Chinchilla is an animal who likes to jump and hop, so the height, depth, and width of the cage are very important. You can find a metal cage with about 80cm x 74cm x 44cm in your local pet store; however, most of them are not suitable for chins and most of them are far too expensive. In short, in my experience, it is very hard to BUY a suitable cage for chins. Either a good size without stories or a cage with everything perfects…. but coated with plastic. If you are good in woodwork or handmade, I advice you to make one for them by yourself. A cage with no stories is not a good cage for them because as chins love to jump, one or more stories can fulfill their will. A plastic-coated cage also is no good for them because they will chew the plastic off and it is toxic for chins! Wire mesh cages will work fine for them as the metal can easily be wiped clean of dusk and hairs. I personally do not like cage without bottom mesh to separate the litter pan (drop tray). As known, the droppings and urine are all on the litter pan and if they step on them (especially urine), it will make them dirty and their fur clumpy. I like cages with a bottom mesh to keep them away from the litter pan, so as the droppings, urine and wood shavings, in order to keep them clean and dry.
In order to let the chins feel that’s their new home, the cage must equipped with the proper accessories:
- Food Dish – a food dish must be heavy enough so the chins will not be easily tipped over while they jump around. I strongly suggest using a food dish that can fasten to the bar to prevent tipped over. In addition, one of my chin just love to urinate in the food dish. We clean the dish immediately after we saw it. However, we still saw urine in the food dish every morning and the pellets are all gone…so, big concern to their health. As a result, we bought a much smaller attachable food dish to make sure that chin cannot sit on it and urinate in the food dish and it does work.
- Water Dispenser – try to find a water bottle that is made of glass. A plastic bottle will chew by the chin. If not, place the plastic bottle outside of the cage so the chin cannot chew the plastic off. Also, do not place it above the hay dish, they hay will get wet and rot.
- Hay Dish – Same as the food dish, heavy enough to prevent tipped over.
- Sleeping House – a sleeping house is made for chins so they can seek quiet and peace during daytime. Sleeping house is available in your local pet store or you can make one by hand. Sleeping house is usually made of wood, you should not use wood like cedar, red wood or plum wood, they have aromatic oils which poisonous to chins! If you would build a house, make it out of kiln dried pine. And yes, they will chew on it.
- Dust Bathtub – I personally do not like to put a dust bathtub into the cage because I find out that they will urinate on the dust. Droppings can be remove, but urine will make the chins roll in the wet dirty dust. The dust may not be reuse in this way. Once the dust appears clumpy, it is time to replace it.
- Wheel - There are wheel big enough for chinchillas available in pet store. Wheel is a good toy for chin to do exercise and to release their energy at night.
- Chin Chew Bloc - Chin chew block can help your chins to sharp their teeth and so can prevent many dental problems. Tree branches like apple tree branches, pear or mulberry bark are good branches for chin to chew on. Avoid using cherry or plum bark.
As mentioned, chins love to chew, they will chew on everything you put into their cage, so make sure nothing you put in the cage is poisonous. Also, as chin love to jump an hop, move away any hazard from the cage. Things like wires, and nails must be removed to prevent injuries.