Why Do You Give Chinchillas Dust Baths?

By Josie F. Turner, Journalist specialized in Animal Welfare. July 27, 2020
Why Do You Give Chinchillas Dust Baths?

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Unlike other pets, chinchillas cannot bathe in water. Instead, we need to give them dust baths. This is due to their characteristic hair that makes it impossible to dry after getting wet. This could lead to them getting sick and even die. Therefore, if you're a pet chinchilla caregiver, it's important you understand how to give your chinchilla a dust bath.

In this AnimalWised article we will explain why chinchillas have dust baths, how to give chinchillas dust baths and more. Continue reading to learn more!

You may also be interested in: Can I Bathe my Rabbit?

Why do chinchillas need a dust bath?

Chinchillas need a dust bath to keep clean. They cannot bathe in water as their characteristic hair won't be able to get dry after. This will lead to them getting very sick, and can even die.

A chinchilla's hair

While we have one hair per follicle, a chinchilla has around 80 hairs in each follicle. This is what makes their hair so soft and abundant that they lose hair by friction. In fact, this is a defensive resource for wild chinchillas that domestic chinchillas have kept. This is why domestic chinchilla caregivers are told not to over-handle their chinchilla.

When wild chinchillas are harassed by a predator, usually by a maned wolf, their body convulses which causes lots of hair to fall out. These hairs are inserted into the animal's nose, forcing them to sneeze. Giving the chinchilla a chance to escape from the predator.

To bathe a chinchilla, you can never do this with water as this could potentially kill the chinchilla. Instead, chinchillas have a dust bath, also called a sand bath. You can do this by providing them a tray with fine sand, available in local pet store shops. Then, your chinchilla will bathe themselves in the dust.

Why Do You Give Chinchillas Dust Baths? - Why do chinchillas need a dust bath?

Dust baths for chinchillas

Now that we've explained why chinchillas bathe with dust and not water, it's time to explain the importance of bathing your chinchilla and how to do it properly.

Wild chinchillas also bathe with dust. This helps them keep their thick fur smooth and silky and is also fun and relaxing for them. This is the same for domestic chinchillas. Dust baths also helps their hygiene and health. Learn more in our article about common diseases in chinchillas.

Keep in mind that if your chinchilla has dry and itchy skin, you'll have to decrease the amount of time and frequency they bathe per week. You'll also have to be careful that the dust doesn't irritate their eyes.

To bathe your chinchilla, you'll need a good-quality dust bathing formula from the pet store and a stable bowl big enough for them to roll around in. Continue reading our next section to learn more about how to bathe your chinchilla.

How to bathe your chinchilla with a dust bath

Choosing the correct dust formula

To choose the best dust bath for your chinchilla, opt for dust baths without additives or harmful chemicals. If you're not sure, you can ask in your veterinarian or in your local pet shop. Always use store-bought dust for bathing your chinchilla as these are specifically made for pet chinchillas.

When to bathe your chinchilla

Your chinchilla will need a dust two or three times a week in the evening, when they are most active during the day. All you'll need to do is place the dust bath in their cage for 10-15min. In that time they'll bathe themselves and then you can dispose of the dust.

How to bathe your chinchilla

Once you have purchased the thin dust bath formula from your local pet shop or an online shop. It's time to prepare it and bathe your chinchilla. Follow these simple steps:

  1. Add the thin dust formula to a bowl or container big enough for your chinchilla to roll around in. It should be a thin layer as your chinchilla will not need so much.
  2. Now place the dust bath in their cage. Preferably, in the afternoon when they are most active.
  3. Once it has been in their cage for 10-15min, it's time to take it out and dispose of the dust.

Keep in mind that your chinchilla will bathe themselves by rolling in the dust bath. All you need to do is provide them with the dust bath itself.

Tips for bathing your chinchilla

  • Don't leave the dust bath in their cage for more than 15min.
  • Don't disturb them when they are bathing. It's best to be in a different room so they feel calm.
  • Check their eyes once they're done bathing to make sure no dust got into their eyes.
  • If your chinchilla sneezes a lot, you may need to try a different dust bath formula. If the issue persists, go to the veterinarian.

To learn more, we invite you to also watch this Youtube video about how to bathe a chinchilla with a dust bath.

If you want to read similar articles to Why Do You Give Chinchillas Dust Baths?, we recommend you visit our Skin care category.

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