A Guide to the Types of Wood that are Safe for Chinchillas to Gnaw

As chinchillas are rodents that have continually growing teeth, they need to gnaw a lot to keep their teeth in good condition. If a chinchilla isn’t able to chew, its teeth can become overgrown, causing dental problems and pain. In some severe cases, chinchillas have even starved to death as overgrown teeth have stopped them from being able to eat correctly.

It’s therefore crucial that your pet chinchilla is provided with wood to gnaw on. During its waking hours, your pet will gnaw almost continually. Chinchillas originate from South America and are prevalent in countries such as Bolivia and Chili. Wild chinchillas chew on wood from trees to help keep their teeth trimmed. Chewing on sticks and tree bark helps prevent chinchillas’ teeth from overgrowing.

It’s crucial to give your chinchilla adequate opportunity to gnaw as this will keep their teeth aligned. Chinchillas with overgrown teeth will be in severe pain, which will cause unnecessary stress, and your pet may become aggressive.

Chinchillas chew on toys, and their enclosure if they are made from wood. If you want to stop your chinchilla destroying its home, you’ll need to provide your pet with wood to chew on. This article will look at the different types of wood and will tell you which ones are suitable for chinchillas.

What Type of Wood will my Chinchilla Gnaw?

If you own chinchillas, it’s essential that you help to keep your pet’s teeth in shape, by providing them with tree bark and sticks to chew on. However, you can’t give your chinchilla just any wood. Only certain types of wood will be suitable for your pets.

Some wood can be dangerous for your pet’s health or even poisonous. You must find or buy the correct wood for your chinchilla. You don’t want to give your pet wood from toxic trees.

It’s safe to feed chinchillas bark from trees such as apple, aspen, pine, elm, and hazelnut. They can also gnaw on Manzanita, pear, pecan, birch, ash, and willow.

Which Type of Wood Isn’t Safe for my Chinchilla?

Many types of tree wood aren’t safe for your chinchilla. It’s best to avoid ash, birch, and juniper. Many other trees aren’t safe, and these shouldn’t be given to chinchillas even if you collect the wood yourself from the wild. Don’t give your chinchilla wood from the following trees; almond, cedar, cherry, chestnut, grapefruit, lemon, or orange. Oak, plum, walnut, tallow, sumac, redwood, and fresh pine branches should all be avoided.

Another important thing to note is that it’s not a good idea to buy wood from hardware stores for your pets as this may have been treated. Woods such as plywood may contain harmful additives such as glue.

Is Maple Wood Safe for Chinchillas?

Maple trees are commonly found across North America and Canada and many pet owners are wondering whether it’s safe to give to their chinchillas. Maple trees are fast-growing, so it would seem like a good option. However, Maple contains resin that can be toxic if consumed by a chinchilla. Therefore, it’s better to stay away from maple wood and instead give your pet a wood that you know is safe.

How to Collect Wood for Chinchillas

Now that you know which are the best types of tree bark and branches for your chinchilla and which are unsafe, you can go about sourcing wood for your pet. As well as choosing one of the above safe woods, you’ll also need to make sure that the trees are organic and free from pesticides. The wood also needs to be washed so that it’s clean and prepared for your animals.

You should make sure that pesticides haven’t treated the wood by getting it from a friend or family member’s garden. If you collect wood from a forest or park near your home, you won’t be 100% sure that it hasn’t been sprayed with poisonous pesticides that will kill your pet.

If you can, it would be good to grow trees in your own garden as that way you’ll know that they aren’t contaminated. You should also ensure that you only give your pet organic wood that is clean and doesn’t have any fungus or lichen growing on it.

How to Prepare Wood for Your Chinchilla

Once you’re sure that you have found wood that’s entirely safe for your chinchilla to gnaw on, you’ll need to prepare it. To do this, break the wood into small chunks and boil them for twenty minutes. You can then use a toothbrush to clean the wood thoroughly.

Please don’t give your chinchilla any wood that has lichen on it. It’s best to throw wood away if its growing lichen, rather than trying to clean or scrape it off. After you’ve cleaned the pieces of wood, put them on a towel and let them dry out completely. You may like to put them in the oven at a low heat to dry them out properly.

Once the wood is dry, it’s ready for your pet to gnaw on.

Can I buy Wood from the Pet Shop for my Chinchilla?

Mama & baby gnawing on an applewood stick

Pet stores do sell safe wood for rodents to chew on, make sure you know what kind of wood you are buying so that you can double-check that its suitable for a chinchilla. The most common type of wood that pet shops (and Amazon) sell is applewood and pine cones. Make sure that you only buy a suitable wood as this will stop your chinchilla from getting toothache and dental problems, which could prove fatal in the long run.

If you have friends who also own chinchillas, you can ask them to help you find wood safely.

You’ll also find bird perches in the pet shops that are manzanita wood. These may be suitable for chinchillas, but before you make a purchase, you should always read the packet and check that it hasn’t been treated with anything unsafe.

It’s also a good idea to avoid toys that contain plastic, or your pet could end up with beads of plastic in their intestine.

How Much Wood Should I Give My Chinchilla?

Chinchillas will happily gnaw at wood all night and should be provided with enough wood to do so. It’s up to you, how much wood you give your pet, your chinchilla will chew on all the wood you provide. You should at least make sure that there are always a few small pieces of wood available for your chinchillas

Some owners make an enclosure for their pets, which contains a large tree branch. This will allow them to climb and gnaw and will also look lovely in their cage. 

Conclusion

If you’re new to owning a chinchilla, you may be surprised by how much gnawing they do. Chinchillas seem to chew on wood constantly, so it’s crucial to provide them with wood that’s safe.

Some pet owners don’t pay attention to what type of wood they give their chinchilla. This causes their pet to suffer in the long run as the wrong wood can cause dental disease. Common problems are abscesses on the gums and teeth that aren’t correctly aligned.  

Don’t buy wood from hardware stores as these are likely to have been treated with pesticides and preservatives. They may also contain glue, and this is toxic and poisonous to chinchillas. Giving your pet this type of wood can result in their death. 

Collecting and boiling wood may seem like a lot of work, but a responsible pet owner will do everything they can to make sure their pets stay in good health. If you love your chinchilla, you may also like to grow trees and plants that your chinchilla can eat in your garden. If you’ve grown the wood yourself, you’ll know that it is a safe source.

Related Questions

Can chinchillas chew pumice?

Chinchillas are rodents, and like other rodents, chinchillas have teeth that grow continuously throughout their entire lives. Along with safe woods like applewood and Manzanita branches, some chinchillas will also chew on pumice stones or mineral blocks.

Are toilet paper rolls safe for chinchillas?

Paper towel rolls or toilet paper rolls are safe and make excellent play toys for a chinchilla. They love to chew on them and rip them up. A fun tip is to fill them with hay into to provide your chinchilla with a little extra enrichment and foraging.

Is it safe for chinchillas to chew on cardboard?

It is never safe if your chinchilla is eating cardboard as it can cause blockages in their digestive tract. However, with proper supervision, chinchillas love to shred and play with cardboard boxes. Please do not leave them unsupervised with cardboard to ensure that they do not eat it. 

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