Chinchilla owner's guide: What to know before buying a dust bathing rodent

Dental care, cages, wooden toys part of caring for furry herbivores

They're furry, funny and adorable. Have you ever thought about owning a chinchilla? News 6 anchor Julie Broughton's daughter, Isla, recently became the pet parent of two of the furry rodents named Anastasia and Fantasia.

"So I decided I wanted a chinchilla," said Isla. "They were so cute. They are twin sisters born on New Year's Eve. We can tell them apart because one only has one eye, but she is still beautiful to us."

Chinchillas are vegetarians and shouldn't drink tap water 

However Isla cautions, chinchillas require a lot of care you may not realize. First, it's best for chinchillas to drink purified water, because they can be vulnerable to infections from tap water. Chinchillas are herbivores and require a steady diet of fresh Timothy hay and pellets.

Get ready to clean up a lot of poop

Here's something else you may not know.
"Chinchillas poop a lot. So you definitely need a vacuum," Isla said. "We clean our cage every day."

Temperature control

And when it comes to cages, make sure your chinchillas live somewhere cool. Chinchillas are native to the Andes Mountains and need to stay cooler than 74 degrees. Because of their tendency to overheat, putting them in hamster balls is dangerous and leaves them vulnerable to heat stroke. And wire-bottom cages are a no no. Chinchilla's delicate feet can get injured on the wires.

My, what long teeth you have

Also, don't forget dental care.
"It's so important to have wooden toys. Their teeth keep growing and growing and growing. If you don't give them chew toys such as chew sticks, their teeth will grow out of their mouth," Isla said.

Dust baths are key

While chinchillas are clean by nature, they do require dust baths. Their fur is so dense, they cannot get wet. Anastasia and Fantasia enjoy dust baths twice a week. They basically roll in volcanic ash and it's adorable.

Our breeder gave us volcanic ash for their dust baths.

Isla and Julie wrote this article as part of bring your child to work day.

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