In case you’ve got a very nice chinchilla house for your furry pet and you are now wondering what toys you can buy to provide the right amount of fun, but also keep everything safe, then this article will surely help you out. Chinchillas are very active animals that simply love to chew, so going for toys that fit this purpose is an excellent idea.
These small rodents are very fond of wood, this also having a positive impact on their health since the habit of chewing keeps their teeth sharp and trimmed. However, not all wood types are indicated for a chinchilla since some can be toxic.
How to choose the right toys
Of course, you should get the wood from stores that sell toys and pieces of wood specially made for chinchillas. One of the first things you should be careful about is for the wood not to have any kind of glue or paint (unless it’s made clear that rodents can ingest it).
Some pieces of wood can also go through various treatments that might make them less than safe, so always try to choose an alternative as natural as possible. If you are not sure if a certain product or toy is safe for your chinchilla, don’t hesitate to ask for details either from customer support representatives or, the safest bet, from your pet’s vet.
Since we’re talking about safe toys, you should also steer clear of those containing plastic elements. Chinchillas have a sensitive digestive tract so you don’t want your pet to be chewing onto something that might put his or her health at risk. Plastic parts can be easily chewed on and ingested, so they should be avoided.
Safe types of wood
The good part is that you can choose from a wide range of wood types that are safe for your chinchilla. This list includes vines and woods such as blackberry, crabapple, grapevine, kiwi, hawthorn, blackcurrant, pecan, quince, rose hip, and mulberry. You can also go for bamboo, willow (however, not white willow, so be careful), sycamore, poplar, elm, or pine.
Certain flowering trees are also safe to give to a chinchilla. These include ash, cholla, aspen, arbutus, cottonwood, magnolia, manzanita, and dogwood. However, you should always read the label, in case you are getting the wood from a store, and make sure that it hasn’t been treated with any potentially toxic substances.
Types of wood to avoid
The list of woods that should be avoided since they are harmful to a chinchilla is equally long. Until you get very familiar with what you should purchase, you might want to write these on something for when you go shopping for treats for your little friend.
You should avoid any type of wood or branches from some evergreen trees, as well as from fruit-producing ones. The list includes apricot, almond, beech, blackwood, cashew, buckthorn, cedar, chestnut, cherry, as well as citrus ones (lemon, lime, tangerine, orange, or grapefruit).
However, it doesn’t finish here, and you should also consider chokeberry, ebony, eucalyptus, ginkgo, mahogany, mango, maple, myrtle, mesquite, peach, plum, prune, nectarine, and white willow in the same unsafe category.
Moreover, you want to stay away from manufactured plywood that can include harmful glue. Pine that hasn’t been through the kiln drying process falls in the same category as well.
Getting the wood ready
Once you have the wood, especially if it’s organic and not bought from a manufacturer which makes toys especially for chinchillas and other rodents, you will need to prepare it before allowing your little friend to have his or her fun chewing on it.
The first thing you need to do in order to make sure that your pet is able to handle it is to break it up into pieces of approximately 5 inches. They shouldn’t be larger though since chinchillas might have trouble getting a grip on them.
The next step is to boil the wood for around 15 or 20 minutes, and afterward scrub off any tannins or remaining detritus that might get in the way. You can easily do this with a scrubber or a toothbrush. Soaking the wood in hot water and scrubbing it is also a solution. At the end of the process, the water should run clear.
There is an exception to this previous step, namely lichens. If you can see that the wood has this, it’s best to not use it for your chinchilla at all. These composite organisms permeate deep levels of wood and you will not be able to get them out no matter how much boiling and scrubbing you do.
Once you are done boiling and scrubbing the wood, and the water runs clean, this step is done and you can spread the sticks out on a towel to air dry them. If you want to, you can also place the sticks in an oven, once they are completely dry, and heat them in order to thermally remove any germs and organisms that might still be there.
However, this is an optional step, so it’s up to you if you decide to do it. After this entire process, the wood sticks are ready for your chinchilla to enjoy, and the amount he or she is going to get it’s just a matter of preferences.
Keeping it safe
If you don’t want to prepare the sticks and wood yourself, you can obviously always buy some from pet stores, online, or from various retailers. However, as we’ve mentioned, you should avoid any kind of wood that has been treated with pesticides, fungicides, or herbicides. These substances cannot be removed from the wood, so avoid them at any cost.
The best approach is to go for organic sources that can ensure the wood has not been treated or contaminated in any way. If you follow the guidelines above, you have every chance to keep your chinchilla happy and healthy from every point of view, so that you can both enjoy as much time together as possible.