June 6, 2022 by Umair Shahid
Taking proper care of your pet chinchilla demands your time and effort. Native to the Andes Mountains, these social cuties are becoming everyone’s favorite. One should always get proper knowledge from an exotic pet expert before getting a chinchilla to his or her home. One of the domains you must focus acknowledging on is the management of chinchillas.
If you own a pet chinchilla, you know they prefer dust baths instead of traditional water baths. The fur of your chinchilla must not get wet with water due to its denseness.
The thick hair of your chinchilla will trap moisture and provide an ideal medium for bacterial and fungal growth. Therefore, it is always recommended to avoid your chinchilla intentionally or accidentally getting wet from water.
Why can’t Chinchillas Get Wet?
Chinchilla’s natural habitat is dry and cool, with negligible exposure to water in the Rocky Mountains. Their fur is made for a dusty environment, as they have multiple hairs originating from a single follicle. Your fluffy friend prefers to drink water but does not enjoy having a bath in it. It is better to keep the environment adjusted according to their natural habitat.
Chinchilla’s Fur & Moisture
There is a pretty solid reason behind why you must not dip your chinchilla in a water bath. In my opinion, the fur of chinchillas is of the densest nature among rodents.
The uniqueness of the fur is demonstrated by the presence of 80-100 hairs emerging from a single hair follicle. Additionally, this hair coat enables them to live and survive the cold environment of the mountains.
Despite providing more survival chances, their fur can be problematic if exposed to adequate water.
The hair of chinchilla traps the moisture inside and it takes a considerable amount of time to dry them out. In the meantime, the entrapped moisture act as a favorable medium for fungus to grow and cause skin issues.
Whether you provide your furry chinchilla a warm water bath or he accidentally gets into the water, it can be problematic for him. The continuous wet hair increases the likelihood of secondary bacterial and fungal growth with poor post-infection management. It’s been rightly said that chinchillas are incompatible with water just like oil.
The Importance of Dust Baths
Well, now you know the potential risks of water on the health of your furry friend. You may wonder how chinchillas clean themselves in the wild.
They efficiently make use of dust baths so you must provide one in the cage. Chinchillas love to roll around in the dust baths and clean themselves to help their fur stay fresh.
As a veterinarian, many chinchilla owners ask me about the quality of dust baths. If you’re planning on getting a new dust bath, don’t get confused by the word ‘dust’.
In the wild, chinchillas choose fine sand or clay to use. There are many commercial eco-friendly and safe dust baths available for you to choose from.
Consider getting a pot or dust bath container of adequate size so your chinchilla can fit in and enjoy his or her favorite grooming activity.
In contrast to the water baths, dust baths present no skin or health risk to these furry animals. Rolling also helps chinchillas to spread natural skin secretions and oils on the skin evenly for a more luscious coat.
What About the Sticky Material?
As you are well aware of the risk of bathing your chinchilla in water, that’s not the only thing to worry about.
Sometimes you may find your chinchilla struggling to get adhesive messes off his or her skin. This is something a dust bath can’t be able to eliminate even if your chinchilla spends a considerable time rolling.
As a veterinarian, I recommend you to use a damp cloth or towel over the superficial layer of the fur.
You have to be careful not to soak the cloth too much in the water as the water may seep down into the fur and be retained there. You must use gentle tapping and rubbing only over the sticky mess to clean it.
Moreover, experts recommend using a dog or cat brush to comb the fur of your chinchilla. Combing helps to even out the hair of your beloved pet and consequently removes the moisture by increasing airflow. By taking and maintaining a general care routine, you can prevent your furry friend from catching bacterial and fungal skin infections.
Don’t Hesitate to Do Dry Grooming
Most animals possess continuously shedding fur that is curbed using regular water bathing. Chinchillas also have such fur that needs some extra care.
You can lend a hand in dry grooming your furry friend’s hair coat to help remove the worn-out hair out to help them grow again. Try using a medium-length brush and notice the difference in the health of the chinchilla’s fur after regular grooming sessions.
Bringing a chinchilla to your home is a nicer thing but taking great care of your pet is the nicest. Dust baths are a great alternative to water baths, as they are much safer and naturally healthier for your chinchilla.
Accidently or intentionally, getting chinchillas wet can possess numerous skin problems due to the greater moisture-retaining ability of the fur.
Therefore, it is always ideal not to prefer water for bathing and cleaning. Although you can use a damp cloth but take great care using it and try to thoroughly dry the fur by combing.
What if my chinchilla got accidentally wet?
There are times your chinchilla may expose to water and get himself wet. Use a dry cloth and comb to keep patting the fur gently to help it dry quickly. The dense fur won’t leave the moisture out easily so you can use a hairdryer on low heat and speed settings.
What should I do if I don’t have a dust bath for my chinchilla?
In the wild, chinchillas use dry and fine soil or sand as dust baths. You can use such sand to help them clean themselves. Many commercially available dust baths are much safer and affordable.
How to treat fur and skin issues after my chinchilla got himself wet?
There are likely chances that your chinchilla may experience skin issues such as dermatitis after exposure to water. I recommend you to pay a visit to your nearest exotic animal veterinarian for effective treatment advice.
I am a Doctor of Veterinary Medicine and have a keen interest in animal health care. Working as a veterinary content writer, I intend to stay with professional approach in producing quality content. I like research-based reading and currently seeking my veterinary profession. My hobbies are travelling to exotic places and observing nature to the fullest.