This is a common phrase that I keep hearing over and over from pet owners. That the big box pet stores stock an item so it must be okay, right?
I recently had this book given to me from a former chinchilla owner. After just seeing the front cover (chinchillas should not be fed any fresh greens), I realized the amount of incorrect information there would be between the front and back covers. The fact that "Animal Planet" endorsed this book, sadly doesn't surprise me. Walk into most pet stores and in the small animal section are products marketed for chinchillas, rabbits, guinea pigs and other small animals that are harmful.
Read further for just a few items that can prove dangerous even harmful if used for your pet.
These are sold with most pet store brand small animal cages. The market them for owners of rabbits, chinchillas, rats and even guinea pigs.
These animals chew and gnaw and will chew on the plastic. It is not an "if" or a "maybe" they will chew. Chinchillas are not going to discriminate with the shelf being plastic. They are going to do what comes natural to them. Chew.
If you noticed, the "house" has been chewed by the chinchilla who at one time lived with this in his cage.
Plastic can cause bowel impactions and lower gastrointestinal issue or death. If you purchase a cage containing plastic shelving it is easy enough to remove and replace. We here at Sunshine Chinchillas sell KD pine shelving in our Supply Store. Or if you are handy you can diy shelves for yourself.
Please.. if you own one of these. Stop. Immediately. This is one of the most unsafe items that Super-Pet makes and pet stores sell.
While a novel idea when it comes to gerbils, taking that to the next level and having a chinchilla run in one is not.
Let's start with the most obvious. The balls are unsanitary. Your animal is running around smashing it's feet and fur into any poop that happens while inside. On top of that if the animal urinates while inside the ball it will also become even more soiled.
Next and the biggest reason. They could overheat. Trapping an animal that requires cool temperatures in a plastic container is harmful and dangerous. These are commonly referred to as "the balls of death."
Wood pulp. This bedding is one of the worst kind you can place in your chinchillas cage. Most chinchillas will chew the shavings at the bottom of their cage. Flip the bag around and see the warning that Carefresh states.
"As with any substrate, there is a potential risk of impaction if your pet ingests a sufficient amount of bedding. Observe your pet and seek veterinary care if you suspect impaction of the GI tract."
Chinchillas that need vet attention for GI issues most of the time do not make it. This product while sold in most pet stores in the small animal section, is not safe. Alternatives include pine shavings and fleece. We here at Sunshine Chinchillas sell fleece liners for Ferret Nation and Critter Nation cages in our supply store. If you need a custom liner please contact us.
Chinchillas as with any pet need proper nutrition. These foods such as Charlie Chinchilla are filled with unnecessary ingredients. Food such as this encourages the animal to pick out the treats while avoiding the pellets that they need.
We feed Oxbow Chinchilla food and recommended it to anyone who purchases or adopts a chinchilla from us. Oxbow is just pellets, no extras. Oxbow can be purchased at most big box pet stores or here in our supply store.
For a list of other brands of food you can use please check out our basic care page.
Or as pictured here, we recycled the plastic items. Please remember that if you see something in the pet store that doesn't mesh with what you have read or researched, go with your gut. Pet stores are there to make a profit. Most of the employees I have ever run across have no idea the care for chinchillas.
As an alternative shop online. There are chin and small animal friendly stores out there. It may be a bit of a hassle to pay for shipping or have to wait for your items but your chinchilla will appreciate you for it.