How often should I give my chinchilla a dust bath, and what is the best way to go about that?
Chinchillas in the wild take frequent dust baths to help absorb skin oils and dirt from their fur to keep their coats clean and healthy. Use only commercially manufactured chinchilla dust, as it is made to imitate the dust in their natural habitat. Make the dust bath available to your chinchilla two or three times a week, preferably in the evening when chinchillas are most active. Leave the dust bath in the cage for 10 to 15 minutes. If left longer, the chinchilla may use the dust obsessively out of boredom, and too much use could cause its skin to become too dry. In addition, when the dust is left in the cage too long the chinchilla may use it as a litter box. Offer dust baths more frequently in humid weather. Decrease the frequency and bathing time if your chinchilla is scratching more than usual or has dry, flaky skin.
Use a container that is slightly larger than the chinchilla and one that it will not knock over when rolling and flipping in the dust. A heavy bowl or dish or a rectangular plastic container works well. You can also purchase dust bath containers from pet stores. Using a container that has higher sides or is partially enclosed will keep the amount of dust flying out of the container to a minimum. Put at least 2 inches of dust in the bottom of the container to make it deep enough for the chinchilla to properly bathe. Set the container in the cage and enjoy watching your chinchilla take its bath. You can reuse the dust several times until it starts to look dirty or clumps. Remove any waste from the dust bath after your chinchilla is finished.