If you’re a new owner, you may be wondering, do chinchillas need bedding? This is an easy question to answer. Yes! Chinchilla bedding or litter is an essential supply for your chinchilla’s cage. It’s used to absorb urine and help reduce mess and odor. You will need some sort of bedding or litter for your pet chinchilla, whether you’re using a cage with a pull out tray, a drop in pan, or if your chin is trained to use a litter box.
Like all things that your chinchilla comes in contact with, you want to make sure to select a chinchilla bedding that is safe for your pet. You want to keep in mind the materials the bedding is made of and avoid anything with artificial coloring or fragrances. In this article, we cover the types of bedding that are safe, what to avoid, and give recommendations on brands to buy.
Some chinchilla owners are forgoing traditional disposable litter to go for a more eco-friendly option. Fleece cage and shelf liners for chinchillas are a washable and reusable alternative that can make cage cleaning easier.
Chinchilla Bedding and Litter
Safe Chinchilla Bedding and Litter Options
The following materials are safe to use as bedding for chinchillas:
- Kiln Dried Pine Shavings
- Fleece Cage Liners
Unsafe Chinchilla Bedding
You should never use bedding made from any of these materials:
- Carefresh or other paper based bedding
- Mixed Wood Shavings
- Pine Litter that does not specifically say “kiln dried”
- Synthetic Bedding
- Corn Cob Litter
- Cat Litter
You should also avoid any bedding that has added fragrances or scents or anything that has been dyed or bleached. Scents and colors are added for the owners to make the litter “nicer” but they’re actually bad for your pet chinchilla. Always avoid any “clumping” litter, like the ones made for cats.
If your chinchilla has direct access to the litter or bedding, they will probably chew or eat a little of it. This is okay as long as you’re using a safe bedding and they are not eating large amounts.
Why are paper bedding and Carefresh dangerous for chinchillas?
A lot of pet stores sell and market paper-based bedding for chinchillas and plenty of new owners buy it, not knowing there is a danger. Paper bedding isn’t toxic, however, it becomes dangerous when chinchillas eat it. If they eat enough of it, the bedding can cause a blockage in their intestines. Paper bedding usually swells when it gets wet, so even a small amount can be deadly. If their digestive system stops moving, they can develop GI stasis which needs to be treated quickly to prevent death.
The only scenario where it would be okay to use paper-based bedding for chinchillas would be in a tray that the chinchilla can’t access. But considering how expensive Carefresh is in comparison to aspen litter or fleece liners, why spend the extra money?
Chinchilla Bedding and Litter Recommendations
The exact type of bedding you choose for your chinchilla will depend on many factors. Cost often factors heavily in selecting a bedding for chinchillas. Scent and dust may also affect your choice. You also may find your chinchilla prefers one type of litter over all the others or has a sensitivity to aspen.
You may have to try a few different types until you find the one that works best for you. Here are our recommended best bedding for chinchillas by type.
Aspen Chinchilla Bedding
So Phresh Natural Aspen Bedding
This is a great option for chinchilla litter. This aspen bedding is low dust to help you keep your home clean and avoid irritating your chin’s respiratory system. It’s also 100% eco-friendly and biodegradable. Works well for chinchillas and other small pets.
Amount: 8.1 L, 56.6 L
Kaytee Aspen Bedding for Chinchillas
Kaytee also sells a natural, biodegradable aspen litter for small pets like chinchillas. They promise superior odor control and 99% dust-free bedding. Unlike the previous litter, this is made of shaved aspen. The largest size (8 cubic feet) is usually the best price you will find for aspen bedding.
Amount: 1200 Cubic Inch, 1250 Cubic Inch, 4 Cubic Feet, 8 Cubic Feet
Kiln Dried Pine Chinchilla Bedding
F.M. Brown’s Pine Bedding for Chinchillas
F.M. Brown makes an affordable pine bedding option that works well for chinchillas. It’s made of kiln-dried pine and is 100% biodegradable. It’s highly absorbent and virtually dust-free. Some reviewers have said that it is rougher than other pine bedding, so you may only want to use it if your chinchilla cage has a wire floor so it doesn’t touch the bedding. Made from American wood.
Amount: 4 cubic feet
Kaytee Pine Bedding for Pet Cages
Kaytee’s pine litter is a great option if you’re shopping for chinchilla bedding material. Their pine shavings are all-natural and made in the USA. Kaytee uses a special process to eliminate dust and wood debris, leaving behind a soft bedding. Since they’re made with no artificial colors or additives and the pine is kiln-dried, this bedding is safe for your chinchilla.
Amount: 600 cubic inch, 1200 cubic inch, 2500 cubic inch, 4 cubic feet
Litter Boxes and Pans for Chinchillas
While many chin owners fill the entire bottom of their cage with bedding to absorb urine, some people choose to litter train their chinchillas. This helps reduce bedding costs and means there’s less area to clean in the bottom of the cage. One of the essential parts of litter training your pet is picking a good chinchilla litter box.
Most litter boxes made and marketed toward small pets are made of plastic. Since chinchillas are such voracious chewers, it’s not a good idea to have a plastic litter pan. Instead, you may have to think a little bit outside the box and consider items made from metal and ceramics. Here are some options to consider:
Metal & Stainless Steel Litter Boxes
Quality Cage Crafters Metal Chinchilla Litter Box
If it fits in your budget, I highly recommend this all-metal litter box from Quality Cage Crafters. Designed to minimize mess and reduce cage cleaning time, this square-shaped litter box comes with mounting hardware so you can place it anywhere in your chin’s cage. The built-in pee guards make sure there won’t be any accidental spray outside the cage and the grate keeps the litter inside reducing mess. The grate is a must-have feature if your chin eats their bedding or is constantly kicking it around the cage.
Dimensions: 1.5″ deep, 8″ wide, 8″ long, 5″ tall scatter guards
Colors: Silver vein, black, stardust, Quality blue, teal, pink, purple
While it’s hard to find metal litter pans in pet stores, you can easily find something that will work in the cooking section of many online stores. Steam table pans which are made of stainless steel and come in a variety of sizes work well for chinchilla litter boxes. They are affordable and easy to clean.
Recommended sizes would be 4″ half size (7 quart capacity) for single chinchillas and 4″ full size (14.5 quart capacity) for cages with more than one chin.
One downside of using a stainless steel pan is if you don’t secure it to the side of the cage they are easy for your chinchilla to accidentally tip over.
Ceramic Chinchilla Litter Boxes
Another fantastic option for a chinchilla litter box is repurposing a ceramic (or even glass) baking dish or ramekin. Ceramic dishes are easy to clean and generally are heavier so it’s harder for your chinchilla to kick or knock them over and make a mess. You may even have something already getting dusty in your kitchen cabinets that will work perfectly for this. If not, you can easily buy something online or in most stores.
The types of items you should consider would be a ceramic ramekin (if you can find one large enough) or a souffle dish. Another good option is a ceramic or glass pie dish, though since the sides are lower on those, your chin could kick used bedding out of it and make a mess in the cage.
Make sure your chinchilla’s cage has all the accessories it needs. Check out the best chinchilla water bottles and food dishes.