Many new chinchilla owners are often most curious as to why a chinchilla needs to take a dust bath to remain clean.
It is a good question to ask and part of learning how to take care of a chinchilla the best way we can.
Why do chinchillas bathe in the dust?
After owning a chinchilla for 5 years, here’s what insight I can provide on this topic.
Chinchillas take dust baths because it’s what they are accustomed to in the wild and it is what is necessary to keep their dense fur healthy, clean, and oil-free. Chinchillas need to use dust as opposed to water due to their inability to dry the water out of their fur adequately.
Yes, you read that correctly.
Our brilliant pets found a way to find natural dust in the wild to freshen up and it’s the same approach you have to take as a new chinchilla owner.
- Why Do Chinchilla’s Take Dust Baths?
- What Kind of Dust Do Chinchillas Bathe In?
- When Should I Give My Chinchilla a Dust Bath?
- Bust Out The Dust to Get Your Chinchilla Clean
Why Do Chinchillas Take Dust Baths?
I was clueless about why a chinchilla needs to take dust baths when I first adopted my chinchilla in the beginning as well.
Why do chinchillas take dust baths?
What kind of dust do chinchillas bathe in?
What is the best chinchilla dust?
All three of these questions popped to mind immediately before and during the early days of my first chinchilla adoption.
Let’s start with the first question.
Why do chinchillas take dust baths?
As stated previously, a chinchilla doesn’t know anything else or any other method for remaining clean and for removing the oils and debris from their dense fur.
In their natural habitats, it is common for precipitation to be minimal, temperatures to be mild which is what allows them to survive with their dense fur easily and why they remain relatively dry in the wild.
Luckily, this works out perfectly because no other method for bathing a chinchilla is advised and many reputable brands of chinchilla dust have been formulated for these exotic rodents to replicate this process in the best fashion possible.
Chinchillas specifically rolled themselves in dust in the wild to remain clean and to absorb oils for their fur.
In my mind, I always pictured this as a chinchilla simply rolling around in desert-type dirt that is dry and easy for them to shake off when they are complete.
Whether this is the exact scenario we would witness on National Geographic is a different story because I have never encountered nor saw a chinchilla physically take a dust bath in the wild or clean themselves.
However, I have witnessed my chinchilla in her dust bath getting herself clean and she absolutely loves it and I have learned a lot about chinchillas in my 5 years of being a chinchilla parent.
Their fur is much too dense to tolerate water except in extreme circumstances where water may be advised but that is a topic for a different post and a different day.
In fact, water could cause illness or death for a chinchilla if you do not know what you are doing.
Their fur simply can’t dry due to being so dense.
If that’s the case, as a new chinchilla owner, what can you do to accommodate and maintain a clean and healthy chinchilla?
Good thing you asked because that’s the next subject of this discussion.
What Kind of Dust Do Chinchillas Bathe In?
I’m going to keep this as simple as possible.
Don’t overthink this.
You should always use store-purchased dust.
It is specifically created for chinchillas for the direct purpose of bathing.
Store-purchased dust will resemble the natural way chinchillas bathe in the wild.
Chinchilla dust is usually composed of volcanic ash among other artificial ingredients deemed safe for a chinchilla to bathe in.
I personally use the Blue Beauty Chinchilla Dust (Link to Amazon).
It can be purchased in large containers that will last a few weeks if you afford your chinchilla 2-3 dust baths per week.
I typically place an order for 2 at a time and then restart the following month.
It makes life easy for me and my chinchilla but ultimately, that’s up to you.
You can view other options for chinchilla dust and dust bathhouses in my post here.
Keep one thing in mind.
Dust is dust.
It can be messy if you allow your chinchilla to free-roll in the dust like a maniac.
Luckily, chinchilla dust bathhouses exist to fix this problem and they do a fantastic job.
Let’s touch on those specifics briefly.
Finding and Using The Best Chinchilla Dust Bath House
An important post I have that can help you immensely with chinchilla dust baths and further explain why chinchillas need to take a dust bath is my full tutorial breaking down how to give a chinchilla a dust bath that you can view here.
For the most part, finding the best chinchilla dust bath house comes down to personal preference more than anything.
One significant recommendation I can provide is to ensure it’s relatively enclosed.
For starters, your chinchilla loves the enclosure, feels safe and it helps contain the dust inside of the bathhouse.
This, in turn, makes clean-up very easy to complete.
Outside of that, have some fun with it.
If you have a female chinchilla, perhaps you choose a pink chinchilla dust bathhouse.
If you have a male, have some fun and go with a male-colored dust bathhouse.
I personally use two different dust baths.
Don’t feel obligated to have several of these small bathhouses.
I simply knew I wanted to try a few for the purpose of this blog.
My favorite chinchilla dust bathhouse hands down are the Kaytee Chinchilla Bath House (Link to Amazon).
I like that they are slightly larger compared to the image you see below and your chinchilla can roll as crazy as they prefer and the cleanup is minimal.
Obviously, as stated previously, have some fun with this and choose your own but I would definitely recommend sticking with the dust bath house previously mentioned.
You can view my recommendations for the best chinchilla dust bathhouses here for further options.
Common Mistakes To Avoid With Your Chinchilla Dust Baths
Other dust-like substances have been tried and don’t get the job done for your chinchilla or can cause the fur to dry out even further which is not good.
Don’t try using sand or other dust-like substances.
It’s an easy process picking the correct dust for your chinchilla.
Any dust designed specifically for chinchillas and commercially purchased will get the job done.
Anything that doesn’t fall into this category, should be avoided.
It’s that simple my friends.
Another common mistake is placing the dust bath container inside of the chinchilla cage.
In theory, this isn’t the end of the world but should still be avoided for a few reasons.
First and most importantly, it’s going to prematurely dirty up your chinchilla cage and requires more frequent cage cleanings.
Secondly, a chinchilla dust bath is perhaps a chinchilla’s favorite activity.
It’s recommended to keep this as something you can use for leverage.
For example, if my chinchilla is being non-cooperative about going back into her chinchilla cage, I can simply tap her dust bathhouse.
If you are having this issue, be sure to read my post about how to get your chinchilla and out of the cage here.
This entices her to run to me, jump in her dust bath in which I use to get her back in her cage.
Lastly, the dust bath is the equivalent of a human taking a shower.
Let your chinchilla come out to play and roam a bit and allow them to get out of their cage for a few minutes to enjoy the dust bath.
Don’t get me wrong here.
If you prefer to allow your chinchilla to bathe in dust inside of the cage, it’s not the end of the world.
However, if you have the time and you have the choice, I advise against it.
How Much Dust Does A Chinchilla Need in A Bath?
I know, I was confused by this as well.
How much dust does a chinchilla need in a bath?
Chinchillas need at least 2 inches of dust in the bottom of the dust bath container or bowl.
No matter which method or container you use for the bath, 2 inches is the adequate amount of dust for your chinchilla to roll in and clean themselves.
Although chinchilla dust, if it remains clean after use, could be used a second time, I recommend simply discarding the dust in the bathhouse after each use.
Stick to the recommended 2 inches of dust in the container to give your chinchilla the adequate amount of dust for their fur to absorb and you will be in good shape.
A Chinchillas Love For Dust Baths
Chinchilla absolutely loves their dust baths and it helps create a unique bond with your chinchilla.
It’s a win-win.
You can get in some laughs and smiles while your chinchilla is getting nice clean and ready for some cuddles.
Dust baths are also essential and critical for proper hygiene and fur care for your chinchilla.
Don’t be mistaken.
A skipped dust bath from time to time isn’t going to cause your chinchilla to smell by any means.
As long as it doesn’t get out of control.
Also, don’t replace other duties with a dust bath.
You still have to clean your chinchilla cage daily for small items such as poop and weekly for larger items such as bedding and shelves.
Do this in addition to using my recommended best chinchilla bedding and you will take your chinchilla’s hygiene to an entirely new level.
What am I referring to here?
They help a ton with hygiene but for the sake of staying on topic, you can use the link 1 sentence back to read my blog post specifically dedicated to that topic.
I also wanted to throw in one more bonus perk.
Here’s a quick video that you can see that shows my chinchilla taking one of her dust baths.
Clearly, I use dust baths for some interaction and to hang out with my chinchilla a few times per week.
Dust baths are one of the many things that make chinchilla a great pet to own.
It’s a great time for you and your chinchilla so make sure to keep up with it and provide your chinchilla adequate amounts of time per week to roll around in the dust and naturally build your bond with your chinchilla.
When Should I Give My Chinchilla a Dust Bath?
I had the same question at one point?
When should I give my chinchilla a dust bath or how often do chinchillas need a dust bath?
Chinchillas should be offered a dust bath a minimum of 2 times per week.
Make sure it’s during active times of the day for your chinchilla and increase the number of dust baths if you feel the fur is oily or dirty.
Unfortunately, these are some of the most alert and awake times your chinchilla will offer for some well-deserved dust bath time.
You also want to be careful not to overdo it.
Too many dust baths can irritate your chinchillas’ fur, skin, and possibly even ears and eyes.
You don’t want to dry them out.
Find a happy middle ground 2-3 times per week and your chinchilla should not only be happy but squeaky clean and ready to play!
I wouldn’t exceed 3 times a week at 20 minutes per dust bath.
More than this may dry out the chinchilla’s skin and fur and cause other issues.
The only time you may consider increasing is if you notice fur issues such as additional shedding.
Additionally, increase frequency if you are worried about potential fleas or other issues taking place on your chinchilla’s skin or fur.
What is Chinchilla Dust Made Of?
I wasn’t sure what chinchilla dust was made of either.
After some research, here’s what I learned.
Chinchilla dust resembles gray sand.
It depends on which commercially purchased dust you choose.
Some chinchilla dust for baths is made of 100% pure volcanic mountain pumice.
This is what you want.
It strongly resembles exactly how the chinchilla would clean itself in the wild.
How Much Does Chinchilla Dust Cost?
Giving your chinchilla the care he or she needs is relatively cheap.
Chinchilla dust is only about $5.00-$15.00 depending on which dust you buy and where you buy it from.
A 2.5-pound jug of chinchilla dust by Kaytee ranges between about 10.50 and 15.00 per jug on Amazon.
Fairly cheap to let keep that chinchilla fur soft, silky, and gives your chinchilla 10-20 minutes of pure enjoyment.
Bust Out The Dust to Get Your Chinchilla Clean
So, why do chinchillas need to take dust baths?
Simply because it is what they need to remain happy, healthy, and with a clean coat of fur and it is all that they know.
Stick to it.
They love it and I’m sure that you will love it just as much as they do.
Chili and I wish you the best of luck with your new chinchillas!
Share Your Thoughts on Chinchilla Dust Baths
Do you have any related stories to dust baths with your chinchilla?
Any recommendations for all the other readers when it comes to providing your chinchilla dust bath or further knowledge on why chinchilla’s take dust baths?
Be sure to share those thoughts, stories, and concerns by dropping a comment below.
As always, Chili and I appreciate you stopping by and reading today and we will see you again next time.