Chinchillas are rodents that are native to the mountainous regions of South America. They live in extremely scarce environments where only a few plants grow. Their entire life is adapted to their environment. The fur is dense enough to endure extremely cold temperatures, and they feed only on hay and grass. In the wild, they chew on fiber and wood to keep their teeth healthy. In captivity, chinchillas also chew on basically everything they can find. That means that only safe materials can be used on a chinchillas cage.
As a whole, safe woods for chinchillas are always organic, untreated, and free of any pesticides, herbicides, parasites, fungus, mold, or lichen. Examples of safe wood types are kiln-dried pine, aspen, apple, firm, and poplar.
In the following, you will find a list of all wood types that are safe for chinchillas, as well as information on wood that is not safe for chins, and some ideas for safe chew toys.
Safe Types of Wood for Chinchillas
Not every type of wood can be used for chinchillas. Since they chew on everything they can find, the wood in a chinchillas cage has to be safe, just like everything else in the cage.
The most popular type of wood for shelves, platforms, and houses in chinchilla cages is probably kiln-dried pine.
Here is a list of the woods that can be safely used in chinchilla cages. The chinchillas will chew on the wood, and it’s perfectly fine to do so.
- Apple (as chew toys)
- Black Currant
- Kiln-dried Pine
What Kind of Wood Can Chinchillas Not Have?
While chinchillas in the wild know exactly what’s good for them and what they should avoid, chinchillas in captivity are usually already bred in captivity for many generations. They have lost many of their natural instincts and are not able to distinguish between safe and toxic materials. They will happily chew on toxic wood types and poison themselves if you don’t pay attention.
Chinchillas cannot have any wood that was treated with pesticides or herbicides. The wood for chinchillas has to be organic and untreated.
Even if you wash or sand off the wood, the chemicals will still be inside and can potentially harm your chinchilla as they consume it.
If there is any mold, fungus, or lichen on the wood, you should also avoid it. Do not use any wood, if you find parasites of any kind on it.
You should only use the wood types from the list above. There are plenty of wood types that should not be used, such as citrus fruit trees, eucalyptus, or Douglas fir wood.
Another type of wood that is not safe for chinchillas is plywood. Ply is a mixture of several kinds of wood and glue. It is not safe for chinchillas.
Is Coconut Shell Safe for Chinchillas?
Coconut shells are safe for chinchillas. They can chew on the shells, and also on the fibers. Since the coconut shells are rather hard, they last long as toys for chinchillas. Even though coconut shells might be too small as housing for chinchillas, they still make great toys to climb on and chew on. You can also acquire or DIY coconut fiber chew balls for your chins.
Are Pine Cones Safe for Chinchillas?
While kiln-dried pine is one of the most popular wood types used by chinchilla owners for houses, platforms, or shelves, the pine cones are not safe for chinchillas. Since chinchillas chew on everything, they will also chew on pine cones. Those can contain sap which can potentially cause health issues for a chinchilla.
Is Bamboo Safe for Chinchillas?
Bamboo is theoretically safe for chinchillas. It is not toxic for them and could be used as chew toys. But bamboo is very hard and can have some extremely sharp edges which might cause injuries. So the answer would be “rather no”, even though bamboo is not toxic for chinchillas.
What are Good Chew Toys for Chinchillas?
If you are looking for great chew toys for your chinchillas, you can go for anything that is made of a type of wood that is safe for chinchillas. There are also several other materials that can safely be used for chinchillas. Some examples are:
- Banana Leafs
- Hay cubes (Timothy, Alfalfa, occasionally Oat Grass as a treat)
- Cardboard (as long as the chinchillas do not eat it all at once)
- Coconut shells
- Coconut rope
- Cuttle fishbone
- Antler (comes with some calcium, don’t give too much!)
- Mineral stone
- Untreated, unbleached loofah
- Pumice stone