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Creating a Safe Space for Exercise
Choose a room that's easy to chinchilla-proof. Avoid rooms with a lot of furniture or other crawl spaces where a chinchilla can hide. Bathrooms should generally be avoided, as chinchillas may crawl under the sink and make a mess. A spacious living room or bedroom is usually a great for a chinchilla's exercise space
Put away all your electronics. Chinchillas are notorious for chewing. Your chinchilla is likely to nibble on any cords left out, so put away all your electronic devices prior to letting your chinchilla into the room. Keep all the cords out of reach while your chinchilla is exercising.
- If there are any electronics that are difficult to remove, try covering cords with tape of PVC piping.
Close all the doors and windows. Chinchillas are excellent at hiding and escaping and can be difficult to find. Make sure all your windows are closed and all doors are shut before letting a chinchilla into a room.
- In addition to doors leading to other rooms, keep doors to closets shut. Chinchillas may hide in closets, or accidentally get into hazardous materials.
- Do not rely on a screen over a window to keep a chinchilla secured. Close all windows completely before letting a chinchilla into a room.
Use a deterrent spray for exposed baseboards and wood (optional). You can buy a spray that gives off a bad taste and smell at a pet store. If you have a lot of exposed wood, this can be a good option for you. Go for one specifically designed for chinchillas and squirt down baseboards and any wood in the room. This will deter a chinchilla from chewing.
- Avoid using the spray around electronics
Double check the room by getting down on a chinchilla's level. After you've adequately chinchilla-proofed, get down on your hands and knees so you're at a chinchilla's level. Crawl around the room and be on the lookout for any items you left out or crawl spaces you forgot to close off. Make adjustments as needed.
Set up an exercise pen if the room is difficult to chinchilla-proof. You can get a small pet exercise pen at a pet store or online. These are collapsible wire walls in the shape of a circle. Unfold the pen and set it down on a clear area of floor. Place your chinchilla inside with some toys. When you are done, return the chinchilla to its cage and fold the pen back up again.
Schedule exercise for one to two hours each night. Chinchillas need a lot more exercise than most pet owners realize. To maintain good health, chinchillas need one to two hours of floor time each night. Be sure to incorporate this into your schedule.
- Find a time that works for you. For example, spend one to two hours after dinner each night playing with your chinchilla.
- As chinchillas are nocturnal, they should only exercise at night. Avoid waking up a chinchilla during the day to get it to play.
- upervise your chinchilla the entire time. Chinchillas can get into trouble if left alone. It may try to get into closed off areas or hide somewhere in the room. Stay in the room the entire time your chinchilla is playing and watch the chinchilla closely. If your chinchilla is getting into anything, distract it with a toy or gently remove it from the area.
- Exercise one chinchilla at a time. If you have more than one chinchilla, let them exercise one at a time. Chinchillas, especially females, can be very territorial about space. A chinchilla may get aggressive if another animal is in its space.
Provide toys. You can throw toys for your chinchilla to chase or simply let it play on its own. You can buy a variety of chinchilla toys online or at a pet store. You may also find household objects for a chinchilla to play with.
- Chinchillas love cardboard and plastic tubes. You can buy them plastic tube toys or provide them with things like paper towel rolls. They are good for nibbling and safe for chinchillas to chew on.
- Wood blocks and sticks, made from cholla wood, are another great toy for a chinchilla.
- Try simply setting out some cardboard boxes you have lying around. Chinchillas love hiding in boxes and running in and out of them to play.
Opt for a roomier cage. Opt for the biggest cage you can reasonably fit in your home, as this allows your chinchilla adequate space to run and play when its confined to its cage. A cage of at least 6 square feet (0.56 m2) is necessary, but bigger is always better if you have any extra space.
Give your chinchilla a 15 inches (38 cm) wheel. Buy a wheel at a pet store and install it in your chinchilla's cage according to package directions. It's very important that a chinchilla have a wheel of at least 15 inches (38 cm) so it can run when it's alone in its cage.
- Go for a more expensive wheel, and preferably one that is specifically made for chinchillas. You want a safe wheel that will last a long time. Research wheel brands before purchasing to make sure that they are safe for chinchillas.
Stock the cage with toys. You can use the same types of toys you use when playing with your chinchilla out of its cage, such as wood blocks, sticks, paper towel rolls, and plastic tubes. Leave toys in the cage when you're not home so your chinchilla can get some exercise.
- As a precaution, you should check the package directions on any toy you purchase. Some toys may only be meant to use under supervision.
- If any toys become damaged or unsafe, throw them away as soon as possible. This will prevent the chinchilla from choking or hurting themselves on the toy.