Caring for your chinchilla is always priority number 1.
It should be.
Chinchillas are unique in many ways and need the best care possible.
You have certain things that need to be completed to show the correct amount of love and care toward your furry friend.
None of these tasks are hard but in the beginning, you may have several questions about best practices and what needs to be done.
For me, one of those questions was simple but now I realize the importance of the question. How often should you clean a chinchilla cage? Here’s what I can tell you on the topic.
So, how often should you clean a chinchilla cage? Chinchillas are extremely clean animals with minimal or no odor. Chinchilla cages need to be cleaned fully at least once per week. This includes changing the bedding and washing water bottles and food bowls. Additionally, chinchilla cages need swept out daily for poop and discarded hay. Remaining diligent with your chinchilla cage is essential to keep your chinchilla happy and healthy.
There’s more to cleaning a chinchilla cage and doing it right than this.
I wanted to take the time to go over the cage cleaning process from start to finish to make sure your chinchilla is being cared for in the most ethical way and remaining clean and odor free.
I will also touch on a few cage recommendations in this post in case you haven’t reached that stage with your chinchilla ownership.
A nice size cage and a clean cage will ensure your chinchilla is happy and healthy.
Using a chinchilla dust bath is not all that’s needed to maintain your chinchilla’s hygiene and that’s what this post is here to cover for you.
Let’s get started.
The Cage Cleaning Process, What All Needs to Be Cleaned?
As mentioned before, you need to clean your chinchilla cage at least once a week.
This would be the bare minimum.
The more the better and the better the job you do and more often you do it, the easier it will be each time you clean the cage.
You can turn an easy fast task into a daunting task if you don’t stay diligent and consistent with cleaning your chinchilla cage.
No need to let it reach these points.
I personally clean my chinchilla cage daily.
I sweep all poop off the shelves.
I check the hay feeder and re-arrange my chinchilla’s favorite toys back neatly onto the shelves.
As far as the bedding or shavings, I clean these 1 time or 2 times per week depending on what it looks like.
I’m currently working on potty training my chinchilla to help with this situation.
So far, this is an ongoing learning process that we are working on together.
The Break Down and Cleaning Process
Cleaning your chinchilla cage is essential.
It’s equally as important as making sure your chinchilla is in a room with proper temperatures to avoid overheating.
Here’s each component of the cage and what needs to be completed each time you clean your chinchilla cage to ensure you are providing the best possible environment for your chinchilla.
I also have placed a video of me cleaning my chinchilla cage for you to view if you prefer to learn the process in this manner. It’s easy and a quick process.
You can view that here.
The Chinchilla Bedding
As mentioned previously.
You need to discard this bedding each time you clean your chinchilla cage.
You can keep a bulk amount of bedding on hand easily by purchasing the large bags that you can find in most pet stores or even stores such as Farm and Fleet.
On the flip side, I’ve transitioned away from bedding completely with my chinchilla and moved to fleece liners.
Fleece liners are much more ideal to keep clean and better for your chinchilla. First and foremost, they are better on your chinchilla’s small bones in their feet.
Additionally, if you only have 1 chinchilla, the fleece liners only need to be washed once a week in the washer on cold water.
This will remove all the urine.
A huge added benefit about the fleece liners is they are also urine absorbent so 1 week will produce no smell and the fleece remains dry from urine spots or even from the water bottle dripping.
The liners I use are specifically fitted for the Critter Nation 2 (dual level cage).
If you haven’t purchased a chinchilla cage yet or are considering upgrading, I highly recommend this cage.
It’s large enough for your chinchilla to jump and climb, plenty of fleece liners are available for cheap since it’s such a popular option and it’s incredibly easy to clean quickly.
This is the exact model cage I currently have.
Additionally, I use fleece liners just like these Critter Nation 2 Cage Liners (Link to Amazon)
For those of you working with a budget, when you arrive on Amazon’s site inquiring about the Critter Nation Cage, you can always select the single level cage.
However, I assure you, eventually you will want to upgrade so if you have the funds to do so now, I’d just get it out of the way.
Chinchilla Cages, Other Chinchilla Cage Options, and Considerations
Since we just touched on the fact that you may still be searching for the proper cage, I wanted to touch on your options and other considerations to keep in mind.
Outside of the Critter Nation 2 Dual Level Cage mentioned above, you do have a few other avenues you can take during the process.
The most important thing isn’t necessarily the cage you purchase but that you understand how big a chinchilla should be and why it needs to be bigger than other rodent cages.
Chinchilla’s need plenty of space.
I do however like to point out that even the single level Critter Nation Cage is a great budget-friendly option for your chinchilla’s first cage.
In theory, it’s the exact same cage I use, you just are not purchasing the second level at this time.
The bottom level by itself is a good size cage and upgrading in the future is a perfectly fine option and avenue to take.
I also like the fact that the single level Critter Nation cage is heavily discounted on Amazon compared to the dual level cage.
If you are working with a limited budget, start with the Single Level Critter Nation (Link to Amazon).
After you have the funds, you can always add the second level at any time.
It simply attaches to the top of the single level cage to double your chinchilla’s space with about 2-5 minutes of work.
In all honesty, outside of these Critter Nation cages, I haven’t found too many great options unless you are handy with tools and can build your own.
I’m currently giving this a try now and documenting the process for all of the Planet Chinchilla readers and will release it when my project is complete.
A last and final option would be leaning on the Black Fiesty Ferret Cage (Link to Amazon).
It’s a larger option for less money than the Critter Nation 2 Cage.
What I dislike about this cage is the larger openings that make it easier for the poop to fall out of the chinchilla cage and the door opening handles are more cheaply constructed than the Critter Nation cages.
Nonetheless, it’s a large cage for a chinchilla for less money.
I would recommend more options but these are the only options and cages I’ve physically had in my possession and don’t feel comfortable recommending or advising against any cages I haven’t personally owned or tested thus far into my chinchilla parenting career.
Now, let’s get back to the proper cleaning process and make sure whatever cage you do have or purchase is always clean, safe and comfortable for your chinchilla.
The Cage Wipe Down
Now that the bedding is removed from the cage, we still need to ensure the cage itself is clean.
Remember your chinchilla is pooping most of the time it’s awake.
No, your chinchilla won’t smell because of this but it’s still best practice.
You can complete this step with simple water and vinegar mix and a towel or paper towels.
Mix 1-part vinegar with 20 parts of water.
Once the cage is cleaned and wiped down, you can place the new bedding back in the cage. Don’t place bedding back into the cage without ensuring its 100% percent dry.
n additional drying rag can go a long way toward making this process speed up dramatically.
I have begun skipping the water mixture and simply placing vinegar on a paper towel and wiping down the bedding tray in addition to the wooden shelves inside the cage.
It takes about 5 minutes in total.
The Water Bottle Wipe Down, Make Sure to Clean Your Chinchillas Water Bottle
This should be performed at least once a week as well.
The more the better.
This step, you can use simply use soap and water.
If necessary you can also use some mild bleach and water mix but most of the time, soap and water will be adequate unless you allowed it to go for too long in between cleanings.
Cleaning your chinchilla’s water bottle is essential for preventing bacteria from building up which can eventually make your chinchilla sick. When chinchillas get sick, it can progress rapidly.
Cleaning the water bowel is a critical step involved with cleaning your chinchilla’s cage. Don’t forget this step.
Double Check the Tubes for Clogs When Cleaning Your Chinchilla Cage
While completing this process, you need to make sure that you are checking the tubes to ensure there is no clogs or obstructions within the water bottles tube or drain spout.
Blocking water flow and not allowing your chinchilla to get fluids is a recipe for disaster.
Double check the tubes and clean them adequately whether you notice a clog or not.
This could also ensure your chinchilla is always safe and provided for in case you need to leave for a day or for a weekend and a backup chinchilla babysitter can’t make it out to double check on your chinchilla.
It’s just best practice to get into this habit and develop that as muscle memory.
Placement of Your Chinchilla Cage Matters And Makes Cleaning Much Easier
If you can easily reach all the components of the cage, your job will be much easier. Don’t place the chinchilla cage where it’s difficult to reach and clean the cage adequately. This will save you headaches and time in the future and make the process much less of a daunting task.
This plus a consistent cleaning routine is always a recipe for an easy and quick chinchilla cage cleaning.
Choosing a Good Time To Clean Your Chinchilla Cage
If you want to clean the cage at a time it’s convenient for you and your chinchilla, you can consider knocking this out during one of your chinchilla’s weekly dust baths which should be taking place 2-3 times per week.
A dust bath takes your chinchilla a few minutes and if you keep up with cleaning, you should have plenty of time to get the cage clean during dust bath time.
Make sure that your chinchilla is performing their dust bath in a chinchilla safe room where they can’t easily run away from you during the cage cleaning.
Locating your chinchilla if they wander off won’t be too much fun and can’t take hours to do so.
Can I Use Vinegar Instead to Clean My Chinchilla Cage?
Yes, white vinegar is a perfectly fine solution mixed with water or even without a water mix. Exercise caution, however. You don’t want to ever mix bleach with vinegar to clean your chinchilla cage.
This can be extremely toxic to your chinchilla. One or the other is a perfectly fine way to clean your chinchilla cage.
Beware of the Hay and Poop
You will also want to ensure you have a dustpan or garbage bag nearby.
Chinchilla poop and hay leftover will be present in the cage and you want to make sure to get rid of all of these additional waste items when cleaning your chinchilla cage.
Hay and poop will also be around the cage in most situations. Be sure to clean the entire cage and around the cage.
Don’t Forget About the Food Bowl During The Cleaning Process
Do you like to eat of the same food bowl repeatedly?
I’m assuming not, and I doubt your chinchilla does either.
Part of the cleaning process should be washing your chinchilla’s food bowl with soap and water and ensuring it’s dry before placing food back into the bowl
Spot Check Wood Shelves and Other Cage Items
Don’t forget all the other fun areas and shelving items in the cage. It all needs to be cleaned.
Chinchillas love to climb and all their favorite spots to jump and play should remain clean. Vacuum spots with any droppings or gives them a good wipe down.
Point being is that you should be making sure the entire cage and environment are clean for your chinchilla. Not just a few areas of the cage. Do it right the first time.
Don’t Forget the Toys Inside Your Chinchilla Cage
Toys inside and outside the cage should also be cleaned from time to time.
Don’t forget to give these a good scrub down to make sure your chinchilla is always playing with a clean, germ-free and safe toy.
What If I Missed Some Cleanings? The Chinchilla Cage Deep Clean
If you have missed some cleaning or it’s been a few weeks since a good scrub down and deep clean, you need to perform it.
This is the time to do a full inspection of the entire cage.
Remove and dangerous or faulty shelves or cage items.
You can use the vinegar to complete this cleaning, but you have to be 100% sure that it’s been rinsed completely before returning your chinchilla to the cage to avoid harm or your chinchilla ingesting too much vinegar.
Wipe it down and then wipe it down with a basic wet rag.
That’s it. Nothing to fancy about it and doesn’t take more than a few minutes.
Your Chinchilla Can Be Present During Cleanings If You Wish
I suggested completed this cleaning while allowing your chinchilla to take a dust bath.
Your chinchilla can also be in the cage during this process.
If you need to relocate items, remove items or perform any other maintenance, you could allow your chinchilla to remain in the cage.
Be sure that your chinchilla is going to run off on you and that you are careful not to scare your chinchilla or cause any harm.
Leaving your chinchilla in the cage during the cleaning is perfectly fine. No worries.
Sun Dry Items if Need Be, This is Rare
If you don’t have the extra towels and the cage components aren’t drying fast enough, allowing them to sit in the sun for a few minutes is another method you can use to speed up the process.
A small amount of additional advice just in case.
How Do I Clean Wood on My Chinchilla Cage?
For cleaning wood inside the chinchilla cage, you can use a wash rag with soap or vinegar for a mild disinfectant.
Be sure to remove all food pellets, bedding, and poop droppings.
Do Chinchilla Cages Need Bedding?
Yes, your chinchilla cage absolutely needs bedding.
It doesn’t matter if you are using a drop-in tray or a pull-out tray, some form of bedding needs to be present and more importantly, it needs to be designed specifically for your chinchilla and chinchilla safe. Aspen shavings are a common choice and safe for chinchillas.
Does Chinchilla Pee Smell?
No, not really. Your chinchilla’s pee won’t have much if any of an odor.
If it does or your chinchilla does ever have a smell emitting from him or her, it’s best to call your vet to ensure your chinchilla is not sick and that no other health problems are going on.
In many circumstances, a stinky chinchilla can indicate something is seriously wrong with your furry friend.
A Clean Cage Equals a Happy Owner and Happy Chinchilla
To sum things up, I want to point out that your chinchilla’s cage cleaning is not a tough task or even a time-consuming task if you keep up with the challenge and continue to provide a clean and safe environment for your chinchilla.
It should only take 15 minutes to do a cleaning if you stay diligent and clean the chinchilla cage often.
Always use safe chemicals, chinchilla safe bedding and do a complete job. Your chinchilla will love and respect you for it and it’s just a nice way to repay your chinchilla for all the smiles and joy he or she brings to your life.
Do you have any recommendations about doing a spectacular job cleaning your chinchilla cage or how to do it even better than the directions we have laid out here today? Be sure to drop a comment below.
As always, I appreciate you reading and will see you next time. Happy cleaning.