How To: Chinchilla Dust Baths

This week’s post goes back to basics, but dust baths are a fundamental and important grooming topic to touch upon. There are always a plethora of questions that curious animal lovers or new chinchilla owners ask (you can find a complete one-stop post about Chinchilla Basics 101 here), and one of the major grooming questions always pertains to dusting! Not only is it necessary, it’s vicious, voracious, messy, wild, and scurrying adorable!

Dust

What is a Dust Bath? A dust bath is a cleaning technique used by chinchillas (and other select avian and mammalian species). This type of waterless bathing utilizes dust or fine sand.

Why Do Chinchillas Need to Dust? Since chinchillas have incredibly dense fur and originate from a cool, dry climate in the South American Andes, their fur is not meant to be immersed in water. Water is considered harmful and any immersion could cause fur loss, stress, fungal infections, and lead to overheating. Dusting is important for chinchillas to stay clean, remove any impurities from their fur, and prevent matting. Dusting helps remove unnecessary oils and dirt, and also serves as a form of temperature regulation, meaning it assists in keeping your chin cool and dry by preventing a buildup of heat-trapping irregularities (dirt, oil, heaviness, impurities).

V dusty muffy

How Often Should Chinchillas Dust? Dusting frequency varies on humidity, season, and some other factors. Typically, the range goes from 2 times a week to every single day. In areas that are humid and during warm seasons, the more frequent the dusting should be. As long as your chinchilla doesn’t have any dry skin problems, it’s safe to dust them daily. I dust my chins every day because 1. we live in an area of fluctuating humidity 2. they don’t have any dry skin issues and 3. they all love to dust. We’ve incorporated it into our daily weighing routine.

How Long Should Chinchillas Dust For? 5-10 minutes is a great amount of time. In my experience, they won’t dust all at once; oftentimes they’ll dust, prance around, shake it off, dust and repeat. Makes for quite a lovely mess!

What Type of Dust Should I Use? I recommend Blue Cloud Dust, which is a very fine natural powder mined from the Blue Cloud Mine in Southern California. The dust has a very high standard of quality, shakes out of chinchilla fur, and also carries a natural, clean scent. This dust can be found in bulk online through various chinchilla vendors or in smaller quantities at commercial pet stores.

Lulu Turnt

How Much Dust Per Session? I use 1-2 cups of dust and refill as needed.

Where Should I Dust My Chinchilla? I suggest a confined area that would be easy to clean and has ventilation. In my experience, bathtubs and bathrooms work great and have minimal clean-up time. It’s important to note that dust goes flying, gets everywhere, and it will be a struggle to maintain a dust-free environment, so keeping the dust bath far from electronics would be beneficial.

Lu Dusty Contrast

What Type of Dust Bath Container is Best? Of course, glass, ceramic, or metal is great – the most important factor being that the container won’t fall over under the weight of massive chinchilla rolls. Personally, since I’m constantly monitoring them during their dust sessions and do not keep a dust house in their cages, I use an open plastic bin that measures 16″ x 12″ x 7″ and for the most part, I leave the top off or partially covered to minimize dust-plosions. I’d suggest staying away from plastics in general, unless you are present and watchful in monitoring to prevent potential chewing. There are also a plethora of other choices, both for outside and inside of the cage usage – some chin owner favorites include bread pans, smaller cages, and large bowls with sturdy bottoms.

MuffDusty

Can I Reuse Dust? For the most part, yes. As long as the quality of the dust is the same, it’s safe to continue using and simply adding in some new dust each session. When chinchillas leave behind some poop, it’s easy to use a scooper or strainer to remove them from the dust. Sometimes, chins will urinate in the dust after they’re done to mark their territory. In those cases, I recommend spot-cleaning to remove the affected dust, pouring out the clean dust, and cleaning out the container before using again (it may be easier to just toss it all out, clean the container, and add new dust). Also, it’s time to change the dust if you notice dust particles clumping together due to retaining moisture over time. My mosaic girls will also leave behind loose strands of their constantly shedding fur, so if I begin to see those, I’ll change out the dust.

Strainer

Chinchilla Dust Hacks! Does your chinchilla have a light-colored mutation or have urine stains on their furry behinds? You can add a tablespoon of corn starch to their dust bath to help lighten up those stains! Also, you can use a damp cloth or unscented baby wipe to clean stained areas, making sure that you are cleaning the surface areas only and monitoring them until their fur is fully dry.

Koko Turn

Can Chinchillas Take Water Baths? As long as your chinchilla is in good health, the answer is no: they shouldn’t. However, certain extenuating health issues may allow owners to bathe their chinchillas in water – please consult a trusted exotic vet and/or trusted chinchilla savants to determine that a water bath is necessary prior to making this decision. Please note that urine stains are no a reason to bathe your chin in water, as there are existing solutions that do not put your chin’s health in harm’s way unnecessarily.

How Should I Store Chinchilla Dust? You should store your dust in an airtight container and keep it in a cool, dry place to ensure maximal usability!

Cutie Mitty

Happy dusting! Stay tuned for more chinformative chinformation next week πŸ™‚

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15 comments

  1. Hello,

    I’m hoping you will respond to me, I would like to offer you a role in the new Chinchilla Club website.Β 

    Chris Hamilton is renovating the 15 year old website and we are growing the site to be a resource for both pet owners and breeders. Our goal is to create a collaborative relationship between owners, breeders, and suppliers. We want to unite breeders in one place, and create a single, reliable source of true information for chin parents, and provide a storefront for safe healthy chin products. Β 

    I’ve enjoyed your website, pictures and articles very much. You have a fantastic journalistic style! We would feel very blessed if you would write the newsletter for Chinchilla Club, and help as a moderator with our group of experienced, caring breeders. Your excellent information would reach a very large group and help with with much needed chin parent education. In return you would earn a free membership to Chinchilla Club, see your work reach thousands, and gain the status of a Chinnie-Diva. =)Β 

    I hope you will respond, we really need your wonderful skills! Β 

    Thank you, Β 

    Marianne Sansouci Chinchillas.org SydChilla Chinchillas & ShelterΒ 

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hi Marianne, apologies for the late response! Thank you so much for contacting me. Of course, please feel free to share any posts via direct link on Chinchilla Club πŸ™‚ I am more than happy to help you with contributions through my existing website. As far as writing for the newsletter, I’m not sure that my time would allow for it. I have a juggling act going on currently in order to maintain both my blog as well as my outside job. If you would like to talk more about it, feel free to email me at LYChinchillas@gmail.com. πŸ˜€

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Dust baths look like so much fun! I wish I could have one, too πŸ™‚

    As to giving a chinchilla a wet bath, I have been in that situation and it scared the life out of me. A rescue who had been left soaking in her own urine so long that she had ammonia burns and I just wanted to get as much of it off her remaining fur as possible. She was extremely old and frail though so I opted for the middle ground and purchased a foaming “dry” cat bath that didn’t need rinsing or added water. Got rid of the worst of it! Owners are more likely to find themselves in the situation of a chin that has managed to get into water under their own power (do I have tales to tell!) and in those cases it’s usually enough to use a towel and a hair dryer set to LOW until the fur is dry. Then give a dust bath so they can fluff themselves up again.

    Love the pics on this one πŸ˜‰

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Perfect insight, Kim! πŸ™‚ Such great advice for any owner who finds themselves in a wet situation. Thanks for the contribution – and yes.. based on how much my chins love dusting, I think it’d be a pretty awesome experience myself! πŸ˜€

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Hello! I was wondering i seen videos on youtube of people grooming their chins with fine combs madenfor chins have ever done this? If so could u make a post or video about it? 😊

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Does anybody sell the hanging wood boxes a rectangle one or the octagon one that I saw in the picture? I really need one fast my chinchillas truth mine all up in the nails are exposed. My phone number is 818-426-0750 or my email is geotil@msn.com

    Like

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