The proper waterbottles and water for your chins...
As with any other pet, good water is extremely important for the health and wellbeing of a pet chinchilla. They must have access to clean water at all times for proper body function and contaminated water can be disastrous! Here are some brief discussions about water and chinchillas.
| Waterbottles | Clean Water: Tap vs. Bottled | Consequences of Contamination |
There are several type of waterbottles on the market today. The most common type has a ball valve in the end of the drinking tube, these are notorious for leaking and emptying themselves. The quality of the ball-valve type really does determine the performance of the bottle. The cheaper the bottle, usually the worst they will do and you will end up with a flood in the bottom of your cage. These bottles need to maintain a proper vacuum in the top portion of the bottle (the void, "air gap" at the top) and will leak if that vacuum is compromised or if the bottle is not full enough. There are other types that have either a spring-loaded lever valve or just the little lever valve. These do not leak as bad as the ball valve type but are a little more expensive, not to mention that some chinchillas do not like them. Waterbowls aren't too good for chins, they can tip them over easily, contaminate the water and get wet in them. Chinchilla fur doesn't do too well if it gets wet, and you wouldn't want to have to deal with wet chins on a daily basis.
For certain the bottles should be hung on the outside of the cage to prevent too much nibbling by the chins on the bottle. The best bottle that can be found should be used just to prevent any problems. www.chinworld.com has an interesting bottle called the "Edstrom" waterbottle that has the lever valve type drinking tube. I've heard that this is an excellent waterbottle and is well worth any additional cost over the traditional, cheap ball valve models. At the petstores the valve type waterbottles can cost as much as $10 each, but still are, in my opinion, worth their premium over the cheaper bottles. If your chinchilla does prefer the ball type valve, make sure to get a good bottle....getting the cheapest, smallest bottle is not going to be worth saving a few dollars. I always have a few extra new bottles on hand that are the Lixit "Quick Lock, Flip Top" 32 oz. bottles that have the little lever valve in them. They are significantly less than what you would pay for them at the petstore, just ask me about them if you are getting a chinchilla from me.
Most importantly waterbottles must be kept clean and be checked on a daily basis. At least once a week they should be washed out with hot soapy water. A bottle cleaning brush is a good investment for anyone with chinchillas, it cuts down on bottle cleaning time dramatically. The bottles should be thoroughly rinsed after washing. Keeping the waterbottle full of good, clean water is a daily task. If anything is ever floating around in the bottle or algae starts to grow in it, wash it out immediately.
Clean Water: Tap vs. Bottled
Any water you give your chinchilla should be as clean as possible and free of bacteria and other contaminants. It's probably best to stay away from tap water or well water just to prevent any bacterial infections from occurring. Tap water can contain floride and other chemicals that may be in doses low enough to not harm humans but be dangerous for small animals. You may want to check at your local water company to see if they know of any harmful chemicals that could make chinchillas sick.
Some people think that the chins must have some minerals in their water to really be a type of supplement for the chins, this would mean giving them mineral water or spring water. Since chins get the vast majority of their nutrients from their food, this isn't completely necessary. It isn't going to hurt them, by any means, if they drink water that has a only a low concentration of the minerals. Calcium and magnesium make up most of the mineral content in water, they are the white stuff that is remaining after all the water has evaporated or has boiled away.
Regular bottled, purified water is just fine for chinchillas as is reverse osmosis or distilled water. They don't need the expensive bottled mineral waters and shouldn't be given carbonated water (this could really cause problems..use only flat water!) However, if you are sure that the water you are giving them is clean and contaminant free, then it's probably going to be just fine. Our chinchillas are given reverse osmosis water since our household water comes directly from a well. There are just too many possibilities of contaminants in the well water so I would never risk giving it to my chinnies.
As a last resort (or maybe a first), the water may be boiled to kill any bacteria. This is pretty highly effective at making water safe for chinchillas and humans alike.
Consequences of Contamination
The fear of any chin owner is a bacterial infection happening to his or her chinnies! Contamination of water is pretty easy to prevent and hard to fix. Bacteria is the most common of contaminants in chinchillas' drinking water. It can come from a dirty waterbottle where it has cultured itself and grown to a concentration that is enough to affect the animals or it can come from the water source. The consequence of the bacterial infection is usually diarrhea and can be fatal if not treated promptly. There are several different types, some are worse than others, but all are parasites that chins are much better not having.
Heavy metals, floride, arsenic, lead, and other chemicals either added intentionally or not can be harmful as well. This is why tap and well water can be dangerous. Even if the concentrations are not hight enough to make humans feel ill, the chinchillas can still cause problems. The consequences can be the poisoning of your chinchilla or even neurological problems that can affect a chin for the rest of his life. If you think that your chinchilla is suffering from parasites or poisoning, get him to the vet immediately!!
Please let me know if you think I should add more to the page or if you think something is incorrect. Email me at firstname.lastname@example.org if you wish to contact me about this. Please visit www.cachins.org for more information about bacterial parasites and The Joy of Chinchillas, a book which has a lot of good information on these topics.
Thank you for reading through this page!!
Last Update: 3-25-03
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