Chinchillas are native to the Andes mountains where they live in the crevasses of the rocks on the mountainside. Because of the unique environment, they were created to not need water to keep clean. Instead, they would roll around in the dust of volcanic rocks to keep their skin and fur healthy and clean. Your little chin has up to 60 hairs growing out of each hair follicle on it’s body, which makes their fur extremely thick. They don’t have any ‘guard hairs’ that shed water like a dog does, and this contributes to their soft feel. However, because of this, when they do get wet, the water penetrates their soft fur and gets down on the skin where it never really has a chance to dry. This will create a moist environment that is perfect for fungus like ringworm to grow. To cure this problem, chinchillas take dust baths in the super-fine volcanic rock dust that penetrates their thick fur and absorbs water and excess oils from the fur and skin. It also helps slough off dead skin cells that may accumulate. As a general rule, chinchillas should never be allowed to get wet, but if they do, extra dust baths will certainly help the situation. If you have a chin as your pet, you may be wondering how in the world you’re supposed to get volcanic rock dust from the Andes Mountains for your chinchilla to roll around in. Fortunately though, there are companies that specially make dust just for this purpose so you can conveniently buy it at the pet store. And it’s important that you use this special dust, and not just some sand or dirt that looks similar. Chances are it won’t penetrate down to their skin and completely clean them off. So stick with the good stuff. Unfortunately, bathing your chinchilla in dust will leave them…well…dusty. This means that having a chinchilla as a pet can irritate people with dust or fur allergies. It also means that you’ll have a bit of extra cleaning to do when you let your little chin out of his cage to run around your house. Since it’s very fine dust it’s easy to clean up though, and your pet chinchilla is well worth the little extra effort.
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Tyson Faulkner is a chinchilla enthusiast and enjoys teaching others how to raise happy, healthy chinchillas. For more information about the strange chinchilla dust bath visit his website where you can find more articles and info about chinchilla care and how to raise chinchillas that will live a long, happy life.