Let’s look at some of the major considerations you need to keep in mind when purchasing a cage for your new furry friend (or upgrading your chinchilla’s current cage to something new).
How Many Chinchillas Are You Adopting and Are They Bonded?
This is one of the most important considerations when getting a cage for your chinchilla(s) as you might need either two cages if your chinchillas are unbonded, or a much larger cage if they are.
If your chinchillas are unbonded, you’re going to need a separate cage for each chinchilla. While they don’t need to be as big as a cage for two, making sure they have enough room to jump and play around is super important.
If your chinchillas are a bonded pair, one cage will suffice for the two of them. However, it’s important that the cage has multiple levels with enough room for both chinchillas to jump around. A large cage can also help prevent any issues with fighting that you may encounter.
How Much Space Do You Have In Your Home?
One consideration some chinchilla owners may not think of when getting a chinchilla cage is the amount of space in their home and where the best place for it will be.
It’s important to make sure the space you’re planning to keep your chinchilla in doesn’t leave them in a tight and confined space, and that you can freely open the cage doors without bumping into a wall or any furniture.
The amount of space will also dictate how large of a cage you can get. If you are low on space, there are many smaller, two level cages that give your chinchilla enough space to grow and move around without getting agitated.
Where Will You Put The Cage?
In tandem with the previous question, where you put your chinchillas cage is incredibly important for a lot of reasons.
It’s important to keep the cage away from any windows or direct sunlight for multiple reasons. Most importantly, the sun could heat up the cage and your chinchilla and run the risk of heat stroke.
The other reason to keep them away from windows is their nocturnal nature. Making sure their area has no direct light during the day allows them to rest up and be ready to play in the evening to their little hearts’ content!
It’s also recommended to place them near, but not below, an A/C vent to ensure they stay cool throughout the entire day. The reason it’s important not to place them directly below is that you could swing over to the other extreme and chill your chinchilla more than you should.
Types Of Pans For Chinchilla Cages
Now that you’ve got some idea of the amount of cages, and size you may be looking at, it would be helpful for you to take a look at the three most popular styles of pans used for chinchilla cages so you can determine what would be the best one for your pet.
Most pet store cages you will look at are going to come with plastic pans, and in our opinion, these are the lowest quality pans and we can’t recommend them for a variety of reasons.
Namely, plastic pans give too much leeway to be chewed by your chinchilla, especially if the fleece is not secured completely snug around the pans.
The only pro to plastic pans is that they’re easily replaceable, but you’ll see looking at other options why this isn’t as much of a benefit as you’d think
Steel pans have many benefits over the other options on this list, as cleaning them is easy, and they’re typically built to last an incredibly long time, and are practically chew proof, which makes this option the most alluring for chinchilla owners
The good news about these is many companies (including Quality Cage Crafters) that create steel pans specifically to replace the pans that come with per store cages.
One of the perceived downsides of metal pans is often the cost - but when you take into account that these pans will likely last 20+ years, it’s a wise investment to make in the long run.
An extra benefit with Quality Cage Crafters is the fact that we use a powder coating if you want an extra pop of color in your cage. (If you’re concerned about the toxicity of the coating, we wrote a blog with more information here)
For DIY cage decorating, this is a great option, as many owners will be able to find kiln dried pine wood and other chinchilla safe woods in stores and have them cut into the size of existing chinchilla pans.
The benefit to this option is that you can feel certain that your chinchilla can safely chew on anything in their cage without problem.
The biggest con for wooden options is the fact that pee will soak into wood more than the other two options and is not as easily cleanable as the prior options and may have to be replaced more frequently and also can be a breeding ground for mold and potentially ringworm..
Bedding For Chinchilla Cages
Now that we have our cage and pans, let’s focus on the types of bedding you can choose from for your chinchilla.
We’re going to take a look at the top two options for bedding, and then three options that are absolute no-go’s and why they’re so dangerous for your chinchilla
Non-pill fleece is one of the most popular options, and it’s for a good reason. Non-pill fleece can easily be used to cover or be laid in pans of any sort and is typically harder to ingest than other options.
Many owners will also make fleece pillows (stuffed with discarded fleece scraps) and will even make their own hammocks. It’s important to note if you’re making items like this for your chinchilla that no obvious seams are showing as your chinchilla may attempt to chew on these seams or stray thread.
Kiln Dried Pine Shavings
Pine shavings are another popular option for owners as bedding for their cages, kiln dried pine is one of the safest woods for chinchillas which is a huge reason why so many owners love it.
Kiln dried pine shavings are great at absorbing pee and litter smells so when it needs to be changed your pans will likely not have any residual smell since the pine should have absorbed it all. (though we still recommend wiping the pans down)
Cat litter, especially scented, is one of the worst choices for bedding for multiple reasons, the most specific being that if your chinchilla ingests the litter, it could expand in their stomach and cause gastrointestinal issues like bloat.
The other concern comes with fragrances, chinchillas respiratory systems are extremely delicate and any form of added scent can cause issues with their breathing.
Mixed Wood Shavings
Some owners might confuse this with kiln dried pine shavings, but it’s incredibly important to read the labels on the bedding you buy as not every wood is safe for your chinchilla to ingest.
The most important woods to avoid in any bedding mix are cherry, cedar, redwood, or any wood that comes from citrus trees.