Adequate fresh air is vital to a healthy Chinchilla herd. Fresh air aids in rapid baby growth, helps keep cages cleaner and helps animals prime out better.
If a Chinchilla unit feels stuffy and ammonia odors are present, you do not have enough fresh air. Many would say that fresh air interferes with air conditioning and heating and also contributes to too much humidity. However, humidity need not be a problem if it is fresh moving air being circulated by fans and blowers. A method that works quite well and is inexpensive and easy to install is using a small squirrel cage blower mounted on the outside and fixed to blow in fresh air. An outlet must also be provided. Air is brought in to flow the opposite that air flows in nature. That is, hot air goes up – and cold air goes down. This is positive ventilation.
For summer time fresh air ventilation blow the air in at the floor and provide an outlet near the ceiling. This works the opposite from exhausting. When you exhaust a slight vacuum or negative pressure is created. In the summer time this will force the hot air off the ceiling which is what you want to do. An air conditioner can be run under these circumstances with very little cooling loss.
For winter ventilation just reverse the flow for summer time ventilation. That is, blow cold winter air in at the ceiling and provide an outlet at the floor. Inlets and outlets for ventilation should be positioned so as to be at diagonal opposites. For example, in the summer time, if air is brought in on the floor for a small room it could come in at one corner and go out at the opposite top corner at ceiling level.
This can all be accomplished very easily by mounting the blower in a window or through the wall. At this point two openings pass through the wall. Connect one with the ceiling outlet and connect the other with the floor outlet. All you have to do to change from summer to winder is to move the blower from one of the wall openings to the other. Ductwork can either be 6’’’ metal furnace pipe or 4’’ flexible dryer vent hose.
For summer conditions many people may not realize the room is stuffy because the temperature level is comfortable. But, observation of animals under these conditions indicate that more fresh air would result in better growth and size and finish to the fur.
In most of our rooms (which many are narrow and long) we also find it very beneficial to circulate the air within the room. A tube is mounted on the ceiling the length of the room and at the back end of the room (opposite end of the air conditioner or heater) a small squirrel cage blower is mounted to blow the air to the front of the room. As this air returns naturally to the back of the room it will aid in moving the cooled or heated air with it. Do not confuse this with air tubes with holes in them. We believe that a solid tube blowing to the other end and allowing it to flow back naturally to the blower is a more even flow. We circulate within the room at all times. This aids in making the heating or cooling more uniform and also helps dissipate the humidity by keeping the air moving. We add fresh air at all times except in extreme temperatures – over 90° or under 10° outside. At these times we will temporarily shut off the outside air (by use of a thermostat that automatically regulates this) till the temperature either warms up or cools off – in the summer time you would turn back on in the cooler evening hours and in the winter during the warmer part of the day.
A good rule of thumb is that if you feel comfortable in the room, so do your animals. So get the fresh air moving and give them an extra dust bath as a treat in the very humid times.
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