Hello chin-parents! Do you want to spoil your little furball? It’s quite easy! You can find out how to make a DIY chinchilla cage from this ultimate guide.
Building the ultimate cage can be made in no more than 10 steps.
- Choose a Frame
- Add the Flooring
- Ledge It Up
- Hang a Water Bottle
- Add a Food Bowl
- Make Hiding Spots
- Nail It!
- Add a Litter Box
- Cover the Ground with Dust
- Add Some Toys
Now, do you know what you’ve got to do? Didn’t think so. Read on to find out what exactly you’re supposed to do in each of these steps and how to do it!
How To Make A DIY Chinchilla Cage
Are you ready to give your little chin to its new home?
Choose a Frame
The first step is to determine the kind of frame you want to use. There are options that you could choose from. Before we get into them, there’s something you should consider before picking.
You need to bear in mind that a chinchilla’s natural habitat is the mountains. To make your buddy feel at home, choosing a vertical enclosure would make it happier than it would be in a horizontal one.
Now, let’s take a look at the options you could choose from.
1. Buy A Metal Cage
Metal cages have plenty of benefits, so you might want to consider them even if you don’t wish to spend some money.
It’s Easier For You
If you’re not really a skilled builder, don’t have the time for it, or don’t want to put in the effort in making something from start to finish, think about investing in a cage.
You’ll still be able to customize it for your chin, and you can turn it into a palace. The hardest part would already be done for you!
A cage is going to go the distance with you. Chinchillas can’t do any damage to the metal, so it’s safe from their little teeth.
Not to mention, it won’t be damaged if any water spills or even from their pee.
Cages offer the most ventilation for your little ones. They won’t be at risk of suffocating and they’ll feel like they’re right there with you.
Costs The Same
Believe it or not, making your own cage could cost just as much as buying a ready-made cage. The supplies and tools used could actually cost more than a manufactured metal cage!
Because it isn’t likely that you find cages made for chinchillas only, ferret cages are ideal for them. They’re the same size and are generally manufactured to house little pets like them.
If you’re going to opt for a ready-made cage, skip straight to step number two!
2. Recycle Your Furniture
While this is an option, it’s not recommended for use with chinchillas.
The problem with using an old cabinet or shelves is the material they’re made of could be harmful. You need to know exactly what kind of wood it’s made of and whether or not it could harm your chinchilla.
A list of safe and unsafe woods can be found later on in this guide.
3. Start From Scratch
Do you want to have more fun? Let’s do it all from scratch! Pun intended.
Make Your Measurements
How many chinchillas do you have? How large do you want your cage to be? We find the ideal cage for chins is around 63” tall and 36” wide. Of course, the bigger the better for your little one.
Gather The Parts
What are you going to use? We recommend using kiln-dried pine wood planks or thick boards.
If you’re recycling your furniture, get it.
Make The Cuts
If you’re using a wood board or recycling a unit that has solid sides and doors, you’re going to need to carve it up. Ventilation is super important for your chin, so you’re going to need to give it some air.
- The best way to cut out the wood is to use a drill and either a jigsaw or a circular saw.
- You start by drawing the square to determine exactly where you want to cut.
- Using the drill, drill holes into the corners of the square you drew.
- Now use either your jigsaw or circular saw to cut out the square.
Sand It Down
Okay, so the chances of your old furniture or plywood having sharp and protruding splinters are high. To guarantee the safety of your chinchilla, make sure you use sandpaper so that every single inch of the wood remains smooth.
You’re going to need to take your measurements before buying mesh wire. It’s the best and safest option for your chin. It’ll keep it safe and injury-free!
Save yourself the hassle of cutting the wire yourself since it can be dangerous for beginners and order it readily cut. ½” by ½” mesh should work well for you.
Here’s where you might need some help; get someone to hold the wire for you to staple in on the window frame. You can use an industry staple gun for that.
You can add screws, but stapling is faster!
It’s better to keep the wire on the outside so your little munchkins don’t munch on it. Try to file them so that it doesn’t scratch anyone in general, yourself included!
Now, it’s time to assemble the cage! If you’re recycling furniture, skip this step and the following one altogether.
- Get your hinges, screws, and trusty helper first.
- Using your buddy’s help, have them position the sides the way you want them.
- Screw the hinges in place.
- Secure all sides of the cage as well until you have yourself a cage!
Don’t forget the latch! Secure it wherever is convenient for you.
Add the Flooring
Once the frame is set up, it’s time to work on the interior. First off, start by adding in different “floors.”
The enclosure can have one or two additional floors. This is to create a mountain-like feel to the chins.
Make sure they’re not too far apart in case the little guy falls, yes, they can be clumsy sometimes, having a floor to break his/her fall means they won’t get hurt.
- Measure the interior of the cage.
- Cut out a wood board accordingly.
- Sand it down until it’s nice and smooth.
- If you want to use it as an entire floor, make a hole toward any corner so the little guy can jump between floors.
- You can choose to cut the board in half and use it as two separate half-floors.
- In this case, place each on either side of the cage in a zig-zag.
- Once the floors are ready, nail them in!
Ledge Up The Chinchilla Shelves
Next up, add in a couple of ledges. They’re perfect for exercise so the more you add, the better! Trust is, your chinchilla will be hopping on each and every one!
- Cut up the boards so that they’re large enough for your chin to comfortably stand on them yet not large enough to eat up the entire cage.
- Make sure they’re round so that the edges don’t hurt your little chin.
- File the ledges to smooth out their ends.
- Place them where you want in the cage.
- Using washers, hanger bolts, and wing nuts, secure them to your cage.
We suggest you place them in a way where your chin would be able to easily jump from one to the other. This means not to place them vertically. Scatter them a little, yet not too far apart.
[Related Article: Do Chinchillas Climb Trees Like A Monkey]
Hang A Stoppered Water Bottle
Add in a stoppered water bottle for the little fella. Don’t forget to make sure you place it somewhere that is not only accessible to him, but also to you too!
You’re going to have to refill it often so you don’t want to struggle to reach it every time!
Make a place for food! Place the bowl somewhere you can easily reach. Make sure it’s also not in the middle of the cage, where it could easily be knocked down by the little furball. You don’t want to have to clean food every five minutes!
Chinchillas love to hide! It’s in their nature. Make sure they’d be able to do so in their new home.
We recommend getting or making two or three hiding houses for your little chin. If the cage has multiple levels, why not have a hiding spot for each?
Hiding spots can also be in the form of a log. You can mix and match so that you don’t have a cage full of huts. A log can provide shelter for your chin and give the cage a more natural look.
Not only would they provide a safe haven for your chinchilla, but they would also provide it with a snack! Your chin can munch on the wood when it wants a snack and is too lazy to make its way to the food bowl.
Here’s a general tip, nail everything down!
Whether you want to use nails or hanger bolts and wing nuts, secure everything inside your cage that you possibly can or else it’ll be a mess.
Of course, that doesn’t include things that you take out often as the food bowl and litter.
When it comes to litter boxes, glass, steel, or ceramic is your best bet.
It’s better to have a litter box to make your life easier when it comes to cleaning the cage. Rather than cleaning the whole thing, you only change the litter.
Cover the Ground
Covering the ground is highly recommended. Rather than leave the ground harsh on your chin’s little feet, a soft flooring would be more comfortable for the little one.
A lot of people opt for bedding. It leaves the ground soft and cozy. Your chinchilla would be able to burrow in it too!
Bedding also helps keep an odor-free cage. Not to mention, it’s highly absorbent so it prevents any liquid from touching the floor of the cage.
Bedding is also quite easy to clean and maintain.
Others opt for rugs instead. This also helps keep the ground soft on your pet’s feet. It’s a good alternative if you don’t like the mess bedding can make.
It’s also easy to clean and keeps the cage itself clean. It absorbs any moisture so you can take it out and simply wash it.
Add Some Toys
This is the fun part. The more toys you add, the happier your chinchilla will be!
Chinchillas are very active creatures. They live in the mountains, what else did you expect? The fact that they’re in a cage doesn’t mean their energy has to go to waste.
To keep them healthy and happy, an exercise wheel is exactly what they need! It’ll keep them moving so that they do what’s most natural to them.
You can buy a ready-made steel wheel or make your own using an oil pan! It’s not really hard but finding the right size of a pan and tools can prove more difficult than the actual process.
While they like to exercise, chins sure like to chill too! Just picture your little one hanging out on its hammock. Irresistibly cute, isn’t it?
You don’t need to buy anything! You can do it yourself at home!
These are quite on-demand where chins are concerned. A ladder/bridge is a multi-purpose toy for your chinchilla. You can place it as a hut for your little guy to burrow in. You could also position it between two spots where it could act as a ladder or a bridge.
So many possibilities that your little one would love. Why not switch it up every once in a while? It sure would keep your buddy on its paws!
A chinchilla’s version of a chew toy could be as simple as a chunk of edible wood. That being said, the variety is pretty adorable. Why not get the little fella some furniture that could double as a chew toy?
Now that your chinchilla’s home is furnished, it’s ready to be housed!
Dos and Don’ts
There are some things you need to be aware of while preparing the cage. Here are some tips on what to do and what to avoid.
Let’s see some tips!
Types of Wood
The most important thing to keep in mind while making your chin’s home is the kind of wood you’re using. Let’s face it, your chinchilla will nibble at any wood. You need to make sure the wood you use is safe and won’t poison it.
Here’s a list of the types of wood to use and those to avoid.
|Safe Wood||Unsafe Wood|
|Aspen (not trembling)||Trembling aspen|
|Kiln-dried white pine||Fresh or air-dried pine|
|Bamboo (beware of splinters)||Apricot|
Keep the Toys Coming
While toys might seem like a luxury, they’re definitely a necessity. A chinchilla’s instinct is to nibble. It’ll try to eat anything! It’s important that you feed its desire to do so, no pun intended.
If you have a wooden cage, in particular, it’s better to keep the cage filled with chew toys. This would give your chin plenty of things to chew on so that it’s too stuffed to turn on the cage itself. It’s going to chew the most convenient thing, which would be the toys.
Chinchillas don’t really emit an unpleasant smell. That being said, you still need to clean the cage regularly. Otherwise, there will be an inevitable smell!
It’s also better for your chins, who don’t like being in an unclean environment.
These are some things you want to avoid doing, or else you could be putting your chin’s life at risk!
Don’t use anything plastic where your chinchilla is concerned. The little things will eat it right away.
Consuming plastics could block your chin’s digestive system. It could even lead to death.
While using a water bowl isn’t straight-out dangerous, it’s best to avoid doing so.
Chinchillas can accidentally knock it off. Generally speaking, chins shouldn’t get wet. It’s better to avoid this happening. Needless to say, it’s going to be a hassle to clean spilled water and refill it frequently.
Cages with Wire Floors
You need to pay attention to the floor of the cage, especially if you’re buying one. Try avoiding wire floors. If it’s not a possibility, cover it up.
Wire floors can be too harsh on the little fella’s legs. Therefore, make sure to either cover it with a flat surface or to use a rug to protect your chin’s feet.
Location of Cage
Chinchillas don’t ask for much. They’re pretty much going to be good wherever you put them.
Why not put them where they’re happy? Anywhere between 65 degrees to 75 degrees Fahrenheit would do the trick!
Beware of placing their cage anywhere exposed to high heat. If the temperature exceeds 75 Fahrenheit, they could have a heat stroke!
Ideally, the humidity levels should remain under 40%.
You should also avoid placing them somewhere noisy. Loud noises, including those of electronics, could stress the little things. Try to keep them somewhere away from things like TVs, fans, and so on.
To Sum Up
Building your chinchilla a home isn’t hard at all. You can even build it a palace!
While you can do it all yourself from start to finish, using a cage could be easier, cheaper, and safer for your chin.
Once you have the exterior ready, it’s time to decorate the inside! Multiple levels, ledges, huts, and chew toys will make your chinchilla feel like it’s at an amusement park! Oh, and the ferret wheel of course! Did we say ferret? We meant ferris!
Now that you have our expertise and know our tips and tricks, go give your chin a mansion!