So you’ve taken a leap and decided on owning a chinchilla, congratulations! Now that you’ve made your decision to become a chinchilla parent, you have to get everything ready for the chinchilla to arrive at your home.
The good news is that we’re by your side to give you the comprehensive list of everything you need to have ready before officially owning a chinchilla.
How Expensive is Owning A Chinchilla?
In short, chinchilla cost and all of the product and supply costs may initially seem to be a little pricey, but if you choose high-quality and safe products - these expenses are an incredibly wise investment for your chinchilla and will last a long time.
Let’s start by looking at the absolute must-haves the first day your chinchilla is home, while some of these items can be upgraded later, you need to have some form of these items ready and waiting.
It's also important to keep in mind that many of these items, such as bedding, toys, litter, and dust, for instance, need to be accounted for on your restock list once they're running low.
Buying a chinchilla
While there are numerous places you can find to buy a chinchilla, we strongly advocate for adopting a rescue instead. Adoption fees will vary by organization, so research resources in your area to get an idea of the chinchilla cost associated, or get in touch with our friends at NOLA Chinchilla Rescue or Aces Up Chinchillas to see if they can help steer you in the right direction.
If for some reason adopting a rescue chinchilla is not an option (though many surrendered chinchillas need good homes, so it is unlikely), when buying a chinchilla, look to get one from a reputable breeder. The breeder should be willing and able to put you in touch with others who have adopted chinchillas from them in the past and positive testimonials. Another good way to vet a breeder is to see what organizations they are affiliated with, like the Chinchilla Club Breeder Directory, the Mutation Chinchilla Breeders Association or the Empress Chinchilla Breeders Cooperative. Beware, your chinchilla's personality can change over their lifetime. Kind of like teenagers.
We believe that under no circumstances should you buy a chinchilla from a pet store.
So how much is a baby chinchilla?
All of that being said, chinchillas cost anywhere from $150-$1000.
How Much Does a Chinchilla Cage cost?
The most important item on this list to have before you get a chinchilla is the cage - while we have an article coming, on everything you need to know about chinchilla cages, we will break down the most important things below.
The cost of buying a chinchilla cage can range from $200-$300 on the low end, to $700-$800 on the high end - packages on the high end typically include full bundles so your cage is fully equipped
The size of your home has a big bearing on the type of cage you can get, but it’s incredibly important no matter what that you get a cage that will allow you chinchilla enough room to run around and play without getting agitated by a lack of space
Fleece Or Bedding
Bedding is another important item to put on your to-buy list, especially if you get a cage with plastic trays (which we don’t recommend) as you’ll need the non-pill fleece to cover up the trays you receive.
When you buy a cage that comes with pans that are made from steel, then you can fill the pans with kiln-dried pine shavings or non-pill fleece inside of the pans instead of surrounding them like the plastic trays.
Between the two, fleece is the much more cost-effective option as in the long run the ongoing costs of the shavings outweigh the initial costs of fleece, and fleece will definitely save money in the long run.
Typically, the cost of wood shavings will range from $10-$15 per bag, while the fleece will range from $4-$7 dollars a yard, if you want to cut it down and shape it yourself. There are many options online for handmade bedding if you want it done for you, but these prices can swing drastically.
In addition to giving your chinchilla something to play with, toys are extremely beneficial for your chinchilla's well being.
Toys like kiln-dried pine shapes and pumice stone can help them wear down their teeth - which to new chinchilla parents may sound concerning, but one of a chinchillas defining characteristics is their incisors that continuously grow throughout their life. This is why they need toys like pumice and wood to make sure they don’t have any overgrowth.
Toys can typically range anywhere from a dollar a piece for items like finger traps, all the way up to the $45-$50 for more intricate items or bundled packs.
Litter Box Training
Some chinchilla owners will forgo the litter box step as they use the shavings in place of litter. But for a beginner chinchilla owner, we recommend having a dedicated litter box and potty training your chinchilla properly and getting them adjusted to that setup.
The great thing about litter boxes is there’s no wrong way to do it. Some owners put the pine pellet litter in a glass pie pan, others have specific litter boxes meant for chinchilla cages.
Our recommendation for a litter box is our Quality Cage Metal Litter Boxes - which runs $59.99.
Dust And Dust Bath Container
Getting the supplies for giving your chinchilla a dust bath is vitally important as weekly dust baths are key to their health
There are many containers for dust bathing that will be perfect for your chinchilla, but we recommend metal dust baths - which on our site costs $37 and, as always, comes with multiple powder-coated color options.
This is an item we recommend having two on hand, as ball bearings can sometimes wear down, pop out, or otherwise interrupt your chinchilla's flow of water. So having a backup water bottle is a wise investment to make.
It’s also worth getting two water bottles if you are homing two chinchillas, so this leaves them enough room to both get the amount of water they need.
The cost of water bottles averages at just about $10.
Food bowls are another non-negotiable and typically as an owner we recommend having two in the cage and an extra one on hand in case anything happens to the bowls in the cage.
The reason for two food bowls is one for your timothy hay, and the other is for your chinchilla food of choice, it’s incredibly important to give your chinchillas the two bowls with these options, which we will get more into in a moment.
Food bowls for your chinchilla will typically run $10-$15.
Ledges, Hop Spots, And Ramps
Ledges are another item, like toys, that primarily benefit your chinchilla by letting them run around and play in their cage while you’re not around. There are two main types of ledges you’ll find in your search.
Lava ledges are the first of the two options, made with pumice stone and working to both give yourself somewhere to sit and watch the world around them, but also give them an extra chew toy.
The next option is kiln-dried pine ledges, and the biggest pro of these is the fact that they’re incredibly durable and don’t need to be changed as much as the pumice counterparts, as, with the constant chewing, the lava ledge will wear down over time and need to be replaced.
The cost of ledges depends on the material used to make them - but both typically average around $5-$10 per ledge.
Timothy HayYou should be using Timothy hay to supplement your chinchilla's diet away from just their standard pellets, making sure you’re stocked up on a significant amount of hay, lets you can safely feel that your chinchilla is getting the nutrition they need.
We recommend buying in bulk for hay and food, as the amount you will pay for buying in bulk will save money over time. Hay in bulk (a 50lb Oxbow box) comes in around $60 ($5 per month).
Chinchilla Food (No Fruits or Veggies)
The biggest note on food is that once you choose a blend or brand, you need to stick to it and not flip back and forth, as you want to get your chinchilla used to one type of food as jumping between brands or blends will cause irritation to your chinchilla's digestive system.
Chinchilla food in bulk (a 25lb Mazuri bag, for example) can cost you just $23.
Chinchilla First Aid Kit
While this is a grouping of products rather than a single one, it’s incredibly important to have a first aid kit ready as you always want to be prepared for the worst case, even from day one.
Infant Gas Relief
Instant Ice Pack
Chin Chiller Cooling Stone
As you may have learned in your research for getting a chinchilla, chinchillas thrive in cooler environments, but unfortunately, not every owner's environment is going to be the naturally cool temperature that is best for chinchillas.
This is where a chin chiller comes in! A Chin Chiller can help combat any overheating your chinchilla may experience. This is especially helpful to your chinchilla after a vigorous exercise.
Typically Chin Chillers will cost somewhere in the ballpark of $10.
Digital Thermometer For Monitoring Room Temperature
Last, but certainly not least, is a digital thermometer. Again, not every owner has the privilege of being able to control the temperature in your chinchilla's immediate area, but with a digital thermometer, you can take a lot of the guesswork out.
The best way to get a good read of what the temperature is directly where your chinchilla is is to have something on the top of your cage that is chew-proof, and then set the thermometer on top so you’re directly above your chinchilla's cage.
Digital thermometers range quite a bit on Amazon, so you can expect to pay anywhere from $5-$12 for a good quality one.
There is nothing better than spoiling your furry friend with all the love they deserve! Even though they aren't the first items you should have on hand for your chinchilla, these are some extra splurges you can make for them that will leave them extremely happy!
Chin Spin Chinchilla Exercise Wheel
Perhaps our personal favorite on the list is a Chin Spin, this is a wheel designed solely for your chinchilla's safety and well-being in mind.
While other wheels meant for animals like chinchillas will either have gaps in the wheel or be made completely out of plastic, the chin spin is designed with only chin-safe materials and a solid metal ring - and the best part is, it’s completely silent!
Our chin spin is priced at $119 and is a fantastic investment for your chinchilla's health.
This is one area where the DIY owners really shine! Many crafty owners will make their chinchillas hammocks out of non-pill fleece that was left over from fitting the fleece to their chinchilla's cage.
For the less crafty of us, many stores online do have non-pill fleece hammocks for sale, these typically range from $10-$15.
Organizational Containers For Toys
While this benefits you more than your chinchilla, we do recommend investing some money into organizational containers, including mini bins, mason jars, etc.
The benefit that you get from this is being able to look at your toys and treats and find exactly what you’re looking for without rummaging through a singular container for hours.
We, unfortunately, cannot give the best price gauge on this, but many of these items can be purchased for relatively small amounts when buying multiple in a pack.
Treats And Herbs
The reason treats are not always an immediate purchase is because, so many chinchilla owners adopt their chinchillas from a very young age, and chinchillas under 6 months old.
Once you reach that threshold, however, you can start to buy chinchilla-safe treats like dried flowers, you can read more about chinchilla-safe treats here.
For smaller treats, expect to pay around $3-$5. And if you want to really treat your chinchilla with a stick bundle, those will run about $15.
Owning a chinchilla as a pet is a decent investment up front, just as it is for any pet, but the monthly costs can be less that $50 per month. The bond you’re about to share with your new furry friend will be like no other and it is worth every penny.
While we’ve only covered a small portion of everything you could get your chinchilla, this is a great starting point to bounce off of in beginning your own research and utilize as a future reference as your chinchilla grows.