Chinchilla Bedding

There are many bedding options out there, but not all are appropriate for chinchillas. For example, pine shavings are generally considered safe for animals, but not so for chinchillas. Some pine shavings can contain a resin that when ingested will harm a chinchilla.

The best option we've found are aspen shavings. These shavings provide the same benefit as pine, come in bulk so the price is low, and are not harmful to chinchillas in any form. We've also tried a recycled paper bedding. This product appealed to us because it was recycled material and very absorbent. However, on too many occasions we saw our chins eating the paper which raised concerns that there may be digestive issues down the road.

Our chinchillas are pretty good about using their bedding rather than urinating outside their cage.

Your nose will tell you when it is time to change the bedding. The frequency will also depend on how much bedding you provide and in how large an area. In the interest of easy cleaning, we use a relatively small bedding box that is about 1' x 2'.

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69 Comments

  1. I have a chinchilla who uses a brand of bedding called Carefresh and she always spills it on the floor around her cage. Is there any way to fix this?

  2. Aspen is the best for any small animal, NEVER buy cedar!

  3. I am getting a new chinchilla in a few days and I just bought a new cage for him. I was also curious about bedding. I love Oxbow products so I will probably take the suggestion below but I was curious how to use the bedding. The cage I have has a spill try and a wire bottom to it. I know with my rabbits they suggest covering the wire because it can hurt their feet. Is that the same with chins? And if so if I use this bedding would it would fine if I just covered the entire bottom with the bedding to protect their feet or should I still just use a small area for bedding and keep the rest empty. Any help would be awesome. Thanks!

    • Yes the wire hurts their feet. The only reason I know all of this stuff is because I have been studying rodents since 2nd grade.

      • Chinchillas are VERY active especially at night and run like crazy...if the wire bottom happens to catch his foot it can be damaged or even torn off. I witnessed this in a petstore and of course the animal was destroyed. Always use bedding no matter the cost or mess it creates

  4. Hello...! I am a new chinchilla owner. I have bought 2 and have given them everything they need. (huge cage, fresh water, food, e.t.c.) I wanted to ask about the bedding. The pet shop owner told us to have pellets and so we did. I have them only 2 days and I've found out that one of them, or both are kind of eating or just destroying some of them... Is it safe to have pellets as bedding..? And is it safe if they eat it..?

    • Hello and congratulations on your new chinchillas! I have 6 chinchillas and use the safe and non-toxic Oxbow Eco-Straw for bedding. I live near Oxbow and have talked to the people there whom I and my exotics vet trusts. This is a pellet litter that is completely safe if they eat it. http://www.oxbowanimalhealth.com/products/type/bedding;jsessionid=DBE0E99A50D06E1F8B5FB2B4D2F085A9.vipa-03b?node=1523 I was worried about other litters I had tried that they'd nibble on because of risks of blockage, etc. Oxbow's is an absorbent wheat straw that is completely safe if they eat any of it. If you have any questions I'd love to help anytime.

    • I would use Paper Shavings Pet Bedding, highly absorbent and it is grinded not shredded therefore it has virtually no dust. The Chinchillas won't eat it and no doubt the softest bedding on the market, great product.

  5. I've had a chinchilla since July on my birthday. And I've used many beddings and he like pushes it away to the sides and out of his cage. What should I do?

  6. Hello, I am a frist timer with chinchillas i have a 15 to 20 weeks old and i dont know what is good for bedding for the cage.

  7. fleece liners are the best option. just change them every few days, stick them in the wash, put them out to dry. (do not use fabric softener) and your good to go. you can also use a glass pyrex dish and put aspen or kiln dried pine shavings in it and use it as a litter box. put it in the corner your chinchilla pees in the most and if needed put things in the other corners to prevent them from peing in on them. note: this only works for pee, chinchillas have no control over their poop, and as much as they poop they would have to live in the litter box!

  8. I just got my Chin and he doesn't like the bedding, he pushes it to the side. Is this normal?

    • Chris Celnar

      Our chinchillas never slept in the bedding. They're different than hamsters or gerbils that way. Ours were quite happy sleeping in a wooden box with a wooden bottom.

  9. I have been using aspen shavings and I didn't have this problem with carefresh bedding but one of my males like to urinate in all 4 corners Of the cage and its making it wet underneath,everyday I check it and flys have laid larvae in it so I have to constantly clean the cage.what should I do?

    • try fleece liners. you use them in place of bedding. you can get them from camphorchins.com but they ar pretty pricey. a better option would be to make them yourself. join chins-n-hedgies.com and they will tell you how to make them. they are chinchilla safe since the fabric is strong and there is no threads to be pulled apart and injested. this is the only known fabric that is chinchilla safe.

  10. Is hay ok bedding for a chinchilla? We have organic timothy hay from a local farm for our guinea pigs and rats. Our new baby chinchilla seems to like it a lot. Also, is this sufficient hay, or do we need compressed cubes.

    • yes thats fine. compressed cubes dont help the chinchilla keep its teeth ground down.

  11. Half of the bottom of my chinchillas' cage is bedded and the other half is just the cage, i set the food on the bedding in a bowl and the water is also over the bedding. Should it be on the side without the bedding, or doesn't it matter?

    • I am wondering why you don't have bedding on the enitre bottom of the cage? My little guy is around 9ys old and has had bedding on the entire bottom since a baby. I think he likes it and likes to move it around etc. I have a 2 story cage, but technically, there was bedding under the water bottle and it was not an issue. Simpy check every once in a while to make sure the bottle didn't leak.

      • Chris Celnar

        It seemed like filling the bottom with bedding was a waste because it lasted for same amount of time as filling just half of it i.e. it still started to smell after a week and needed to be replaced.

  12. does carefresh bedding work?

  13. i found this bedding and litter on petsmart.com and it says it's okay for chinchilllas but I thought I should make sure. This is what it says: The ideal pet bedding and litter for small animals such as guinea pigs, hamsters, rats, chinchillas, rabbits and hand-fed baby birds. Carefresh Pet Bedding is a patented small animal bedding made from reclaimed pulp waste. This short-fiber pulp can't be made into paper; it's free of inks, dyes, clay and chemicals used in the paper making process. It is processed to remove potentially harmful aromatic hydrocarbons that exist in pine and cedar oils. Carefresh is tested for containments and sanitized to 380° F to reduce bacteria, mold and fungus.

    • Greetings. I adopted two chinchillas about a month ago. Recently, Ive noticed that they are ingesting quite a bit of the care fresh bedding. I am concerned if the product expands in their system. I'm worried about potential future intestinal blockage. Any feedback would be greatly appreciated.

  14. is it okay to have a cage with a mesh bottom and keep the shavings in the removable pan to clean it up, or do they need to have direct conact with the bedding?

    • I can't find my little Chinch book, but I am pretty sure it commented on the fact that actual contact was preferred so they weren't only on mesh. Another option, is to buy one of those wooden houses they sell at Petsmart or Petco for the little guy to sleep in. I put wood on the bottom as well so he had a flat bottom. This is on the top floor of the cage. He loves it. He also does love to play with the bedding and dig thru it etc every once in a while.

    • well, it's actually very unhealthy and potentially dangerous for a chinchilla to be kept of a mesh/ wire bottom. So if you make a separate tray out of wood or purchased a separate solid plastic one that would be good, and just put shavings onto that. And make sure to clean it about once per week.

  15. if it doesn't say it is okay to use for your chinchilla, don't use it. wait til you find something particularly for them otherwise you will most likely have issues you don't need.

  16. I was wondering if anyone knows if this "Natural Critter Care" bedding would be okay. It says it's safe for Rabbits, Guinea Pigs, Hamsters, Rats, Mice, Gerbils, Ferrets, Reptiles, and Birds, but nothing about Chinchillas. On the label it says "No Harmful Chemicals", "No Contaminants", "No Aromatic Oils". It's made from reclaimed cellulose fiber, and claims to be safer than wood shavings. It isn't made from recycled newspapers ect. Please let me know. Thank you.

    • What's funny is I just got 2 packages of that today. It seems very safe, considering the package says no chemicals, very absorbent, safe for the environment, and it doesn't have a strong smell like the kind I used to get. I got aspen and I opened the package and it STUNK! This stuff doesn't smell at all. My chinchilla likes it. He picked it up, gave it a taste and sat on it. He even tried getting in the package. I'm trying to make sure if it is a safe bedding, just to be sure. Not to mention it's dust free. That means chances for my chi-chis to get respiratory problems are reduced!? ALRIGHT!:D lololol,

  17. I new to having a chinchilla but I am taking care of him the best way I can but he never leaveas his cage and How many treats a day should give him i try to give him one cracker or his treats like 2 rasins a day no more then that. ONe for morning and the other a night in I am new to this taking care of a chinchilla. My name is Tessa for short. My chinchilla name is Tinker becasuse he gets to anything but I try not to do not that is way i am him that He is like a real child like they cry, they make sounds like a baby does when are sick and more but my does not yet he will soon. later Tessa And thank You

  18. My Chinchhilla does not eat the pine. She just plays with it!!!!!! Yeah paper bedding can be bad We used it on our rabbit and it's stomache poped :(.

  19. Hi Deanna, That would be greatly appreciated! As of right now, I am using a mix between aspen and pine bedding, about 50/50. He seems to take 5-6 pieces of pine bedding over 2-3 days, and after awhile, he will leave the bedding alone for the rest of the week. In fact, he seems to enjoy the bedding in the wooden house I've built him. I have a new question, if anyone can answer. Most recently, my friend brought in her chinchilla, a very old one, around 5-6 years old. Hes extremely calm, and is not easily scared, even in a new surrounding. When I bought my chinchilla (a he) to meet him, gradually in cages of course, they were EXTREMELY aggressive to each other. The older one not so much, but mine, the younger one, just snapped and hissed at him like insane. I only decided to bring in another chinchilla because mine seemed extremely lonely, but it does not seem to be the case now. Does anyone have any experience having "play dates" for chinchillas?

  20. I got a chinchilla for my 13 year old daughter for christmas, he was 12 weeks old. For the past month, we have given him 4-5 raisins daily for treats (usually in the am, I shake the raisin box and he comes right to me), dust bath, chinchilla food, water, alpha hay, and we use aspen pellet shavings for his cage. Yesterday, I got up, gave him his morning treats as usual, his dust bath for a few minutes and I left for work, my daughter left for school. He was acting normal, eating normal and running on his wheel like normal. When my daughter came home from school, he was laying in his wheel and no longer breathing. She is needless to say devastated. Could you please help me explain to her how he could have died so suddenly and so young (he is about 20 weeks old now). I was told that chinchillas live up to 20 years. Please help, I don't understand how this could have happened, we did nothing different than we usually do and he was perfectly fine when we left. We are just in a state of shock of how this could happen.

    • Mybe the chinchilla was sick or there was something he ate he wasnt suppose to eat.

    • Chinchillas are diabetic at birth you may have given it too much sugar. i'm really sorry.

    • Chinchillas are diabetic at birth too much sugar is really bad they should only have at most one raisin a day.

    • Chinchillas are diabetic so they should only have at most two raisins per day.

    • Hi Diane One reason he could have died is because you gave him 4-5 raisins daily. Raisins are very high in sugar and shouldn't be fed to them anyways. Rosehips are a better way for chinchillas to get their vitamin C. Chins should be givin treats only 2-3 times per week. Another possibility is: did you get him from a pet store? Many chinchillas in pet stores carry diseases and may die. Also: Did you check him for fur rings around his private parts every month? Almost all male chinchillas get them and they are very painful, and can cause death. Hope this helped, and very sorry about your loss. -Breanna

    • it must of been the raisins. 4-5 raisins a day is a big no-no. Even for a full grown chin. i only give mine 2-3 spread over a week. chin poo should be firm and dark brown. Soft, light brown poo means too many raisins. It is not recommended to eat alfalfa hay for chinchillas as there is too much calcium. Timothy hay is much better.

  21. my mom doesn't like animals that stink but i want a chinchilla. do u think it would make a good pet for me and my mom???

    • Chris Celnar

      Chinchillas don't smell. However, you do have to clean their cage regularly to keep their cage from smelling.

  22. Is pine bedding if consumed, deadly for my chinchilla? I have read on various websites about pine being a possible bedding, but with my chinchilla, he will eat anything.

    • Hello Raymond, I am actually inquiring the same thing about the pine bedding, and searching everywhere on the internet, and saw your question. I had a chinchilla for about one month shy of 13 years, and Chilli always had pine bedding.....however, he never ate it. I now have a baby chinchilla, Snowball, who is eating the pine shavings like crazy and it is raising concerns for me as well. I have asked two different vets, who had two opposite opinions about the matter. I have also gone to various websites, and also saw contradicting answers. The University of Wisconsin-Madison has, from what I have been told by numerous people, an excellent exotics department and the professors are phenomenal. I plan on calling there tomorrow to ask if the pine shavings as bedding, or if eaten, are toxic or safe for chinchillas. I will post what I find. Remember, to keep your chinchilla healthy, prevention is the key! Not too many treats!! Always observe droppings daily! Be in tune with how your chinchilla acts; they should be active and alert after dusk. Never be afraid to call your vet too much.......it's not possible!! These little guys or gals depend on us to care for them!!

      • My chinchilla is 15. I used pine shaving for a while then switched to paper bedding. I heard conflicting stories as well. The paper bedding is soft and very absorbant. no dust no smell easily recyclable. And he doesn't eat it.

  23. I just noticed this article on your site about bedding. I am curious, I have had my chinchilla almost 9 years now and have always used pine. I think I read that was what I was supoosed to use..maybe I got it wrong years ago. I will ahve to check the book I bought back then. I am jsut curious if I should change it at this point. I never see him eat it nor has he ever been sick that I am aware of. Need I change it or just go along as is? Thoughts?

  24. Chris Celnar

    Raymond, What's the plan if your chinchilla is NOT fine with what has been consumed?

  25. Recently, I bought a bag of synthetic material and pine bedding, and I've tried to place both inside his sleeping area to nestle in, and he ends up eating both. If we let him eat a bit of the pine and see how he does with it, and eventually he's okay with it, should I continue to use it? Raymond

  26. My Chinchilla has been eating his Aspen bedding, is it still safe to use? I don't want him to get sick from eating it. Thanks Laura

  27. Chris Celnar

    Brian, When you say a wood product do you mean like paper? Our chinchillas would eat the paper-like bedding we once tried. We stopped using it because of that. While the material itself might not be toxic, the fact that it absorbs liquid and expands made us nervous.

  28. My Chinchilla has been eating his bedding recently, and I was wondering if that's safe for him (B/c the bedding is a wood product anyways). The brand is Kaytee Soft Sorbent, btw. Thanks in advance!

  29. Larry, Aspen is a type of wood. Just like cherry and oak are types of wood.

  30. what is aspen? Is it a brand of pine bedding without the dust and toxins?

  31. Chris Celnar

    Sarah, If your chinchillas can't get to the newspaper, then it should be fine as a backup. Expect it to be quite messy though. The ink will likely come off when wet. Make sure none of the shredded pieces are poking through the wire bottom or your chinchillas will grab them.

  32. I was wondering if it was safe to use shredded newspaper in a pinch for chinchilla bedding. My cage has a wire bottem so there is no way for them to eat the bedding.

  33. Chris Celnar

    Mary Cate, Sadly, we don't know of bedding that matches your criteria. CareFresh is the closest, but as you said it can be pricey. One thing we did to keep costs low is create a wooden bedding container. So rather than fill the entire bottom of the cage with bedding, we could just fill this container. This was particularly useful given that our cage was very large.

  34. I have been using the recycled paper - carefresh pet bedding for my two chinchillas, however I find it very expensive. I was wondering if you can recommend alternative (environmentally safe please) options that would be less costly but not harm my "Chinchildren" as I call them. I have considered shredding old paper and using that but I am not sure if this will harm them. I am open to any suggestions and appreciate the time taken to answer!

  35. Thanks! I hope your chinnies won't have problems. I never thought aspen might be a bit rough on some sensitive feet until I had two vets confirm it could be. I just bought some Care Fresh Ultra today. I worry about them eating it, but so far my two boys have left it alone. My two girls each tried nibbling it though. I'll have to watch them carefully. I hope the CareFresh is soft enough to eliminate any more bleeding on my boy Powder's foot.

  36. Chris Celnar

    Suzy, We've seen small spots of what looks like blood, but could never tell where it came from. We use aspen shavings and have done so for years without issues although we'll investigate the next time we see signs of bleeding.

  37. One of my chinchilla's foot had been bleeding and I was worried and took him to the vet. The vet suggested the aspen shavings may be too hard on his delicate feet and said I should switch back to pine (kiln dried). Has anyone else ever had a chinchilla's feet bleed from bedding? I sure hope it won't happen again. Thanks!

  38. Chris Celnar

    Heather, The bag should say if the pine is kiln dried. It's an extra step for the manufacturer and one they would include as a "feature".

  39. I am getting my chinchilla on Sunday. My question is-how do I know whether the pine bedding is "kiln" dried? I have a bunch left from a pet squirrel a little while back and am wondering if it is okay to use...I will get different when I have to purchase more...but is it okay to use what I have left of this. Thank you.

  40. I use Carefresh bedding. This was suggested by the rescue where I adopted Liam (Love of my life!) He does not seem to eat it and when I let him out for his run, I do see him go back into his cage to wiz.

  41. Chris Celnar

    Our chinchillas are far from perfect. They will sometimes urinate on the shelves. As for encouraging them to use the bedding, we don't know of any tricks. Ours just seem to prefer it.

  42. How did you encourage your chinchilla to not urinate outside the bedding?

    • I just adopted 2 chins and can't seem to understand why they pee all over, I thought they were supposed to pee in one area? How do you get the to use the bedding?

  43. Chris Celnar

    Ashlee, Not all pine is bad. If the bedding you have is kiln dried, it's fine to use. It's the oils in the pine that are bad and the kiln drying process eliminates these oils. We hope you have the "good" kind!

  44. Hey, I tried that carefree bedding and my chinchilla seemed to like to eat it too. It must be a chinchilla thing, but I'm very worried because I've been using pine and I just found out that it is bad to use it. So if my chinchilla is not showing symptoms and seems to be happy, should I be worried? I plan on changing bedding but need to know that he's going to be OK. Thanks

  45. Chris Celnar

    Cody, We've tried a few types of bedding and have settled on aspen wood. It shouldn't matter who makes the bedding as long as it is pure aspen. Our chinchillas don't eat the aspen bedding. And yes, if your chinchillas are eating their bedding you should try something else as it can be harmful.

  46. Hello again. I have bedding by the name of Orchard Grass. My chinchillas seem to like it but always eat it. Is this harmful? And if it is, can you provide a better brand?

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