You already know that your chinchilla requires regular dust baths in order to stay happy and healthy – not to mention how fun it is to watch – but what isn’t always obvious to chin owners is how they should actually be providing this experience to their pets to make sure that it is effective without an enormous mess.
The first step is to choose the right kind of bath dust. It isn’t just a matter of buying a bag of sand for your chin. You need an extremely fine dust that will match the type of substance that it would have used in the wild in its natural environment. This usually means ground pumice dust. It is a type of volcanic stone that is ground down into a very fine powder. It is available at virtually any pet supply store that sells products for chinchillas and other mountain or desert rodent.
Next, you need a “bathtub”. This is to be a container to hold the dust so that your chinchilla can roll around in it. Naturally, you don’t want to just make a pile on the floor! You also need to make sure that it is big enough for your chinchilla to roll around and protected enough that the entire room won’t be coated in flying dust. Many pet supply stores have little houses and other containers that are designed for this purpose, but owners often balk at the prices and the fact that the products are frequently made out of plastic; a no-no material for chins.
One of the most effective dust bath containers that you can use is an appropriately sized glass fish bowl. Some have flat sides so that the bowl can be laid down on its side for better stability. The glass is nice and smooth, allowing the dust to fly well, and permitting you to see your little friend spinning and whirling about. Or you can buy a chinchilla bath especially designed for the little guys – ceramic baths are nice and smooth.
Dust baths should not be left inside the chinchilla cage permanently. If they are, they will become soiled as the chins will choose them as an area for elimination. Furthermore, if the chinchilla takes too many baths, it will result in dry and irritated skin. Instead, give your pet a bath once or twice every week for ten to fifteen minutes each time. When the humidity is low, fewer baths may be needed, and higher humidity will require more frequent baths.