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In general, chinchilla is naturally robust and hardy, except it has an extremely sensitive and effective digestive system which is designed to extract the most out of the bare minimum food in its natural habitat. Unless dogs and cats, chinchillas do not have a vomit mechanism. It is not able to expel bad food out of its system, which means illness(es). Keep in mind, if you observe a trend of weight loss, see a vet immediately. First sign of a sick chinchilla is weight loss.
To have a healthy chinchilla:
It is better to prevent or reduce the chances of a chinchilla falling sick than to cure a sick one. However, sometimes we may not have been that careful or observant enough to spot an existing signs. For a chinchilla to remain healthy, be sure to keep the cage clean, feed clean and fresh food and water, and keep food free from fungus and insects. Care for your chinchilla conscientiously. Poor nutrition, boredom and hot temperatures can lead to serious medical problems.
A sick chinchilla may show unusual behaviour such as becoming restless or lethargic, or crouching in the corner of the cage. The coat may also become dull or there may be a discharge from the ears, eyes or nose.
Eye problems: any inflammation or soreness of the eyelids or discharge from the eyes can indicate an infection, and a vet should be consulted urgently.
Ear problems: discharge from the ears or problems with balance are symptoms of ear infection and a vet must be consulted.
Runny nose: this may mean that your chinchilla has a cold, or worse could be a symptom of pneumonia, and should be taken to a vet immediately.
Overgrown teeth: chinchillas need something to gnaw on to keep their teeth from growing too long. A vet can trim them if they overgrow.
Fungus: symptoms of this are loss of fur, poor condition of the coat, crusts, scales or scabs on the face. The chinchilla will need to be taken to the vet.
Constipation/Diarrhoea: these can be caused by change of diet, overeating, stress, lack of water or bad hay.
With any new chinchilla bought from any commercial enterprise, take your new animal to a veterinarian for a check-up for heart murmurs, Giardia, and check the skin and the teeth.
If you are concerned, take the chinchilla to a vet. The best advice is to consult your vet if you think your chinchillas may be ill.
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© The chinchilla information guide
Wet and mushy stool is an indication of diarrhoea.
When your chinchilla has diarrhoea there are a couple of things you should do. First, ask yourself: is this new, or has this problem been going on for a while? You should know your chinchilla's rhythms and know if this is an indication of an ongoing problem. Diarrhoea can be a symptom of many things. If this is an ongoing problem, then check with your vet.
If the diarrhoea is a new condition, you should have your chinchilla checked by a vet, particularly a vet experienced with guinea pigs and other rodents. Have your chinchilla's stool checked under the microscope for Giardia and Coccidia [see internal parasites] as a wet mount [the stool must be fresh]. Have your vet check the teeth [which takes a lot of finesse], making sure that the molars do not have spurs or points. If they do, they need to be burred down - a procedure best done under anaesthesia.
If your animal has Giardia, then ask for Albendozol, NOT Flagyl. Flagyl is still the only accepted treatment for Giardia, but unfortunately it kills no more than 50% of the parasite and has been implicated in liver failure in chinchillas. Albendozol, however, usually kills the parasite after 3 days of treatment and does not seem to have bad side effects due to the fact that it is not absorbed into the blood stream. It does sometimes cause a little loss of appetite for a couple of days, but this usually passes.
If none of the above is present. Then give the chinchilla some "Children's Kaopectate". Cherry flavour seems to be most favoured. Pour some into a teaspoon, and let your chinchilla lap up as much as it wants. If one or two doses in one or two days does not cure their diarrhoea, try some yogurt with a little Metamucil. Mix about 1/4 teaspoon into an ounce of yogurt and give to your chin. If this does not help, and the diarrhoea persists, have a longer exam by the vet including a complete blood count. Sometimes Coccidia does not show up under the microscope, yet can still cause anaemia due to the internal haemorrhaging it causes.
While this is going on, switch your chinchillas to a Basic Diet: only Pellets and Hay and a lot of water. You need to replace the fluids your chinchilla is losing. You might want to put some Pedilyte into the water for electrolytes. Weigh your animal daily. If it is losing weight, then switch to alfalfa and grind up pellets and some calf manna and mix with baby food (fruits seem best, oddly enough) into a soft mush and get your animal to eat it.
Weight loss is dangerous. If your chinchilla's weight drops below 14 ounces (400 Gm), your chinchilla is in danger of "Failure to Thrive" and needs to be fed frequently. Stay in close contact with your vet here, as this is probably a major problem.
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You will notice very hard, dry, teardrop-shaped, and stinky stool on the floor of the cage. Constipation can be caused by overfeeding, too many treats, wrong diet, not enough exercise and worst-case scenario, an obstructed intestine. If you think you have figured out the problem, you need to fix it to prevent this from recurring. Give your chinchilla 1-2 raisins, alfalfa cube, and make sure it is drinking plenty of water. You may also give some fresh papaya or pineapple juice just in case there is a hairball obstructing the intestine. If stools do not go back to normal, contact a vet right away. If a chinchilla is horribly constipated it can cause a bowel to become prolapsed. This requires immediate medical attention.
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A heart murmur is where a valve of the heart, or the heart muscle itself, is weak and allows the blood to flow backward as well as forward, or does not pump properly. One of the reasons can be weak valves, or valves that are narrowed.
· In chinchillas we have found up to a 30% incidence of heart murmurs in some areas.
· Have your chinchilla checked for murmurs when you buy it, or if it seems to be getting tired or weak for no reason.
Chinchillas have died of enlarged hearts which caused heart failure [the pump got tired] a phenomenon called "Saddle Thrombus". A Saddle Thrombus is a large blood-clot which is formed when blood is not pumped out of the heart because the heart is failing. The blood pools and clots, and then suddenly the large clot is forced out and sticks where the large artery coming out of the heart divides down the legs. That causes what seems to be a stroke in the back —that is your animal suddenly is paralyzed from the "waist" down, and is in pain if moved. The animal usually dies within a matter of hours to days. It is best have them euthanised when this happens.
If your vet finds a murmur on a young chinchilla, put the animal on a combination of Vitamin C, and Calcium with Calf Manna mixed into the pellets. We do not know if murmurs in the young are a cause of poor nutrition, but we believe that the above will not harm and in fact helps young animals. Since Vitamin C is an antioxidant we believe this will strengthen the heart, until further studies prove otherwise. If the murmur is in an adult, we recommend that you do not breed the animal, and monitor its condition closely. The animal may live for a very long time and have a very good life. To ensure this, reduce the sweets and fats [few nuts] given to the animal and provide a wheel for exercise. This course of action may just strengthen the heart. Keep in close contact with a good exotics vet, one who knows guinea pigs and rabbits, if not chinchillas.
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Seizures can be divided into two categories - those whose cause is known and those whose cause is not known.
1. Known Causes
Deficiency - low calcium, low thiamine and possibly low blood sugar
· Low-Calcium seizures are of a classic type, and are most common in females who have either just had babies, have had two or more pregnancies contiguously, or who have never been pregnant and are first pregnant. The signs and symptoms are tonic rigid bowed body with the nose curled towards the tail. This can be easily cured, but needs immediate veterinary intervention. The cure is Calcium Gluconate intravenously, or however vets give it in small animals like chins that have no good veins. To prevent this you should be sure your pregnant female has extra calcium. Good sources are low sugar soy milk, calf manna, TUMS, calcium absorbate, or calcium blocks by VitaKraft [Mineral Stone with Seaweed for small animals]. Take your pick.
· Thiamine seizures have been described as pre-meal trembling and paralysis, circling and then seizure activity. The main symptoms are the tremors, staggering, shakes, twitching types. Treatment is immediate Vitamin B complex.
· Diabetic chins are rarely known; although seizures due to hypoglycaemia [low blood sugar] have been seen. The main symptom of this type of seizure is when the animal has been active and then collapses. The collapse is sudden and the animal is limp. Try to get a sweet product in them.
· Toxic seizures can be due to lead poisoning, mercury poisoning, carbon monoxide, or toxic fumes from just about any toxic-type, volatile substance. Two cases of lead poisoning have been reported in chinchillas, so beware of lead based paint on your walls as chinchillas are well-known for chewing on walls.
· Mycotoxins and Aflatoxins also can cause seizures due to liver damage. Those seizures look like the staggering seizures of Vitamin B complex deficiencies.
· Head trauma [falling, jumping and hitting head etc.] occur when your chinchilla has fallen and hit its head, or runs into something and hits its head. When this happens, always be aware of the possibility of trauma —especially if the animal is knocked out. However, even if not knocked out, watch for unusual drowsiness or lack of energy. This does need to be seen by a veterinarian. There has been some discussion of nose trauma from a nerve running down the nasal area, but to date the author has not found corroborative evidence in any of the books on chinchilla physiology available.
· Heat stoke seizures are common and can be avoided if you keep your chin from getting too hot. Keep your chin out of direct sunlight, out of hot cars on long trips, and cooled when the temperature and humidity begin to climb. The rule of thumb is that if the sum of the temperature and humidity equals 65° C (150° F) then you are in danger. Keep your chin cool with rotating fans, ice cubes, ice in bottles or jars, air conditioners, dehumidifiers, or what ever you can. If your chin gets too hot, go ahead and immerse up to the neck in tepid to cool [not cold] water. You may have to blow dry for a while but you will save his life and stop a seizure.
2. Known Causes
The unknown cause types, called idiopathics [a medical term for “unknown cause”] are known as "Epileptiform" [epilepsy type] seizures. They are known to be familial, that is run in families, so at this time it is recommended against breeding a chinchilla with seizure activity. The problem is due to electrical activity across the cortex of the brain. It causes rigid posturing and spasms usually of the feet and mouth. The chinchilla is usually groggy afterwards. There is no known cause and no cure. You need to really get to know and trust your vet if you have one of these. You may have to decide if it is better for your animal to put it to sleep.
3. Seizure-like activity that is not a seizure
These are of two types, trembling and staggering/leaning.
· Trembling is a thing we find primarily in some black velvets or black velvet carriers. Any chin can tremble, if afraid enough, but it does seem sometimes more common in the black velvet strain. They just tremble: their muscles tremble when you hold them. It does not seem to be harmful, and it does seem to go away when they are more trusting of you. This is only a subjective finding, and any statistics cannot really be given.
· Staggering and leaning and going in circles, all in one direction. This has been seen to a result of inner ear infections in the two times we have heard of this in chinchillas. The infection is usually advanced and needs heavy antibiotics and good supportive care on the part of the owner. Again, get to know your vet. The Chinchilla ear is much like a human ear, comprised of three parts: outer [ear canal and ear drum], middle [bones which carry sound waves and amplify them], and inner [the part where the Chloclea and labyrinth aid in balance and pick up sound waves and translate them into nerve impulses. It ends with the acoustic nerve]. Thus with an inner ear infection you see a loss of balance.
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Internal parasites that affect chinchillas are Giardia, Coccidia, Cryptosporidium and Tapeworms, Hookworms and Nematodes such as Roundworms and Pinworms. These parasites are all common in the GI tract and, in some fashion, all of them decrease the absorption of nutrients in your animal. In the adult animal this is not as much of a problem as it is in the young, growing animal; as the young animal might not be able to grow and develop in a completely healthy manner leaving it open to other problems later on. We postulate that these problems might be some of the reasons that our animals come up with tooth root growth, sheer mouth in molars [commonly and erroneously called malocclusion] and maybe even easily broken bones later on in life.
Giardia is a flagellate protozoan that is it has a whip like tail. It also has a sucker like mouth and attaches itself to the surface of intestinal mucosa. The method of contamination is faecal-oral; this is when dirty paws or faeces gets into feed, and other chins eat the food. Humans can catch the Giardia by using unwashed hands to handle food, and pass it onto other animals by handling their food with unwashed hands. The eggs [oocysts] travel from the mouth, through the stomach and into the small intestine and there lodge and multiply.
Chinchillas normally harbour Giardia species in low numbers [Donnelly etal] which commonly cause no problems for the chinchilla. But, under stress, in the presence of a dirty environment, contaminated water supplies, or at times when the immune system is lowered in other illnesses or trauma the Giardia can then cause disease. [If you don't think your water supply can possibly be contaminated, remember that the levels that are safe for humans are higher than levels of the same organism that are safe for something as small as a chinchilla. Know too that the whole Sierra Nevada water system is contaminated with Giardia, and the Rocky Mountain water system is fast becoming so.]
The symptoms tend to be anything from increased appetite, to decreased activity, diarrhoea [or constipation] and even collapse. The diarrhoea tends to be large wet stools that shine with mucous, are very squashy and tend to be smeared on the house, perches, and other flat surfaces of the chinchilla cage. Diagnosis is best done on a fresh faecal smear-- take your sick chinchilla to a vet, let him/her get a piece of faeces dropped within the past 2 minutes in the office, place it onto a slide and squash it, and put a couple drops normal saline onto the slide. The slide should show the Giardia easily. Treatment is usually recommended to be metronidazol [flagyl] but we have found better success with albendazole or fenbendazole. Care of the animal consists of fluids to replace fluids lost in the diarrhoea [see diarrhoea], high energy foods [see food supplements] and cleaning the cage and environment of the chinchilla with good disinfectants such as 20% bleach, dettrol, Lysol, etc.
Coccidiosis are cystic in nature, in that they form walled cases around the protozoan, this makes them harder to kill. They also shed the egg and are transmitted by the faecal - oral route. In this case the cyst then invades the wall of the intestine of an immunosuppressed host, getting into the lymph system which makes it harder to eradicate and there divides asexually. This too causes weight loss, increased appetite, severe diarrhoea accompanied by dehydration [see diarrhoea] and sometimes even some hidden bleeding. Again the diagnosis is made with a fresh sample of faeces and seen as a wet mount under the microscope. The vet should see unsporoated oocysts being shed in the faeces. There are other tests that can be run if the vet has a high suspicion, but cannot see the egg under the microscope. In this case it is very important to have a very new stool sample for the vet to see in order for the eggs/cysts to be seen. Again, treatment is by oral medications, usually sulphonamides, and supportive care for the animal with high nutrition foods, and fluids. Sterilizing the cage and disposing of wooden houses and pieces of carpet is absolutely necessary.
Coccidiosis tends to be a disease problem in areas of poor sanitation, so animals should be housed to prevent contamination of food and water by contaminated faeces. If infected, food and water dishes should be disinfected by steam cleaning or immersion in boiling water, 5% ammonia solutions can also help disinfect the cage and dishes. Insect control is also essential as flies and cockroaches may serve as insect vectors of the oocysts.
Usually, if your animal has worms, you should be able to see them. However, if you suspect them, have the vet take a faecal sample for examination. In these particular cases, the worming medicines albendozole / fenbendozole work here too.
Cryptosporidiosis is a member of the coccidia group, called Eimeria. It also inhabits the epithelium of the digestive system, and also causes lack of absorption, diarrhoea and weight loss. The cryptosporidia is more of a parasite in that it causes lesions of the lining of the intestinal tract and can in some animals cause observable blood in the stools and in larger animals has been known to cause haemorrhage. This parasite is more infectious in that the eggs are immediately infectious when shed and will invade the border of the intestine and immediately multiply causing many small lesions or injuries. Again, the animal needs to be somewhat immunosuppressed, e.g. under stress or ill from another problem before it can take hold, but it takes less to cause problems. [Cryptosporidia has become more common in municipal water supplies, and one study published in the Annals of Internal Medicine has found that all portions of the population are susceptible, and that bottled water does seem to give some protection against this organism.]
Again, crowding, and unsanitary conditions increase the risk to the animal. In this case, when the vet examines the faecal sample of your animal, the vet should kill the cyst in formalin before checking under the microscope, as this bug is more infective than other parasites. It can also infect you and your vet. Again, a fresh sample of stool examined under the microscope can give the vet a good idea of contamination. Other tests can be run, but this will give the veterinarian a good idea of what he is working with. This organism is harder to eradicate than the others, and most antibiotics used are used mainly to combat secondary infections. Your animal will probably be in severe dehydration, and parenteral fluids need to be given by the vet under those circumstances.
Care of your animal again consists of supportive care [see diarrhoea and food supplements]. The cage, all cage materials, anything the animal has dropped faeces onto, and its environment must be sterilized with a very strong disinfectant, bleach does not seem to kill this organism. All dishes should be boiled for at least 20 minutes or run through your dishwasher on sanitary cycle. Anything that is porous [carpeting, wooden shelves or houses, perches etc.] should be thrown away tied in plastic bags so not to contaminate the landfill.
If you feel your water is the culprit, you need to filter water through a very small ceramic filter, as most regular water filters are not small enough to catch any of these organisms. Boiling water for 20 minutes will also kill these organisms. The authors use either filtered water or purified bottled water for their animals.
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Ringworm is a fungal infection. It lives in the very top layer of the skin, the dead, sloughing cells, and does not invade the underlying, living cells.
There are many forms of ringworm, in humans forms are known as "Athletes Foot", "Jock Itch", etc... One form, in humans that attacks the head only, shows up under a woods lamp [black light]. The form we see in chinchillas and rabbits is the body form, "Trichophyton", and shows as a pink to red rash. It causes a loss of fur, with a pinkish rash and rough skin underneath. It sometimes forms round patches with a clear centre. It is a mild infection, but can get infected and cause red weeping, runny sores. It is easily transmitted by contact, and the cage and surrounding areas need to be disinfected if your chinchilla contracts this problem. When handling your chinchilla with ringworm, it is wise to use gloves, an apron over your clothes, and to wash your hands well afterwards. [Good advice with any sick chin, wash your hands afterwards].
The infestation typically occurs on the head, legs, and feet of rabbits; but has been seen on the neck and even back of chinchillas. This form of ringworm does not show up under the woods lamp. The vet has to make a diagnosis by taking a skin scraping and do what is called a KOH wet mount and look under the microscope.
Treatment can be done with an oral medication called "griseofulvin" but treatment can take a long time. At this time this is a dangerous medication to use on chinchillas due to the strong effects oral medications have on the chinchilla GI tract. This disease is also easily eradicated with "pannalog cream" and anti-fungal shampoos. This sounds messy as it takes daily treatment with the creams, time to shampoo the animal weekly and to dry the animal carefully. The chin tends to resist this form of treatment, but this way of treating ringworm has fewer side effects. Three weeks is usually a sufficient amount of time to eradicate the problem.
The disease typically occurs under conditions of over crowding, in damp areas, from damp hay, and from environmental stressors. It is also a disease of poor sanitation, malnutrition, and is an opportunistic disease occurring after periods of stress that lower the immune system. Thus your chinchilla can get it in winter in rainy areas, in summer in humid areas, from contaminated hay, or from being in a crowded cage in a pet store.
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You have all heard about "fur rings" in male chinchillas - but do you know the potential consequences of a serious sheath and/or penis injury? A phimosis is where the glans of the penis is constricted. Any male mammal with external genitalia is in danger from phimosis or paraphimosis. These are serious medical or veterinary conditions that need prompt treatment. Or somebody's love life will be in serious jeopardy! The skin is very loose and folded to permit urination or erections. Worse still is the extensive gauzy connective tissue that is capable of swelling hundreds of times its normal volume. The last problem is gravity-everything swells up into a natural pendulous dead end. All that excess fluid will drain into one very sensitive area!
When a bit of hair wraps itself around the shaft of the penis, it begins to constrict normal venous drainage of the shaft. This happens underneath the foreskin. You have to retract the foreskin and pull out the penis [which is around 1+ inch long]. Look for a darker area around the pink of the shaft. This is the hair ring. Sometimes it constricts and the penis begins to swell. So if you see parts of your animal's penis outside the foreskin covering, seriously consider hair ring with swelling, as it is not normally outside the covering.
All males should be checked regularly, especially breeding males. If you see a male continually "grooming" himself around the area of his penis, this is a good indication that he has a hair ring. You'll need to hold the male carefully on his back, and gently push down on the foreskin of the penis, until it retracts and the actual penis is visible. Inspect it carefully for hairs, if the chin or his mate is white, the hair can be difficult to see. If there is a hair, or hairs, you will need to remove them. Removing the hair can be a bit difficult. If you aren't comfortable with such delicate work, by all means, take him to the vet. To remove the hair, use an antibiotic gel, such as Neosporin, on your fingers, and gently rub at the hair until it loosens. hair that is very tightly wrapped may need to be cut off. This is VERY delicate work. Use nail scissors, or better yet, let your vet do it. Once the hair is off, check for damage. Swelling should subside within a day or so. The penis should retract smoothly back into the sheath.
If phimosis is not corrected quickly, it leads to urine accumulation in the sheath which increases inflammation and raises the possibility of nasty bacterial infections. As bad as that sounds, it is not as bad as paraphimosis. Paraphimosis is very serious-above and beyond phimosis. Paraphimosis is where skin has been retracted and causes constriction. Hair rings fall under these categories; phimosis and paraphimosis - constriction of the penis by either swelling [phimosis] or a hair ring [paraphimosis].
When the penis remains swollen outside the sheath and can not retract normally-you have paraphimosis. This inability to retract launches a vicious cycle of fluid accumulation and swelling. Diuretics may be used to reduce the fluid accumulation. Eventually the pressure build-up causes fluid to ooze through the skin of the sheath and penis. As you can imagine, the skin becomes increasingly raw and painful. Infection can occur. If nothing is done, the skin become thick and dry and necrosis may set in. And then the damage is irreversible. In worst case scenarios-amputation of the penis may be necessary.
Both phimosis and paraphimosis require prompt attention. Cold therapy is the most important treatment. Minor injuries can be handled with icepacks or cold water. Reducing the swelling is essential to a speedy recovery.
For the more serious paraphimosis, first determine if there is an external cause (stud rings, fur rings, rubber bands, etc) and remove the foreign object by oiling it off or very carefully cutting it off the penis (gently). And then start cold therapy. It is very important to do the cold therapy correctly. You can't leave an ice pack on the tender skin since that could cause frostbite and worse problems. Wrap ice in a cloth or wet with cold water and hold to the area for 15-20 minutes every 2-3 hours. If the patient will tolerate it, hosing or massage showering is more beneficial than just a cold pack. Once the general swelling has been reduced by diuretics and cold therapy, then hot/cold therapy should be started. As the swelling goes down, a secondary problem may occur. On non-circumcised males, the foreskin or prepuce normally exists in moist darkness; in paraphimosis, it has been left out "to dry". The foreskin can crack and dry. It can even get infected. A soothing ointment such as bag balm or petroleum jelly may be applied. If an infection starts-a topical antibiotic ointment may be used. Also, if the vet allows, you can mix a little antibiotic ointment with some anaesthetic ointment to decrease pain. In severe cases, the removal of the foreskin and other tissues might be necessary. Remember, during treatment the area can get very dirty from the cage, hay etc. it needs to be checked every few hours, but since you are doing warm or cool packs and adding your ointments then you would check your chinchilla.
But to prevent the problem, spare some time to check the belly view of your chinchilla males.
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© Central mountain chinchillas
Your chinchilla will really puff up, and you will notice mucousey stool on the floor of the cage. Your chinchilla will need a supplement of acidophilus. Your chinchilla will also require more exercise, outside the cage, at more frequent intervals.
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Your chinchilla's fur will begin falling off in patches and will have scabs on different areas of its body. This is probably caused from being exposed to an infected animal. That is why all the pets in your house must be treated with the proper medication. You must also sterilize the chinchilla's cage, as well as any other caged animals. Make sure you wash your hands thoroughly between treatments of the animals, and when you are finished, to prevent this from spreading.
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Fur chewing is an undesirable trait that some chins develop. It is just what it sounds. The chin will chew itself and/or its cage mate’s fur off. They don't pluck themselves bald like hamsters do but the result is a rather moth-eaten looking chinchilla. The fur will appear matted and wet and looks as if it has been cut short. There is real no known cause for fur chewing. Some owners believe it could be genetic. Others, believe it to be due to stress, poor diet, noisy environments, sleep disturbances, too small of a cage, introducing a new mate or boredom. It is also said that fur chewers had an underdeveloped liver, others say it is lack of protein, and still others say that it could be all of the above together. It is not considered harmful to the chinchilla but will spoil the chin's appearance.
Although every chin is different, here are some of the remedies found:
· Lowering stress is usually a very good idea. Stress is sometimes the main thing behind fur chewing;
· If you just recently got the chin and it didn't chew fur before, it may be unsettled a bit at the sudden move so just try and wait it out;
· Sometimes if there is a nutritional deficiency they will chew their fur in their attempt to gain the nutrients they need. Try supplementing their diet;
· Some chins are higher strung and the smallest thing such as moving their cage can unsettle them enough to set them off chewing. It's your call if you keep the cage where it is or move it back where it was before;
· If you chin is bored they may just chew their fur for lack of something better to do. Lots of interaction and attention should be given to these chins. You can add more toys;
· Make sure your chinchilla is in a quiet, well ventilated but not draughty environment. Chinchillas are sensitive to stress and noise, so approach them in a quiet way, handle gently and provide active stimulation;
· Move the mate out of the cage.
Some chins never get over the chewing. It is thought that there may actually be a chewing gene in some circles. I don't know about that but there is the danger of them getting a hairball from all the hair that they may swallow. If you have a fur chewer, try giving them Petromalt every week. Just a glob about the size of a pea. They usually love it and it helps cut down the chances of hairballs.
© Cheeky chinchillas
© Nero chinchillas
© K and D exotic pets
© Chin central
This can be caused by improper ventilation in a hot room, or by having the cage located in an area where it receives direct sunlight.
Immediately turn on the air conditioner or a fan. Air movement by fans cools just by circulating the air, so use fans to blow air around your chinchilla. Don't blow air directly on your chinchilla, but cool the environment instead. Make sure the chinchilla is offered enough water. You may even want to try some saline water. Filling your chinchilla's cage with jars of ice, or dishes of ice cubes, so they can lie next to the ice to cool off, also helps. (Don’t let them chew on ice cubes). Other ideas are: soaking them in cool (not cold) water, turning the water sprinklers or misters onto the cage or spraying the cages with water, or putting wet sheets over cages and using a fan to speed evaporation can also cool off your chinchilla. Anything to cool them off will make a difference and can save a life. Heatstroke is fatal.
[see also § Heat on the Environment page]
© K and D exotic pets
© Joy of Chinchillas (Lani Ritchey BSc.AS, Elizabeth Current Cogswell MR MS PHN, and Roxane Beeman )
Chinchillas are rodents and as such, their teeth never stop growing and need to be maintained filed down. If teeth are not kept filed down, they will overgrow. but instead of growing out, they tend to grow in and the root is extended up into the skull and eye socket. As you can imagine, this is a most painful condition. The chins are more apt to starve to death because it is too painful to eat. If you ever notice that your chinchilla has bad breath, is slobbering, has large amounts of drool under its chin and around its eyes, or has stopped eating, there could be something wrong with its teeth and a possibility of malocclusion. This will end up killing it. Make sure you are providing a block of wood for your pet to chew on. If the incisors are so long that your chinchilla has stopped eating altogether, you will need to get to the vet so they can dredge them down.
Overgrown teeth can of course always be corrected by having them filed by a vet.
The colour of a healthy chinchillas tooth is a lovely shade of orangey/yellow. White teeth are a sign of malnutrition and additional nutrients must be supplied.
© K and D exotic pets
© Nero chinchillas
© Chin central
If you ever notice that your chinchilla's hunchback is decidedly more pronounced and it is losing weight, you will want to get right in to a vet. You will need to reconsider its current diet in favour of one that has a high nutritional value and is low on fats and sugars.
© K and D exotic pets
Healthy eyes are clear and sparkling. If there is any discharge or the eyelids are inflamed and sore, it may be that there is irritation or infection that must be treated with medication from a vet.
© Chinchilla health
If you notice any discharge from the ears, or if your chinchilla is pawing its ears or there is a lack of balance and direction, you should take your chinchilla to the vet. Once home, do not allow your chinchilla to have a dust bath until it is well again.
© Chinchilla health
Discharge from the nose may mean that your chinchilla has a cold. Keeping it warm and ensuring that it drinks a lot of fresh water should clear the problem. If the conditions worsen, take your chinchilla to the vet.
© Chinchilla health