What Essential Oils Are Bad for Chinchillas? {Be Warned Of What May Happen}

In an effort to keep my house fresh, I use essential oils in a diffuser. But, what essential oils are bad for chinchillas?

I try to not take any risks and relocate my chinchilla temporarily while I use essential oils. Why are chinchillas sensitive to smells? Are diffusers safe around chinchillas? Are we overthinking it or being safe and responsible?

In this article, we will find out what essential oils are bad for chinchillas.

What Essential Oils Are Bad for Chinchillas?

First and foremost, chinchillas have extremely sensitive respiratory systems. Start from there and consider that essential oils emit aromas that will engulf the sensitive lungs of your furry pocket pet.

While there are some fragrances or fresheners that might be safe for chinchillas, we stay away from all of them.

The following essential oils should be used as far away from chinchillas as possible or not at all:
eucalyptus oil

  • tea tree oil
  • cinnamon
  • citrus
  • pennyroyal
  • peppermint
  • pine
  • sweet birch
  • wintergreen
  • ylang ylang

Argan oil could be used topically to promote a shiny coat on your rodents like chinchillas, but we also cannot recommend it and do not use it.

Are Essential Oils Safe Around Chinchillas?

No. It is strongly advised that you do not take the risk of lighting aromatherapy oils , candles, fresheners, deodorizers, perfumes or any other chemicals that emit scents near chinchillas.

The fact is that these likely creatures are sensitive to the inhalation of these odors and could cause upper respiratory tract infections and circulatory problems among other illnesses.

They are not worth it considering that chinchillas are not smelly. Their droppings are odor-free as well. Diffusers are used by some members of the chinchilla community, but we do not recommend taking the chance.

Keep your essential oils and diffusers in separate rooms if possible.

Are Diffusers Safe for Chinchillas?

We are going to err on the side of caution and say no. We care too much and have visited the vet for our chinchillas enough and wish to prevent any chance of diffusers or other scents that create the possibility of upper respiratory tract infections. We advisee that you keep these items away from your chinchilla:

  • candles
  • incense
  • aerosol products
  • scented products
  • aromatic diffusers
  • essential oils
  • heavily scented cleaning products

Is Peppermint Oil Toxic to Chinchillas?

No. Peppermint oil has a smell that I personally love, but my chinchilla doesn’t. You may notice them showing discomfort by rubbing their faces or hiding.

The scent gets straight into their lungs and can cause breathing problems. Chinchillas do not need deodorizing because they are not smelly rodents. Keep your chinchilla clear from the following essential oils:

  • eucalyptus oil
  • tea tree oil
  • cinnamon
  • citrus
  • pennyroyal
  • peppermint
  • pine
  • sweet birch
  • wintergreen
  • ylang ylang

What Essential Oils Are Toxic to Hamsters?

Hamster, mice, chinchillas and rats are sensitive to these essential oils:

  • clove
  • tea tree oil
  • thyme
  • wintergreen
  • camphor
  • eucalyptus

This is why we use some of these oils to repel nuisance pests from entering or infesting our homes. Many animals and insects hate these smells.

The opinion of your hamster or chinchilla is not as important as the reaction and effect these essential oils can cause. Sure, they don’t like them, but they don’t realize that they could be developing an upper respiratory tract infection from inhalation.

There are plenty of other essential oils not listed above, but we recommend keeping them away from your rodent pets and other small animals.

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Are Chinchillas Sensitive to Smells?

Yes. Chinchillas are very sensitive to smells coming from the kitchen, cleaning products or scents that we find pleasurable. Keep candles, air fresheners, deodorizing sprays and essential oils in separate rooms.

If you with to remove any odors in this room where your chinchilla lives, then it’s time for an excursion, outdoor playtime or a relocation to another room for now until the scent you have applied dissipates.

Wait 2-4 hours and return your chinchilla back to the original location. Make sure no residues get on the cage. Cover it or transport your chinchilla and the cage to another place for now while you deodorize.

What Is Toxic to Chinchillas?

There are many odors that are toxic for chinchillas ranging from chemical cleaners, cooking oils to essential oils. They also cannot eat certain toxic foods in the list below:

  • asparagus
  • avocado
  • peas
  • cabbage
  • corn
  • lettuce
  • broccoli
  • spinach
  • rhubarb

Some foods like bananas, sunflower seeds and peanuts are considered dangerous, but not entirely toxic. Either way, you must inspect your chinchilla’s droppings and changes in behavior after they have accidentally consumed any of these foods.

Schedule a visit to the vet if you are concerned about abnormalities or adverse reactions to any new foods in their diet.

Why Essential Oils Are Bad For Chinchillas

Essential oils are an excellent way of reducing foul odors or creating a calming atmosphere for humans. Small animals do not feel the same way. Rodents like chinchillas are very sensitive and can develop respiratory infections.

Clove, tea tree oil, thyme, wintergreen, camphor, and eucalyptus should be sealed and kept in separate rooms away from your chinchilla’s cage.

The circulatory and respiratory systems of small animals are not strong enough to handle these odors. They may even refuse to eat afterwards. Starvation and death can result.

There are always exceptions like argan oil that can be applied topically to promote a shiny fur coat, but it is not necessary.

Is Lavender Safe for Chinchillas?

Lavender in its plant form is safe for chinchillas. This doesn’t mean that they will enjoy it. The taste could be unpleasant and the odor is strong.

If lavender is being used or diffused in its essential oil form, it can release linalool and limonene in the air which is harsh for the lungs of a chinchilla.

Lavender will likely be avoided by a chinchilla in the wild when other food sources are present. Skip it and offer other leafy green treats instead with an emphasis on grass and hay over anything else.


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My name is Anna and I work full time in my local pet shop where we sell many animals that I write about on this site. I love all animals and love writing about them.