eli5 why does dust clean chinchillas?

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it seems counter intuitive doesn’t it

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It’s not really “dust” as you might know it, but volcanic ash or a similar substitute.

Volcanic ash is abrasive — and basically acts like a scrubber.

As chinchillas “play” in the dust, the scrubbing action from the ash dislodges any dirt particles and also helps distribute / remove oil buildup in their fur.

Afterwards they just shake some of the excess ash away.