How to Clean Your Chinchilla Cage

The best way to keep your pet chinchilla healthy is to keep the cage clean.  A dirty cage can lead to parasites or infection, not to mention will smell bad.

What to clean with:

Vinegar – use 50% vinegar/ 50% water solution and rinse.

OR

Bleach – use 1 part bleach to 10 parts water.  Be sure to rinse thoroughly several times.  Note that bleach will eat away powder coating on cages

Cleaning Schedule:

Daily: dump out the fines or crumbs from the pellets before you refill food.  Refill water if needed (changing the water daily is also a good idea especially if you have a vacuum ball bottle) and test that the bottle is working once it is on the cage.  Spot clean cage as necessary, sweep droppings off shelves and empty houses and hammocks, wipe down walls behind and near cage if they have been sprayed.

Weekly: wash water bottle and food dish.  Dump pan weekly or as needed.  Wire bottom cages or cages with more than one chinchilla may need the pan to be changed more often; wash/scrub pan.  Sand down any dirty wood shelves, houses, or toys.

Every couple months: Wash full cage thoroughly, wash or replace wooden shelves and accessories.

**Wood is porous and harbors bacteria so it is very important to the health of your chinchilla to keep the wooden areas of the cage clean.  You can soak wood in bleach or vinegar solution, rinse, and air dry. **

Q.  What if I clean my cage often but the room still smells of ammonia?

A.   Try different type of shavings, the more the shavings get mixed up, the more urine they will absorb.  Generally I’ve found that small shavings work better because they get mixed better and the wet stuff will fall to the bottom of the cage, leaving the dryer shavings on top.  Another possibility is that the room has poor ventilation or high humidity, try improving ventilation or adding a dehumidifier.

34 Comments

  1. We’ve had our chinchilla’s for 6 mhotns now and I stumbled upon your site! I’m glad I did . =)But, I’m feeling really uneducated because I’m confused on the bedding issue. Are they not supposed to be able to walk on/touch the bedding? We have a cage that we were given when we got the chinchilla’s and it is a basic my first home but the extra large size. We were given Carefresh bedding that she had told us to place in the bottom of the cage and change it weekly. I would like to buy the larger cage that you suggest but I’m not sure if what I’m doing with the bedding is unhealthy/wrong? The cage you suggest has wire and pull out tray the one I currently have does not so How would I actually set up the cage in a proper way? We are also going to attempt to litter train them because they pretty much go in the same place all the time so why not try to catch it and make clean up easier! =)Thanks again for all your information!

    • Bedding can either go under the wire floor or you can use a cage without the wire floor and chinchillas can be directly on the bedding. If you plan to litter train them, only put the carefresh in the litter pan and not all over the cage and then put the pan in the place they normally go; hopefully they will start to go only in the pan.

  2. Hi I too am now very confused. I have the critter nation cage double doors on top double doors on bottom, it has large bottom shelf then a small shelf another large and another small shelf up top. I have been putting layers of bedding on each shelf , which has caused me to use alot of bedding. So recently I started using fleece on the 2 small shelfs and bedding on the 2 large ones, Is this not the right way?

    • You can do it how you said though I’d think the bedding will fly off the shelf when the chinchilla jumps from the shelves. What I did to use less bedding, is put some in a dish (I use a pyrex glass baking dish about 5×8 or 8×10) and place that in the area(s) where the chinchilla usually urinates. I would not put a dish on the shelf unless you had a way to safely secure it to the cage. Hopefully your chinchilla will start to use that pan and only use that pan for urination. You could put some spoiled bedding in the pan to help the chin know that is where he is supposed to go. There will of course be poos everywhere, can’t do anything about that so you’ll just have to shake it out and wash your fleece.

  3. Hi there,

    I just purchased a cage for my chinchilla and it is a wire bottom cage. Ideally, I’d like to utilize the slide out pan that sits under the cage for when she goes to the bathroom, but I do not want to hurt my chinchilla’s feet.

    Would it be better to cover the wire flooring all together and putting down a hard material that I put bedding directly onto? Or is there a way I can still use the pull out pan without causing any damage or discomfort to my chinchilla’s feet?

    This is my first chinchilla and I want to make sure she is as comfortable as possible! Additionally, I would like to use the most sanitary approach so I do not expose her to anything and keep my apartment from smelling from the cage.

    Thank you!

    • Many people use wire bottom cages and think they are ok as long as the chinchilla has some solid surfaces to rest on. I’ve used both and from my experience, having the chinchilla directly on the shavings minimizes the smell because their movement stirs up the shavings as opposed to putting shavings under the wire floor.

      Right now, my boys urinate in a litter pan filled with pine pellets but also have a wire floor so the droppings go through. I really do think it’s more comfortable to have a solid floor though I feel the wire floor is more sanitary. Do realize that if your chinchilla is urinating through the cage floor, you will need to clean the urine off the metal grate – I think that is what smells the most. You can always try using the pan and see how it goes, if you don’t like it, convert the floor to solid later.

  4. Hello! Im going to try the pan litter training, but my chinchilla cage (Ferret Nation) has plastic flooring, I did see how some took the plastic floor out and replaced it with wood shelves, but is it ok if I cover it with fleece, as long as I make sure shes not eating it? Also how often would I need to wash it & is their a special detergent I should be using? Sorry for the Qs, Im picking up my baby in 2 weeks. Thanks

    • Yes, you can cover the pan with fleece! There are many people that use “liners” for the Ferret Nation cages and several people sell them if you don’t want to make them yourself. Since I do not have experience with them, I am not positive but believe they are made like a pillowcase where you slide the pan inside. However you make it, make sure the edges go far enough under the pan that the chin could not pull it up and get underneath (they can get into much more than you think. 🙂 ) The fleece will also be good to keep the chinchillas from chewing the plastic as those pans don’t stand a chance against chinchilla teeth. You would need to wash the fleece liners at a minimum weekly. If you decide not to do the liners, another option is Bassequipment.com makes metal pans to fit the ferret nation.

      I assume you will be using the litter pan from the beginning and not putting litter all over the cage and that is what I’d suggest. It’s a good bet that if the chins have been housed on shavings, that they will use the pan. Let me know how it goes!

      • I also have the Ferret Nation cage and I have litter trained my chins. For the litter I use Cat litter .. caution: only use corn cob litter.

  5. I heard some people give there chinchillas empty toilet paper rolls to chew/play with in their cage. Is that safe for them?
    Also, I have one chin. He has early stages of ringworm around his nose. We took him to the Vet and he is being treated for it, however I wondered about soaking the wooden toys & perches in his cage. How long should I soak in bleach solution, before rinse?

    • Sorry to hear he has ringworm, hope it clears up soon. Personally, I would get rid of all the wood in the cage and get new stuff once it’s cleared up. I’ve given my chins an occasional (maybe once a year) tp roll with hay inside. I’ve also used soda or tissue boxes during playtime. I don’t like to do give tp rolls or boxes in the cage often because you don’t know what types of glue or dyes may have been used. Once it starts getting chewed up, I will remove it. Cardboard is not effective for keeping teeth in check, wood is always better, but the cardboard can be fun to destroy.

  6. How do I clean the wood in my chinchilla cage? I cannot take some pieces out because of the cage set up and it smells like urine.

    • Hi Cambria, hopefully you have found a way to clean it by now but the best way is to use a 50% vinegar / 50% water mixture and/or sandpaper.

  7. I am getting a chinchilla and not sure to use the wire bottom cage or one that you can but bedding in or fleece. Which is best if I can only clean it every other weekend?

    • The only way to keep a chinchilla cool is to keep the room cool. If it is warm, you will need air conditioning. Chinchillas are uncomfortable at 72 and anything over 75 is very dangerous.

  8. Can I soak my Chinchilla’s thick manzanita perches in bleach, rinse, dry, then bake them? Would they still be safe for them to nibble on?

    • Yes so long as you rinse it very well. I think I used a 10% bleach to water solution. Instead of bleach you can use vinegar and water. Vinegar is natural and is good at dissolving urine and poop. You can also sand the branches down. If you wash them, be prepared for them to take a long time to dry.

  9. I need some suggestions, I cannot get my chinchilla to leave the cage, so it gets really dirty, and if we do succeed in getting him out we runs always and we cannot catch him. He won’t let us hold him or anything. I don’t know his past life because we purchased him from other owners, which didn’t seem like a suitable home. My fiancé has had him for over a year now, and I have taken over caring for him, but I am completely lost on how to properly care for him, how to or him to let us clean the cage. Another thing is excessive pooping normal?

    • Yes they poop a lot. All the time. This is normal.

      Try using the dust bath to get him out of the cage. You’ll have to use a container such as the plastic dust houses or a glass cookie jar so that once he goes in you can block the hole with your hand and get him out of the cage. When he runs for playtime, I would block off a small space so it is easier to catch him. During playtime, if you are in the area with him, eventually he’ll get more used to hoping on you and then you will have an easier time catching him. It’s still hard to catch my boys when they escape, it’s not likely they’ll come to you when you call. A tip I got from a rancher is to use a big butterfly net to catch the chinchilla. When you go to catch the chinchilla, try not to hover above that is how a predator would catch him.

  10. This was really helpful, my fella has a habit of messing his cage up even after a week of cleaning. I have been sensitive to his allergies too. So I steam clean his cage once every 3 months to eliminate the bacteria and other odors. Although it’s a chore to clean his cage, considering his is a 3 tier cage. I get heartened when he wags his tail in happiness that it’s clean. Maybe even contemplating to mess it up again later. LOLs.

  11. My chin had two kits last night. I would like to no two things should I put card board on bottom of cage for it is wire. Also she seems to be feeding them but in case what should I feed them if they aren’t gaining weight. Thank-you

  12. When I first got my chins close to 7 years ago I read to use Vonage I did and rinsed the wood very good and dried them. Their poor little feet was burned. I stopped and put balm on the feet. Never happened again. Now I just clean the outside of the wood and bars with vinager. I normally just change the wood . Any suggestions what to use that is safe.

  13. Hi just abit of advise ive had my 2 chinchilla a year & a half whatever any of u guys do please make them a soft floor do not leave a wire floor in place for them as its really dangerous for there bottoms of there feet! Its can cause sores & a condition called bumble foot so please please use fleece or soft bedding (paper shavings) from a propper pet store! Not a wire floor!!! 🙁 so bad for tge little chinchillas & they do need the best care really! Please bair this in mind!!! When creating the perfect home for them!!! 🙂 Tara

  14. If u do use paper shaving makesure there is something under the paper shaving like wood or something! NOT wire flooring! It might mean cleaning the wood from urine stains ect but worth it to stop your chinchillas feet becoming bad & getting bumble foot some terrible cases of bumble foot where chinchillas have lost there feet due to this condition!!! So please think about it as its the health of your chinchilla which is more important than anything! Thanks for taking your time to read this!!! Tara

  15. We have a large chinchilla cage with a metal solid pull out bottom. we used to use bedding but I felt like it smelled more. we now just clean the metal bottom every day. Is this ok or should we use a bedding. Also can I buy a new metal bottom? I cant seem to find just the bottom.

    • Tara, a metal shop may be able to make you a new bottom pan. Bassequipment.com may be able to help I guess it’s ok to not use bedding if cleaned everyday. Some types of bedding work much better than others I’ve found. Some people use fleece liners which may be of interest to you. I have a litter pan in the corner of my cage for urine and then just the floor on my cage and vacuum or sweep up the poops.

  16. I have 4 chinchillas that I’ve had them about six years. I just bought a large ferret cage for two of them and replace put it would on them because I know chinchillas cannot walk on wire bars. I had been cleaning their wood with vinegar and water and rinsing them and air drying them and rinsing again and still there little feet got Burned. I rent them off every single day with a wet washcloth and that works for one case but it hasn’t been working too well for the other one. Any suggestions on something that will not burn their little feet

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