In order to keep your chinchilla healthy and happy, it is important to keep your chinchilla cage clean. Bacterial growth can cause health problems. It is not enough to change the litter every once in awhile. Daily inspections and monthly scrub downs are essential to the well-being of your chinchilla.
There are things you can do on a daily basis to maintain a clean environment for your pet. It is common for a chinchilla to urinate in a certain corner. While it is not necessary to clean this area after every bathroom break, it is a good idea to get rid of the soiled bedding every day or so. Chinchilla feces, on the other hand, will not stay in a general area. In fact, you can usually find it in every possible place you can think of. A daily vacuuming is needed to clean up all the debris that will land outside of the chinchilla cage. If the food dish sits on a lower level of the cage, it is inevitable that droppings will land in the dish. Feces in the food dish can lead to the spread of bacteria. Check the food daily, and replace food as needed. Also, inspect the hay to see if it needs to be replaced.
One of the most important areas of the cage to keep clean is the water bottle. The water bottle can become contaminated very easily. If there is anything inside the bottle, be sure to replace the water. Look for any mold or mildew forming on the bottle. Use soapy hot water and rinse thoroughly to clean the water bottle. Unsafe drinking water can be detrimental to your chinchilla's health.
The bedding in the chinchilla cage should be changed about once a week. This means dumping the old bedding and replacing it with all new bedding. Although chinchillas are fairly odorless, a week's worth of urine and feces will begin to smell. While the bedding pan is empty, clean the soiled areas to prevent bacteria growth. Mold can develop on the bedding tray. Rust may also begin to form. It may be necessary to completely disinfect the bedding tray. It is a good idea to spot check the cage for any other areas that may need cleaning.
Water bottles and food dishes need to be cleaned once a week. You can use hot water and soap or the dishwasher if the bottle and dish are dishwasher-safe. Examine the tube of the water bottle to make sure that there are no obstructions and the water will flow freely.
Ever month, or so, it is important to completely disinfect the cage. There are many disinfecting solutions on the market. One of the easiest and cheapest ways to make a cleaning solution is to use bleach and water. Bleach that is not diluted is toxic. A 5% solution has been deemed safe by the ASPCA, American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, if it is used correctly. After scrubbing down all metal areas of the cage is a disinfecting solution, it is imperative that it is completely rinsed and allowed to dry.
Disinfecting is important because it will eliminate the bacteria in the chinchilla cage. If urine is allowed to soak in the cage, it can lead to mold and rust. A permanent odor can develop over time if the cage is not sanitized. When a chinchilla is pregnant, newly born, or being introduced to a new cage, disinfecting becomes essential. In these three cases, chinchillas are susceptible to illness.
With proper maintenance and cleaning, a chinchilla cage will last a number of years. Protecting your chinchilla from a dirty cage, contaminated water, and polluted food and hay, will keep your pet healthy.