Like humans, pets do get bored when they just sit all day in their cage or pen and do nothing – so do the chinchilla!
As vigorously active rodent pets, these little cuties deserve to have toys of their own to keep them busy and away from chewing behavior.
A chinchilla best lives in an environment where they have a lot of playthings to work with. These toys not only provide them happiness but it also has benefits for their mind and body.
For instance, chew toys help with their oral health, while physical activities help boost their endurance and keep them away from weight problems.
So, do you want to find out how to choose toys for your chinchilla? This guide will help you out! We’ve listed down some recommended toys you should get for your furry friend. But first…
…why do chinchillas need lots of toys?
The chinchilla has a strong sense of adventure. They’ll develop nasty habits such as chewing excessively at anything they see if you don’t play with them or provide something to play with.
By giving them toys and activities to play with, you’re giving them the following benefits in the long run:
Even if they think they’re playing, when chinchillas ride on the exercise wheel or play hide and seek with their owner, they are already doing a form of physical activity.
It will keep them fit and strong against diseases and weight issues.
A chinchilla that has a lot of toys will be kept happy and less destructive.
If they have sufficient activity to keep them busy and going throughout the day, they will less likely chew on unimportant items around their cage or pen.
If you find that your chinchilla has a nasty chewing habit, putting toys in their vicinity will lessen that negative trait.
Chinchilla toys aren’t that expensive
Many pet shops out there, both online and around your neighborhood, sell toys that are meant for chinchillas.
Just be wary that no matter how cheap it is, always make sure it is made of durable material if you want it to last long (we recommend either wood or metal for better durability).
If you are into DIY projects, you can also create your chinchilla toys, such as a hamster wheel, with the necessary woodworking or metalwork tools.
Toys meant for chinchillas are generally safe for them
Instead of giving them toys that were meant for other pets, giving them properly-sized pet toys will be much safer.
Your chinchilla will less likely run into accidents if the toy didn’t have gaps between them or rough edges that could injure them.
Consider your chinchilla space
So, how do we choose the best toys for a chinchilla? The first consideration is your chinchilla’s living space. It would be best if you kept in mind these questions before you buy:
Do they live in a cage all the time?
For frequent cage dwellers or those who are too afraid to get outside of the cage, you should consider a smaller toy that will fit inside and still have room for the chinchilla to roam around.
After all, not every chinchilla pet owner could easily train their pet to go outside and then return to the cage – it takes a lot of effort to do that!
So, if you’re a casual pet owner who can’t take their chinchilla outside of the cage to play at all, consider smaller toys to avoid suffocating your chinchilla’s personal space inside of their living quarters.
How many chinchillas are there in a single cage?
Always consider the case of having two or more chinchillas in a single cage. All pets need a lot of personal space, and you have to take into consideration what would happen if they all want to play.
If you keep two or more chinchillas in a single cage, consider toys that are space-saving.
We recommend pet toys that allow your chinchilla to have more breathing and running room even when you place them inside the cage.
Do they also go outside of the cage?
There are also pet owners who can easily take their chinchilla out of the cage (and have them return).
If that’s the case, you may also want to grab some toys that are more suitable for playing outside of the cage due to space restraints.
This allows your little furry friend to have more exploration and adventure when they do get out of their living quarters temporarily.
Overall, you have to put all of these criteria into consideration if you’re looking for toys appropriate for the chinchilla(s) that you’re keeping.
Choose your preferred toy
Now that you’ve figured out your chinchilla’s living conditions versus the toys they should get, let’s take a look at some popular types of toys that you could buy for your furry friend:
Like hamsters and other lovable rodent pets, chinchillas enjoy exercise wheels a lot.
One of their key benefits is that they allow your pet to run around as much as possible, and they get physical activity much like how humans would run on a treadmill.
However, with that said, you should look for the following criteria when choosing the best exercise wheel for your chinchilla:
Don’t buy wire wheels
If you’re new to owning chinchillas as pets, you should know that stepping on anything wired would cause them to have difficulty on their feet and tail.
Instead of wired mesh for the wheels, go for a solid material instead because it is safer for your little pet.
Plastic is not a good material
You probably think that plastic is okay for the chinchilla, but generally, we’d recommend you not to buy toys made from that.
Plastic has a big tendency to get warped and cracked when exposed to hot temperatures, which may cause it to create sharp edges that could injure your pet. This is most likely the case if you live in warm climates.
Moreover, plastic is susceptible to bacteria buildup due to being a porous material. It is also not that durable if your chinchilla is a big chewer.
Even worse, if your chinchilla ended up chewing the plastic, it will cause digestive upsets to them, whereas if your chinchilla ingested wood, it would be far safer.
And because chinchilla toys made of plastic are not that durable, even if they are less expensive, you have to keep replacing them repeatedly. This adds to your expense and will be quite annoying for you as a pet owner.
Consider wood, metal, or both
To avoid the inconveniences of plastic toys, consider chinchilla wheels that are mostly made of either wood or metal or a combination.
Metal is a great preventive measure for chinchillas that have an annoying chewing habit. They are durable, but the catch is that they could make more noise compared to wood.
On the other hand, Wood wheels are quiet when they run, but there’s also the risk of chewing. Nonetheless, they won’t be toxic, unlike plastic.
Make sure it has a solid and smooth construction
When choosing an ideal chinchilla wheel, make sure it has a solid surface to avoid causing a hazard to your little friend. Fortunately, many of the chinchilla wheels in the market today have solid construction.
There should be no gaps and holes
As mentioned above, it should be made of solid material. Consider a wheel with no gaps at all.
These gaps and holes are danger zones for chinchillas because they could get their feet or hands stuck in there, which will pose a problem to you and your pet.
Consider a large-sized wheel
Chinchillas need all the room they can get for any physical activity. By all means, don’t use hamster wheels for chinchillas because they are too small for them.
If you have a larger wheel, you’re helping your chinchilla exercise without feeling cramped inside their play area.
Avoid exercise balls that are too small
In general, we don’t recommend exercise balls in place of wheels because they limit your chinchilla’s breathing room.
However, if you want to try them out, make sure you consider a large-sized one to avoid getting your pet injured.
Know how they are set up
Chinchilla exercise wheels can either be mounted to the cage they’re in or come in a free-standing design. A cage-mount wheel is more advisable if your chinchilla doesn’t get out of the cage too often.
Choose saucer wheels with caution
If you do prefer the newly-introduced chinchilla saucer in terms of design, you should choose with caution.
Ensure that it’s not too big for your cage as it is most ideal for those with large playpens or meant for outside the cage due to not being space-friendly.
Chinchillas also like to climb as they do in trees in the wild. To give them a simulation of their previous habitat, you can give them various climbing toys, such as:
- blocks of wood
- perching areas
- high platforms
Make sure that when you set up these climbing toys, they are at the right height that your chinchilla can reach.
It also pays to keep them strongly secure to avoid accidents for your pet. Climbing toys are best placed inside the cage and attached to them to keep them stable through constant climbing from your chinchilla.
Chewing is a natural habit that most pet rodents share, and that’s why the chinchilla needs a lot of dental activity.
Chew toys will help keep them busy while also strengthen their teeth. Fortunately, there are a plethora of chew toys in the market out there for pets – chinchillas included.
However, when choosing chew toys for chinchillas, you should take note of the following:
Make sure it is safe to chew
Among the common chew toys that you will find that are safe for chinchillas include tree branches from poplar, apple, aspen, and willow.
Another option is the Manzanita branch if you have one in your backyard. Don’t give them anything from evergreen, cedar, redwood, cherry, and other trees with citrus fruit.
Consider untreated wood
If you buy from the store, make sure that the chew toy for them is made from untreated wood.
The chemicals that come from wood treatments will be ingested by your pet and might end up causing them digestive upsets later on.
Mineral blocks and pumice stones are also safe
If your chinchilla isn’t a picky eater, they might even find pumice stones and mineral blocks a good chew toy. Just make sure that you get yours from a reputable and legitimate source.
Most bird-safe chew toys are also okay
If your local pet store doesn’t have anything chinchilla-specific (since the pet isn’t always popular in every locality or country), consider going to the bird section and finding chew toys there instead.
Due to their naturally-curious attitude, chinchillas also like to play hide and seek. Consider looking for PVC pipes and building your hide-and-seek areas for your pet.
Otherwise, you can also go to the store and look for setups that are meant for rabbits or guinea pigs since they are quite similar in size.
However, going for a simple cardboard box is okay, but this is short-lived. After all, anything chewable will be gone in a few days if your pet is a rodent-type like a chinchilla.
A dust bath is a fun activity that your chinchilla will enjoy. It should only be given to your pet about 2 to 3 times a week. It is both a fun activity and a way to keep their coat healthy.
If you’re eyeing larger toys for outside the cage, make sure that your pet is already used to going outside of the cage and heading back when needed.
Such toys consume more space, so they aren’t ideal for playing inside the cage. For such toys, always keep an eye on your chinchilla.