How Do Chinchillas Bathe In The Wild? Here’s The Answer…

Have you ever thought about how a Chinchilla would bathe themselves in the wild before? I guess it isn’t something that immediately springs to mind, but interesting all the same don’t you think?

When domesticated Chinchillas are bathing themselves in the dust bath at home we can’t help, but seem slightly fascinated by this very unique behaviour. 

All we have provided them with is effectively just a bowl and some dust, but it gives them absolutely everything they need to keep clean and fresh without touching even a drop of water.

So, how do Chinchillas Bathe in the Wild? Chinchillas bathe themselves very successfully in the wild using all-natural resources such as volcanic ash or Andean clay which is commonly seen in their homeland. Chinchillas will roll around vigorously in the dust in the same way they would in a home-made dust bath. 

Read On to Discover…

How Do Chinchillas Bathe In The Wild (more info)

Chinchillas in the wild do not have the luxury of a ready-made dust bath and need to source their bathing locations very carefully. 

You will find that most wild Chinchillas will spend time looking for the right location and resources to carry out bath time.

Volcanic Ash is very commonly used for Chinchilla bathing activities and regularly found in their homeland in the Andes Mountains of Chile

It is mostly made from fragments of rock, minerals, and volcanic glass and is created during volcanic eruptions. 

Volcanic ash is great for distributing natural oils and cleaning away dirt and debris from the thick Chinchilla coat. This is one of the main reasons why Chinchillas choose this substance as their first choice for bathing.

Andean Clay is also a common substance for Chinchillas to use when bathing and has a very similar effect to volcanic ash. 

It can be found quite widely throughout the Andes Mountains making this an easy find for our wild Chinchillas friends.

Chinchillas in the wild roll around in the ash or clay in the same way they would do at home in a dust bath. 

This is why Chinchillas dust baths were invented for domesticated Chinchillas to try and mimic the same type of bath they would experience in the wild.

How Often Do Chinchillas Bathe In The Wild?

In a domesticated environment, Chinchillas mustn’t have access to a dust bath consistently. This is largely down to the fact they are likely to use it unnecessarily out of boredom. 

If your Chin bathes themselves too much it is likely to irritate their delicate skin and can cause dryness and flakiness. 

It’s very easy for a Chinchilla to get bored and so this is why it is so important they get enough exercise and only limited access to a dust bath.

So in the wild, how do Chinchillas limit their usage? In a nutshell Chinchillas in the wild are not generally bored. They have plenty of things to do, places to go and have plenty of much-needed exercise. 

They limit access on their own. For Chinchillas, having a dust bath is for a purpose and they are unlikely to want to bathe themselves as much as they may do in captivity with unlimited access and boredom becoming a factor.

Limited research has been carried out on the exact frequency of Chinchillas bathing in the wild, but it is safe to say under natural circumstances they will not choose to bathe themselves in the wild too frequently or unnecessarily.

It is likely Chinchillas in the wild bathe between 2 and 4 times a week, very similar to the frequency of domesticated Chinchillas.

 The recommended amounts for Chinchillas are as follows:

Chinchilla Dust Baths | Recommended Frequency & Time

Regular1-2 times per week10 – 15 mins per session
Humid2-4 times per week15 – 30 mins per session

Why Do Wild Chinchillas Need to Bathe?

Chinchillas in the wild have a requirement to bathe themselves to ultimately keep clean. Their thick, dense fur can pick up plenty of dirt, debris, and grease in a relatively short space of time.

 Bathing in either volcanic ash or Andean Clay removes all the spoilage on their fur and helps to keep them clean and fresh.

Bathing in these types of dust, helps Chinchillas in the wild distribute natural oils evenly which in turn helps to keep their coat, shiny, smooth, and silky soft. 

This is considered a very unique way of keeping clean compared to some species of animals where water is the primary cleaning tool.

Reasons why wild Chinchillas need to bathe:

  • To remove dirt and debris from their thick coats
  • Distribute natural oils evenly
  • Removing grease and residue
  • For a smooth and shiny coat

Why Can’t Wild Chinchillas Bathe In Water?

As lovely as it may sound to have a nice relaxing bath in water and wash away all the dirt and grime, H2O is unfortunately not a Chins best friend. 

Chinchillas and water do not mix particularly well and as responsible owners, we should refrain from allowing our domesticated furry friend to get unnecessarily wet.

In the wild Chinchillas will avoid water at all costs. If they see rain looming they associate this with danger and flee just like they would with any other predator. 

Chins tend to hide and shelter themselves in rocky crevices and bushes, under logs, or high up in trees.

Chinchillas have extremely thick, dense fur that does not agree with water. If your chin comes into contact with water, whether that be damp or fully wet the fur will become tightly compact together and you will find your Chinchillas end up a big, uncomfortable mess.

Those of us with long, thick tresses know full well what hair washing day is like. It can take ages to wash your hair and even longer to dry. 

Now imagine a Chinchillas very thick coat and estimate the amount of drying time if they were to get wet? 

Their thick coat takes a long time to dry out which can cause them to get cold. Chins do not do very well health-wise if they get too chilled.

Based on the fact Chinchillas do not dry off very quickly, excessive dampness can bring on fungal infections which are very common in most small animal species.

Check out this video as a good visual of what a Chinchilla’s fur looks like after getting wet –

Do Domesticated Chinchillas Bathe The Same Way as Wild Chinchillas?

As mentioned briefly there are many similarities to the way domesticated and wild Chinchillas bathe. 

As more and more Chinchillas have become domesticated over the years we have found ways as responsible owners to try and replicate this activity of that in the wild.

In the wild Chinchillas will bathe in either Volcanic ash or Andean Clay to ensure their coats stay clean and fragrant. 

Domesticated Chinchillas bathe in the Chinchillas baths that we provide them with specialist dust. They will roll around in the man-made bath in the same way. 

There are many limitations in a dust bath such as space limitations whilst Chinchillas in the wild will have endless amounts of room to move around in the dust and choose their perfect location.

You may also be wondering when baby chinchillas can have their first dust bath? Head over to this article that covers everything you need to know as a chinchilla owner…

Is Commercial Chinchilla Dust the Same as Volcanic Dust?

Volcanic Ash is an all-natural solution for a wild Chinchilla that wants to have a bath. This type of dust is found consistently in and around the Andes Mountains in Chile and is therefore readily available for wild Chinchillas to use.

 It is something they have consistently chosen to use to keep their fur clean and fresh.

When thinking about domesticated Chinchillas, we as owners have had to adapt to their needs which includes providing a dust bath. 

It is vitally important that when purchasing dust to put into the Chinchilla bath we use the correct type of dust which will do the job just as well as the volcanic ash or Andean clay available in the wild.

The best type of dust to purchase is one that has been specifically designed for Chinchillas. 

You will then be able to ensure your Chin can clean themselves effectively. There are usually two types of Chinchilla dust to choose from.

Regular Chinchilla dust that is more like a grey looking sand. This type is widely available from pet stores and online retailers and can be bought relatively cheaply.

Then we have the premium Chinchilla bath sand that has been made to replicate those resources available to wild Chins. 

This is usually made from 100% Volcanic Mountain Pumice. This is much more of a lightweight sand, however, is super easy to use and almost dust-free.

Types Of Chinchilla Dust:

Chinchilla Dust Options

Dust OptionsVerdict
Regular Chinchilla DustA thicker grey dust that is the cheapest to buy
Volcanic Mountain PumiceA thinner dust that is a premium product and more costly
Aluminium SilicateA Finer Powder that is all natural and often sustainable
Regular SandNot ideal for Chinchilla use

What’s The Best Dust For Your Chinchilla to Bathe In?

Even though we have the most common and used kinds of dust for your chinchilla, there are still so many brands that it’s almost impossible to know which one you should use.

Testing all the brands out by trial and error would likely take you months, not to mention lots of your hard-earned money in the process.

Fortunately, to eliminate the trial and error process and to save you money at the same time we have shared our own recommendation.

When it comes to chinchilla dust, we believe that even though there are many good options, there’s one that stands out above all the rest and that’s…Lixit blue beauty chinchilla dust!

The brand and dust is trusted by chinchillas owners the world over and we have to say that we agree.

This is natural chinchilla dust, which means that you won’t find any artificial chemicals in it like you can with some other products.

Head over to our review of Lixit chinchilla dust where you can see exactly why we recommend it as well as where to get it at the best price…


Many differences can be pointed out between wild and domesticated Chinchillas, however, when looking at bathing routines it is clear to see that this process in both circumstances is very similar. 

Both wild and domesticated Chinchillas bathe for the same reasons and carry out the process in the same way.

Chins in the wild have much more choice as to where the bathing takes place and types of dust they use for bathing. 

They also have much more room to manoeuvre. As responsible owners we do our very best to replicate the process that occurs to undomesticated Chinchillas by providing an adequate size bath, the right amount of use, and dust that is as close as possible to that in the wild.

Adam Woods

Hi, My name is Adam. I'm the main author of Pocket Pets Forever. I'm a pocket pet enthusiast and I love sharing my knowledge and passion for these amazing animals. Thank you for supporting us on our journey as we continue to publish content with the aim of helping owners care for their pets in the best way possible!

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