Grooming Your Chinchilla

Dusting
Chinchillas need to roll around in special dust to keep their fur in good shape. Be sure to use chinchilla dust, not sand.  Dust should be provided 2-3 times per week; if the fur appears greasy increase the frequency however if you notice dry skin decrease the frequency. How often your chinchilla needs to dust is determined by how much you handle him, how dense his fur is, and the climate in which you live. I’ve had to increase dusting during the summers and decrease during winter.

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Any type of container can be used for dusting, so long as it is large enough for your chinchilla to roll around in.  Some ideas are specialty dust houses, a glass cookie jar, large fishbowl, or storage container.  It is a good idea to wear a mask or leave the room while your chinchilla is dusting as inhaling the dust is not good for your lungs.

You can reuse the dust several times if it has not been urinated in.  Scoop out any droppings and add more dust as needed.  After several uses, when the dust starts to get coarse or has been urinated in, it’s time to change it.  Also remember to periodically wash your dust container.  If you have chinchillas that live in separate cages, you should provide separate dust containers as dust is breeding grounds for bacteria and you do not want to share it between pets.

Combing
You should not use a brush on your chinchilla, however if you’d like to comb your chin, you can do so every few weeks. You can buy a specialty chinchilla comb for about $30 or you can use another fine long tooth comb; I’ve heard of greyhound combs being used. You will want to comb from the base of the tail towards the head; gently working the comb through the fur. If you have a very densely furred chin it will take some time. Warning: most chins do not like to be combed!

Here is a video of a professional show breeder grooming a chinchilla. I’ve heard of, but never seen, anyone hold the chin by the ear before, however that would probably keep you from getting bit by a uncooperative chin.  I would advise against holding the ears until someone has shown you or advised you on this technique.

Nails
You do not need to, and should not, clip your chinchilla’s nails.  Usually chins keep their nails short on their own.  Providing wooden surfaces in the cage will also help to wear the nails down.  Should the nails get too long, you could gently file them.

Hair Rings in Males
Males will usually take care of this themselves however, gone unchecked, a nasty hair ring can cause pain, damage, or even death.  Hair rings are more often found in breeding males (these males should be checked frequently, especially if you have witness mating) but if you notice your male chinchilla cleaning himself more than usual, it’s time to check for hair rings.

This video shows best how to do a hair ring check:

This video, is not as great quality but this chinchilla has a hair ring:

Oh and if you are trying to do a hair ring check but can’t get anything to come out of the sheath, then you have a female 😛

21 Comments

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  2. I recently noceitd these spots on the back of my chins ears, and I have become worried. I give him his dust baths and groom him as much as recomended, but the spots wont go away. Is it due to stress? Or his baths? Or is it something medicaly wronge with him?

    • Could the spots be dry skin? One of my boys had dry skin on his ears and I just cut back on the dust baths. If the spots are red and scaly, then it could possibly be ringworm and will need to be seen by a vet.

    • these spots you are noticing are not dangerous at all! they are simply dandruff dots. this comes from us after touching our heads and scratching we carry dandruff with us. The chinchillas don’t have hair they have fur. So, instead of carrying it in their fur. They carry spots on their ears. Dandruff spots.

  3. I’m worried that my cilhcnhlia will try to chew on the hard plastic dust bath houses. They look nice and see them in the pet stores, so I assume it isn’t a big issue, any advice?

    • Usually when a chinchilla gnaws, they don’t ingest the thing they are chewing so they most likely would not eat the plastic. The dust house is a harder plastic but you don’t want to leave it in the cage for long periods of time anyway. It should be fine for a 5-10 minute dust bath several times a week.

    • If you have more than one chin they enjoy communal bathing and big pet stores will sell metal open top dust baths (this is what I have for my chins) this does however mean dust everywhere! You could use a glass cookie jar as suggest above, but as long as you keep an eye on your chin the dust bath shouldn’t be chewed as you can intervene and stop them!

  4. I’ve only had my chinchilla for about a week and noticed he has watery eyes. The owners we had him from weren’t the cleanest in fact it was dirty has hell. I think we’ve actually saved him. Should I be worried?

    • I can’t really say without seeing him in person but I always recommend going to the vet if you are concerned. Watery eyes could be anything from dirt/dust irritating the eye to an infection to teeth problems, you won’t know until you go to the vet. It’s better to be too worried and he turns out okay then to wait and find out later there may have been more treatment options had you gone when you first noticed. I also like to take new chins to the vet just to make sure they are healthy even if they look okay to me. As a first time chinchilla owner, this can be helpful to find out if your chosen veterinarian really is knowledgable about chinchillas or not.

  5. I was under the impression that chinchillas don’t need to be brushed? and from that video it looks a little cruel. Is that just because its for show or is there actually a need that a simple dust bath won’t cover?

    Also, like the site pretty informative. Starting a more general pet site myself.

    • Pet chinchillas do not have to be groomed. Usually grooming is done when preparing a chinchilla for a show but it can be helpful if your chin is shedding badly when priming.

    • I would make sure to get a cage that your cats cannot get into, one with small 1/2″ spacing so they cannot paw at the chinchilla. I would also put the cage somewhere where the cat cannot jump on top if possible. If not possible, I would place a solid board on top so the chinchilla does not feel threatened with the cat (predator) on top.

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  7. I would like to purchase a #4 chinchilla comb. Haven’t been able to locate a source for one. Could someone email me where to purchase such an item.

    Rose in NH

    • Hi Suzy, actually chinchillas do have nails. They are very thin and fragile and usually are kept extremely short by running around the cage. If you have a lot of wooden shelves that helps wear them down a lot; they tend to get longer on wire bottom cages I’ve found. But they definitely can be sharp and scratch you up pretty good if they are longer and the chins are crawling on you.

  8. My chinchilla has tuffs of fur that aren’t even to the rest of his fur, underneath the fur there are white flakes that look like dandruff. Any answers would be most appreciated.

    • Most likely your chinchilla is priming or “blowing coat”. Every so often they get new fur. Some chins have distinct priming lines where you can tell, others like my Chub get tufts of fur popping up over his back end.

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