Safe Wood for Chinchillas

One of the surprising things we learned was that not all wood is safe for chinchillas. And since chinchillas constantly chew on wood, it is important that only safe varieties be used in and around their cages.

We've found that apple wood is the easiest to get because of the many apple orchards in our area. We simply take a trip to an orchard, ask the owner if we can pick up wood that has fallen to the ground, and buy a pie on the way out. A good deal all around!

One suggestion that we've yet to actually try is "cooking" the wood for 30 minutes at 300 degrees. The idea is to heat the wood to a temperature that kills micro-organisms, but doesn't actually burn it. Also, we've seen recommendations that the wood be washed in salt water. We're still looking in to what benefit that would have.

The following is a list of safe and unsafe woods. We've used apple, aspen, kiln-dried pine, and pine cones with no ill effects to our chinchillas.

Safe to Use

  • Apple (particularly good as chew toys)
  • Aspen (shavings good for bedding too)
  • Elm
  • Hazelnut
  • Manzanita
  • Pear
  • Pecan
  • Pine (kiln dried is good, air dried isn't)
  • Quince
  • Willow

Not Safe to Use

  • Almond
  • Cedar
  • Cherry
  • Chestnut
  • Fresh pine branches
  • Grapefruit
  • Lemon
  • Orange
  • Cherry Mahogany
  • Oak (based on it being unsafe for horses)
  • Plum
  • Redwood
  • Sumac
  • Tallow
  • Walnut

Not Sure if Safe

  • Birch (white, grey, broadleaf, silver, and common birch might be OK)
  • Ash (seeds produce hydrogen cyanide so why risk it?)
  • Juniper (in small amounts might be OK)

Sources:
Chinchillas 2 Home

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24 Comments

  1. I am planning on adopting 1-2 chinchillas and I am preparing to see what the costs are and if I can pay for them. I know that chinchillas cannot have plastic because they are huge chewers and may chew it and it may cause death if that happens. So for my cage I would like to have wooden ledges instead. At a local craft store, they sell wooden plaques and strips and from 1/4-3/4 in. thick. First I would like to ask if anyone thinks that the 1/4 in. thick will hold a chinchilla while jumping from place to place. When I go in the store, I will ask about the wood that the plaque and one of the strips is made of, but I would like to know if any of you know whether or not Balsa wood is safe because that is what most of the strips are made of.

  2. I found a chunk of wood and believe it to be apple. Also, this wood is completely dried out and old. Should I take a chance on putting it in her cage for good. I've put the wood in and she starts chewing on it. I have pet store wood for her, but she doesn't seem to want it. Also, I have apple brances that I got right below the apple trees. I washed it, but once again I am afraid to leave it in her cage. Does anyone know about baking the branches or killing bacteria in the wood? Thanks!

  3. What about "GrapeVine" wood?

    • yes as long as it is prepared properly and was never treated, grapevine is safe.

  4. I would like to know dog wood is ok for my chincilla

    • as long as it was never treated, and prepared properly dogwood is safe

  5. Hey, I have 2 chinchillas and I also have this big bag of softwood shavings. I don't know what type of trees it is made of. Could I still use it?

    • Hope, I wouldnt allow giving your chinchillas any type of wood shavings. The reason I tell you this is because one of my chinchillas got into some pine shavings several months ago and it blocked his intestional tract. Took him to the vet. The damage was done and he had to be put down because of the blockage and because the shavings were toxic to his system. Try buying small blocks of safe wood from a pet store such as petco or pet smart. These woods are safe for your chinchillas....

    • some people use fleece liners also, but if you use it and see a chin chewing on it, you need to take it out asap, because that can also cause a blockage.

  6. hello,just a thought, dont chinchillas live in the wild of the dessert,would it not be easy to assume that,they eat whatever kind of wood available in that environment,so why all the concern about wood needing to be cooked ,dried only certain,kind,were not in the wild with them and they have survived.and before anyone decides to be mean about this message,my girls have two chinchillas,who are in great health,and we moniter everything they eat,just wondered if its worth worrying so much about.

    • Because chinchillas are adapted to low environmental temperatures, prolonged exposure to temperatures above 80°F can result in heat stroke. It is highly important to watch what types of woods are used, as many types of wood are toxic to them, can make them sick, and even kill them. Not every type of wood grows in their native environment, and some probably do (but given if they eat it, it'd probably kill them). Watching what is collected, how it's handled, and how it's cured is really worth worrying about. If you collect the wrong wood, it can kill them. Household chinchillas are in a sense babied from the normal type of germs that they would be exposed to as they would be in the wild (which can make them more sensitive to it), which is why cooking it is really recommended. If you dry the wood improperly you can create mold on the surface, which can result in sick animals. Some commercially available wood can be glued together with a type of glue that is toxic to chinchillas, or sprayed with chemicals that can make them sick or kill them. So even if a product is made out of a wood that is safe for them, there is still other things that a company can do in the process of that wood to make that wood unsafe for chinnies. Hope this helps :)

  7. all wood should be scrubbed, baked, and dried to prevent your chinchilla from getting a disease from micro organisms, and to remove dirt.

  8. What about Buttonwood?

  9. No Peach either, same as Ash, and what about Maple?

    • maple is not safe

  10. Chris Celnar

    Pete, Your advice is very sound. Getting multiple sources of information makes sense. Even then, what's true for the majority may not be true for your pet so it's also important to observe behavior and adjust accordingly.

  11. I would like to remind the people who are finding information online concerning safe methods of caring for your pet(s) to make sure you check your sources and research further before going with anything you read online. You never know who is writing these things and opinions vary over any issue. Thanks, Pete

  12. i am lucky enough to have recieved for my birthday a family of chinchillas, 3 of which are 11 mths old and mama an papa. now mama as jus produced her 2nd litter to which un known to me was pregnant when i recived them, 3 are thriving but 5 came and sadly 2 lost the fight of life, i had planned to keep the females she produced for company for mama when she has to be separated while in season, but she has only produced boys, so poor mama as no female company for when the boys are old enough to be independent and are put into there brothers an fathers cage, so would like to know where and to whom i could go to maybe ave a straight swop, male for a female. so if anyone can help please contact me via e.mail trisharichardson@hotmail.co.uk thank you

  13. Just want to let you know that I was doing some further research on Basswood for chinchillas and I found the following site that talks more about safe and unsafe woods for your pets: http://www.chinchillas2home.co.uk/safewoods.htm It says the following about basswood as well: Limetree - (Tiliaceae) The lime tree is not in any way related to 'Lime' as in citrus trees In the Uk it is called 'Lime tree' but in the States they call it 'Linden' and is also known as Basswood. Thanks Melody

  14. Chris Celnar

    Melody, Sorry, but we don't know anything about bass wood. The above list is what we've heard specifics about. It's probably best to not give types of wood to your chinchilla unless you sure it is safe. Welcome to the world of pet chinchillas!

  15. We just acquired a new Chinchilla and I was looking at your list of safe and unsafe woods. We gave our chinchilla Bass wood to chew on. Do you know if this is a safe wood?

  16. Chris Celnar

    Audrey, It depends on what the dowel rods are made of. From what I've seen, they can be made of white birch, maple, poplar, oak, ash, hickory, cherry, walnut, mahogany, and ramin. From that list, poplar is known to be safe. The other wood types are either unsafe or unknown.

  17. I want to make "furniture" for my chinchilla, but I don't know if the dowel rods sold in arts and crafts stores are a safe wood. Can you help?

    • I'm a different Audrey by the way... but if there happens to be a label on the wood then check what type it is.. if it doesn't say or if there isn't a label then I recommend not using it.

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