Chinchillas have the densest fur of any land mammal. There can be more than 20,000 hairs per square centimeter of skin! This might seem like a huge grooming task but chinchilla fur actually has pretty simple upkeep. Chinchillas bathe themselves in dust to keep their fur clean. The dust absorbs oil and dirt in the fur that then shakes off with daily activity. No water needed! So which dusts should you use? How often do they need to be given? And is this all you need to do to maintain a chinchilla coat?
Types of Dust
Volcanic ash and clay is what wild chinchillas typically dust with. It is composed of particles of jagged rock, minerals, and volcanic glass. Blue Beauty Dust and several other brands of chinchilla dust is volcanic ash.
These dusts may cause a reaction in chin parents with allergies. If both types of dust cause a reaction, a zeolite powder, such as Sweet PDZ is a suitable alternative.
Sand is pretty popular and often advertised for chinchillas, but we oppose the use of sand. The only advantage it has is keeping the area around the chinchilla cleaner - which is a benefit for you - not for your pet. Sand is harsh and does not penetrate the fur to clean it efficiently.
Chinchillas should be offered dust 2-4 times per week. If your chin's ear or feet are getting dry- you can limit the dust. If you notice your chin is getting a little greasy (see photos below)- give the bath more often. Chinchillas tend to go potty in the bath if left in the cage so we recommend removing it after about 10 minutes or when your chins are done bathing.
The coat of a greasy chinchilla. Note the tendency of the fur to clump and how it lies flat in areas.
A chinchilla that has regular dust baths. The fur should poof out and appear relatively solid.
Other Chinchilla Fur Grooming
Little Q was priming in this photo. Note the spikes and tufts of fur. That is her dead coat coming out and getting replaced with a new coat.
Healthy adult chinchillas shed or 'prime' their fur about every 4-6 months. Tufts of dead coat will begin to work their way out. Regular dust baths and your chinchilla's own grooming takes care of most of it, but you can help by gently tugging the tufts or knots out or using a fine metal comb. If combing, have your chin on a table or the floor and grip the base of the tail. Work the comb gently from the tail to the head to the dead fur out effectively. Some chinchillas do not like this process and will complain (cack). Rest assured
you aren't hurting them, but if you prefer not to comb, the priming just takes longer when allowed to run its course.
Have questions about grooming chinchillas? Email us at firstname.lastname@example.org