Unlike many of God's other creatures, chinchillas don't take normal baths with water. They prefer to take dust baths with a fine dust that gets into their coats and absorbs oil and dirt from the fur. As you learn about chinchilla care, you'll find they actually need regular dust baths to keep their fur healthy and clean. They also seem to enjoy them quite a bit.
If you're a little lost at this point don't worry, giving your chinchilla a dust bath isn't rocket science, it's actually quite easy. It's important to never bathe your chinchilla with water either, it will remove the oils from their skin and fur that helps regulate their body temperature. So just stick to the dust, no matter how weird you think it is!
Chinchilla Dust Bath Dust – What's Best?
To get the right dust, you'll need to head down to your local pet store, where they should sell special 'chinchilla dust bath' dust. It's specially made to imitate the dust they would normally find in their natural habitat to take a bath in. Beware of buying similar powders or sand that may look the same, but won't penetrate your chinchillas fur down to the skin to fully cleanse them.
To give your chinchilla a dust bath, find a big, heavy bowl that won't tip over and put the dust into it. It should be just a bit larger than your chin that will be using it. A slightly enclosed container works perfect for this (like a canister or fishbowl). Make sure there's about a half inch of dust in the bottom and stick it in your chinchilla cage when they are most active (evening is a good time).
You can reuse the dust if it looks fairly clean as long as you clean any clumps out after each use. If it gets dirty or too clumpy, then it's time to throw the old dust out and refill your container with new stuff. You shouldn't leave the dust bath in their cage all the time, as too much can dry their skin out and they might start using it for their litter box. Leaving the dust in the cage can also cause eye irritation, so it's best just to take it out after it's been used.
How Often Should You Set Up Chinchilla Dust Baths
Offering your chinchilla the dust bath around twice a week is usually enough to keep them clean. You can give them more though, if their fur starts to feel damp or oily. If you live in a more humid climate, then you'll want to give your chin more dust baths. You should allow about 10-15 minutes of good rolling for a thorough cleansing. If you find their skin is becoming dry and flaky then try decreasing bathing time and frequency a little.
Just like many things that your chin does, watching them take a dust bath can be pretty entertaining. It's so different than what we're used to, and very cute! A clear fish bowl really makes a great bath bowl since you'll be able to see your little chinchilla rolling around in their dust bath. Learn some more chinchilla facts here.