Why Do Chinchillas Take Dust Baths?

With their squirrel-like tails, flappy ears, captivating eyes, and dense coats, chinchillas are definitely one of the best rodents you would love to keep as pets.

In this article, we'll enlighten you on why chinchillas take dust baths, how to give them dust baths, and other helpful tips about dust bathing.

Why Do Chinchillas Take Dust Baths?

Chinchillas boast an average of 60-75 hairs popping up from their follicles. These fluffy pets possess dense fur, enabling them to adapt to their natural habitat in the frigid and high Andes mountains.

They require specific care in different areas to maintain their health, especially in their dense coat. The necessity of regularly exposing chinchillas to dust baths is one of the most frequently misunderstood facets of caring for them as pets.

Like other animals, taking dust baths is an effective process that washes chinchillas thoroughly. They roll and wriggle when inserted in a chinchilla dust bath, naturally grooming their fur.

So, back to the question, "why do chinchillas take dust baths?"

The chinchilla dust bath cleans their coats of all dirt, loose hair, moisture, and oil, maintaining their fur smooth, velvety, and majestic. Furthermore, the dust baths uniformly distribute natural oils on the chinchilla's thick fur. This process makes the chinchilla's skin soft and glossy.

Four Chinchillas hanging out in post about Why Do Chinchillas Take Dust Baths?

How Do You Give Chinchillas Dust Baths?

As earlier implied, dust baths are an effective means of washing chinchillas and keeping their fur clean. Let's put you through the steps to give your chinchilla a dust bath.

  • Firstly, pour the chinchilla bath dust into a large container.
  • Then, place your chinchilla in the container.
  • Watch your chinchilla bathe correctly in the dust bathtub.

When the chinchilla is placed in the dust bath, it naturally allows itself to flounder around in the dust.

People who keep chinchillas as pets generally agree it's an adorable sight.

The dust bath is normally kept inside the chinchilla cage for 10 - 15 minutes. If kept longer than that, the chinchilla tends to use it unnecessarily, making its skin dry and dusty.

Similarly, the chinchilla may sit on the dust bath container or make a litter box.

You might want more information on how to give a chinchilla a dust bath. The YouTube video “How To Give A Chinchilla A Dust Bath” explains what you should know about giving your chinchilla a dust bath.

Chinchilla bathing in dust in post about Why Do Chinchillas Take Dust Baths?

Why Can't Your Chinchilla Just Bathe in Water?

Bathing your chinchillas with water is not advisable because their dense fur makes them fluffy. Compared to humans, who only have one hair per follicle, chinchillas have 80 hairs in each follicle. If you were to bathe your chinchilla's fur with water, it may eventually lump together and become sticky.

Moreover, if you bathe your chinchilla with water, it may quickly lose heat, become chilly, and become susceptible to illnesses like fungal infections. Therefore, chinchillas should be kept clean by giving them regular baths with dust instead of a water bath.

Chinchilla being clean in post about Why Do Chinchillas Take Dust Baths?

What Should I Do If My Chinchilla Gets wet?

As we have started in the previous paragraph, it is not ideal to bathe your chinchilla with water due to the density of its fur.

Here is what to do if your chinchilla gets wet:

If your furry friend gets wet, no need for worries. It needs to be dried instantly before its fur starts clumping.

You can dry your chinchilla with a towel or a blow dryer. However, lower the dryer's heat to prevent overheating your chinchilla fur. Follow these steps until your chinchilla is completely dry.

You can also learn how to take care of ferrets in the blog "Ferret Care: How to Keep Your Ferret Healthy" by Ultiblog.

Volcanic ash in post about Why Do Chinchillas Take Dust Baths?

What Is a Chinchilla Dust Bath Made of?

Chinchilla dust is a volcanic ash product that contains fragments of clay and minerals specially made to resemble the dust in their natural habitat. The purpose of the dust bath is to remove dirt and oil from their dense fur, similar to how chinchillas would keep their fur clean in their natural habitat and clean themselves with volcanic ash.

Again, the chinchilla dust bath comprises fine dust instead of soap and water in a bath container.

Chinchillas' bathe is not only a self-cleansing technique but also a relaxing and fun activity for them.

What Type Of Dust Should You Buy for Your Chinchilla?

Chinchillas need to wash in the dust. Still, not all of what we believe we know about chinchilla dust is accurate.

Various chinchilla dust brands are available. While most commercial dust is similar, some are created from distinct materials with varying degrees of coarseness. Although some owners may stick to one brand and others to another, they all generally accomplish the same task with a similar level of performance.

The most popular varieties are listed below; let's put you through them.

Blue Cloud Dust in post about Why Do Chinchillas Take Dust Baths?

Blue Cloud Dust

Commonly known as Aluminum Silicate, blue cloud dust is the best type of dust to buy and use on your chinchilla as it's the most effective that cleaning the coat of your chinchilla. Due to its fineness, the blue cloud dust imitates the dust chinchillas used in the wild. 

 Most famous commercial brands of chinchilla dust have a range of blue cloud dust. Although blue cloud dust is the best in cleaning your chinchilla's fur, it may hurt the health of humans.

When you inhale blue cloud dust, it causes inflammation of the lungs and other serious side effects, which might lead to death if ignored. Many chinchilla owners put on a respiratory mask when using the blue cloud dust to prevent them from inhaling the dust.

Sand in post about Why Do Chinchillas Take Dust Baths?

Sand

Sand is usually used when blue cloud dust becomes troublesome.

Sand cleans a little bit, but not as well as dust. For this reason, pet owners complain that their chinchillas' fur is still oily after using sand. To address this problem, you can consider providing longer or more numerous baths when using sand.

Sand comes in varieties. Some have finer particles, while others are coarser and sharper. We advise using play sand for kids. Play sand absorbs oil more effectively than other types of sand. Given that it is a product for children, it must be processed and cleaned before marketing.

Again, play sand is soft since it's made for children. It's important to note that dust is the material to use to clean chinchilla fur.

Yet, sand stands out because it doesn't pose as many safety issues. Play sand won't be as effective as blue cloud, but it won't harm your lungs either.

 Sepiolite Dust

This dust is manufactured from a purified form of meerschaum and is more prevalent in the UK than in the United States. Compared to silicate dust, sepiolite seems safer. Although studies have shown that it doesn't immediately result in lung damage, it hasn't been established that it cannot.

Sepiolite is preferable to blue cloud dust. Yet, depending on where you reside, it might only be accessible online.

Pumice Powder in post about Why Do Chinchillas Take Dust Baths?

Pumice Powder

This resembles a less processed blue cloud variant made from pumice powder. Cleans up nicely. Even if it is manufactured from powdered rock, breathing it in is still not advised.

Corn Starch

This is a mixture of starch and ground corn. The fineness of this mixture makes it capable of properly cleaning the fur of a chinchilla.

We suggest slightly more frequent, prolonged dust baths using corn starch. So, consider doing it every other day rather than twice a week. You should also consider bathing your chinchilla for 30 minutes rather than 15 minutes.

This might be a little tedious for you. If it tends to make things simpler, you can think about going from bathing your pet in the evening to the morning.

Alternatively, you may ask someone to assist you. Being inconvenienced is preferable to jeopardizing your and your pet's health.

You may also think about giving your chinchilla sporadic water baths. Despite what many people think, you can do this securely if you know how. Corn starch is mainly recommended due to its fineness and has no adverse effects since the mixture is health friendly.

Four different images of chinchillas bathing in post about Why Do Chinchillas Take Dust Baths?

A Guide on Choosing the Right Chinchilla Bathtub or House

 A chinchilla's bathtub should resemble the resources they find in their natural environment. Recall that chinchillas use volcanic ash in their natural habitat.

Whatever container you use, the dust needs to be at least a few inches deep for the chinchilla to roll around in it. 

A sturdy, tip-resistant bowl or deep dish can be utilized; it should be slightly larger than your chinchilla to provide room to wriggle.

Additionally, plastic houses with rounded bottoms can be used. They are obtainable at pet stores.

Chinchillas roll and make playful flips while taking dust baths, eventually messing up the place. You can reduce the mess by getting your chinchilla an enclosed bath house.

Getting your chinchilla an enclosed bath house for its dust bath can save you the stress of cleaning the mess it may cause while taking its dust baths.

Chinchilla bath in post about Why Do Chinchillas Take Dust Baths?

How Often Do Chinchillas Need Dust Baths?

In the wild, chinchillas take frequent dust baths to remove dirt and oils from their fur and make their coat clean.

Although it is suitable for your chinchilla to take regular dust baths, over-bathing your pet chinchilla can make their fur lose its glossiness, thus, making them dry. 

Typically, chinchillas take dust baths 2 or 3 times a week. Moreover, dust baths are given to chinchillas more frequently in very hot, humid weather.

A chinchilla may need to bath close to 4 times a week in the hot summer.

Furthermore, you could decrease the bathing time of your pet chinchilla if it has itchy or dry skin.

Chinchilla in post about Why Do Chinchillas Take Dust Baths?

How Long Do Chinchillas Stay in Dust Baths?

Cleaning your chinchilla's fur and coat is a fantastic procedure to stick to.

As a pet owner, you must monitor and time your chinchillas while they take their dust baths because they might do it obsessively.

Therefore, chinchillas should stay in their dust bath for at least 10-20 minutes. This duration is enough to remove dirt from their fur and coat.

How often Should You Replace the Dust in Your Chinchilla's Bathtub or house?

Chinchilla owners are ignorant of the fact that chinchilla dust needs to be changed regularly. However, the same dust could be used several times until it looks soiled or hardened.

After your chinchilla has completed its bath, clean up any waste, like poop, in the dust bath. It's advisable to change your chinchilla's dust once a week.

Conclusion

The skin of your chinchilla is what makes it unique and adorable. These small animals need their coat to be taken care of by giving them frequent baths with chinchilla dust, ideally made to resemble the dust they bathe in their natural habitat.

FAQ

Do Chinchillas Need Dust Baths Everyday?

Chinchillas don't need dust baths everyday because it will make their skin dry and flaky.

Chinchilla dust baths should be taken at least 2 or 3 times a week and should be taken at least 4 times a week in humid weather

Can I Use Sand Instead of Dust to Bath My Chinchilla?

Chinchillas can bathe insandor dust. Both can serve. Yet, stay clear of using water to bathe your chinchilla.

Water shouldn't be used to bathe your chinchilla to prevent them from catching a cold and to avoid fungal infections from molds.

References

 Sepiolite Dust

https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/30914881/

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