It might seem odd that soft and fluffy chinchillas clean themselves by bathing in dust. However, these adorable pet rodents actually need bi-weekly sessions in volcanic ash to keep their fur and skin healthy. If you're giving your pet chinchilla a dust bath for the first time, you'll need to buy a dust product that mimics the natural ash these animals use in the wild as well as a bowl that's large enough for them to roll in. Use this detailed guide to get started.
How to Give a Chinchilla a Bath Step-by-Step
- The best time to give a chinchilla a bath is at night as they are crepuscular, meaning they are most active and awake in the early evening and early morning.
- To begin, fill your bath house, bowl, or bin with about 1 to 2 inches of chinchilla bath dust and place it in your chinchilla's cage.
- Place your chinchilla in the bowl. They will take care of the rest, as they will instinctively know to roll around and have fun cleaning themselves in the dust. Always supervise your pet while they're bathing.
- Let the chinchilla roll around and play in the dust for at least five minutes, but no longer than 15 minutes. You do not want to leave your chinchilla in the bath for extended periods, as the dust can dry their skin out if they roll in it for too long. They may also use it as a litter box if left in the cage.
- Remove the bowl from the cage. Scoop out any debris from the dust and throw it away.
- You can put the remaining dust in a plastic bag or container and reuse it a few more times. However, once the dust becomes full of dirt and clumps, it's time to use a new batch of dust.
Why Do Chinchillas Need Dust Baths?
The dust in the chinchilla's bath helps to remove oils on their skin and makes their fur softer. Using water to clean their coat will not work, as their very dense fur takes a very long time to dry completely. Damp fur can lead to health problems, including mold and infections. Avoid getting your chinchilla wet and use the dust bath method instead.
How Often Does a Chinchilla Need a Bath?
Your chinchilla should get a dust bath at least two to three times per week. Check your chinchilla's skin frequently, as signs of flaking can mean they're too dry and are bathing too often. If you see them itching and scratching, this is also a sign their skin is too dry. Usually, you will need to allow them to bathe more often in more humid climates and less often in arid climates.
Buying Chinchilla Bath Dust
When looking for a chinchilla bath dust for your pet, look for brands that are made specifically for chinchillas.
- All Living Things Small Animal Blue Cloud Dust is made with dust sourced from the pumice at the Blue Cloud Mine in Castaic, California. It sells for about $9 for a 13-ounce jar or $20 for a 3-pound jar.
- ChillDust is made from 100 percent white pumice from the Hess mines in southeastern Idaho. It is denser than some other chinchilla dust bath products, which means it produces less flyaway dust mess. It is also certified by the Empress Chinchilla Breeders Cooperative. A 1-pound bag is about $6 and a 5-pound bag is about $15. It's also available in several other sizes.
- Oxbow Poof! Chinchilla Dust Bath is also sourced from the Blue Cloud Mine. Users on Chewy.com give it a solid five-star review. A 2 1/2 pound jar is about $10.
Making a Homemade Chinchilla Dust Bath
While it may be tempting to create your own chinchilla dust bath for convenience, this is not in the best interests of the chinchilla. Because of the unique properties of their fur, they require dust for their baths, made of ingredients specifically for chinchillas. It can be difficult to mimic the properties of the volcanic pumice they need, so always purchase a natural, chinchilla-specific product. Other materials like sand or powders like talc will not work well and will not only not help your chinchilla stay clean, but can be harmful to them.
Choosing a Chinchilla Bath Bowl or House
There are a few criteria you should consider when choosing a bath house for your chinchilla.
- Surface area: You will need a bowl or dish that's large enough for your chinchilla to roll around in comfortably. The ideal size will depend on the size of your pet, but a container that's about 12 inches in diameter should be suitable.
- Stability: It should also be heavy enough that the chinchilla can't knock it over when they're rolling around excitedly. Glass, ceramic, or heavy plastic will work.
- Side height: The bowl should also have high sides to keep as much dust in the bowl as possible, which will mean less clean up for you. Choose something that's around 4- to 6-inches deep.
You can choose a suitable fish bowl, plastic bin-like container, heavy stoneware, or a ceramic serving bowl. You can also purchase a specialized "bath house" for your chinchilla.
Chinchilla Bath Accessories
If you would like to purchase a bath house made for a chinchilla, you have several options that can work well. The size and shape will depend on the size of your chinchilla's cage.
- The All Living Things Chinchilla Dust Bath has a round base and is circular. The bath house is made from heavy plastic. It's easy to clean and the high sides keep dust from flying around. It sells for around $18.
- A different design is the You & Me Chinchilla Bathtub, which has a wider area for the chinchilla to roll around in, but a lower "ceiling" with the plastic lid. This is a good option for containing a mess, but will only fit in a larger cage compared to the All Living Things bath. The bath sells for around $18.
- The Kaytee Chinchilla Bath House has an adorable house shape, and the design helps to keep more dust toward the middle of the bowl and away from the sides. This helps the chinchilla to have a constant deeper area of dust to roll in. It's made from plastic, so it's easy to clean, and the lid helps to keep a dusty mess from blowing around the cage. It sells for about $22.
Keeping Your Chinchilla Healthy With Dust Baths
A chinchilla will need regular dust baths two to three times weekly to keep their fur and skin healthy. Aside from the benefits to their physical health, chinchillas also really love their dust baths! It's obvious how much fun they're having as you watch them roll around. Just make sure you use the right size bowl and appropriate chinchilla dust to keep them clean and happy.