Yeah, they're rodents, but their coats are softer than kitten fur. As if soft and cute weren't enough, chinchillas are self-cleaning. They need little, if any, help from you in the grooming department, so you won't have to schedule time to give your chin a bath. And that's a good thing, since you should never get them wet.
Density, the feature that makes chinchillas' fur so soft, is also what makes getting them wet off limits. Your chinchilla has 80 hairs in each follicle -- quite a lot more than your one hair per follicle. If you were to get your chin's dense fur wet, it could clump up and mat. On top of that, if your chinchilla gets wet, he could lose body heat quickly and easily become chilled, leaving him vulnerable to getting sick.
Your chinchilla will happily groom himself on a regular basis, but you need to provide the right materials for a proper bath. Dust baths are the way chinchillas clean their fur. Two or three times a week, put about an inch of chinchilla dust into a box or other open container that is big enough for your chin to roll around in, then let him have at it. He naturally knows what to do and will spend about 10 to 15 minutes in his dust bath. Remove the dish after your chinchilla is finished grooming in it. Bathing in dust more than a few times each week can dry out your little chin's skin.
What About Sticky Messes?
Not being able to get your chinchilla wet can be a problem if he happens to get into a particularly dirty or sticky mess. When a dust bath won't do the trick, you can spot clean your chinchilla with a damp -- but not soaking wet -- cloth. Rub the cloth only on the area that needs cleaning and try to avoid getting more than the surface of his fur damp.
Additional Dry Grooming
Being furry little creatures, chinchillas do shed, a problem that is curbed for other pets with regular bathing. Even though you can't get your chinchilla wet, you can lend a hand with grooming to help reduce the amount of fur that is shed into your environment, as well as the fur that your chin swallows during his own grooming sessions. Once or twice a month, as your schedule allows, comb your chin with a quality dog or cat comb with teeth about medium-length. A gentle combing will not only aid in removing loose fur, but will also provide an opportunity for quality time with your chin.
Elle Di Jensen has been a writer and editor since 1990. She began working in the fitness industry in 1987, and her experience includes editing and publishing a workout manual. She has an extended family of pets, including special needs animals. Jensen attended Idaho and Boise State Universities. Her work has appeared in various print and online publications.