To keep a chinchilla safe, happy, and healthy, a responsible owner must buy a range of items, including a cage, feeding products, and toys for entertainment. Another important item that a chinchilla owner must buy is a dust bath. Here, you can learn more about what a dust bath is, why chinchillas need them, and the items you need for your chinchilla to have their dust baths.
What is a Dust Bath for Chinchillas?
A dust bath is a small vessel that holds dust. Chinchillas use this to clean themselves. This is a behavior that is common in many animals that involves rolling around in dust to clean dirt off the fur. The dust removes any excess oil or moisture from their fur by absorbing it and this keeps your chinchilla healthy.
What Are the Benefits?
There are three main benefits of a chinchilla having a dust bath. These include:
- Removing dirt from dense fur- Chinchillas have the densest fur of all land mammals. This means that dirt is easily trapped between the hairs and a dust bath is the best way of removing this dirt.
- Removing moisture- Similarly, the density of a chinchilla’s fur means that moisture and oil can build up as it cannot escape from the fur. Too much moisture and oil in the fur can cause mold to grow, leading to infections. The dust in a dust bath will absorb the excess oil and moisture.
- Preventing health conditions- There are some health conditions from which a chinchilla may suffer if their hygiene is poor. Some of these include hair loss, dry skin, fungal infections, and hairballs. A dust bath reduces the risk of a chinchilla developing any of these conditions as it helps them to maintain good hygiene.
How Often Do Chinchillas Need a Dust Bath?
How often a chinchilla needs a dust bath depends on where you live and the climate in that area. In the wild, a chinchilla will naturally clean themselves around twice a week. If you live in a warm or humid climate, you must give the chinchilla its dust bath at least every other day as they will have a greater build-up of oil and moisture. On the other hand, if you live in a cold climate, they will only need a dust bath around once a week. This is because too many dust baths will cause their skin to become dry.
It is not just how often your chinchilla has a dust bath that is important as when they have them is just as important. Chinchillas are nocturnal animals that sleep for most of the day and are most active at dusk and dawn. This means that dusk and dawn are the best times to offer a dust bath for your chinchilla. As only the earliest of risers is awake at dawn, most owners offer their chinchilla a dust bath at dusk.
You don’t need to do anything as the chinchilla will bathe itself in the dust. However, you should monitor the time it spends in the dust bath as too much cleaning will cause dry skin. Take the dust bath away after 10 minutes.
What Do You Need to Dust Bath a Chinchilla?
The equipment needed for your chinchilla to have a dust bath is minimal. You simply need either a dust bath or a dust bath house and some bath dust.
A regular dust bath is simply a small open vessel to which you just add the bath dust. The downside to these is that when the chinchilla is cleaning itself, the bath dust will spray around the rest of the cage. The plus point of a dust bath over a dust bath house is that they cost less.
A dust bath house differs in that they are an enclosed container that has an opening at the front. The benefit of using these is that it keeps the surrounding environment in the cage clean as the dust won’t spray outside the container when your chinchilla is rolling around.
A dust bath house is usually plastic, but some are made from other materials. They vary significantly in size, price, and design, so it is worth comparing several products before making your decision.
Bath dust is something that you can buy at a pet store or online. Most are made from either ash or ground volcanic pumice. These are exactly the materials with which a chinchilla would give themselves a dust bath in the wild.
When choosing which bath dust to buy, avoid any that have other ingredients in them as the chinchilla only needs the ash or ground volcanic pumice to clean themselves. If a bath dust contains additives, it can cause skin problems for your chinchilla, so they are best avoided.
You should add approximately two inches of dust bath into the bottom of the container as this is plenty for your chinchilla to clean properly. If you have several chinchillas using the bath, you will need to top it up in between each chinchilla.
How often you should replace the bath dust depends on how regularly your chinchilla uses its dust bath. If your chinchilla has a dust bath twice a week, then change the bath dust once a week. If you live in a humid area and your chinchilla has a dust bath every other day, you may need to change the bath dust twice a week.
A Chinchilla Enjoying Dust Bath
A dust bath is how your chinchilla cleans itself, so buying a dust bath or dust bath house and some bath dust is essential. It will help your chinchilla to maintain good hygiene and reduce the likelihood of them suffering from several hygiene-related health conditions. Most people need to give their chinchillas a dust bath twice a week and to change their bath dust weekly.