Pet chinchillas are often sold or adopted in pairs, and there’s good reason for this. In the wild chinchillas live in groups. They’re social animals and need regular social interactions for their mental health and well-being. That’s why many pet chinchillas go to their forever home with a same-sex relative that they are bonded to (either a set of siblings or parent/child). This is the ideal situation for most chinchillas, but there are scenarios where a chinchilla is best living alone. We’ll cover the special circumstances that lead to single chinchillas and how to make sure your solo chin stays happy and healthy.
When Should Chinchillas Live Alone?
Can a chinchilla live alone? Technically, yes. Since they’re social creatures, chinchillas do best living with other chinchillas, but there are many solo pet chinchillas living happy lives. Bonded chinchillas should not be separated and if you’re buying or adopting a new chinchilla that is living in a bonded pair, you should take both. They will be happier together in the long run.
But here are a few of the scenarios where chinchillas should live alone.
Chinchilla’s Personality Doesn’t Work with a Cagemate
Some chinchillas just want to be alone. Like people, chinchillas have their own personalities and temperaments. Some chinchillas just aren’t suited to share a cage. Often the chinchilla is territorial and even the largest chinchilla cage doesn’t give them enough space.
Adult chinchillas who have lived alone for most of their life may not adjust to living with a cagemate again. You can attempt bonding them with a new chinchilla, but if that’s not successful they might be meant to live alone.
Death of a Cagemate
The loss of a cagemate can be very difficult for the surviving chinchilla. Many eventually go on to bond with a new cagemate, but sometimes that doesn’t work out. An owner may not choose to get a second chinchilla, especially if the remaining chinchilla is older. In these scenarios, the surviving chin can eventually adjust to living alone with the help of their owner (see the tips in the next section).
Bonded Chinchillas Have a BIG Fight
Just like human couples break up and move out, sometimes chinchillas have a fight they cannot recover from. Even bonded chinchillas may have small squabbles from time to time, but if it escalates to a big fight their bond can be damaged. A general rule shared among chin owners is if a chinchilla fight draws blood or causes some type of injury, then those chinchillas need to be separated and cannot be housed together. It’s rare in chinchillas that have been together a long time, but it can happen.
How to Care for a Single Chinchilla
A solo chinchilla can still have a happy and fulfilling life. The owner will have to step in to make up for the socialization the chin will miss from not having a cagemate.
Spend Time with Your Chin Every Day
Without a cage mate, the humans in your chinchilla’s life will be their only source of socialization. That means you should plan to spend some time with your chinchilla every day. This can include out of cage play time as well as spending time with them while they’re in their cage. Talk to them, pet them, and offer chew toys or chinchilla safe treats. If you walk by their cage and see them begging for attention (mine likes to sit at the cage bars like she’s in prison), stop and give them a little love.
Keep Their Cage Near the Family
A single chinchilla shouldn’t be tucked away in the house. Keep their cage in areas where you frequently throughout the day so they can see and hear you (and you can give them a little attention here and there). Since chinchillas are most active in the evening, putting a cage in a place where you hang out around that time (like a living room or bedroom) will let them be a part of the action. Some chinchillas enjoy watching TV so they’ll appreciate joining your Netflix binge. While I worked from home, I kept my chin’s cage in my office so I could take breaks to hang out and play with her. It was a big mood boost for both of us.
Get Them a Cuddle Buddy
Chinchillas are adorably cuddly, especially with bonded cagemates. Luckily solo chins can get in on the adorable cuddles with the help of a stuffed friend. Since chinchillas will chew anything they can get their hands on, many stuffed animals aren’t appropriate. Chinnie Buddies are the perfect solution. These handmade friends are made from anti-pill fleece so they’re a safe option for your single chin to cuddle with.
Nothing is more exciting than the day you bring home a new pet chinchilla (or two!). But what is an exciting day for the humans in your household is often a scary day for a chinchilla. While you would hope your new pet will gladly hop into your arms like an excited puppy, you will need to take the time to get to know your chin and earn their trust.
When you first bring your chinchilla(s) home, put them in their cage and let them be! I know you’re excited and want to play and cuddle them, but this move has been a scary experience for your chin. Make sure they have plenty of food, hay, and fresh water and then leave them alone to get used to their new cage. For the first few hours, try to keep the room quiet and calm. This will allow them to relax from the stress of the car ride and explore their new home.
Introduce Yourself to Your Chinchilla
Everything from this point on should be done on your chinchilla(s) terms. Depending on how tame they are and their personality, they may warm up to you quickly or they may take a lot of time. Don’t be surprised if you’re adopting a rescue chin that they may never warm up enough to be cuddled or easily held.
Chinchillas tend to sleep during the day and are more active in the evenings and at night. You may want to try to bond with your pet in the evenings when they’re bright-eyed and bushy-tailed.
After a day or two in your home, if your chinchilla seems calm, you can introduce yourself. The best way to do this is to open up a cage door (carefully, so your chin cannot escape) and stick your hand in the cage. Be quiet and still and eventually your curious chinchilla will come over to investigate. Don’t be surprised if your chinchilla gives your hand a little nibble, this is a part of their investigation.
During a time when you need to refill their food bowl, put some pellets in the palm of your hand and hold them inside the cage. Be still and eventually your chin will approach and eat out of your hand. Be still and quiet the first time. Repeat each day, adding on a little to your interaction. Try talking gently to them. Then try wiggling your fingers while they eat. Try putting both hands in the cage (one empty). Try petting the side of their face (this is a big one that may spook them and take some time).
Any time your chinchilla gets spooked and run away, stop doing the new activity and go back to the previous iteration. The next day try again. Over time you’ll get a sense of your chinchilla’s boundaries and as they become more comfortable with you it will become easier.
Occasionally you can offer healthy treats like cheerios, oats, or rosehips to help encourage the bonding, but you must limit this to once or twice a week to avoid overfeeding.
Over time, your chin will become comfortable enough they may start to hop on your hands. Passively let them do this so they become comfortable with the idea of being held by you. Once your chinchilla is comfortable enough to climb onto and sit on your arm and hand, you can hold and pick up your chinchilla. When you and the chinchilla are comfortable with this interaction, you can take the chinchilla to a safe play area in the home to run around and play. This playtime should become a daily activity for the chinchilla.
How to Avoid Scaring Your Chinchilla
It’s very easy to do something you think is benign that is terrifying for your pet chinchilla, and those actions can set back your bonding timeline.
Never push beyond what your chinchilla is comfortable with. If they run away or back into a corner of their cage then they are scared or uncomfortable. You should stop what you’re doing and give them a chance to calm down. A snapping bark or bite means you’ve really overstepped their boundaries and you need to stop whatever you’re doing.
Avoid chasing or pursuing your chinchilla. If you need to pick them up, scoop them up from below with both hands. Do not come from above. Chinchillas are prey animals and their instincts are that preditors will try to capture them from above. Similarly, most chinchillas will not want you to pet their back, so keep the scritches to their chin, neck, and top of their head between their ears.
With time and experience, you’ll soon figure out how to read your chinchilla’s body language. Your chin will bond with you in their own time and recognize you as a family member rather than a threat. Just be patient and loving and it will all be worth the hard work.
When it comes to your chinchilla’s cage, there are some materials that are safe and others that are dangerous. Fleece, chinchilla safe wood, and metal are generally OK. But many chinchilla cages come with plastic shelves or wire floors, which are big no-nos for chins. Luckily, instead of tossing all those shelves out or having to buy a new cage, you can cover them with chinchilla safe fleece.
Some chinchilla owners also use fleece liners as a reusable alternative to litter. It’s best to have two or three sets of liners that you can swap out and toss in the washing machine to clean up urine, dirt, and grime. Make sure to wash your fleece liners at least once a week (and more often if a particular shelf is a favorite pee spot).
Is fleece safe for chinchillas?
Fleece is the safest fabric for chinchilla accessories, hammocks, and beds. It does not unravel into threads like other fabrics, which pose a blockage threat in their stomachs. While other fabrics will be bitten, chewed, and torn up by your chin, chinchillas do not like the feeling of fleece on their teeth. After a few exploratory “tastes,” they’ll usually leave it alone. I have heard of cases where chinchillas chew fleece, so if you notice your pet doing that, it’s best to remove the fleece from their cage.
Fleece Liners for Chinchilla Cages
If you aren’t the DIY type, there are plenty of people who make and sell fleece liners for common chinchilla cages. Check these out to see if they’ll work for your set up.
Double Critter Nation or Ferret Nation Cage Liner Sets
SecondChanceDooks01 sells made to order cage liners for chinchilla owners. These sets are good for double cage setups, including 7 pieces: 2 pan covers (1 with cutout), 2 shelf covers, and 3 ramp colors. As a bonus, you can choose from a fleece tube, extra-large hammock, or burrow blankie made in matching fabric.
They offer many fabric options so you can pick the perfect decor for your cage.
Fleece Liners for Ferret Nation & Critter Nation Cages
If you prefer to shop on Amazon, you can still order Ferret Nation and Critter Nation fleece cage liners. Available for single or double cage setups in five different print options.
The single set includes one large pan liner, one shelf liner, and one ramp cover. The double set includes 2 large pan liners (one with cut-out for ramp opening), two small shelf liners, and three ramp covers.
If you don’t own a Critter/Ferret Nation Cage, you may struggle to find fleece liners. Desert Hedgehogs makes custom cage liners for a variety of cages, including Critter and Ferret Nation. Check out the dimensions:
24″ x 24″ (Quality Cages)
18″ x 40″ (XL Super Pet cage)
24″ x 36″ (Critter Nation/Ferret Nation)
24″ x 48″ (Midwest Guinea Pig Habitat)
If you need a different size, you can contact them directly for a custom order. This is a great option if you have an unusual cage or shelf to cover. These covers are only available in solid colors, though you can choose which you like best.
If you’re handy with a sewing machine, you can even make fleece liners yourself. I’m not, so I’m going to share some resources you can check out to learn how to make your own fleece liners.
If you have an odd cage or need to create a cover for a custom shelf, you can easily do it by tracing or cutting around the shape of the pan (as shown in the video above). Fold your fleece over so there will be two layers of fabric (for the top and the bottom of the shelf). Leave an inch or more around the sides to sew together.
Flip your fabric inside out and fold it over again. Use pins to hold the fabric together. Using your sewing machine, sew each edge shut, leaving one side open to slide the shelf or pan inside.
So you’ve done the research or maybe you’re still deciding if a pet chinchilla (or two) is the right addition for your family. In addition to picking out a chin to buy or adopt and then selecting the perfect name, you’re also going to need to buy a lot of supplies before you bring your new pet home. We’ve compiled this list to make it easy to see what you need for your pet chinchilla.
Use this checklist as a guide. If there are any supplies or chinchilla accessories you’re missing, click the link to see our chinchilla-safe product recommendations.
Note: All of these supplies are going to cost a pretty penny. If you cannot afford to buy all of these things before you bring home a new pet chinchilla, you cannot afford to have a chinchilla. If you’re still considering whether a chinchilla is right for you, take a look at this list and add up the costs for each item.
Chinchilla New Owner Checklist
Chinchilla Must Have Supplies
These are the things that you need to have in your home the day you bring your new chinchilla(s) home. If you don’t have these basic chinchilla supplies, you aren’t ready for your new pet.
Playpen – helpful for creating a chinchilla safe space to let your pet out for playtime.
Pet Sitter Phone Number
Broom and Dust Pan – for sweeping up scattered hay, pellets, and poo
Vacuum – Handheld or shop vac helps for quick cleaning
Free Printable: New Owner Checklist
Download and print this free checklist to take with you to the pet store. Easily check off each chinchilla supply as you buy it and keep track of what you need. (Right click “Save Link As” to download to your computer.)
Owning a chinchilla is a joy, but these delicate pets need to be cared for properly to ensure a long and happy life (they have a life expectancy of 20+ years!). There’s a lot of misinformation out there about caring for pets, much of it perpetrated by pet supply companies marketing food, toys, and other items for chinchillas that are extremely unhealthy or dangerous for them. So if you’re a new chinchilla pet owner or considering adding a chin to your family, check out these 10 items you should never buy for your pet chinchilla.
Never Buy Your Chinchilla these Foods, Toys, & Supplies
Frequently I see new chinchilla owners online squeeing about how much their chinnie loves raisins. And that’s true, chinchillas absolutely love raisins. It’s basically like giving a kid candy–and raisins are as healthy for chinchillas as candy is. Why are raisins bad for chinchillas? They aren’t toxic, but the high sugar content is the issue. Chinchillas do not eat fruit in their natural diet, so their bodies have not evolved to process the sugar properly. Over time, eating raisins and other fruit can cause health issues like obesity and diabetes.
Exercise balls are commonly used by rodent owners to give their small pets some exercise to run freely around the house. While they seem like a fun and cute way for your chin to exercise, they are extremely dangerous for chinchillas. There are several reasons these balls are bad for chinchillas.
Many owners call them “death balls” because a chinchilla can easily overheat inside of one. Since chins are temperature sensitive, overheating can quickly become fatal. These plastic exercise balls are also too small for chinchillas, which can cause injury to their spine while running. Also, these balls are usually designed with ventilation slits, which are just wide enough for tiny chinchilla toes to get caught in and cause injury. The final flaw, while not fatal, is just gross. Chinchillas will often pee and poop inside an exercise ball, which means the waste will get in their fur while running. Overall, exercise balls are a big NO when it comes to chinchillas.
If you want to give your chinchilla more opportunities for exercise, instead consider getting a chinchilla safe exercise wheel for their cage or giving them playtime in a chinchilla proofed room or a playpen
3. Plastic Toys & Cage Accessories
Like other rodents, chinchilla’s teeth are constantly growing, which means they need to frequently chew to keep them worn down. Chewing is a natural behavior that should be encouraged with safe woodtoys and accessories. The pet store has other ideas, with shelves filled with plastic toys and accessories.
Plastic is extremely dangerous for chinchillas because when they chew on it they can swallow small pieces of it. Their bodies cannot process the plastic, which can cause blockages in their digestive system. These blockages can lead to discomfort, illness, and even death.
Make sure to replace any plastic shelves with wood or metal shelves and provide plenty of wooden chew toys for your chinchilla.
4. Salt & Mineral Wheels
Salt and mineral wheels are regularly sold in the small pet section of the pet store and advertised for all kinds of pets. Chinchillas just don’t need them. If you’re feeding them a proper chinchilla pellet food, then they have all the salt and minerals they need in their diet. Buying a salt wheel is just a waste of money and excess salt in their diet can cause health issues in chinchillas.
5. Colorful Chinchilla Food Mixes
Humans need variety in their diets, chinchillas do not. While the bright food mixes you see on the pet store shelf look appealing, they are TERRIBLE for chinchillas. Feeding a chin a food mix is like putting vegetables on a toddler’s plate and then dumping candy on top. The kid will eat the candy and ignore the nutritious food. In fact, if you ask most chinchilla owners who feed their pet a mix, they will mention that their chin only eats the seeds, dried fruit, and other treats and leaves the pellets behind. These food mixes can lead to health issues, weight gain, and shortened lifespan.
A chinchilla should only be fed an alfalfa based pellet. Oxbow and Mazuri are the best brands and can easily be bought online or at many pet store chains.
6. Unverified Wood Toys & Accessories
Okay, so we know plastic is bad for the chinnies, but that doesn’t mean you can just pick up any old wood toy at Petsmart and give it to your chinchilla. While there’s plenty of safe wood for chinchillas, there is also wood that is toxic. Some small pet toys may use treated or painted wood, which is also unsafe for chinchillas.
When it comes to shopping for your chinchilla, err on the side of caution. Avoid any toys that don’t state the type of wood used, whether it’s treated, or if there are toxic adhesives or paints used in the production. To stay on the safe side, buy toys online from chinchilla rescues or savvy entrepreneurs. You can also make your own toys from safe woods.
7. Yogurt Drops & Dandelion Drops
This is another case of pet store gone bad. Yogurt drops are a very popular treat advertised for small pets, but they are absolutely horrible for chinchillas. They look like white or green chocolate chips and they have a ton of sugar in them, which we’ve already learned is terrible for chinchillas.
What looks like a fun way to provide your chinchilla with fresh hay is actually an injury waiting to happen. Since chinchillas are quite bouncy, it is incredibly common for them to jump on top of these wire hay balls. If a chinchilla gets an arm or leg caught in the ball, they can break it or otherwise injure themselves. They can also get their heads stuck in them, which can be deadly. It’s better to be safe and not buy one.
Instead, you can use a hay rack to provide your chinchilla with fresh hay in their cage.
9. Plastic Igloo Hideouts
Plastic igloos are incredibly popular at pet stores for all kinds of small pets. When it comes to chinchillas, they’re a bad idea. While you should provide your chinchilla with a house or hideout, a plastic one is a bad idea. Your chinchilla will inevitably chew on their house and ingesting plastic can be deadly. Instead, get a metal or wood house for your chin to sleep in.
10. Wire Chinchilla Wheel
While a chinchilla wheel is a great way to let your pet get extra exercise in their cage, wire chinchilla wheels are incredibly dangerous. They’re often way too small for a chinchilla to use safely (the one pictured only has a diameter of 11″) and the wire mesh creates opportunities for a chin to get a foot or toe stuck and injure themselves.
A lot of times when people add a new chinchilla or two to their family, they have a huge shopping list of supplies and accessories to get. In addition to a nice big chinchilla cage, accessories, and healthy food you need to be prepared for some “worst case scenarios,” like if your pet chinchilla gets sick or injured. Just like you have a first aid kit in your home for your human family members, you want to have supplies on hand for your furry family members as well. That is why a chinchilla first aid kit is an essential “supply” to have on hand.
While you may think your chinchilla is young and healthy and won’t have any health problems, you never know when there will be an emergency situation. And in my experience, these emergencies–big or small–always seem to happen late at night or on the weekends when the vet is closed or it’s hard to get to a store to buy supplies. Having a chinchilla first aid kit on hand means you will have what you need when your pet is sick or hurt and can make a difference between life and death in some situations. And if there is some sort of emergency or disaster where you have to evacuate your home, you’ll be really glad you put together a kit you can grab and go.
This article has everything you need to put together your own DIY chinchilla first aid. If you don’t want to go through the work of gathering all of the elements separately, you can buy a Chinchilla Home Emergency Kit from Pandamonium Pets on Etsy.
Note: This kit is to help you prepare for minor injuries and illnesses. If you’re currently experiencing an emergency with your chinchilla, go to the vet now!
DIY Chinchilla First Aid Kit
If you’re putting together your own chinchilla first aid kit, the following is alist of supplies your should have on hand. Many of the items are common first aid items that you may already have around your home or can be easily purchased at a pharmacy. For the items that are a little more difficult to find, we’ve included links to Amazon where you can buy them. Since some of the food and medication items will have expiration dates, make sure you are regularly replacing them.
All of the supplies for your kit should be stored together in a watertight container like a plastic box. This will make it easier if there is an emergency where you need to evacuation so you can just grab the kit and go. You can use any container you already own or purchase one like the first aid box pictured to the right. Once you have your box, fill it with the following essential items.
First Aid Kit Checklist
Vet Contact Info – If you have a business card for your exotics vet, include that in the kit or write their contact information on a piece of paper. Include info for an emergency vet or other emergency resources (like a chinchilla rescue) that you may want to contact in case of a medical emergency.
Antibiotic Ointment – Avoid any with pain relieving ingredients
Cotton Balls or Pads
Vetrap Bandaging Tape (Buy on Amazon) – Self-sticking bandage tap frequently used by vets. Does not stick to fur or skin.
Oral Syringes – For administering medicine, Critical Care, and fluids. 35 cc is best for feeding and a smaller size is good for medicine.
Pedialyte – Good for dehyrdrated chins and constipation. Fruit flavors like apple are most liked by chinchillas.
Oxbow Critical Care (Buy on Amazon) – This food replacement is meant for hand feeding chinchillas who refuse to eat. It’s mixed with water and fed through a syring. Can be bought online or at your vet.
Simethicone Infant Drops (Buy on Amazon) – These gentle gas drops are good for bloat or gas, helping to break up gas in your chin’s tummy.
Fresh Pineapple Juice – Pineapple has natural enzymes that break-up intestinal blockages. It has to be fresh because processing destroys the enzymes. The besy way to store it is to get a ripe pinepple from the store and free the juice from it. When your chinchilla needs it, you can thaw the juice and feed with a syringe.
Eye Wash – To flush dirt or debris from their eyes. Find a solution that does not have saline, because it can be irritating.
Vasline – to reove hair rings in male chinchillas.
Betadine (Buy on Amazon) – To flush wounds. Dilute to 10% betadine and 90% water.
Acidophilus Tablets (Buy on Amazon) – Balances bacteria in the stomach to avoid intestinal upset while taking antibiotics. Keep refrigerated.
Ice Pack or Marble Tile – To help keep your chinchilla cool or cool down an overheated chin. Keep a marble tile in the refrigerator so it’s ready whenever you need it. (Learn more about keeping chinchillas cool. For the ice pack, use one you fill with ice, not the ones with toxic gel inside.
Towel or Fleece Fabric For restraining chinchillas while giving medications or to line their carrier during transportation.
Heating Pad or Hot Water Bottle – To keep sick chinchillas warm. Wrap in fleece or place under cage.
Unscented Wet Wipes (Buy on Amazon) – To clean fur dirtied with medicine, food, or excrement.
Blu-Kote (Buy on Amazon) – Anticeptic and fungicidal perfect to dress wounds and treat infections.
If you don’t already have a chinchilla carrier buy one ASAP so you can easily transport your chin to the vet in an emergency.
When Should a Chinchilla Go to the Vet?
Many chinchilla owners and breeders agree that chinchillas should have yearly check-ups with an exotics vet. At the same time, many chinchilla owners do not take their pets in for annual check-ups. The reasoning behind this is because a vet trip is a very stressful experience for a chinchilla and they will immediately go into “prey” mode. Their behavior will change and they will try to hide anything that’s wrong with them. If your chinchilla has a personality where they get very stressed in new situations, it may be detrimental to expose them to that extra stress if they are healthy.
However, if you have a chinchilla that has health problems, they should have regular check-ups no matter how skittish they are. It’s also good to have an initial check-up with a new vet to help them become familiar with the doctor and get used to the process.
Since chinchillas are prey animals they are very good at hiding sickness or injury. Because of this, whenever you see any change in personality, behavior, appetite, or poops, you should take them to a vet as soon as is reasonably possible.
In an emergency with a lethargic chinchilla or a physically injured chinchilla, go to an emergency vet ASAP. Do not wait as it could be a life or death situation.
To prepare for the worst case, you should know the location and contact info for an exotics vet and the nearest emergency vet. Include this information in your chinchilla first aid kit so you have it in the case of an emergency. A good relationship with an exotics vet that specializes in chinchillas should be established before an emergency. They will be an invaluable source of information if you have questions about your chin’s behavior or symptoms and the first place you’ll call when your chin needs medical attention.
How to Find a Veterinarian for a Chinchilla?
Unfortunately, because chinchillas are an exotic pet, not every veterinarian is capable of treating them. Some vets will say they treat chinchillas, but they may not have the knowledge or training necessary to care for these special pets. You should do your research before selecting a vet.
The first resource I would recommend is to talk to your chinchilla breeder and see what vet they recommend. If you did not get your chinchilla from a breeder, search Google to see if there are any chinchilla breeders in your area. They may have vet recommendations listed on their website or you can call or email them for the info.
If there are no breeders near you, Chinchilla Club has a vet directory you can use.
When you select a new veterinarian or animal hospital, make sure to ask them questions about what training they’ve had (they should be exotic certified) and how often they treat chinchillas. Forever Feist Chinchilla has a great list of qualities to look for in a chinchilla vet.
One of the most important parts of chinchilla ownership is making sure your pet lives in an environment that maintains a cool temperature. In the wild, chinchilla live in the mountains, which is a cool environment. Their bodies evolved to suit that environment, which means they’re not fit to live outdoors in many of the places where pet owners have domestic chinchillas.
Chinchillas are very prone to overheating, especially at temperatures above 75F. They don’t have sweat glands and because of their dense fur, their bodies become hot much more quickly than other small mammal pets and have a harder time cooling down. Chinchillas can experience heatstroke at temperatures that most people find comfortable, especially if they’re active or running around. The room their cage is in should be kept within 60 – 70F, and should never be above 74F. If this is not something you can maintain, you should not have a pet chinchilla in your home.
If you’ve recently brought a new pet chinchilla home or are considering adding one to your family, you probably have a lot of questions about how to keep your pet safe and healthy. In this article, we’ll cover how to keep a chinchilla cool, how to recognize heat stroke in a chinchilla, and what you can do to help your chin stay comfortable during hot summer months.
How to Keep a Chinchilla Cool
The first and most important thing, if you live in any part of the world where the temperature goes about 70F, you must have an air conditioner for the room your chinchilla lives in. Let me say it again: your chinchilla must live in an air-conditioned room. This is not optional. If you cannot provide this for your pet, it is morally wrong for you to have a chinchilla in your home.
If your home doesn’t have central air, you can purchase a window AC unit or single room air conditioner to help maintain the correct temperature for your pet. If you’re worried about the electricity cost, there are a few ways to help mitigate those costs. First, you should be smart about selecting a room for your chinchilla’s cage. Heat rises in homes, so a room on the ground floor or in the basement of your home will be much cooler than a second floor or attic. If you can, select a room that doesn’t get a lot of direct sunlight or invest in energy-efficient blackout curtains to block out the sunlight and the heat.
Once you’ve selected a room, position the cage so your chinchilla will not be in direct sunlight or utilize curtains and blinds to keep the sun off your chinchilla. This will help keep them from overheating. It’s also a good idea to keep a thermometer in the room near your chinchilla’s cage. Even if you have a programmable central AC unit, you will not have consistent temperatures throughout the house. You may find the room your chinchilla is in needs more or less AC compared to the rest of the house. (It’s also important to remember in the winter months to not position the cafe near a heater vent or radiator. They can easily overheat next to a heat source even if the rest of the house is much colder.)
Humidity can also be an aggravating factor when it comes to maintaining your chinchilla’s body temperature. If you live in an area that has very hot and very humid summers, you may want to invest in a dehumidifier to help keep the humidity under control. The dehumidifier combined with your AC will help keep your chinchilla comfortable and healthy.
Air Conditioning Versus Fans
Many people think that fans will be enough to keep their pet cool. What works for humans does not work for chinchillas. Fans only circulate air, they do not lower the temperature of the air. For humans, we sweat and fans help the sweat evaporate from our skin, which lowers our body temperature. For chinchillas, since they do not sweat, a fan just makes the air move but does nothing to cool their bodies. The only option to keep your chinchilla cool, comfortable, and healthy is to use an air conditioner to maintain an air temperature in the safe range for chinchillas: 60F – 70F.
Other Tips to Keep Your Chin Cool
Before playtime in the summer months, lower the temperature in their room by a few degrees to prevent overheating from the extra activity. Consider scheduling playtime in the morning or evening hours when the outside temperature is cooler.
Never transport your chinchilla in a vehicle without an air conditioner. Never leave them in a car unattended.
Never use an exercise ball for your chinchilla. They will overheat within minutes in such a small space. Their playtime should be in a chin-proofed room or a playpen.
Cage Accessories to Cool Your Chinchilla
Chin Chiller Granite Stone
Whenever people ask me about how to keep a chinchilla cool, the chin chiller is always the first product I recommend. This is one of the most well known and cleverly named products available for chinchillas. It’s a very straightforward product: a slab of naturally cooling granite stone cut to the perfect size for your pet chinchilla. It’s great to use in your chin’s cage or offer in their play area as a cool respite (it’s also a great option to offer to other small pets like rabbits and rats). Granite naturally maintains a temperature below room temp but can be made even cooler by placing it in the refrigerator or freezer. They’re easy to clean, either by spot cleaning or soaking to disinfect as a part of a regular cage cleaning.
At 6″ x 10″, it’s the perfect size to fit on many cage shelves. I recommend buying a couple of them. I like to keep some in the freezer and rotate them in the cage throughout hot summer months. Even in an air-conditioned room, my chin appreciates laying on something cool, especially after play time.
Another fantastic cooling option for your chinchilla’s cage is metal shelves. These are light weight, easy to clean and dissinfect, while doing a double duty in your pet’s cage. They provide a shelve to jump, perch, and sleep on, while also provided a cool surface to help keep your chinchilla’s body temperature down.
These shelves are custom made by Tiffany’s Chinchillas and come complete with hardware to bolt the shelf safely to the cage wall with wing nuts. A big pro of these metal shelves is that your chin can’t chew them up and they’re easier to clean and disinfect if your pet pees on them. One or two in your cage will give a nice cool place for your chin to nap on warm afternoons.
While this terracotta hideout can’t be mounted in your chinchilla’s cage, its a great option to give them a cool a hideway on the floor of their cage. It also works well as a floor toy to give them a break from the heat during play time. Shaped like a tube, your chin can run through it, hop on top of it, and snuggle up or sprawl out inside of it for nap time.
Terracotta is easy to clean and disinfect. It also has the same effect as granite since it stays cooler than room temperature. I don’t recommend freezing terracotta since it can crack and break at extreme temperatures, but an hour or two in the fridge shouldn’t harm it. This is also a good chew-proof alternative if your chinchilla keeps destroying all of their hideouts.
If you’re looking for a budget option to help your chinchilla stay cool, terracotta flower pots work as well as the hideout. You may even have some stacked somewhere in your garage, or you can pick some up for a reasonable price at your local garden center or home improvement store. I would recommend buying a pot large enough that your chinchilla can fit inside the pot or sleep on top of it when turned upside down. The drip trays that come with the pots also work well as a little bed for your chin to cool off on. I would recommend something 9″ or larger for a single adult chinchilla.
If you’re reusing a pot found around your house or purchased at a secondhand store, make sure to clean it thoroughly and disinfect it so you won’t pass any bacteria on to your pet chin. Again, don’t free terracotta since it is a little fragile, but feel free to put it in the fridge to lower its temperature even more.
Keeping Your Chinchilla Cool in Emergencies
Even if you’ve done everything you can to create the perfect indoor habitat for your pet chinchilla, there may be situations outside of your control where you can’t control the temperature. During summer heat waves, it’s extremely common for there to be power outages and brownouts or for an AC unit to suddenly die. There are some ways to help your chinchilla stay cool until your air conditioner is working again.
Provide Cool Surfaces to Lounge On – An ice pack wrapped in fleece, a granite slab like the Chin Chiller, or a metal pan or shelf can help lower your chinchilla’s body temperature. Put the marble or metal in the freezer to make it extra cool. Some chinchilla owners will always keep a chin chiller in the freezer in case there is an emergency, or just to offer in their pet’s cage during summer months.
Cover All Windows with Heavy Fabric or Energy Efficient Curtains – Keep the existing cool air in and the hot air and sunlight out by covering the windows.
Relocate Your Chinchilla to a Cooler Area of the House – If you have a basement that is significantly cooler than the room your chin’s cage is in, it might be worth it to temporarily relocate them in their cage or a playpen until the AC issue is resolved. Make sure you’re monitoring your pet if you’re moving them to an environment that isn’t chin-proofed.
Limit Activity – If your AC is out, playtime can wait. You should not take your chinchilla out of their cage to exercise or play, and it may be a good idea to temporarily remove your chinchilla’s wheel to encourage them to chill out and not raise their body temperature.
Chinchilla Heat Stroke Symptoms
One of the most important reasons to know how to keep a chinchilla cool is to prevent heatstroke. If your chinchilla gets too hot while playing or because the temperature in the room is above 70F, it can be very dangerous. If your chinchilla gets heatstroke they can die. You should learn to recognize the symptoms of both overheating and heat stroke and be able to prevent it (by using the tips given previously in the article) and also treat it.
Signs of an Overheating Chinchilla
If you see these symptoms in your chinchilla, that means they are overheating:
Lying sprawled out on their side
You may see these symptoms after your chinchilla has run around for their out of cage time. If you see any of these signs of overheating, you must act immediately to lower your pet’s body temperature. If they’re not already in an air-conditioned room, they must be taken to one immediately. Provide cool surfaces for them to lie on or lean against (like a frozen water bottle covered in fleece or a granite tile). You can even take your chinchilla and hold them in front of your open refrigerator to help cool down their body temperature rapidly.
These solutions should be utilized until your chinchilla’s ears are no longer red and their breathing calms. If your chinchilla seems to be overheating frequently during playtime, lower the temperature in their room and provide some cool surfaces for them to utilize when their body temperature gets too high.
Signs of Chinchilla Heat Stroke
Extremely low energy or lethargy
Difficult or innability to walk or stand
Plus the symptoms described for overheating
If your chinchilla is suffering from heat stroke, it is an emergency. You must bring their body temperature down immediately.
Find a container or bowl large enough to fit your chinchilla. Fill the container with cool water (do not use cold water, ice, or water that has been kept in the refrigerator. Water that is too cold can actually send your chinchilla into shock).
Holding your chinchilla gently, but firmly, submerge them in the water. Keep their head above the water level so they can breathe. It should take 16-20 minutes to bring their temperature back to normal levels, keep them submerged the whole time.
When your chinchilla has cooled down, remove them from the water and dry their fur thoroughly with a towel (do not use a blow dryer, it will just overheat your chinchilla again).
If your chinchilla is willing, offer them some cool water to drink.
Now that your chinchilla is cool, take them to an exotics veterinarian immediately for an examination. This is an emergency. If you cannot take your chinchilla to a vet (the only valid excuse would be if there is not an exotics vet within driving distance of your home), take your chinchilla to a cool area of your home with a temperature under 70F. Make sure there are no drafts or breezes in this area. Observe your chinchilla closely, but do not disturb them too much so they can rest.
If you’re feeling stumped over finding new interesting and fun toys for your exotic pet or annoyed at the price tag for toys sold in the pet store that are destroyed in a matter of days (or hours), we’ve got a solution for you. I bet you’ve got a bunch of these cardboard rolls in your house, right? They easily pile up from all of the toilet paper and paper towels an average family goes through. And we just think of them as trash (or recycling) and we toss them away without another thought. Well, soon you’re going to think of them as inexpensive toy parts that are going to greats chews and shredders your pet will absolutely love. These DIY toilet paper roll toys are ingenious.
These toys can be made from paper towel or toilet paper rolls. They are cheap and easy to make since the cardboard tubes are basically free and you can usually assemble them with materials around the house and a few pet-safe treats and foods.
The toilet paper roll toys on this page are generally safe for rabbits, chinchillas, guinea pigs, hamsters, and gerbils. Note: Before you make these toys and give them to your pet, make sure it is safe to give your exotic pet cardboard and that any other materials you use are safe for your pet. You can use our section on safe wood and materials for exotic pets as a guide. What may be safe for one type of pet could be toxic and deadly for another.
DIY Toilet Paper Roll Toys
Toilet Paper or Paper Towel Tube, clean of adhesive
Twine or String (safe for your pet)
Optional: Pen or Pencil
This is one of the most basic hanging toys you can make small pets as it only requires a card board tube, string, and scissors. Children can even make this easy toy. This toy is appropriate for any small pet that can safely consume small amounts of cardboard.
Step 1 (optional): Using a pen or pencil draw a spiral design on the outside of the tube. There should be about 1-2 inches of space between the line.
Step 2: Cut along the line until you’ve cut through the entire tube.
Step 3: Punch a hole in one end of the tube and tie the string through it. Hang in your pet’s cage.
Cardboard Hay Tube
Toilet Paper or Paper Towel Tube, clean of adhesive
Optional: Scissors or another sharp tool
Optional: Twine or String (safe for your pet)
This works well as a hanging tube inside the cage or a tossing toy in your pet’s playpen. It’s a favorite cardboard toy for guinea pigs and rabbits. This is also the easiest to make of all the toilet paper roll toys on this page. If you are planning on using it as a tossing toy you can skip the first three steps.
Step 1: Using your scissors or sharp tool, cut a hole in the middle of your tube big enough to pull your string through.
Step 2: Tie a thick knot at one end of your twine/string. We triple knotted it to get the desired thickness.
Step 3: Pull the string through from the inside until the knot is flush against the inside of the tube.
Step 4: Fill the tube with hay and hang in their cage or place in their play area. Bonus: You can put a few pellets or treats inside to make it extra enticing, or even add twigs and chews made of safe wood.
Fancy Hay Feeder Tube
Paper Towel Tube, clean of adhesive
Scissors or another sharp tool
Twine or String (safe for your pet)
This is a great option for a free and creative way to feed your pet hay in their cage or play area. Creating several holes for them to eat hay out of helps stimulate them and make food time more interesting to bust boredom.
Step 1: Using the scissors, cut diamond shapes by making a triangle shaped snip. Each cut should be about half an inch. You will have to flatten the tube slightly to do this. Continue in an alternating pattern along the length of the tube.
Step 2: On one end of the tube, poke 2 holes, each on opposite sides. The string will go through them to create a hanging loop.
Step 3: Fill the tube with hay
Step 4: Use string or twine to create a hanging loop through your holes. Hang in your pet’s cage or playpen.
Toilet Paper or Paper Towel Tube, clean of adhesive
Optional: String/Twine (safe for you pet)
This works great as a floor toy, especially for rabbits who like to grab the edges and throw them around. You can also make it as a hanging toy by following steps 1-3 on the previous project before you put the hay in.
Step 1: With your scissors cut notches of varying thickness on each end of the tube. If you’re using a toilet paper roll, your notches should be about 1/2 – 1″ long. If you’re using a paper towel roll you can make them longer.
Step 2: Bend the flaps to different degrees to create varied edges.
Step 3: Fill the roll with hay. Place in their play area or cage. Bonus: You can add a few pellets or treats inside to make it extra enticing or even stick in a few twigs made of safe wood.
Cardboard Pellet and Treat Ball
Toilet Paper Tube, clean of adhesive
Pellets or Treats
This is a great floor toy that helps stimulate your pet by giving them a goal and something to destroy to get to the treats or food inside. It’s also super easy to make as you need one toilet paper tube to make one ball.
Step 1: Cut the roll into ~1/2 strips. You should end up with six or seven “hoops”
Step 2: Take a hoop and slide it inside one of the other hoops. Do this with 3 or 4 hoops until you have the basic shape of a ball.
Step 3: Add a tasty treat or pellets to the inside of the ball. Complete the shape of the ball by adding the rest of the hoops and give it to your pet.
Easy Shredder Tube
Toilet Paper or Paper Towel Tube, clean of adhesive
This is a quick and easy floor toy to make for your rabbit, chinchilla, or guinea pig that doesn’t even require scissors. This is a great option if you’re looking for a craft to do with young children.
Step 1: Stand the toilet paper tube up and push the edge until it folds inward.
Step 2: Rotate the tube and press in the other side until it creates a closed edge.
Step 3: Fill the open end with hay, pellets, or treats of your choosing. Make sure it all fits inside with enough room to close the other end.
Step 4: Repeat steps 1 & 2 to close the other end. Give it to your pet and watch the fun ensue.
Ultimate Shredder Tube
4 Toilet Paper Tubes, clean of adhesive
Pellets or Treats
This shredder doesn’t require any scissors or cutting and makes a great floor toy for small pets.
Step 1: Take 3 of the tubes and flatten them lengthwise. Then fold or roll them into thirds.
Step 2: Insert the rolled tubes into the other tubes.
Step 3: Push treats and/or pellets into the folds. Give it to your pet and watch them destroy it!
Toilet Paper or Paper Towel Tube, clean of adhesive
Sticks or Twigs (find a safe wood for your pet)
Scissors or other sharp item for making holes
This is a great floor toy, especially for rabbits and guinea pigs. The twigs give them lots of surfaces to pick up and toss the whole toy, and to chew on.
Step 1: Take your scissors and poke holes at varying points on all sides of the tube. Keep in mind that they need to be large enough to slide the sticks into and also align enough that you can stick one twig through 2 holes.
Step 2: Insert the sticks into the holes. You can also add sticks that protrude out of the top and the bottom of the toilet paper roll.
You can then place the toy in your pet’s cage or play area. Make it extra enticing by adding hay or pellets inside.
Mazes are a fun way to give your exotic and small pets a way to exercise and stimulate their curiosity and their problem-solving skills. This is a fun project for kids and adults to do together and it’s extremely affordable as you should have most of the supplies in your home already. Once you’ve built the maze, you’ll enjoy watching your pet run through this DIY cardboard maze as they exercise and play. The types of exotic pets that enjoy cardboard mazes include rabbits, chinchillas, guinea pigs, rats, mice, hamsters, gerbils, and ferrets.
This tutorial covers all the steps you need to build a simple and cheap cardboard maze out of found materials. Once you have the right sized box, it just takes a little bit of time to assemble the maze.
How to Build a Cardboard Maze for Small Pets
Short square or rectangular box at least 2-3 inches taller than your pet
Scissors or a box cutter
Pencil, pen, or marker
1. Find a box that is short (shallow) in a rectangular or square shape. An ideal box will be at least 2-3 inches taller than your pet and have flaps that are equal to or larger than the height of the box. The flaps will be the walls inside your maze. The box should be brown cardboard with no slick printing on it. Try to avoid boxes with lots of logos or ink that could be toxic to your pet.
Bonus: If you have multiple boxes that are the same size and a pet that likes to jump or climb (like chinchillas, rabbits, or rats), you can build a multi-level maze. Depending on the weight of your pet, you may need to reinforce the levels. You can also create multiple floor level mazes that are connected to each other by tunnels or long boxes. Feel free to get creative.
2. Remove any shipping labels, excess tape, and other non-cardboard materials. You should leave the tape that secures the bottom of the box.
3. Cut the flaps off the top of the box with a box cutter or scissors (a box cutter is usually easier for this step).
4. Measure the flaps against the size of the box and cut off any excess height. The flaps should be flush against the edge of the box when placed inside. You may have to cut a little off the length of the flap so it can fit inside the box easily.
5. Measure the length of your long flap and your short flap. Make marks on each dividing it into thirds. (Example: if your flap is 30 inches long, you will make a mark at 10 inches and 30 inches, creating three 10″ sections). On each mark, use your ruler to measure half the height of the flap and draw a line.
6. Cut a notch along that line to create two notches in each flap to the halfway point. You should make sure your notches align on the same size flaps. Assemble the pieces to form a shape like a pound sign or hash tag. Make additional cuts as needed so the flaps fit evenly.
7. Design your maze. On a piece of paper sketch out the grid shape of the maze and mark where you would like to cut doorways. Don’t forget to put doors on the outside edges. You can also put doors on the top of the maze as well.
8. Looking at your assembled maze, mark where you want to cut holes with a sharpie or pen.
9. Take the maze apart and cut doorways for each of the holes you marked. Make sure the doorways are large enough for your pet to pass through.
10. Reassemble your maze and flip it back over. Let your pet run through it. Hide treats inside for extra fun.
Because none of the walls are affixed, you can easily “change up” your maze by moving around the walls inside. There are so many options for your exotic pet to enjoy this easy DIY cardboard maze.
Toys! This is one of the most fun parts of being a chinchilla owner: shopping for toys to spoil our pets! Now, don’t get confused, toys are actually really important for your chinchilla’s health and well-being. Toys are important to prevent boredom, especially hanging toys inside the cage. While daily playtime outside of their cage will help keep your chinchilla active and release some boredom, they still need toys to stimulate them during all of the other hours they spend in their cage. Chinchilla toys also help with the health of their teeth. Since they’re usually made out of wood, chinchillas are able to express their natural desire to chew and wear down their teeth.
Toys are also important during play time outside the cage. Because chinchillas are so inquisitive, they’ll want to explore (and chew!) their environment. This includes any furniture and baseboards they can get their little teeth on. Providing toys gives them safe chewing options and helps add enrichment to their play time.
Now that we’ve established that chinchilla toys are actually important, and required, supplies for your pet, read on to discover what toys are safe for chins and specific product recommendations you can buy online or in local pet stores. We also give some ideas for making your own chinchilla toys from supplies around the house or toy parts you can order online.
Chinchilla Toys and Fun Stuff
The first thing you need to keep in mind when shopping for toys, toy parts, and other fun stuff for your pet chinchilla is they must be made out of chinchilla safe material. I’m going to repeat this a lot in this article because it is so important. Your chinchilla will be chewing on these toys and possibly ingesting pieces of them. All the materials the toys are made out of must be safe and non-toxic for chinchillas.
When shopping for chinchilla toys, keep the following in mind:
Avoid toxic dyes and paints. Food grade coloring is OK
Limit cardboard toys if your chinchilla has a habit of eating them
Now that we have the basics out of the way, let’s get to the fun of actually talking about toys.
What Kinds of Toys do Chinchillas Like?
This actually varies based on the personality of your chinchilla. As you get to know your new pet, you’ll soon realize there are some toys they’ll go crazy for and others they’ll completely ignore. Some chins only like certain types of wood and will ignore others. For example, our chinchilla likes wood with thick bark that she can chew off in chunks, and will destroy those parts of toys first. She’s also over the moon for pumice toys and will absolutely obliterate those in minutes.
Here are some common types of toys that chinchillas usually enjoy. Experiment with getting your chinchilla these different types of toys and you’ll soon figure out what they like best.
Shredding Toys – These are toys that are meant to be destroyed. They’re made of softer materials that chins love to chew and destroy. Often they include pieces like bamboo finger traps, pumice or lava bites, loofa, cardboard, or palm leaves.
Hanging Toys – These toys are meant to hang on the inside of your chinchilla’s cage. They’re often in a kabob form, with different types of woods and other safe materials hanging together. Some are more decorative and fun, but chinchillas really only care about what goodies are on there to chew.
Tossing Toys – These are basically just chinchilla toys that aren’t attached to anything. Often they are smaller in size and can be picked up, carried, or thrown by your pet chinchillas. Sometimes they’re made of multiple materials or they may just be made of one (often woven willow is popular). Some are shaped like balls or barbells.
Floor Toys for Exploring and Jumping On – These are more like playground equipment than smaller toys. They turn a boring playpen into an exciting and fun play zone for your chin. These can be made out of wood, cardboard, or other materials. (Sometimes you can get away with plastic components as long as you’re monitoring your chinchilla to make sure they’re not eating it.) Popular types include houses, tunnels, and other “furniture.”
Make sure to always provide a variety of toy material types, especially of different wood and material hardness. Your chinchilla may love shredders, but those are not hard enough to effectively grind down their teeth so you should provide harder woods as well. Plus, a variety of materials will help keep them entertained. Another way to keep up their interest is to rearrange any hanging toys within their cage during cage cleanings.
Keep reading to see some of our product recommendations for safe and fun chinchilla toys.
Chinchilla Toys to Buy
There are plenty of toys marketed toward chinchillas and other small animals that you can buy in pet stores and online. As with anything you buy for your pet chinchilla, you must make sure they’re made of chinchilla safe materials. Your chinchilla will be chewing on these toys and ingesting parts of them and you do not want them to get sick or die from eating something toxic. Make sure you reference the list of chinchilla safe wood and materials before you buy any pre-made toys. If a toy does not say what kind of wood or dyes it is made of, do NOT buy them. It’s better to be safe than sorry.
If you’re shopping in the brick and mortar pet store, you should check out the small pets department and also the bird department. Many hanging toys made for birds are perfectly safe for chinchillas a well, and often there’s a lot more selection than what you will find in the small pet area. You still need to make sure they’re made out of safe materials as not all wood that is safe for birds is safe for your pet chin. Also, watch out for toys with plastic beads. You should avoid giving your chinchilla any plastic.
Since I know it’s time-consuming to research every possible toy, we’ve listed some options for you that we’ve already vetted as chinchilla safe.
Cage and Hanging Chinchilla Toys
Toys are an important part of your chinchilla’s cage setup. They help keep them from getting bored between play times and also give them something to gnaw on to wear down their teeth. Some of these toys can also have a nutritional value if they’re made out of hay. You should try to avoid any toys involving treats, as they will eat them instead of their normal chinchilla food.
When you’re shopping for toys to hang inside your chin’s cage, know they will destroy them quickly. Because of that and the fact that they need a variety of chewing materials to wear down their teeth, make sure you’re providing a variety of toys, including those that take longer to chew like wood or pumice stone.
We’ve collected some great hanging toy options for your chinchilla’s cage. These are all made of safe materials and easy to buy from Amazon.
When it comes to exercise and playtime for your chinchilla outside of their cage, you can’t just put your chin in a pen or a room and just let them run around. While they’d be excited about the change of scenery, they will get bored very fast. And a bored chinchilla is not only prone to health issues but also prone to getting in trouble. That trouble could include chewing on walls, furniture, or electronics. Those are all things no chinchilla owner wants. So you can combat that chinchilla boredom and mischievousness by providing safe and fun toys to keep their curiosity going.
Floor toys basically come in two types: tossing toys that can be chewed, carried, or just pushed around. Many of these are similar to hanging toys, made of pieces of wood or other chin safe materials. The other toys are stationary things like tunnels, houses, or “play gyms” that chinchillas can jump on, crawl through, and bounce off of.
It’s good to provide a variety of toys and play gyms for your chinchilla. If you can afford it and have enough space, have multiple options that you can rotate in and out of their play area to give them more variety to keep them stimulated.
Below we have some recommendations for chinchilla safe floor toys you can buy online or in pet stores for your pet chinchilla. Later we will also have some ideas of toys and houses you can make yourself at home to save money.
Cardboard houses are a great way to add levels to your play area so your chinchilla can climb, jump, and explore. You can easily make your own (more on this in the DIY toy section below) or you can often purchase cardboard cat furniture and houses that are safe for chinchillas. Look for designs with multiple levels and tunnels for your chinchilla to run through. Avoid any houses that feature ink or slick paint. You’re looking for plain brown cardboard.
Cacao Pets on Etsy makes a variety of interesting and fun pieces of cardboard cat furniture.
Binky Bunny also sells some cool cardboard rabbit houses and tunnels that are perfectly sized for chinchillas as well. They come in many different packs and pieces that can be combined together for any size play space.
If you have the cash to really spoil your chinchilla, Simply Chintastic makes amazing playpen toys out of solid wood. These include a mini choo choo train, a mini camper, and a big playground set that any chinchilla would go bonkers over.
Wood alternative: If your chinchilla has a bad habit of eating cardboard, then these cardboard houses are not a good option. Instead, you can invest a little money into building them a cool wooden castle with these parts from Small Pet Select.
Etsy Stores That Sell Chinchilla Toys
These stores sell a combination of toss toys, play toys, and hanging toys.
Chinvilla – Based in Maine, Lucas’s store sells a variety of goodies for chinchillas, include chinchilla toys. With a variety of hanging toys and toy parts available, you’ll have a hard time choosing. Plus they offer tasty chinchilla treats.
Farmer Dave Pet Supply – this is a store perfectly set up for chinchilla owners. he offers a variety of organic apple wood toys, as well as very affordable timothy hay in a variety of quantities.
Folklore Rabbit Toys – Another shop that specializes in rabbits. She has some fun and unique toys, like mystery boxes that they can destroy to reveal the contents. She also offers make your toy kits, which are great if you have a hankering for DIY but don’t want to do a lot of work sourcing toy parts. (Learn more about DIY toys in the next section.)
J+R Chin Shop – Finally, a shop dedicated to chinchillas. Connie makes a variety of hanging and toss toys made from chinchilla safe materials that they love to shred, like loofa, finger traps, and wicker balls. Go crazy and buy anything from this store, since it’s all chinchilla safe. The store is named after her own pair of chins, so you know her toys are made with love for these adorable pets.
Homemade Chinchilla Toys
Toys Made From Household Supplies
If you’re on a budget or want to recycle supplies already around your house, there’s plenty of cool ideas you can do to provide your chin with some fun toys and houses to play in. Since they’re so cheap (FREE!) you won’t feel bad when your chinchilla destroys them and they need to be replaced. Other than the cardboard itself, all you really need is scissors to create most of these DIY chinchilla toys.
Note: if your chinchilla tends to eat cardboard, you shouldn’t offer cardboard toys. If they eat too much cardboard they can experience a blockage in their intestines which could require a costly vet visit or even be fatal. Make sure to monitor your chinchilla around cardboard until you know whether they just like to tear it up or if they’re eating it too.
Cardboard Chinchilla Maze
If you’re a big online shopper like us, you probably end up with tons of cardboard boxes that you just throw out or recycle. Cardboard boxes are great for building floor toys to amuse your chinchilla. If you end up with a squat rectangular box that is a little bit taller than your chinchilla, then it is absolutely perfect for building a cardboard maze.
All that’s required is a box and some scissors or a box cutter. No adhesive is needed, so you don’t have to worry about your chin being exposed to toxic chemicals. It’s also a fun project to work on with your kids. Learn how to make a cardboard box maze for chinchillas.
Cardboard Chinchilla House
If you’re not interested in making a maze, you can still use cardboard boxes to create houses or “furniture” for your chin to climb on, jump off of, and otherwise explore. What you build is only limited by the boxes you have and your own imagination. However, there are a few things to keep in mind. Make sure any cardboard box you use is a regular brown box and does not have excessive ink or slick ink on it. Try to remove any labels or extra tape your chin might try to eat.
You can cut doorways, windows, and flaps into the box using a box cutter or scissors. Make sure if you’re going to build multiple level homes that each level is secured so your enthusiastic pet doesn’t knock it off or otherwise injure themselves.
Toilet Paper Tube Toys
If you’re on a budget or just love being crafty, you will love these toilet paper tube toys for chinchillas. Homemade chinchilla toys don’t have to break the bank, especially when you’re probably just throwing out a bunch of these tubes each week.
With toilet paper tubes you can make tossing toys, hanging toys, hay feeders, and shredding toys that chinchillas absolutely love. If you’re wondering how to make chinchilla toys, we have tutorials to make 8 different DIY toilet paper roll toys for chinchillas.
There are many ways to buy chinchilla safe toy parts, like wood chews and other safe chews, and make your own toys. Often this is expensive because you are buying heavy pieces (basically a box of wood) that are expensive to ship. We’ve tried to find a lot of options on Amazon where you can get free shipping from Amazon Prime to cut down on the costs. Some of these are items you may be able to find in brick and mortar pet stores like Petsmart and Petco.
Toy Chains, Strings, etc.
If you want to make your own hanging toys or toss toys, you’ll need something to tie or link them together. There are two ways to do this, either with something reusable that your chin cannot chew or with a chinchilla safe material that they will destroy with the toy.
Some of these toy parts, like sticks and such, can be given to your pet chinchilla on their own. You can also create hanging toys or toss toys with them. These toy parts are all chinchilla safe and easy to order from Amazon.
Eco Animal Pet Products – Located in Alaska, they carry a small amount of chinchilla safe toys and toy parts. They are a newer store, so I’m hoping their inventory will grow with time.
Natures Pickings – This store run by outdoorsman Mike specializes in natural woods for a variety of uses like smoking meats. A lot of the wood he sells is safe for chinchillas and untreated (he forages from the wild). His sticks, slivers, and splits are great for making toys out of.
A Bird Toy – Christina’s shop specializes in toys and toy parts for birds and her huge selection also includes toy parts that are good for chinchillas.
Botanical Lamp Shades – is a shop with a lot to offer. Their “Goods from the Woods” section has tons of sticks, branches, and pine cones that are great for chinchilla toys. Make sure to cross reference the safe woods list.
Other Sites that Sell Toy Parts
Small Pet Select – While they’re mostly known for their quality chinchilla hay, Small Pet Select also offers a variety of chinchilla safe toys and toy parts that your chin will enjoy chewing on. There’s plenty of grass and wood options your pet can destroy.
TJ’s Chinchilla Supplies and Info – TJ’s store sells all kinds of chinchilla supplies, as well as wood and other safe toy parts. This is a great store to buy wood blocks, beads, and other parts made of chinchilla safe wood and colored with safe dyes. Buy in small quantities or in bulk.
Chinchilla City – This site sells tons of bulk toy parts especially for chinchillas. They also carry pre-made toss toys and hanging toys for your pet chinchilla.
Ronda’s Chinchilla Supplies – In addition to general chinchilla supplies, Ronda also sells wood by the pound. She has an extensive selection of chinchilla safe wood in twigs, sticks, coins, and chunks. She also sells other toy parts like vines, coconut shell, and more.