When it comes to buying products and accessories that are specific to chinchillas it can be a bit difficult.
Not too long ago I talked about how the majority of “chinchilla treats” are actually not good or safe for chinchillas to eat and that healthier alternatives should be offered instead.
Similarly, chinchilla owners aren’t given many options to choose from when it comes to bedding, litter and other cage necessities making chinchilla owners have to scavenge through the other sections of the pet store.
When we were first taught how to properly take care of Gary, our chinchilla, we quickly recognized a bag of litter, Yesterday’s News Purina Non-Clumping Paper Cat Litter.
Yesterday’s News is a non-clumping cat litter that we used with our cat Beau when he was recovering from his surgery a couple of years back and is commonly recommended to cats who have undergone any surgery.
It was then that I started questioning, how many other chinchilla owners use cat-specific litter with their chinchillas or if there was a different type of litter chinchillas preferred or needed specifically.
So let’s dive into whether or not cat litter is considered acceptable to use with chinchillas, what kind of litter box you should use with your chinchilla and what the types of litter you want to use are.
DO CHINCHILLAS USE LITTER BOXES?
Yes, chinchillas use litter boxes, but don’t expect them to use it every single time they use the washroom.
You’d be very lucky if you could potty train a chinchilla to poop in a litter box, but due to the fact that a chinchilla’s poop is typically dry and compact, you really should have nothing to worry about.
DO CHINCHLLAS NEED A LITTER BOX?
It depends on the type of cage that you have really.
If your cage is large enough and your chinchilla has a preferred area where they pee you may not need a litterbox.
No matter what, a litter box just adds an extra level of sanitation from urine. The more you can get your chinchilla to pee in their litter box versus on their food, the better for their health.
CAN I USE A TUPPERWARE AS A LITTER BOX?
I guess technically you could, though I would recommend trying to provide your chinchilla with a litter box that isn’t made from plastic.
Due to the fact that chinchillas are such big chewers, there is a fairly large chance that your chinchilla will chew on the rim of your Tupperware container.
Dependant on how much your chinchilla can chew through, there is the fear that the chinchilla will break off enough of the plastic to actually choke on.
This is why it is recommended that you use a ceramic litter box or a stainless steel one, though ceramic is far better than a stainless steel litter box.
At the end of the day, if you choose to use a plastic litter box it is advised that you keep an eye out on your chinchilla and check whether or not they are chewing on the edges of the litter box.
If you take notice of missing pieces or chunks of the plastic litter box, it is advisable that you remove the litter box and replace it with something more sturdy.
BEST LITTER BOXES FOR CHINCHILLAS
If you are lucky and have a chinchilla who doesn’t chew on plastics then you don’t have to look very far to find a litter box.
The Ware Manufacturing Plastic Scatterless Lock-N-Litter is a great and durable litter box that will allow chinchillas to do their business and hop right on out.
I personally really like the fact that walls are tall enough to put a decent amount of litter in the box and that there are bars in place so your chinchilla doesn’t kick the litter out.
This also makes sure that your chinchilla doesn’t get their little paws wet in their pee or get their hands covered in litter.
This is the type of litter box you’re going want to look for when it comes to finding a litter box for your chinchilla.
It is fully made out of metal, making it less tempting to chew.
It has bars to ensure that your chinchilla is not going to slip all over the place or kick out the litter from the pan.
It also has durable bolts on the side of it to help make sure that the litter box doesn’t move around, especially if it is placed on a shelf versus on the bottom of the cage.
The main downfall of a product like this is the cost.
The great thing is though, with a litter box like this, you will never have to buy another one.
Let me let you in on one of the biggest secrets of owning a small mammal… you can often just use your own stuff.
As long as the baking sheet is cleaned with vinegar and hot water on a regular basis, you are completely golden.
Truthfully, this is also one of the safest options you have when it comes to litterboxes.
The fact that the baking dish is made from glass ensures that your chinchilla will not break it and it will probably be too thick for them to even be interested in it.
Due to the fact that glass is so slippery, especially when wet, it can be harmful to chinchillas if they fall.
This is why it is important that you cover the bottom of the baking dish fully with litter to make sure that your chinchilla doesn’t slip around.
CAN YOU USE ANY LITTER WITH CHINCHILLAS?
No, you will not be able to use any old litter with a chinchilla and will need to ensure that the litter is not dusty and preferably doesn’t clump.
In regards to dust, due to the fact that chinchillas have extremely sensitive respiratory tracts, it’s fairly easy for them to get infections, blockages or may even cause them to become seriously ill.
For this reason, you’re going to want to make sure if you’re going to us cat branded litter, you only use the unscented paper litter like Yesterday’s News.
Take note: there are two types of Yesterday’s News. We personally use the one linked above, which is a softer texture (noted by the purple bag.) There is also the regular Yesterday’s News which is equally as good but is just a harder compact material.
While both are suitable, you may notice that your chinchilla prefers one over another.
Note: this is true if your litter box (or pan) doesn’t have grills on it.
WHAT LITTERS ARE PROBLEMATIC FOR CHINCHILLAS?
As mentioned, any litter that is considered dusty or clumps.
Due to the fact that you are unable to wash chinchillas and the only way to get them clean is by providing them with a dust bath, cleaning off any clumped litter will prove to be extremely difficult if not problematic.
Absolutely stay away from all clay-based litters, corn-based litters, walnut based litters and silica based litters.
The main issue with clay is how dusty it is. It has actually been reported to cause a number of health problems for chinchillas, so while it may be one of the cheapest or most affordable options, it will leave you with many more vet bills in the near future.
Silica becomes problematic, especially if it produces silicosis.
CAN I USE WOOD SHAVINGS FOR MY CHINCHILLA?
It is actually advised that you do not use any wood shavings with your chinchilla, especially because their essential oils can be extremely dangerous for your chinchilla.
Without diving too deep into it, the only wood shavings I would use are Aspen.
Aspen is soft, does not have very much dust and is considered allergen-free for chinchillas.
WHAT ARE THE BEST TYPES OF LITTER FOR A CHINCHILLA?
Since I’ve already covered the fact that you can, in fact, use some cat litter for your chinchilla, I’m not going to mention any paper litter on this list.
Instead, the following are the best types of litter and bedding that vets recommend for your chinchilla.
Not everyone sets up their chinchilla’s cage in the same way, for example, we use a towel (similar to a fleece) in our cage instead of bedding.
We’ve done this because it was recommended by a vet when Gary was sneezing a bunch.
The most popular type of litter that chinchilla owners use is called Kiln Dried Pine Shavings.
It’s all-natural and doesn’t contain any oils or other harmful additives or bleaching to it.
Dried Pine or Aspen shavings are a superior choice to bedding and litter as if the chips are chewed on or swallowed, they will not expand in the chinchilla’s stomach.
In fact, that’s why Kaytee All Natural Aspen Bedding is one of the most popular types of litter used with chinchillas.
Another brand of bedding you can look at is Small Pet Select Aspen Bedding.
The final choice in litters that are popular amongst chinchilla owners is Carefresh.
This type of litter is made out of paper which can make it hazardous to chinchillas if it is consumed.
If enough of this bedding is consumed it will begin expanding in your chinchilla’s stomach, leading to the need to visit a vet.
While this is a concern, not every chinchilla will be interested in chewing on their bedding.
While I wouldn’t use cat litter a chinchilla bedding, it is fine to use Yesterday’s News with your chinchilla as their primary litter.
I would highly recommend grabbing yourself either a metal or glass litter box to ensure that your chinchilla doesn’t chew or swallow pieces of plastic.
In general, it’s going to depend on your chinchilla’s preference and whether or not their litter training goes well.
So pet parents, I’m curious, what kind of litter have you tried with your chinchilla? Which did they like the most?
Let me know in the comments below!