Chinchillas are extremely inquisitive and need plenty of toys and accessories to stimulate their curiosity when inside and outside their cage environment.
Chinchillas are rodents who have a natural instinct to gnaw on objects and file their teeth, it is therefore very important a domestic chinchilla is given plenty of opportunity to do this and generally comes in the form of toys and accessories.
A chinchilla will gnaw away on its shelving but this 'material form' is not adequate for grinding teeth down due to the wood being too soft. You must always provide toys and accessories that will meet this basis requirement and not products that will mask the filing effect and cause tooth problems later in life.
To prevent a chinchilla becoming bored and to increase stimuli, toys and accessories can be re-arranged when cleaning the chinchilla cage or when a chinchilla comes out for its nightly 'out-of-cage' activity.
All toys and accessories must be checked regularly to ensure no sharp edges are protruding through 'wear and tear' and must be made from safe material that can be disinfected regularly.
Tree Branches - Branches off certain trees are a fantastic accessory to any chinchilla cage. A chinchilla will gnaw on the bark, which is a great material-aid to help file their ever-growing teeth and they can be used a climbing or jumping apparatus as well. Ensure any tree branches you use are secured within the cage, wedging them between the holes of the wire mesh so they are unmoveable and only ever provide branches off trees you know are to be safe and untreated. The safest tree branches you can offer are apple, pear, willow and hazelnut. Fresh pine-tree bark must not be offered to a chinchilla as the sap between the layers of bark causes respiratory problems and severe breathing difficulties.
Tubes - There are many different types of tubing you can offer a chinchilla as a toy but the safest is made from cardboard. This can be in the form of carpet roll tubes, toilet roll tubes, kitchen roll tubes or any type of tube a chinchilla can fit into and does not have a glossy surface with ink print all over it.
You can also buy plastic tubing from your local pet shop that is big enough for a chinchilla to fit through. These tubes can be connected together to make a wonderful adventure route for a chinchilla to explore.
Toilet Rolls / Carpet Rolls - It is very amusing to watch your chinchilla bounce around with these in their mouth, trying to kidnap the roll and take it into their cage. Saying this, when providing cardboard toilet tubes you must observe the chinchilla at all times or alternatively rip completely down one side of the tube or you will find a chinchilla will put its head inside only to be unable to get it out again. If this happens and a chinchilla is unsupervised, then a serious accident can happen, for example a broken neck or head injury.
All tubes increase a chinchilla's natural behavior of burrowing and can also be used as a hideaway or safe haven.
Wooden Blocks - Wooden blocks made from cholla wood, which is a dried cactus, are excellent for a chinchilla and can be purchased from your local pet shop. Cholla blocks not only create entertainment for a chinchilla (as they toss the block around the cage) but are also a fantastic tooth filing material. The cholla block generally has its bark still on, which is also great roughage for a chinchilla and can be threaded through chains and hung around the cage for diversity.
Wooden Stacks - Wooden stacks are an excellent source of entertainment for a chinchilla. They are small branches covered with bark, interlocked with wire that can be bent in different directions to make arches, slopes, houses or be used as hideaways. This is a perfectly safe toy for a chinchilla and can be purchased from any good pet shop.
Ladders - When there are multiple levels within a chinchilla cage some owners use ladders. Some caution should be attained when providing a ladder as generally ladders for chinchillas are unavailable and other substitutes can be unsafe. A chinchilla ladder should have a solid back to it so the chinchilla cannot slip through the steps as they fly around their cage.
Large Pebbles / Rocks - You can use stones and rocks to mimick a chinchilla's natural environment and stimulate their natural instinct of using this 'hard material source' for tooth filing. The rocks and stones can be moved around the cage to cause diversity and curiosity and can be picked up for free at your nearest beach, parkland or natural environment. Ensure you always sterilize any rock or pebble that you find and ensure it is completely dry before offering it to a chinchilla. MAKE SURE YOU DO NOT OVER-LOAD A CAGE WITH WEIGHT AS IT WILL COLLAPSE!
Cuttlefish Bone - This hard, brittle interior skeleton of the cuttlefish is an excellent toy for chinchillas and is also included as part of their 'essential' list. They are a calcium-rich nutritional supplement for a chinchilla and if drilled, can be hung around the cage for diversity. Cuttlebone can be purchased from any good pet shop.
Cardboard Boxes - 'As cheap as chips' and constantly replaceable free-of-charge from you local supermarket. Cardboard boxes can double up as a chinchilla home if you cut a big hole in the side for them to get in and out. Cardboard boxes will not last long as it will be eaten and destroyed quickly but they provide hours of fun and entertainment. Ensure there is no ink (print) on the outside of the box, which can be consumed.
Make Your Own Chinchilla Toys - Some owners decide to make their own chinchilla toys and accessories and this is no problem as you can create some fantastic toys for chinchillas. The only thing you must be aware of is there are some woods and products that are not deemed safe if a chinchilla was to gnaw on them. For a list of safe woods click here.
Further Reading Relating To Chinchilla Toys:
Cage Necessities, Chinchilla Health, Chinchilla Teeth.