Question about cage set-up and other specifics

petran79

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Got two male chinchillas. They told me they are about 10 months old. Got also a cage, one of the cheaper models and set the cage this way.
I'll take them to a specialist veterinarian next week for a first checkup and to ask for more advice.
The woman that recommended her, told me that she told her that people make the mistake of regarding chinchillas like common rodents, while in reality they should be treated like hares and bunnies.

On the ground I put two hay shelters , food and glass water . Food bowl is plastic. Have a metal one too , which I'll probably use it for good. In the case of sandbath I put it on top of the right hay shelter.





On first floor I put the wheel and the hay stack (left). They do not use the wheel yet and I'll have to get a bigger one probably in case they become interested.

On last floor I put the various chewing toys and a cuttlefish bone for calcium.


Some questions that piled up:

1. Out of the two chinchillas one started to be less afraid and comes out without showing signs of fear. Only if I clean their cage does he jump in the shelter. He sometimes sits on top of the hay wooden box . I sealed the upper part so that he does not put dropping on the hay. The other is still timid and does not come out. Probably waits till I am gone or asleep. Hope he recovers. Probably the shock of grabbing them from the petshop and carrying them all over my house is still not easy to recover from. Though it may be that I sometimes confuse them and the other ventures outside too.
As a result I try to avoid touching or grabbing them and in the case of their dustbath, I just put it in the cage and remove it after half an hour, assuming they both used it.
Should I wait before letting them out? The first one seems ready but I still do not want them to be shaken if I try to grab them. If I take them to the vet it will be again a great shock for them, so I decided to wait after the appointment and for better advice.

2. Do you think the cage setup for that size (64Χ43,5Χ92,5CM) is fine? What things should I rearrange, add or remove? Ordered also two granite platters when temperatures start to increase.

3. In case of cleaning, do I also have to clean the hay shelters inside for droppings and how? They have hay base instead of being bare. Using a vacuum cleaner would be more convenient but I realize the shelters will be chewed for replacement anyway. One is way to big to remove from the cage anyway.

4. Regarding the sandbath, initially I put it outside the cage and grabbed one chin and tried to put it on the sand but he was still too afraid. So I prefer putting the sandbath inside their cage. Should I wait before they get accustomed outside the cage to try this again?

5. I got a carrying bag in case I need to take them to a vet, but because I'll likely travel far away during summer and easter vacation (6+ hour long trip). I also bought a small rabbit cage for this occasion. I plan on buying a similar chichilla cage for the other home during summer holidays. I realize that there is risk with high temperatures at all times, so I will take the appropriate measures. Is it a good choice? Putting them on a small carrying bag for so long, I do not think they'd stand it. While on the rabbit cage I can also put two small hay shelters and food and let them drink water on stops. Or since it will have hay pellets, I can hang the water container on the wall.

This for now.
Thanks
 

Amethyst

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You are right a lot of vet lump chins with other rodents, but others lump the with rabbits and guinea pigs, but they aren't really like any of them, aside from needing hay and chew toys they really aren't like rabbits at all either. Unlike rabbits they should not have any fruits, veggies, seeds, or nuts. They also shouldn't have any human food, sugars, or animal products (hide, meat, bone, antlers, milk, eggs, etc). They should be fed a good quality alfalfa based pellet only food and unlimited hay, ideally timothy hay. In case you are thinking they can't have anything, they can have certain things as treats (all dried nothing fresh) I posted a list here Treats

1. How long have you had them? It takes most chins at least a week to settle into a new home, up to a month is not uncommon though. Aside from taking them out when you need to like to clean the cage, I would let them come to you at their own paces. Getting a wellness check as soon as you can is fine, they are still settling in anyway so no need to wait until they settle only to unsettle them again, get it done and over with so they can start getting use to what is normal.

2. That cage is unfortunately really not big enough for two chinchillas, it's bare minimum size for a single chin. For two chins I would go with a cage a minimum of 61cm x 61 cm x 91 cm, but ideally twice that size (61cm deep x 91cm wide x 122 cm high). I would really look into getting a bigger cage for them. The bottom of the cage is not safe either, the wire grating can catch a foot or leg and break it. You can either cover it in fleece or tile it. Plastic is not safe for chins either, they will chew it and since it's not digestible it can cause a blockage or even damage their gut as it goes through. I would replace all the shelves with wood or metal.

I would just remove the wheel now, it's not a safe wheel at all, that style with the cross beam can break their legs, or even neck if they jump out while it's spinning (chins commonly do that), also the wheel needs to be solid metal (not mesh), and at least 14" (36cm) in diameter to avoid back injury, but 15 or 16" (38-40.6cm) is much better. A few examples of safe wheels are the Chin Spin, Silver Surfer wheel, Chin Sprint, and the Steel flying saucer, to give you some idea of what you need. Wheels are not required though, most like them but no wheel is better then an unsafe one.

Cooling stones are good for additional cooling in an already cool room, like for after they have been running around, you still need to make sure the temp in the room stays below 75F (24C) or they can over heat and die, ideally try to keep the temp around 70F/21C or below (I keep my room at around 68F/20C) just in case the AC goes out it gives you a little bit of time. Oh also the cuddle bone is not needed, assuming you are feeding a good quality food they don't need extra calcium, too much calcium can lead to issues like kidney and bladder stones.

Other things you can look into adding would be hanging toys, I like to get metal refillable bird toy skewers and fill them with things like drilled pieces of chin safe wood, loofah slices, palm leaf, bamboo shredders, lava chews. You can also add some ledges and perches for them to hop around on, they don't need ramps they hop not walk so you can replace the ramps with ledges. Some chins like hammocks, just make sure it's 100% anti pill fleece, it's the only safe fabric, that includes any edging and straps, it can have metal clips though. I don't see a hay holder, you can either get a hanging on or some people have luck with just a bowl or clay pot. With two chinchillas it's a good idea to have two of all resources to avoid possible fights, so at least two water bottles and two food bowls, and ideally put them in different parts of the cage so one chin can't guard them all.

3. Since the poops should be dry you can try shaking them out or vacuum them out of the hay shelters. If they get peed on though you will have to replace them. I use a shopvac for cage cleanup, it powerful enough to suck up all the poops, loose soiled hay, and chewed wood bits without clogging.

4. You can offer the dust bath (I assume you mean volcanic pumice dust not actual sand) in the cage if that works for you. They should be offered the bath a couple times a week depending on humidity, for as long as it takes them to bath, normally 5-10 minutes but some like to bathe longer. You just don't want to leave it in long enough for them to pee in it. If they look greasy you can increase the number of bathes, if they seem to be getting dry decrease the number.

5. I'm not sure what you mean by carrier bag, but you don't want anything cloth and it needs to be well ventilated. I know a lot of people use hard plastic cat carriers for short trips like to the vet. You do need to make sure they don't chew out though. For longer trips you are going to want something more sturdy, like a small metal cage. This is what I use (it also doubles as their bath house cage so I can clean their cage while they take a bath.)
IMG_1779.JPG

If you can get a travel cage like Supreme Chinchilla Carrier it would be even better.
 

petran79

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Thank you for the replies!



I had them for 3 days, still very early.
I will also get a small scale to check their weight once in a while.

Instead of hay holder ,I use the left wooden box on picture 2.

I'll see what I can do about the bottom grating.

I'll remove the wheel to open more space.

I meant a car travel cage, just like in the photo you mentioned , though a little smaller. It is meant for rabbits but it is suitable for the back car seat

Just one other question:

Can I use vinegar to clean the bottom of the hay shelter with a towel to clean or absorb pee smell and poop stuck inside?

Do you know of a good online store in Europe? USA store shipping costs are insanely expensive. For a 10 euro item they charge you 40-50 euro shipping cost ,which increase by additional items too.
 

Amethyst

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Yeah you can definitely go smaller on the travel cage, that is just what I already had on hand 🙂 more just showing you the type cage you can use. The one I have is about 61cm long, 30.5 wide, and 35.5 high, it works for my two chins but could be smaller.

I wouldn't spray liquid on the hay shelters, you don't want them to get wet, if they get wet they will get moldy, and if peed on it will smell pretty bad. If you try to wash it you would need to make sure you get all the vinegar rinsed off and fully dried it before you put it back in the cage. Much safer (moldy hay can make your chins very sick or even kill them) to just toss and replace if they pee on it. Being unable to really clean is one reason I don't use hay houses I use wooden ones like this (top, sides, and open bottom)
1612547107339.png



As for stores, I don't really know of any, I can give you a list of UK stores if that helps, I know some people have said the shipping isn't much better from the UK lately. My only other suggestion is Amazon or etsy for more custom stuff. If you are handy though a lot of stuff can be made yourself, like hammocks, fleece liners, perches, ledges, and even shelters, a good bit of the stuff in my cage I made myself.
 

petran79

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Thanks.

Made an appointment to the vet next week. They had only Friday free .

The doctor asked me whether they had a medical card but apparently they have not being vaccinated in the petshop, neither do they have a card. One reason they sold them to me both for 120 euros totall, without receipt.

So they'll be vaccinated and they'll issue a health booklet with their names. So I got one week to decide their names

I had some spare kitchen wall tiles lying around, so I put them in the bottom of the cage and on the hay shelter both for their feet safety and for lowering their temperature if they want to refresh themselves. It will work till the granite arrives.

Put two big glass water bottles too,though I only fill them 1/4 as I noticed they don't drink much water in this climate.

Room temperature is about 20 C max at 1500 , so it is fine for now

Got some fleece blankets too and put them in the bottom of the hay shelters to make cleaning easier and avoid moisture.

I'll see what I can do about wooden shelves. I'll pay a visit to ikea or a carpenter probably
 

Amethyst

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There are no vaccinations that a chin needs, so I'm not sure what they would be getting vaccinated for :unsure:.

Chin normally only drink on average about 30-60ml a day, in the wild the only water they drink is drops of dew so they don't need much water. I guess it depends on the kind of bottle but most water bottles leak if you don't fill them up all the way, so keep an eye on that.

I'm not sure ikea is going to have any safe wood (I don't think they sell lumber), but a carpenter would, as well as if you have hardware or building stores. Here is a list of safe and unsafe wood Safe wood
 

petran79

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I'll let you know once it is done and what vaccines they were administered. Probably a requirement in order to get a registered medical card and it varies by country regulations.
 

Amethyst

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I'll let you know once it is done and what vaccines they were administered. Probably a requirement in order to get a registered medical card and it varies by country regulations.
There aren't any safe vaccines for chins that is the problem. You don't say what country you are in, but asking people from around the world, including people in various European countries, no one has heard of any vaccines even being safe to give to chins let alone chins needing them. I would double check they know that this is a chinchilla as in the rodent not a chinchilla rabbit (a breed of rabbit), I know sometime when making an appointment you talk to the desk staff not the vet and they can misunderstand. There are vaccines that are given to rabbits, but rabbits are completely different kinds of animals, chinchillas are rodents whereas rabbits are lagomorphs. If they insist on giving shots to your chinchillas I would look at finding another more knowledgeable vet.
 

petran79

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In Greece

Desk staff was a guy and I only talked to him. Dont know if he had also vet knowledge or was for appointments. Though he told me to wait 1-2 minutes and at that time he could have talked to the vet. I clearly stated they were chinchillas.

Vet is a woman. I'll call again to confirm what kind of vaccine it is and whether he misunderstood them with chin rabbits.
 

Pepperpot

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Chinchillas do not need to have any type of vaccinations. Please do not allow any vet to administer any form of vaccinations.
 

petran79

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Fortunately it was a misunderstanding. I called again to verify and it turned out that the way I pronounced chinchillas over the phone, sounded like "little dogs" in Greek, so he heard wrong.
 

petran79

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Another question

I was not planning on letting the chins out of the cage yet by forcing them. I just let the door open so if they wanted to they could explore outside themselves. They smelled the cage door and extended their head outside but did not jump out.

Yesterday I tried to remove the dust bowl off the cage and one was standing near it and did not try to move aside. So the bowl pushed him a little and he slipped outside the cage. He did not jump back inside again but went under the cage.

I let him explore for 15-20 minutes. He was not afraid of me, he smelled my hand and was also standing on my feet during his exploration route. He hid under a folding bed and I slowly tried to move it aside to leave more openings so he would venture outside.

In the end I had to grab him with two arms gently, to the extent his reactions allowed and put him back in the cage where he went to rest exhausted.

Am not sure if he will try to move out on his own after this.

I think it would be better to leave only one outside at a time or else the other would panic and would be harder to catch,injuring himself and get stressed even more.
 

petran79

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Took them to the vet and she checked teeth and heart rate. She did nit weight them because they were still too stressed.

I asked as many questions and I could remember and she told me to wait at least one month before letting them leave the cage, to get used to their surroundings.

Also she told me that chinchillas can suffer from diabetes and in case I see them numb, a small portion of sugar in their water would help.

Regarding temperatures, the ideal is between 14-18 C with max 21 for a tolerable climate. Lower or freezing room temperatures are not recommended because they'll suffer from cold. Unlike wild chinchillas, pet chinchillas have not developed endurance for very cold temperatures.

In heat turning a dehumidifier on to refresh the air should be done first and then the ac should be turned on. Or it can be skipped if the ac has ionizer . Humidity below 40 is not good for the animals either.

As for dust baths for our climate, she recommended daily doses and sand should be switched every 3 days.

I asked them about fighting and she told me they usually fight reaching 6 months of age. They are 10 and I took them from the shop while they were only two together in the same cage, instead of getting them separately. She agreed with that decision,so they will likely will not fight at this stage.
 

Amethyst

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I agree with most, some I think depends on climate and personal preference.
It takes most chins at least a week to settle in to a new home but up to a month is not uncommon. Just go at their pace, aside from when you need to clean the cage don't force them to come out if they aren't ready.

I would not put anything in the actual drinking water bottle, but you can use a small amount of sugar and give them drips, more commonly suggested is using a tiny piece of dried fruit, like a raisin. But so long as you keep the diet simple and don't add sugars (the pellets normally contain near the max daily amount already) you should be ok, unless they are genetically predisposed.

I would say about 15-20 C is comfortable range, they can get heat stroke in temps as low as 22C, the humidity it depends on temp, but I'm guessing you don't get the deep freezing cold like we do up here, lol (seriously -40s to -50s with the windchill this past week here 🥶). Normally suggested humidity is 40-60%.

Dust bath really depends on your climate and house, daily is fine in some places, but if you notice the skin getting dried and cracked decrease dust baths.

Chins go through puberty around 6 months, which can be very similar to a teenager human, sometimes causing mood swings, personality changes, fighting, and can cause a bond to break. I agree if they are still good at 10 months then they likely are good. However it is still possible for them to end up having a falling out even years down the line for no obvious reason. Not saying it will happen, just that it can, just like a happily married couple can have a falling out even after spending most of their lives together. There are plenty of chins that live happily together for life, my current two are 14 years old and have been together since birth (twin brothers).
 

petran79

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Finally ramps arrived. Waiting also for the wooden houses but they can wait since I already got one.
I am not ordering anything again from America. Shipping fees are killing it and on top of it I had to pay an extra 30 euro to the post office for toll fees. Ramps cost 1/3 of the total price....

So I modified the cage for better accommodation. Fortunately chins are male and hence smaller for the cage. If they were female with another 1/3 of their size, they 'd feel even more uncomfortable. I let them out for hours so they can exercise at least.

In case I move to the other house at my parents for the holidays, I'll order a bigger cage because I doubt it will be possible to let them roam free there and I'll carry the planks to the other cage.

Got also some treats for a herb shop (Dried rosebuds, rosehips, calendula, nettles, red clover, hawthorn, chamomele) and occasionaly give them a few goji berries or a bag of commercial treats from the pet shop. Once the bag empties, I'll never buy again. I noticed they ate almost all the treats, except the hawthorn. perhaps because it was in dust form, but so were the nettles.




Here are the chins (Garry on left, Persy on right, they are names from 2 soccer players), more calm and not as afraid anymore. Whenever I clean the cage I let them out so as to not to upset them and when it is time to return to their cage at night, I make sure they do not eat as much so they get hungry and enter the cage on their own. Or else it is a hide and seek chase till they give up and enter tired from running.

 

petran79

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Finally the wooden houses from Quality Cage arrived too. Will not dare ordering anything from the USA ever again.

272.78 $ total
Products did cost 190 $ while rest was shipping costs. Had also to pay an additional 75$ for import and postal fees. 3/2 ratio. Insane.

Though after setting the wooden houses, they are not that interested to nest inside, except to urinate. They prefer to stay on the top ramp and rest or sleep there. They are much more eager to go out and rest under the couch.

I plan on ordering a larger cage when I move to parents home during the holidays. There they will have less chances to go out since it is not my home to arrange the furniture or secure the place. I settled for the large Ferret Nation Midwest double unit cage.
 

petran79

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Got the cat cage for my parents home. As expected, first night they escaped via the low horizontal bar (room was small and lockef at least). Today I went and bought a wire and it took me few hours to surround the cage. I'll see what happens the next day.


 

petran79

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Screw it. Wiring is for pros and they got away again, plus there is risk of injury too, not only for them. I would have to remove the wire and the cage ederytime I leave too, which would be exhausting and time consuming. Wrong calculation on my part. I removed it and will put it on sale. Got a standard rabbit cage for when I travel to my parents. Less space too. Put it on top of the bookself so they can have their height, are safe from cats and room gets ventilated too


 

petran79

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On second thought I'll keep the last big cage but without the wires. Bought a dog rail and it seems they cant escape, so I'll surround it with the rail as well.

So for my main home it is this setup



For my parents hope I keep the larger cage + rail and for our summer home that is far smaller in space, I'll use the bunny cage. With portable ac of course.
 

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