Any time we put something in an animal’s cage, we should find out if it’s safe or not, and the same applies with chinchilla cages. Even though we may be forced to believe that items found in pet stores pass safety concerns, it’s not always the case. Therefore, when you choose a chinchilla bedding, it might not be as easy as you thought.
Various companies will supply chinchilla bedding that is made of either pine wood shavings or cedar. However, there is evidence proving that there is a fairly strong correlation between chinchilla health and the material that the chinchilla bedding is made from. These companies will take advantage of this not being an official chinchilla fact, and sell them anyway.
Health Risks of Unsafe Chinchilla Bedding
Pine and cedar beddings get their popularity because of their odor control. The bad part is that the chemicals that diminish odor cause health risks for chinchillas, which are caused by a chemical called phenol. Phenol is known for its use in disinfectants and is made of hydrocarbon which is the major health risk for chinchillas.
Certain tests have proven that small animals interacting with this chemical have had more respiratory problems than those who didn’t. Even though this study was only done on mice and rats, it’s only a logical assumption to make that other small animals, like chinchillas, would also be affected.
Phenol may also have a link to the deterioration of the liver of small animals. A recent experiment showed that chinchillas that interacted with chinchilla bedding that had phenol accumulated more enzymes in their liver than those who didn’t. When enzymes build up, it’s usually a sign that your chinchilla’s liver can’t get rid of harmful toxins from the body. The test showed that even if the chinchilla bedding came into contact with the pet for as little as one day, an increase of enzymes could be seen. It would take roughly two weeks for the enzyme levels to return to their normal states.
One of the other concerns with toxins from these kinds of chinchilla bedding is that they cause problems to their immune systems, which lead to stress-related problems as well. Also, chinchilla breeding rates were decreased dramatically from the effects of these kinds of chinchilla bedding.
Kiln dried palm is a natural and safe type of chinchilla bedding that you may offer your pet. It’s a highly treated wood, where the phenol levels are much lower than cedar. Even cedar and pine, however, can be treated to lower the levels of phenol.
The only reason we wouldn’t suggest recycled paper as chinchilla bedding is because, even though it’s very absorbent and recycled, chinchillas will often snack on the paper. This causes risks of digestive problems, so we have avoided it.
Most of the chinchillas we have raised will urinate on the bedding, not outside the cage. So it’s rather easy to smell when the time is right to change the chinchilla bedding. Also, if you give more bedding and the cage is very large, you’ll have to change it less often, even though the converse is true as well.
All the chinchilla bedding products on this page we have tested and approved ourselves. Thus, with other options available for your chinchillas’ cage, it seems like an unnecessary risk to use dangerous chinchilla bedding.