Help me keep a chinchilla without cockroaches.
July 13, 2008 1:19 PM   Subscribe

How do we keep a chinchilla in an apartment where roaches might be present without killing the chinchilla or attracting tons of bugs?

My girlfriend wants to bring her chinchilla to our apartment and I would like that too. However we've seen more than a couple of roaches (including one gigantic one in the sink the other day*) I'm worried we'd pretty much be bringing a roach attractor into the apartment.

The cage she currently has is homemade and constructed of wood and wire...something roaches would have no problem getting through. There are solid plastic cages, but air holes = bug holes. Are there any bug proof cages out there?

What about rodent food that wouldn't attract roaches?

Will we have to be more careful with the insecticide, is the chinchilla in more danger because of his size?

My girlfriend and I (and Kirby the chinchilla) thank you!

* Bonus question. we sprayed Raid Roach Max into our sink to kill it. What's the best way of cleaning this poison out of our sink?
posted by Brainy to Pets & Animals (10 answers total)
This suggestion may be too unusual, but nevertheless:

A guy I know is raising cockroaches in his apartment on purpose (to photograph). What he's done is coat the top few inches of the inside of the plastic tank with vaseline to prevent them from climbing up to the airholes in the top of the tank, and from getting out when he opens the tank to feed them. The roaches can't climb through the vaseline for some reason. So if you could put the chinchilla cage on a table in the center of the room and put vaseline on the bottom few inches of each of the table legs, you might be all set. Or put the cage in the middle of a piece of plexi that extends out 6" in all directions and coat the plexi all around with vaseline, like a moat.
posted by xo at 1:29 PM on July 13, 2008 [1 favorite]

i would exterminate once a month. it's easier since kirby's in a cage...just put it up on a table or out in the hall while the exterminator's doing his thing, and give everything a day or so to dry before letting the little fella out of the cage.

good housekeeping (washing dishes immediately, keeping surfaces clean, taking out the trash regularly etc.) and caulking all holes in the wall will also help minimize the roach situation.
posted by thinkingwoman at 2:11 PM on July 13, 2008

I'm wondering if chinchillas might not actually eat cockroaches that venture onto their turf. I once worked in a restaurant with a terrible mice problem, and we also had problems with cockroaches.

Every morning I would have to clean mouse poo off the stainless, as well as the half-eaten carcasses of cockroaches (aagh, what a memory I've just dredged up).

As far as roach-killers go, the stuff they sell over the counter typically non-toxic to humans, and I don't think you'll be using enough roach killer to affect the chincilla. I mean, if you sprayed the chinchilla and its food with roach killer, you might be looking for trouble, but if you're spraying under the kitchen sink, around the fridge and around the toilet in the bathroom, you'll probably be fine.

I must say that the mere presence of a chincilla and its food may well attract roaches, and since roaches eat just about anything, there's nothing you can really do about it. Actually, the roaches will appreciate easy access to the chincilla's water - water is really all roaches need to survive.

What is causing this outbreak of roaches in the first place? Do you live in an old apartment building? Do you wash your dishes after each meal? Do you store garbage outside, say on your verandah? Is there clutter everywhere, such as paper, dirty laundry, or toast crumbs between the fridge and the wall? Does your sink leak, allowing for damp areas that roaches like?

You'll basically have to lock down your apartment to get rid of the roaches. Try blocking the sinks at night so they can't crawl up the drain. Make sure your windows are latched shut, or have screens, etc.

I moved into a house with a roach and a mouse problem (we also attracted stray cats and wasps, for some reason). By locking down the place (it started with washing dishes and getting rid of clutter) I was able to eradicate the roaches. We would encounter a roach maybe once or twice a year, usually after we had left a door to the garden open.

Roach motels are also awesome, awesome ways to control roaches without resorting to poison.
posted by KokuRyu at 2:29 PM on July 13, 2008

Ultimate roach solution: MOVE.

Non-poison roach solutions: seal cracks and crevices (what you can get away with in an apartment is up to you but I cut a problem in an absolutely horrible building way back with judicious application of expanding foam in a can and non-shrinking spackle), eliminating all sources of water you can, being scrupulously clean about food waste, and keeping all food etc. sealed up (I realize the pet food and water is the problem but eliminate everything you can. I wiped out my sinks with a towel every time I used them, never left a dish sit overnight, and kept all my food in plastic bins). Also, your landlord is probably legally obligated to exterminate so be sure you tell them about the problem (if you're not supposed to have Kirby in the apartment you may need some foster care, if he's legal ask the exterminators about keeping him safe during treatments).
posted by nanojath at 2:40 PM on July 13, 2008

Roaches are evolved to be attracted to putrefaction. Rotting food or dead chinchillas would give you the most worries. Of course, once you have them they can survive on soap or glue, but they will still need water, which is why they like the kitchen. Keep your pet's water tidy and contained.
posted by StickyCarpet at 2:41 PM on July 13, 2008

Do not feed a chinchilla anything other than chinchilla pellets! They can be eventually poisoned by the ingredients in rabbit or hamster or whatever other animals food you want to give them.

However, you do have a lot of options to give them fresh/different food. Mine ate a ton of hay (timony or alfalfa) which we kept in a manger-type thing in his cage. It probably will not attract roaches at all.

Also, fruits and veggies are mostly okay for your chin, raisins are their favorite, generally.

We had a billion ants in our old house, and they never messed with our little Romeo's food. I don't think animal pellets of any form attract roaches. I've never found them in my cat's food while living in a roach-molested apartment. However, we also had a monthly exterminator walk through and spray. That would probably be your best bet.
posted by nursegracer at 3:11 PM on July 13, 2008

I agree moving is the best way to get rid of roaches. Sometimes you just can't win against them. In addition to the above, I'd also cramming fine steel wool into every crevice with a flathead screwdriver. They cannot eat steel wool unlike some other blockers. Also try putting out roach cookies (search the Net for boric acid roach cookies). These two things really helped us when we had to deal with a terribly infested building.
posted by i_love_squirrels at 3:17 PM on July 13, 2008

My girlfriend wants to bring her chinchilla to our apartment

So the chinchilla is currently living in an apartment of its own? Lucky bastard.

Can you hang the cage from something, similar to a birdcage setup? Like this.

What's the best way of cleaning this poison out of our sink?

posted by HotPatatta at 4:14 PM on July 13, 2008

Roach baits and strict cleanliness (no dishes left overnight, all food in sealed containers, etc.) have been pretty effective in my experience.
posted by electroboy at 7:11 AM on July 14, 2008

Response by poster: Thanks everyone for all the answers. Kirby has adapted to drinking water from a bottle, so its not out for roaches. If they aren't attracted to chinchilla pellets or hay, we are in good shape. He likes to eat fresh fruit, but usually hand fed, so it wouldn't be out in his cage. We've recently been towel drying the sink after each use and I haven't seen a roach since before this post! the actual problem with them getting in was through the drains but also through the windows which do not seal, and our landlady is not going to fix.
I just had to kill another one as I was writing, never mind. So, how do I find reasonably priced apartments for two full time students and a chinchilla? :)
-Bree, not Brainy.
posted by Brainy at 11:14 AM on July 18, 2008

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