe add in a flying saucer when I get a bigger cage.

I can definitely keep it cool enough, but I think some stones would be nice to have either way. I am planning on keeping the temperature at around 70 degrees, is that fine to have it at year round?

The list of safe treats is really helpful. It's great to have with all the conflicting info out there

Thanks for explaining the whole multiple chins thing! Do you think it would be okay to start with one chinchilla a first, and then later get an add on unit for my critter nation with along with another? Then I could try to bond them, but if it didn't work out I could just keep them separate. Or is it easier for them to bond when they are young? Either way I would get an add on unit so I could easily separate them if they had any issues.
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Old 05-15-2018, 12:25 PM Canada
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Amethyst Amethyst is offline
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Okay, I'll stick to wood shavings then. If I end up using fleece later, are there any safe options for an absorbent layer underneath?

I think I will probably get a chinspin to start, and maybe add in a flying saucer when I get a bigger cage.

I can definitely keep it cool enough, but I think some stones would be nice to have either way. I am planning on keeping the temperature at around 70 degrees, is that fine to have it at year round?

The list of safe treats is really helpful. It's great to have with all the conflicting info out there

Thanks for explaining the whole multiple chins thing! Do you think it would be okay to start with one chinchilla a first, and then later get an add on unit for my critter nation with along with another? Then I could try to bond them, but if it didn't work out I could just keep them separate. Or is it easier for them to bond when they are young? Either way I would get an add on unit so I could easily separate them if they had any issues.
I just use 3 layers of fleece, that way if they do chew it before I notice it's just fleece inside. Some people use towels or quilt batting inside though, so long as you check it often it should be ok, but I still worry. Oh and when using fleece make sure you don't use any detergent or fabric softener, use vinegar as your cleaner. Detergents have chemicals and some contain fabric softener in them, and fabric softener coats fabric, making it soft, but not very absorbent.

Yeah I think a chinspin would fit better since you only have a single CN, I have a Ferret Nation and this is a pic of the bottom half of the double unit (FN and CN are same size just different bar spacing) with the flying saucer in the back corner. This is an old pic of their cage but shows a drum style wheel to give you an idea of space difference, the chin spin has a little wider running surface then the wheel I had.

70F sounds fine, I try to keep my room about 68F or below year round, but I also can't stand the heat either, lol. Chins should not be out to play if it's above 70F and shouldn't be in temps above 75 for long or they can suffer heat related issues (heat exhaustion, heat stroke).

When bonding chins personality has a lot more to do with getting along then age. You need either a dominate chin and submissive chin or two submissive chins, two dominate personality ones will unlikely get along. I think it might be easier to bond then when young because everything is new so they are more accepting, and they have never live alone. If you wait too long, like a few years, to get a second chin the first might have gotten use to being alone and be less likely to accept another chin. Think of it like having an only child, then bringing in a new kid to the family.
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10 Cats: Mystic, Coon, Rascal, Lucky, Mittens, Shadow, CJ, Tiger, Tux, and Nessie
3 Dogs: Bear, Loki, and Blaze
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Old 05-15-2018, 10:53 PM United States
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I just use 3 layers of fleece, that way if they do chew it before I notice it's just fleece inside. Some people use towels or quilt batting inside though, so long as you check it often it should be ok, but I still worry. Oh and when using fleece make sure you don't use any detergent or fabric softener, use vinegar as your cleaner. Detergents have chemicals and some contain fabric softener in them, and fabric softener coats fabric, making it soft, but not very absorbent.

Yeah I think a chinspin would fit better since you only have a single CN, I have a Ferret Nation and this is a pic of the bottom half of the double unit (FN and CN are same size just different bar spacing) with the flying saucer in the back corner. This is an old pic of their cage but shows a drum style wheel to give you an idea of space difference, the chin spin has a little wider running surface then the wheel I had.

70F sounds fine, I try to keep my room about 68F or below year round, but I also can't stand the heat either, lol. Chins should not be out to play if it's above 70F and shouldn't be in temps above 75 for long or they can suffer heat related issues (heat exhaustion, heat stroke).

When bonding chins personality has a lot more to do with getting along then age. You need either a dominate chin and submissive chin or two submissive chins, two dominate personality ones will unlikely get along. I think it might be easier to bond then when young because everything is new so they are more accepting, and they have never live alone. If you wait too long, like a few years, to get a second chin the first might have gotten use to being alone and be less likely to accept another chin. Think of it like having an only child, then bringing in a new kid to the family.
Okay, I think I will just do a few layers of fleece then. I will definitely use vinegar, I've always used it to wash my pets' stuff.

Thanks for the pictures of your cage! It's always nice to see the way experienced owners set up their chin's home. I have one question about the wood ledges: Do they start to smell fairly quickly from pee? If so, what do you use to clean them?

I will probably try to get it down below seventy as often as I can then, which shouldn't be to hard for at least half the year. If I need to take my chin(s) to the vet or something, is it okay if it isn't below 75 the entire time? I can get a piece of granite to freeze and then put into the carrier, but it's hard to guarantee low temps.

I think I'll get one chinchilla for now, and then once I understand his personality (maybe a couple months after I get him), decide what kind of chin he would get along best with.

Thank you for all your help, it's really great to get a real chin owner's opinion!
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