My personal experience informs my writing, which tends to be about do-it-yourself projects.
DIY Chinchilla Ledges
Chinchilla ledges are wooden ledges that attach to the sides of your chinchilla's cage. These are an important part of the cage, and each one should have several ledges.
Chinchillas love to jump between them. They should be spaced far enough apart that they can safely hop between the ledges. Be careful not to space them too far apart, or your chinchilla may hurt itself hopping from one to the other.
Besides providing exercise for your pet, the ledges also provide a place for your chinchilla to rest. This is especially important if your cage has a mesh bottom which can hurt your pet's feet.
Adding ledges to the cage will also increase its usable space since chinchilla cages have more height to allow for climbing. This is why your pet's home should be multi-tiered instead of one flat level.
Ledges will help you utilize the extra vertical space in the cage.
Making Ledges Is an East, Affordable DIY Project
You could purchase ledges from your local pet shop, or you could make your own.
You can make them from a piece of wood and a couple of things from the hardware store. Creating ledges is a very easy DIY project that only takes a couple of minutes.
What You Will Need
- 1 6-inch piece of 1"x 5" kiln-dried pine
- 1 hanger bolt
- 1 wing nut
- 1 fender washer
- 2 hex nuts
- 2 wrenches
- Socket and socket driver
- Tapered drill bit
The size of the nuts and washers will need to match the thread size of the hanger bolt, and the size of the socket and wrenches will need to match the size of the hex nuts.
Types of Wood You Could Use
The most readily available type of wood that you can use is kiln-dried pine. You can purchase this type of wood from most lumber yards or home improvement stores.
There are better woods for chinchillas, like apple and other fruit woods, but you are not likely to find these at your local home improvement store.
While it is not the absolute best wood, kiln-dried pine is generally safe for them, and you will find plenty of chinchilla products made from it.
Some chinchillas can have allergies to pinewood, so keep an eye on them if you have never given them anything made from pine before.
1. Drill the Pilot Holes
The first thing you will need to do is drill a pair of pilot holes. Drilling these out helps keep your wood from splitting. It also makes it easier to start screwing in the hanger bolts and keeps them straight.
Measure one of the long sides of your piece of wood and mark the points that are 1/3 from each of the ends. Then use your taped drill bit and drill two straight holes in the side of the piece of wood.
2. Attach the Hanger Bolts
Next, we will attach the hanger bolts. A hanger bolt has one side that has wood threading and another side that has machine threading. This lets you screw the hanger bolt into the wood and attach a nut to the other side.
- In order to screw the hanger bolt into the wood, we will need to lock two nuts on it. This is done by threading both of the hex nuts next to each other on the hanger bolt.
- Then, take your two wrenches and turn the bottom nut counterclockwise while turning the upper nut clockwise. This will lock the two nuts together, so they will not move.
- Now you can use your socket and socket driver to screw the hanger bolt into the pilot hole. Screw it in until it reaches the point where the wood thread ends, so only the machine threaded side is showing.
- Remove the hex nuts by taking your two wrenches and turning the bottom nut clockwise while turning the upper nut counterclockwise. This will unlock the nuts and free them, so you can remove the nuts.
- Repeat this step with the second hanger bolt to insert it in the other pilot hole.
3. Attach the Ledge to the Cage
Now all you will need to do is attach the ledge to your chinchilla's cage.
- To attach the ledge, just insert the hanger bolts in between the wires of the cage.
- Place the washers on the ends of the hanger bolts.
- Then, screw the wing nuts onto the hanger bolts to secure the ledge to it.
4. Don't Forget to Sand the Edges
You do not want your chinchilla to hurt themselves on any sharp edges, so you should at least use some sandpaper to round the edges of the ledge.
If you have a sander or router, you can use those to further round the ledges. However, I usually do not put much effort into rounding, as the chinchillas will round themselves by chewing on the ledges.
You can also round the edges if you like.
Optional: Add Poop Guards
Another thing I like adding to the ledges for my chinchilla's cage are poop guards. This is just an extra piece of wood that extends above the ledge, keeping things from rolling out of the cage.
This little extra piece of wood will save you plenty of time cleaning up after your chinchilla.
You can add a poop guard to your ledge by taking a second piece of wood the same length as your ledge but not as wide.
Take your two pieces of wood and form an "L" shape with them, and screw your hanger bolts through both pieces of wood to join them together.
Create More Than Just Ledges
These techniques can be used to create more than just ledges.
You can measure your chinchilla's cage and create custom-built shelves. These shelves can run across the entire side of your cage and fit perfectly into your chinchilla's cage.
You can also create hanging boxes that your chinchilla can sit inside of.
This article is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge. It is not meant to substitute for diagnosis, prognosis, treatment, prescription, or formal and individualized advice from a veterinary medical professional. Animals exhibiting signs and symptoms of distress should be seen by a veterinarian immediately.
aperturering (author) from Raleigh, NC on May 24, 2016:
Wolfgang - These are made from kiln dried pine as recommended in the article. The edges in the picture towards the end are routed, which might give it a plywood look to you. Plywood should be avoided for numerous reasons.
The hex nuts are only used for initially attaching the hanger bolt to the ledge. After that you generally will want to use a wingnut.
aperturering (author) from Raleigh, NC on May 24, 2016:
Katie - I don't like using wood glue on things I'm giving my pets, so I generally just use screws to hold them together. Just be careful of placement as you want to avoid putting a screw somewhere they are going to chew away.
Wolfgang on May 24, 2016:
The wood used in this is a plywood. You can see the layers on the edge of the woods. Plywood is made using a glue that holds the layers together. This is not safe for a chinchilla. You should use something like poplar, or kiln-dried pine.
Also to make it easier, after the hanger bolt is installed in the wood, a much more simple and effective way to attach it to the cage is simply to but a washer over the hanger bolt on the inside of the cage (pressed right up against the wood and the cage bar.) And then place a second washer on the outside of the cage bars. And use a wingnut to tighten it up. Its very simple, no tools needed, and much easier to remove when the time comes.
Katie on March 02, 2016:
When making hanging boxes how do you connect the sides together?
Candi on August 09, 2015:
Thank you so much for this post, I didn't know how I was going to install them without ruining the threads, didnt know this trick!
Jennifer on December 02, 2010:
Dallas W Thompson from Bakersfield, CA on October 25, 2010:
Great idea... Thanks for sharing.