Supplies Needed Before Bringing Your Chinchilla Home
The Basic Chin Supply Check list
Your chinchilla is currently being fed Manna Pro Sho pellets and will come with a supply that should last a week or two. This feed is commercially available but is milled in 50 pound bags which is a lot for a small pet owner and would go bad before you could go through it all. I do sell this feed by the pound if you are interested in continuing your chinchilla on this feed and would like to purchase it from me. If you are interested in transitioning the chin to a commercially available feed in smaller quanitities, it should be fed a specially formulated chinchilla food. I recommend either Oxbow, Tradition, or Mazuri (in that order). While all of these brands are usually not available in a single location, you should be able to find one of them at your local pet store. Beware of foods available in pet stores that contain treats or fillers, these are not good for a chinchilla in the long run and are the equivalent to raising your chinchilla on candy/cookies.
Chinchillas need to have some kind of hay readily available. This should either be Timothy or Alfalfa depending on the pellet you feed (if the feed is alfalfa based then feed Timothy and vice versa). Hay can be fed loose or in compressed cubes. You should assure that the hay you feed is free of pesticides as these can seriously harm your chin. Variety of hays keep a chinchilla interested.
Your chinchilla will need water available at all times. Water should be filtered water and should be changed daily or every other day at the most. When changing water, the bottle should be cleaned with a bottle brush or rag to ensure no algae is being allowed to build up in the bottle. Chinchillas need to have a hanging water bottle. Almost any kind will do. I use glass water bottles for my chins. A water dish or bowl is not appropriate for use with chins.
Chinchillas use dust baths to remove excess oil, dirt, and moisture from their coats. They should be offered a dust bath one to two times a week. If they are living an area where humidity is higher they may need a bath every other day.There are many types of chinchilla dust available. The one that I use is Blue Cloud. Dust can be bought at most pet stores where chins are available and I also sell it by the pound.
Dust House or Pan
You will need a place to put the dust for you chinchilla to use. You should be able to remove the dust from the cage whenever it is not in use. Usually a chin will dust immediately after the bath has been offered. After they are done bathing the bath should be removed. The dust can be reused several times. However it should be changed if it becomes full of droppings or bedding. It absolutely should be changed if the chin urinates in it.There are bath houses and pans available at many pet stores. Other alternatives include large shallow fish bowls or shoe box sized Rubbermaid (or similar brand) storage containers. I recommend using either a glass or metal dish but plastic can be used as long as the chin is supervised for chewing.
When choosing your new chin's home, it is important to keep in mind that chins like to jump/climb. The more ledges there are to sit on, the happier your new pet will be. The base dimensions of most chinchilla cages are around 18"x24", the height can be as much as 5'. If it is tall, make sure that ledges and hammocks are placed strategically to break a fall. The best kind of cage has a removable pan that allows for easy cleaning. There are many cage companies that can be found on the internet. I recommend either Ferret Nation cages with the plastic shelves replaced with metal pans. These pans are available from a company called Bass Equipment: http://www.bassequipment.com/cages/ferret+pans/default.aspx or cages made by Quality Cage: http://qualitycage.com/index.php?main_page=index&cPath=129_14 The other important thing to keep in mind when buying a chinchilla cage is the wire spacing. The maximum spacing for a chinchilla is 1"x2". If you ever intend on having baby chinchillas in the cage or you are adopting a smaller chin, the spacing should be 1" x 1/2". Anything bigger and you will be going on your very first chinchilla hunt.
The bottom of your chinchilla's cage should be lined with some kind of absorbent bedding to absorb waste. There are many kinds of bedding that can be used for chins. Pine shavings, Care-Fresh, and recycled paper pellets are some examples. By recycled paper, I mean paper pellets being sold specifically as animal bedding, not just yesterday’s newspaper. Cedar shavings should never be used as chinchilla bedding as the fumes emitted are to them. For my chins, I use pine shavings that are purchased from my local farm supply store. This is the most cost effective for me. Many pet owners use fleece liners.A chinchilla's bedding should be changed once or twice a week depending on how many chins are in a cage. Used bedding can often be reused as compost or mulch.
Your chinchilla will need objects to chew on to keep its teeth healthy. Chews come in many forms from lava rocks to wooden sticks. Most chins go through chew sticks very quickly while the lava rocks last a little longer. Chews can be bought at most pet stores, just be sure that the chews are intended to be used with chins. You can also make your own chew blocks from untreated kiln dried pine lumber. If you make you're own chew blocks, do not use treated or water proofed lumber.
Treats should be fed to a chin very sparingly if at all. They will eat every one you offer, but too many treats can ruin their diet and their health. Safe treats include a half of a small plain shredded wheat (not frosted), one plain cheerio, a pinch of whole oats and rosehips. Most chins should not be fed more than one or two treats a week. Chinchillas under six months of age should not be given treats at all. They detract from the chinchilla ingesting needed calories from their feed and are hard for them to digest, causing illness and even death.
There are many chin safe toys available. Wheels, hammocks, cuddle buddies, houses, and more. There are far too many for me to go through here. While these are not necessities of life, all chins appreciate having things to do while they are running around their cage. I recommend purchasing these items from vendors on the following website: http://www.chins-n-hedgies.com/forums/showthread.php?t=20384, because in most instances items that are purchased from pet stores are not really chin safe. The people on this website have owned and made items for chins for years.