Your Chinchilla's Cage
Here is a Ferret Nation Cage. It still has the plastic pans and plastic shelf that has to be removed. Once those items are out you have an empty cage to start from and create your perfect chinchilla home.
All you need to transform this cage is:
1. Metal Pans
2. KD pine Shelves
3. Hammocks or other fleece items
4. Toys and chews
5. Water bottle and food dish
A modified Ferret Nation
This cage doesn't have the metal pans in yet and had fleece covering the pans until they arrived. You can see though that it is all safe for chinchillas.
the best part of these cages is that you can set it up how you want and change things as needed.
Wheels are a great addition to your chinchillas cage. The main thing is to get the right wheel that is safe for your chin.
This picture is a 15" chin spin behind a 12" silent spinner. I would never recommend using a plastic wheel as they will get chewed and are way too small.
There are only 3 wheels I would recommend, The Chin Spin by Quality Cage, The Flying Saucer by Meadowbrook Chinchillas or the Silver Surfer by Chinchillas.com
Small wheels will harm a chins spine over time. It's best to buy one that is safe and will last a lifetime.
When it comes to cages there are a lot of options. You just have to know that the cage is where you are going to spend the most money on. Cages that are meant to last are pricey and with the modifications you have to do for chins things can add up quick.
Ferret Nation by Midwest
This cage has been a favourite cage for pet owners for a long time. It's sturdy and built to last. However you can't just take the cage out of the box and use it as it is. You will need to modify this cage to ensure the cage is safe for your chinchilla. First of all, the plastic pans and shelves and ladders have to go. I donate these items to a local ferret rescue and I'm sure you could ask around to see if ferret rescues or rat rescues would want these parts. Now you have an empty cage and are ready to begin.
One of the best features of the FN is that you can split it into 2 cages if you need to. Should you ever have a pair of chins that suddenly doesn't get along, you can just split the cage by turning the pan with the cut around.
As well, the huge doors on a FN are my favourite part. Makes cleaning so much easier AND you can move things around in the cage without a small door giving you grief!
The Ferret Nation isn't the only cage you can use. There are many other choices. I would just look for a cage that is metal and has plenty of space. Height is the most important aspect in a great chinchilla cage. Because of that, you'll want to add plenty of shelves and hammocks in case a chinchilla falls.
This was my first chinchilla cage. I upgraded within a month of buying this one. It was too small and flimsy for me. I hated it but it worked for the month I had it. It still had a couple of wire shelves which I would never recommend. Replace all wires shelves with KD pine shelves.
This cage also has very weak bars that can break off.
This is my biggest cage and love it except for the small doors. I had a lot of fun designing this cage. It was sold as a cat cage and had wire shelves and ledges which I removed.
This is Zavia who loves her saucer and runs on it all the time. Some chins pick it up right away while others take a long time and some chins won't ever learn to run on a saucer.
I use both Chin Spins and Saucers. I haven't used a Silver Surfer but have heard positive comments about it. In Canada, where I am the shipping and duty fees can make a wheel a very pricey addition but it is worth it.
A hammock is a great item to add to a cage for a few reasons. It gives the chinchilla somewhere to sleep other than on a shelf or hidey house. Some chinchillas LOVE their hammocks and others not so much. I have some chins that like to sleep in lots of places and will use their hammock quite often. Other chins only sleep in their hammock and some may never use it.
If you have a tall cage a hammock is a great addition in case of falls. Like a net to catch them.
You can make your own hammocks and there is a How To on this site. You can attach your hammock with binder rings, laynards or shower curtain hooks.
One way to see if your chin is using a hammock if you never see them in it is to look for poops. It sometimes is the only sign they are using it.
I do have some chins that will use their hammock as a toilet and that requires requent washings. Others may chew and destroy it and if they are just chewing it up I would remove it.
Fleece tubes are a fav for many chinchillas. They are a great addition for any cage and most chins seem to love them. I do have some chinchillas that will just destroy them or pee in them so they tend to go through a lot of them.
If you have multiple chins, you can get bigger tubes so more chins can fit in the tube. Usually 2 will fit in a standard tube but I use longer tubes for trios. See the how to page to make your own.
Hidey houses are a great item to add to your cage. It gives your chinchilla a place to hang out or sleep and feel secure. The best thing to look for when you are buying a hidey house is durability. Chins can destory a hidey house if it is made from plastic or very thin wood. You can make a simple hidey house from wood purchased at a hardware store. Look for a How To in the near future.
I like to offer a few different hidey houses for my chins. Most have the natural bridge that is open on both ends. As well I have some homemade hidey houses and some Woodland Getaways from Super Pet. The woodland getaways don't last as long and have large staples in the bottom corners. You can pull those out.
Some chins may not sleep in their hidey houses but I like to give them the option and they can chew on it too.
Liners VS Bedding
Some owners prefer to use liners over bedding and still some like to use Aspen or KD pine shavings. The choice is personal and it all depends on what YOU prefer to do. I use Aspen shavings. I find the chins enjoy them and it works for me. I change cages weekly and don't have to worry about doing laundry or increasing the utility bill on having to wash liners. I get a large bale of Aspen for around $10 and it will last quite a while. Some people compost their dirty shavings.
Some owners do prefer liners though. They have many liners and switch them out. They shake the liners of debris and then wash them. Just remember if you do use liners, don't use fabric softener with them. It will impede the fleeces ability to "suck" the liquid into the middle. Most liners have 3 layers. A layer of fleece on both sides and a layer of flannel in the middle. Many online chin supply stores do sell fleece items and will sell liners. You can make your own as well. A "how to" will be added to this site soon.
I have tried liners but found there was an odour to the fleece and much prefer shavings. With owning multiple chinchillas I find it much easier to use shavings. Use what works best for you.
NOTE: do not use Carefresh as some chins do like to eat it. Shavings are a much safer bedding choice. NEVER USE CEDAR SHAVINGS!!!! They are NOT safe for ANY small animal and cause a lot of breathing issues.