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How to Choose the Right Cage Size for Chinchillas

Emma Stenhouse

February 8, 2021

Chinchillas make adorable pets, but they’re also larger than many other pet rodents. That means they need a much larger cage than a hamster or guinea pig. Keeping a chinchilla in a cage that’s too small can easily lead to them becoming depressed, and they can develop stress behaviors, like fur chewing.

If you’re unsure what size cage is going to suit your chinchilla best, keep reading, and we’ll tell you how to set up the perfect cage for your furry new friend. Besides the size of your chinchilla’s cage, you also need to consider the best cage placement, lighting, setup, and accessories. But don’t worry, we cover all that too!divider-chinchilla

Chinchillas should be kept in pairs

chinchilla-pixabay
Credit: tahanadakila, Pixabay

In the wild, chinchillas live in groups from as small as 15 chinchillas to as many as 100 per colony! This helps keep them safe from predators, but it also means they’re very sociable creatures.

Chinchillas should never be kept alone, and it’s always best to keep chinchillas in pairs at a minimum. Many breeders will only sell their baby chinchillas in pairs, unless you already have a chinchilla and are looking to replace their companion.

Same-sex pairings work well, as do male-female pairs. If you’re keeping two chinchillas of different sexes together, make sure they’ve been spayed or neutered so there’s no chance of any accidental babies!

Minimum cage size

For a pair of Chinchillas, the absolute minimum cage size should be at least 3 feet x 2 feet x 2 feet. Bear in mind that this is the minimum, and we’d recommend going bigger if you can afford and accommodate it.

Chinchillas will benefit from a taller cage if you have room, as they can jump up to 6 feet high!

Wire cages are best, but make sure the base is covered with a solid surface like plywood. Leaving the wire exposed can cause your chinchillas to develop pressure sores, even if the wire is covered by bedding or another soft material.

Avoid cages or accessories with plastic components, as chinchillas love to chew! They will soon destroy plastic accessories, and if they ingest any pieces, it can cause serious gastrointestinal issues.

Once your chinchillas are settled into their new home, many owners enjoy the opportunity to allow their pets time outside of their cage. Chinchillas will enjoy being handled once they’ve been trained, but they do love to chew anything and everything, so make sure their time out of the cage is always supervised.divider-rodent

Chinchilla cages need multiple levels

Chinchillas love to jump and climb, so it’s essential that their cage allows them to carry out this natural behavior. They can jump as high as 6 feet, so if you can accommodate a cage of that height in your house, do so!

They are high-energy animals when they’re awake, so they will make good use of all the different areas of their cage for eating and playing.

Cage placement

chinchilla-pixabay
Credit: webandi, Pixabay

Almost as important as the size of your chinchilla’s cage is where you place it within your home. The temperature should be between 50-75 degrees to keep your chinchilla comfortable. Never place the cage where direct sunlight will hit it for too long, as the dense fur of a chinchilla can easily cause them to overheat.

A sign that your chinchilla may be overheating is if their ears start to turn redder than usual or more blood vessels are visible. This indicates that their body is trying to cool down.

If your chinchilla cage isn’t too high, it’s best to place it on a table or stand. Chinchillas are prey animals, so keeping them off the floor can make them feel safer. If you do have a tall cage, make sure there are plenty of lower levels that your chinchilla can sleep, eat, and drink on if they prefer.

Your chinchilla’s cage should also be kept in a quiet area of the house. Chinchillas can be startled by loud noises or other pets like cats and dogs hanging around their cages.


Lighting

chinchilla-pixabay
Credit: tahanadakila, Pixabay

Chinchillas are primarily nocturnal, so if they’re in a room with a large amount of natural light, make sure they have a dark enclosed bed where they can curl up to sleep without being disturbed.

You may decide to leave a small light on at night, but this isn’t essential.


Accessories

chinchilla-pixabay
Credit: benjamingross83, Pixabay

You can add a variety of accessories to your chinchilla’s cage to add interest and enrichment.

We recommend things like:
  • Hammock
  • Dust bath (remove when not in use)
  • Toys
  • Food bowls
  • Water bottles
  • Hay feeders
  • Chew sticks
  • Bedding
  • Hiding boxes
  • Litter box

It’s always best to provide two of everything if your cage has the space, so your pair of chinchillas won’t ever feel the need to compete over a particular resource.


Change your setup regularly

chinchilla-pixabay
Credit: tahanadakila, Pixabay

Chinchillas love to explore new environments, so try to change the setup within your chinchilla’s cage on a monthly basis. Move the shelves to challenge them to jump higher or farther, add different hanging toys, and change the location of their hay feeder from time to time.

This will help keep your chinchilla engaged and interested in their environment.

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Wrap-up

Compared to many other rodent pets, chinchillas are quite large. As herd animals, they also need to be kept in pairs. This means you’ll need to set aside more room for their cage than for those of other small pets.

The absolute minimum for a pair of chinchillas is a cage sized 3 feet x 2 feet x 2 feet, but we recommend going for the largest sized cage that your house can accommodate. Chinchillas love to jump, so they will be far happier in a bigger cage with multiple levels for them to jump between.

Chinchillas can live for up to 15 years, so their cage is going to be an investment that keeps them happy for years to come. Chinchillas are sensitive creatures, so keeping them in a cage that’s too small can lead to them becoming depressed or developing stress behaviors.

Taking the time to create the perfect cage setup for your chinchilla will keep them happy. And when our pets are happy, we pet owners are happy too!


Featured image credit: agdas666, Pixabay

Emma Stenhouse

Emma is a freelance writer, specializing in writing about pets, outdoor pursuits, and the environment. Originally from the UK, she has lived in Costa Rica and New Zealand before moving to a smallholding in Spain with her husband, their 4-year-old daughter, and their dogs, cats, horses, and poultry. When she's not writing, Emma can be found taking her dogs for walks in the rolling fields around their home...and usually, at least some of the cats come along, too! Emma is passionate about rescuing animals and providing them with a new life after being abandoned or abused. As well as their own four rescue dogs, she also fosters dogs for re-homing, providing them with love and training while searching for their forever homes.