Why Do Chinchillas Need Dust Baths?

chinchilla dust bath

If you are considering adopting a pet chinchilla, make sure you understand one important thing: chinchillas can’t get wet.

Wait, what?

Yes, you read that correctly. Chinchillas can’t get wet (we will go into more detail about this later in the post). But even though they can’t get wet, these rodents still need to get clean. And that is where dust baths come into play.

In the wild, chinchillas use volcanic dust to clean themselves. So, pet chinchillas also need access to dust to clean themselves.

If you are confused, don’t worry. We are taking a deep dive into all things dust baths in this post.

Why Can’t Chinchillas Get Wet?

Ok, before we go any further, let’s take a step back. Why exactly can’t chinchillas get wet?

If you’ve ever held a chinchilla, you probably noticed that they have very dense fur. This fur is fluffy and cute. But it is also very hard to dry. So if chinchillas get wet, their fur will stay wet for a long time. And this wet fur can cause them to develop infections.

Additionally, chinchillas with wet fur have a difficult time regulating their body temperature. They can get cold and this can lead to devastating health problems for your chinchilla.

So, to avoid these potential health issues, it is best to never let your chinchilla get wet.

Why Do Chinchillas Need Dust Baths?

As we discussed earlier, chinchillas can’t get wet. If they get wet they might develop infections or have issues regulating their body temperature.

Although chinchillas can’t get wet, they still need to get clean. So, wild chinchillas use volcanic dust to clean themselves. They roll around in the dust, which helps remove oil and other grime from their skin. These dust baths help keep them clean without using any water.

Chinchillas are actually not the only animals that participate in dust baths. But, other animals use dust baths for different purposes. Some animals roll around in dust to help remove parasites from their fur. Others coat themselves in dust as a form of sunscreen.

Other animals that participate in dust baths include:

  • Gerbils
  • Bison
  • Domestic dogs and cats
  • Pigs
  • Horses
  • Llamas
  • Hamsters
  • Prairie Dogs

What Are Dust Baths?

Yes, dust baths are exactly what they sound like. Animals (like chinchillas) that participate in dust baths literally roll around in dust to get clean. The fine dust helps remove trapped oil from their fur.

In the wild, chinchillas use volcanic rock dust for their baths. By rolling around in this fine powder, they are able to clean themselves without using any water.

How do Pet Chinchillas Get Clean?

Although they don’t have access to volcanic dust, pet chinchillas still need dust baths to get clean.

So, to help your chinchilla stay clean, make sure you give them access to dust and a bathing container.

When your chinchilla is ready for a bath, they will roll around in the thin layer of dust. As they roll around, they are using the fine powder to remove any unwanted dirt or oil from their fur.

In this video, you can see how a chinchilla takes a dust bath. Chinchillas simply roll and flip around in the dust to clean all of their fur.

How Often Should Chinchillas Take a Dust Bath?

Your chinchilla only needs to take a few dust baths every week. So, make sure your chinchilla doesn’t have constant access to the dust bath. Two or three days a week, place the dust bath in their cage so your chinchilla can get clean.

Also, each bath should only last 10-15 minutes. Make sure you watch your chinchilla during the dust bath. Be sure to remove the bath after the allotted time

If your chinchilla takes too long or too frequent dust baths, this can dry out their skin. Since the dust baths are helping remove oil, too many baths could strip all of their oil. So instead, allow your chinchilla to take a dust bath a few times a week.

Dust Baths for Pet Chinchillas

Pet chinchillas don’t have access to volcanic rock dust. So what do they need for their dust baths?

As we mentioned earlier, dust baths are relatively simple. You really only need two items for a successful dust bath: dust and a bathing container.

Most commercial chinchilla dust is made from a material called blue cloud or beauty blue. This material is made from pumice stone, which is very similar to the volcanic dust used by wild chinchillas.

In addition to the dust, your chinchilla also needs a bathing container. There are many different varieties available. You can choose an open or closed top container. Some baths are shaped like small pools while others look like miniature houses.

You need to decide what type of bathing container your chinchilla will like best. Keep in mind that a closed top container will help keep more of the dust inside the container (instead of creating a mess outside the bathing container).

Once you select the bathing products, remember that your chinchilla only needs a dust bath two or three days a week. Be sure not to leave the dust bath out too long or your chinchilla’s skin will start to dry out.

Dust Baths: The How to Guide

So we know why chinchillas need dust baths. Now, let’s take a closer look at how to create the perfect dust bath for your chinchilla.

Step 1: Gather Supplies

Before creating a dust bath, you need to make sure you have the right supplies. The two key ingredients for a dust bath are the:

  • Dust- The dust is the key ingredient for a dust bath. Make sure to select a dust that is safe and nontoxic. Most chinchillas prefer fine dust over grainy dust. You may have to try a few different varieties before you find your chinchilla’s preferred dust.
  • Bathing Container- In addition to the dust, make sure you have a bathing container. This needs to be large enough for your chinchilla to roll around in. There are a few different varieties available. You just need to decide if you want an open or closed top container.

Step 2: Prepare the Bath

When you are ready to give your chinchilla a dust bath, set the bathing container in their cage. Fill the container with roughly 2 inches of dust. Then, allow your chinchilla to roll around in the dust.

Step 3: Finish the Bath

The dust bath should only last about 10-15 minutes. If your chinchilla takes a longer bath, their skin might start to dry out.

You can reuse the dust for multiple baths. Simply pour the remaining dust back into the storage container. Once the dust starts to clump or look discolored, you know it is time to discard it.

Step 4: Repeat

Your chinchilla can take a bath about two to three times a week. It can be hard to resist giving them daily baths because they are very cute to watch. But, if your chinchilla takes frequent baths, their skin will start to dry out and flake off.

Final Thoughts

We hope you feel more confident about giving your pet chinchilla a dust bath.

Overall, dust baths are fairly simple. Your chinchilla just needs access to dust and a bathing container. They instinctively know to roll around in the dust. During this process, any unwanted oils or grime are being removed.

Just remember, chinchillas only need dust baths two or three times a week. And these baths should really only last 10-15 minutes.

Do you have experience giving your chinchilla dust baths? We would love to hear about it. Share your story in the comments below!

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