Chinchillas have soft coats and sensitive feet that need something soft to bounce around in. Your bedding options may seem endless while walking down the aisles at the pet store but some substrates are much better options than others.
This bedding is great for a number of reasons. Not only is it soft and absorbent but it is made from recycled paper and isn't dusty. For those of us who enjoy a little color in our lives, you'll be excited to learn that it comes in a variety of fun colors. If I were a chinchilla I'd definitely snuggle up in this bedding (when I wasn't snuggled up with my owner or friends).
This wood shaving is a classic small pet bedding but is no longer the ideal bedding for chinchillas. The wood shavings aren't very absorbent and there is some discussion that the pine oils can cause health problems in your chinchilla and even cut up their feet. It is best to just avoid this wood product altogether.
Just say no to cedar shavings. Yes, they are cheap and found everywhere but they are also toxic to your chinchilla because they cause respiratory and allergic problems as well as liver changes. Cedar used to be popular due to the natural aroma it gave off but there are now much safer options available to pet owners. Stay away from cedar bedding!
Aspen is a finer wood shaving than pine and cedar and many owners still enjoy the absorbency and aroma it offers in addition to how inexpensive it is. The downsides to aspen are most notably the dustiness and the fact that it seems to stick to everything, such as your chinchilla's blankets. If you need a cheap bedding in a pinch choose Aspen over the other wood shavings.
Cell-Sorb Plus, Sun Seed Fresh World, and Yesterday's News
These kinds of bedding are other types of recycled paper beddings available to pet owners. They are compacted materials that come in pelleted forms. They are very absorbent and not really dusty but aren't as soft and fluffy as the CareFresh. Some owners like them better because they aren't as lightweight as the CareFresh so they don't get kicked out of the cage easily. Many pet stores use these products because of their odor control and large packaging options but you may not be too concerned with cost if you are only changing one chinchilla cage once a week.
Similar to CareFresh but with a smaller price tag, Kaytee's Total Comfort bedding is a recycled paper bedding that is better than your wood shavings but not quite as good as some of the other alternative paper beddings. Owners find it dusty, less absorbent, and not as attractive as other products.
Just like the Total Comfort, the Soft Sorbent is a recycled paper bedding from Kaytee. This bedding is better at absorbing urine and water than the Total Comfort but costs more. It is also very variable in size depending on the batch you purchase (sometimes it appears to be much too large for a gerbil cage).
Kaytee Clean and Cozy
Yet another Kaytee pet bedding, their Clean and Cozy product is similar to CareFresh but slightly cheaper, less absorbent, lighter, and softer. Depending on what you want from the bedding you may or may not prefer it to CareFresh.
Lifemate Hemp Bedding
Not easily found other than online, hemp beddings are popular among eco-friendly fans. While it isn't as soft as the CareFresh, it is very absorbent, seems to be cost-effective, and good at controlling odors.
Many chinchilla owners purchase fabrics like fleece, pillow cases, or towels to use in their enclosures since chinchillas love to hide. Also, not only will fabrics absorb liquids but they can be washed and reused and will add whatever colors you choose to the enclosure. Many custom chinchilla fleece accessories exist online and are handmade by crafters to give your chinchilla a custom, comfy look.
Corn Cob Bedding
This bedding will absorb liquids and is inexpensive but it doesn't do much for odor, isn't as soft as some other options, and has to be monitored for mold growth. It isn't recommended for chinchilla houses.
This is a very soft, absorbent, and cost-effective bedding. It is packed into blocks and expands into an enormous amount of bedding that you can spread generously into your chinchilla's house. It is lightweight so it can be kicked around easily and is made from recycled paper directories.
Endless bedding options will continue to be manufactured but you'll find the best option for you and your chinnie by trying out a few of them. Decide what is most important to you (cost, absorbency, odor, etc.) and then try out a few similar products. But don't forget to see what your pet prefers. He’ll be the one spending more time on it than you!