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!
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.
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.
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