What? Chinchilla‘s bathe? Absolutely! How else do they keep their luscious, soft coats clean and healthy? They bathe, but not in the same way that other creatures do. Chinchilla’s have a special way to get routinely clean, and that requires them to bathe in dust. Not only will a good dust bath keep your chinchilla’s fur clean and silky smooth, it’s also thought to be relaxing and fun for them as well! Just think – a pet that loves bathing — it sounds crazy, but it’s true!
The Dust Bath
So, about this dust bath: How does it work and is it really like it sounds? Yes, it’s exactly like it sounds! You can buy chinchilla dust at your local pet store and make it available to your little guy on a regular basis. Store-bought chinchilla dust is actually supposed to mimic what’s available to the chinchilla in their natural habitat, as opposed to sawdust or a powder that humans would use (such as baby powder). Put a couple of inches of the dust in a tip-resistant container or dish that’s slightly larger than your chinchilla. You’ll want to place the container in his cage for about 10-15 minutes at a time when he’s most active, just a few times a week. Do not leave it in the cage indefinitely.
Chinchillas love their dust baths so much that if you leave it in the cage with them, they’ll likely just rest in it, which will quickly dry out their skin. Dried skin will cause itching, rough skin and rash, just like on humans. Pay close attention, as all climates (and chinchillas) are different, and yours may require more or less bath time at different times of year. Feel free to pull up a chair and watch your chinchilla bathe if your container is clear, as it’s pretty entertaining. You may be wondering how it actually works: when he starts rolling around in the dust, he’s actually using that fine powder to absorb oil and dirt from his fur all the way down to his skin!
After he’s done bathing, take the container out and check to see if the dust is reusable for the next bath. If you notice in clumps or droppings, discard the dust and start over with new dust for his next bath.
The Water Bath
There is much debate on whether or not it’s safe or healthy to give chinchilla’s water baths. A water bath should only be suggested in an extreme condition where your chinchilla has gotten themselves into a mess that cannot be cleaned up by their routine dust bath. Even in these cases, consult your veterinarian to be sure it’s the right thing for you. If you decide to move forward with a water bath, only use lukewarm water.
Understand that this won’t be very comfortable for your chinchilla, so be quick. Lastly, it’s extremely important to make sure that your chinchilla is 100% dry when you are done with his cleaning, and the best way to do this is with a hand dryer. Again, your chinchilla won’t be thrilled, so be as speedy but as thorough as you can if you must give a water bath.
Bathing chinchilla’s may sound silly, but chinchilla owners know that dust baths are a serious part of a healthy chinchilla‘s life.