With so many options available on the internet and in stores, it's hard to know as a first time owner what products are good and which should be avoided. Here I will provide a comprehensive list of products that are good and safe, vendors to go to, and items and vendors to avoid. This list will be frequently updated as new vendors pop up and old vendors go out of business and new products constantly hitting the market.
There is a lot of misinformation and inappropriate information on caging for chinchillas on the internet. A lot of it is copy/pasted from similar bad sources of information that "look" good on the internet and therefore they get shared more often than not.
The number one consideration you should have when purchasing a cage for a chinchilla is to look for something that is appropriate for them, not what makes you feel better. Chinchillas are NOT squirrels and they are NOT a climbing animal. They should NOT have tall tower like cages as these pose high risk for bodily injury and broken legs from falling and missed jumps. Chinchillas are a ground dwelling HOPPING rodent and they are descended from Chilean burrowing chinchillas. Wild chinchillas in their native Andes mountains spend the majority of their lives on the ground or low lying rocks...they do NOT climb. A low WIDE cage is the best and most natural environment for a chinchilla. For enrichment, provide a lot of tunnels, hides, and ledges within hopping distance (no more than 3 inches apart from each other in height).
The top cage among pet owners in the US because of availability, price, and easy access to the pets inside is the ferret nation or critter nation cages. Ferret nation have wider spaced bars, but they are stronger and can hold more weight. Critter nation bars are closer together, so more escape proof, but they are weaker so large ledges and houses need to have their weight spread across as many bars as possible with large washers. A single level ferret nation or critter nation cage is plenty of space for up to 4 chinchillas with adequate tunnels, ledges, and enrichment in the cage. It is recommended that the plastic shelves and ramps be removed and to replace the plastic cage pan with a metal one when possible. Bass Equipment and Miller's Creature Comforts make replacement pans for these cages. **IMPORTANT!!! Avoid Feisty Ferret cages. These are cheap knockoffs of the Ferret and Critter Nation cages and have poor quality control on welding for the bars. They are more prone to rusting and bars breaking within the first year after purchase.
In addition to these readily available cages, I also recommend the following cage from KW cages. It already has a metal pan and is easy to leave off and remove the wire shelves. This cage is a good size for up to 3 chinchillas with adequate tunnels, hides, and enrichment.
There is no perfect water bottle. Pretty much every single one on the market will leak or have flaws. The important part about a water delivery system is that you provide a water bottle and NOT a bowl. Bowls of water are unsanitary and easily landed in when chinchillas are doing normal acrobatics in their cage...giving you a wet and unhappy chinchilla. It also poses a risk for drowning for young chinchillas and babies. If choosing a plastic water bottle, I highly recommend purchasing a metal water bottle guard to prevent chinchillas from chewing their water bottle through the cage. Glass water bottles are a great option as they are easy to sanitize with a quick trip through a dishwasher and they are chew proof. Lastly, if your breeder uses an automatic water system like we do here at RDZC, your chinchilla may be more comfortable with a valve type water bottle. Links for different water bottles as well as guards can be found below.
Bowls, bowls, and more bowls! So many options...what to pick? First and foremost...avoid plastic. Chinchillas are destructive chewers and they will destroy a plastic bowl easily and quickly not to mention they are lightweight and easy for a chinchilla to throw around their cage and waste their food. Mounted food bowls typically work the best if placed at good heights that a chinchilla can access easily from a standing position. Ceramic bowls are also a good option as they are easy to clean and heavy, so a little bit harder for chinchillas to move around the cage. There are also J feeders, which are metal automatic food dispensers, though they don't work well with commercially available cages like the ferret and critter nation as they do require removal of small sections of bars to place properly. The fill part of the J feeder should be on the outside of the cage, with only the bowl/feeder portion inside of the cage for the chinchilla to reach.
There are several different feed brands available commercially and new ones popping up every day. Not all food is made equally, however, and many put more money into marketing than they do into the formulation of the feed. These ones may have pretty packaging or wording that makes their feed sound "good" when in actuality, the food is nutritional crap for chinchillas. Avoid Kaytee branded feed for all animals...this feed is cheap and easy to access and is NEVER the correct formulation for any animal. There are three primary brands of pet food readily available through pet stores and online. These are Oxbow Essentials, Mazuri Chinchilla diet, and Science Selective Chinchilla food. Avoid Oxbow Garden Select, Kaytee, and Sherwood pellets. Oxbow Garden Select is nutritionally deficient for chinchillas and causes loss of body condition and coat condition over time. Sherwood pellets cause coat condition loss and body condition loss over time as well as picky eating possibly due to lack of freshness. Kaytee contains harmful products and can cause bloat, GI stasis, and death. Other brands not mentioned already include Tiny Friends Farm Charlie Chinchilla, Vitakraft, and Sunburst which are all horrible harmful ingredient feeds.
Treats are an unnecessary item for chinchillas, but they can also be great for bonding with your chinchilla. Use all treats sparingly (i.e. only one type of treat a day and only give ONE piece of that treat. Less is more with chinchillas and a varied diet is a recipe for digestive upset which can lead to bloating, GI Stasis and death). Absolutely NO fruits or vegetables...dried or fresh or mixed into anything else. Yogurt drops are pure sugar and absolute garbage for treats. Raisins and Goji berries are also sticky and high in sugar and not recommended as treats. Avoid large amounts of dried herbs and flowers and be careful of the source. Private vendors off Etsy are usually your best option or Pandamonium Pets. Avoid Rosewood herbal blends at all costs. These blends have zero quality control and contain harmful products like vegetables...for example their lack of quality control has led to more than a few owners finding things at disgusting as CIGARETTE BUTTS inside of their salad mixes. Dried herbs of any kind when given too often and too much can cause loose stools and diarrhea, which can be a fatal condition in chinchillas.