Chinchilla Shopping List

chinchilla-shopping-list

I remember when I rescued my chinchilla, Jasper. Jasper showed up at my doorstep in nothing but a tiny dog carrier. Yes, I said dog carrier! The woman who owned him lived in a van and had this poor little guy living in a tiny space not even big enough for a mouse! Anyway, before bringing this guy home I did some quick research and quickly made a shopping list of everything my new chinchilla was going to need. Unfortunately, I couldn’t find just one site that had all of the information that I needed! Luckily for me, I had a few hours before I was supposed to pick him up, so I did my shopping list research and away I went to purchase what I needed. I had to read five or six different articles to make a complete shopping list. I have typed up the results of that research into one resource for you. Below is my chinchilla shopping list.

The absolute bare minimum items that you will need include:

(1) Cage: Midwest Deluxe Critter Nation is the cage I use and recommend.

(2) Basic Accessories you will need include: 

(3) Travel Carrier – I prefer the 32.5-inch crate made by Prevue Pet Products or the 24-inch Super Pet Mfh Rabbit Cage  if you have a tight budget is acceptable.

 

In the rest of this article, I’ll give more info on toys your chinchilla will enjoy, supplements to keep him/her healthy, acceptable treats, and types of wooden chews you can provide.

 

Toys Your Chinchilla Will Enjoy

Please take a moment and read my full post about Best Toys And Exercise Wheel For Your Chinchilla.  It will really help you to make sure you get the right size wheel and don’t just buy according to the cute pictures on the front of the packages. Although some wheels show a chinchilla on the front of their packaging, doesn’t mean its safe for your chinchilla!  Here are the items which are suitable to leave in your chinchillas’ cage I generally recommend:

  • hanging parrot toys (Don’t forget to check that they are made from safe trees.)
  • sisal ropes (again designed for parrots, but chins love them)
  • pieces of pumice stone
  • some rabbit or large hamster toys
  • wood or branches, e.g. Safe woods are Apple Arbutus Ash, Aspen, Beech, Birch, Cottonwood, Crabapple, Dogwood, Elm, Fir, Hawthorn, Hazelnut, Larch, Magnolia, Manzanita, Mulberry, Kiln-Pine (not fresh pine), Pear, Poplar, and Sequoia.
  • stuffed Booda buddy

DIY Toys For Your Chinchilla

Make your own toys: It is not very hard to make hanging toys with wooden blocks and it is much cheaper to make them at home than buying them. You just need some wooden blocks, wires (or chains), wire cutters, and a drill. If you don’t have a drill, you can drive a nail through the blocks.

  • Branches: i.e. apple branches. Chinchillas love to chew apple and pear branches so I would highly recommend using these trees. Of course, you need to make sure that no chemicals and such have been used on the trees.
  • Empty toilet paper rolls: Chinchillas’ all time favorite! These are great to hide treats in.
  • Popsicle sticks
  • Plain cardboard boxes
  • Rocks: Rocks of different sizes that have been cleaned and boiled.

Tip! ~ I know I have listed many things above but take a look around your house. You will find things that would be great new toys for your chinchilla. Just watch for glue, tape, staples, etc. Common sense stuff.

Optional, But will help keep your Chinchilla healthy and happy!

Other items you may wish to purchase right away or could need in the future are listed below.

Treats

Treats which can be given are:

  • fruit, try fruits with seeds, not stones or pits, e.g. raisins, dried cranberries, dried strawberries, dried blueberries, dried rose hips, a banana chip, or a piece of apple, pear, a half of a fresh or frozen grape, or kiwi.
  • veg, e.g. piece of carrot, flaked peas, parsley, chard, romaine, a dandelion leaf (small and washed). Avoid anything gas forming, e.g. broccoli, cabbage.
  • dried herbs, if available you can pick herbs, then after washing them, hang them upside down (in bunches) in a warm area until they have completely dried out. Herbs suitable for chinchillas include oregano, comfrey, mint, nettle, dandelion, and raspberry leaves.
  • grain, e.g. rolled oats, oat grouts, healthy cereals low in sugar like Shredded Wheat, plain Cheerios or Cornflakes.
  • nuts and seeds, very sparingly – e.g. almonds, sunflower seeds, pumpkin seeds, flax seeds
  • commercially prepared, e.g. chinchilla crackers (produced for chinchillas and available in the US & UK), a small piece of dry toast, or an alfalfa-based animal treat.
  • unsalted peanut in the shell, uncooked pasta…

 

Meds & First Aid

  • Acidophilus for balanced gut bacteria
  • Albon – Diarrhea Treatment
  • Antibiotic cream – For minor cuts
  • Baby Oat Cereal
  • Baby wipes
  • Charcoal – balances gut ph
  • Cheek retractor to check molars
  • Eye Wash
  • Gauze
  • Griseofluvin
  • Grooming Combs
  • High-calorie supplement for weak or sick Chins
  • Lavender oil for small abrasions or cuts
  • Lidocaine
  • Life Line helps with appetite
  • Lube
  • Medical tape
  • Ophthalmic Ointment
  • Pedialyte for Electrolyte dehydration
  • Powdered Goat Milk – kit formula
  • Shredded Wheat Biscuits – Diarrhea Treatment
  • Simethicone – For Bloat
  • Tinactin

Chinchilla Basic First Aid & Basic Wound Management

Chinchilla-Basic-First-Aid-Wound-Management

Basic Wound Management.

Every chinny owner will, at some point, come across a wound on their pet – these can range in severity from superficial wounds such as a scratch, or a cut lip/nose, to the more serious nipped toe (some chins have had their toes nipped clean off by another chinny) to Bumblefoot, or surgical wounds, tumors, and abscesses.

The correct care of such wounds is essential to minimize/prevent the risk of infection and to provide the optimum environment for healing.

Research into wound healing has taken place for many years – the following is based on such research and my personal experience as a chinny owner. However, please bear in mind that wound care is a very complex process and it is not possible to go into all the connotations of wound management/healing in this article.

Wounds.

A wound can be defined as – a cut or break in the continuity of any tissue caused by injury or operation.
There are many different types of wounds. The most common found in chinchilla keeping will be:

  • Surgical Wounds
  • Traumatic – amputations (e.g., toes), bites, abrasions, bruising
  • Burns
  • Abscess
  • Chronic Ulcers (such as bumblefoot)

It is important to assess the wound first and foremost to try to establish the underlying cause (so further occurrences may be prevented where possible) and to formulate a treatment plan.

Wound Assessment.

Assessment of the wound should include:

General condition of the animal, clinical signs of infection which include the surrounding skin condition (red, hot, fluctuant [squishy]), pus, lost fur, the wound itself (including colour of the wound, depth, size), any bleeding or fluid loss, position of the wound, and underlying cause.

Once the assessment has been made it should be possible to formulate a treatment plan.

Please note that referral to a qualified veterinarian is essential if the infection is suspected or the owner does not have the experience and confidence to deal with the wound.

Signs of Infection.

It is imperative that wounds are inspected daily for signs of infection which are:

  • Localized (around the wound site) redness, swelling.
  • Localized heat, pain. (difficult to gauge in a chinchilla because they are good at hiding pain).
  • Increased exudate (fluid coming from the wound).
  • Friable wound (delicate wound tissue – bleeds easily).
  • Odor – wound smells bad.
  • A general increase in body temperature (difficult to judge with a chinchilla).

Treatment Plans.

Wound management works on the same principles for animals as humans – research has found that the optimum environment for wound healing is one which is moist and warm. However, this is also the optimum environment for bacterial reproduction – so always check for signs of infection when treating any wound.

Never use cotton wool to clean wounds – the fibers which get left behind in the wound can slow down the wound healing and lead to increased risk of infection (fur should also be clipped away from the edges of wounds and the wound cleaned with saline for the same reason). It is also very painful to remove cotton wool fibers from a wound – Use a lint-free gauze swab.

All wounds should be monitored for changes in appearance, unusual bleeding, or infection – Veterinary advice must be sought if this is noticed.

It is not possible to go into all the variations of wounds and the care which can be given, but some suggestions of wounds and treatment regimes are as follows:

Superficial, small wounds: (e.g., Scrapes, minor cuts, minor bites)

  • Cleanse with normal saline (salt water one tablespoon in a cup of boiled, cooled water).
  • If the wound is very superficial and is small, then it can be left to heal without any treatment.
  • The wound should be monitored daily for signs of infection (as above).

Superficial, large wounds: (e.g., extensive scrapes, bites, unexplained skin lesions).

  • Cleanse with sterile water (cooled, boiled water)
  • Clip the fur away from the edge of the wound (to prevent it from getting stuck to the wound bed).
  • Apply cream to keep the surface of the wound moist (reduces pain and allows the wound to heal faster). An example of a suitable cream is green cream (bunnymail).
  • Monitor for infection and refer to vet if concerned.
  • Apply ointment/creams as prescribed by your vet.

Simple amputations (e.g., Bitten through toes)

  • Check wound for signs of bone protruding from the wound (will be creamy colored and hard). If a bone is present in the wound bed, then a veterinary opinion is essential.
  • Cleanse wound with saline
  • Monitor daily for signs of infection
  • Allow to self-heal or use ointments/creams as prescribed by your vet.

Surgical Wounds: (e.g., After abdominal surgery, castration, removal of a tumor)

  • Monitor wounds for signs of infection.
  • Monitor for signs of the chinny removing the stitches.
  • Monitor for signs of wound edges opening.
  • Veterinary opinion if required.

Bumblefoot:

  • Provide soft areas in the cage for pressure relief.
  • Check for signs of infection.
  • Spray areas with Purple Spray if required.
  • Veterinary intervention is necessary if the wounds continue to break open, bleed, or become infected.
  • Use creams as prescribed by your vet.

Cavity wounds/abscess: (cavity wound is a deep hole).

Always require veterinary intervention however the basic principles are as follows:

  • Fur should be clipped away from the wound edges (to prevent the fur from becoming stuck to the wound )
  • Flush wound with saline/irrigation fluid supplied by the vet, ensuring that all the fluid comes back out of the cavity. This may require a syringe technique which your vet should teach you.
  • If the wound is open, use a suitable gel such as IntraSite (or veterinary prescribed treatment) to keep the wound bed moist.
  • Keep the wound entrance open – this will prevent fluid from building up in the wound, causing pain, infection and further abscess.
  • Monitor the wound for signs of infection.

Cause
Abscesses are caused by infection and often are predisposed by injury. Such injuries occur when the young bite the mother while nursing. Sharp projections in the cage (especially newly constructed ones) and fighting are other causes. Filthy pens or pens that not disinfected routinely often harbor pus-producing organisms.

Treatment
Antibiotic therapy for 3 – 5 days will often eliminate the infections. If lancing is necessary, it should be done by a veterinarian, or at least you should be coached by a veterinarian. If the animal becomes ill (off feed), seek professional help. The front teeth of the young should be examined for irregularities and if present, corrective measures instituted. Sharp projections in the cage should be sought and removed if present. The cage and utensils should be thoroughly cleaned and disinfected.

Prevention
Prevention consists of removing the predisposing factors mentioned previously.

 

Broken Bones:

  • Isolate
  • Collar to prevent chewing
  • Seek medical attention immediately

Cause
The majority of broken bones occur in the legs, most often in the hind legs. A broken bone may be the result of a fall on a hard surface, being struck by a falling object when an animal escapes from its pen or a limb may be caught in a narrow opening and twisted. Wire bottom pens, one inch by one-half inch mesh, often allow the hock of chinchilla to go through and be caught, and a broken leg results in the struggle to get free. Improper or rough handling, such as catching or holding by the legs, can result in broken bones.

Treatment
Place the animal in an isolation pen in quiet surroundings and seek professional help. The animal should be collared to prevent chewing the broken bone. The collar should be fashioned from stiff cardboard made in two halves taped together. The difference between the inner and outer radius should be about one and one-half inches.

Prevention
Examining the door catches routinely to avoid escapes. It is suggested that 1″ x ½” mesh be avoided for the booms of pens. Learn how to retrain chinchillas properly.

Broken or Frozen Tails

Cause
A broken tail is usually caused by rough handling or closing the door on it, and a frozen tail is caused by housing during very cold weather in unheated quarters. Neither injury is considered serious.

Treatment – Breaks
House the animal alone. If no displacement has occurred, put a collar on the animal and do nothing else. Avoid handling by the tail for at least four weeks. If displacement has occurred contact your local veterinarian.

Treatment – Freezing
Usually, the tail falls off with no unfavorable results. If the chinchilla tends to chew its tail, apply a collar. It is very seldom necessary to isolate these animals. Antibiotics may be used to prevent secondary infection.

Torn Ears and Head Injuries

Cause
Fights.

Treatment
Place the animals in separate cages and watch them closely. The torn areas should be clipped of fur, washed with soap and water and rinsed with a mild disinfectant. In some cases, it may be necessary to give penicillin. Sever injuries should be attended to by a veterinarian. Uneventful healing usually occurs if the above measures are carefully carried out. The pens and utensils must be kept clean. If infection occurs, bathing two or three times daily with warm salty water will cleanse and hence assist healing of the wound.

Prevention
When introducing strange animals to the breeding herd, patience and caution must be exercised. The new animal should be allowed to get used to his new quarters before coming in contact with other animals.

Some mechanical means of closing the male out of the female pen should be available and used at the first sign of fighting. If fighting again occurs separate them. Usually, two or three instances of this teaches the lesson. However, a vicious male may be put in a separate pen for several months and then tried again.

Vicious fighting is not necessary and should not be tolerated.

 

Broken Teeth:

Cause
This is usually caused by jumping to the floor from a high cage during an escape attempt where the animal us alone or when you are attempting to catch it. As a rule, only the front teeth (incisors) are broken. Sometimes the teeth become caught in the wire mesh and are broken in the struggle to be free.

Treatment
If only one tooth is broken, file down the sharp points. If two or more are broken, clip them off evenly and file smooth. Put the animal on a soft diet until normal mastication can be resumed. It may be necessary to isolate the animal.

Heat Prostration:

Cause
Excessively high temperatures, poor ventilation, insufficient water and often direct exposure to the sunlight.

Treatment
If the animal is unconscious and has a high temperature, place it in a cool place and lower the chinchilla’s temperature to normal but not below (99-101°F). When it revives, give it a few drops of cool, slightly salted water. If the temperature becomes sub-normal, the treatment should be reversed, and attempts made to conserve body heat and restore the temperature to normal.

Prevention
Proper housing and air-conditioning.

Swollen Penis:

Cause
A ring of hair behind the glans of the penis following mating.

Treatment
Isolate and put a collar on the animal. Remove the fur, apply vaseline and massage the penis very gently in an attempt to reduce the swelling. Apply an antibiotic ointment three or four times daily.

Prevention
Males that are in polygamous breeding set-up should be examined at any sign of irritation.

 

Eye Injuries:

Causes
Usually projection of wire or splinters of wood in the eye. This is seen most frequently when new cages and nest boxes have been built recently.

Treatment
Isolate, and if the injury is severe or the foreign body is still present, seek veterinary assistance. If the injury is moderate and there is no foreign body present, an antibiotic ointment should be put in the eye twice daily until recovery occurs.

Prevention
Check for and remove any harmful projections in the pen.

 

I hope that this proves of interest and is helpful.

Please note ALL bite wounds should be referred for veterinary intervention. Bite wounds may look superficial at the surface but may be fatal if left untreated – there is a serious risk of abscessation, deep tissue trauma, infection, and rapid deterioration and death due to severe shock. ALL chins with bite injuries must be treated for shock and taken for immediate veterinary advice.

 

Reference:

T. J. Pridham, D.V.M., circa 1969

Chinchilla Pre and Post Operation Preparation

Chinchilla Pre and Post Operation Preparation

Anesthetics

Isoflurane (and sevoflurane) gaseous anesthetics are very well tolerated by chins – much more so than Halothane. When possible request that your vets uses either one.

Less than 1% Isoflurane is metabolized – the rest is merely exhaled for recovery to occur. Recovery is therefore very rapid

Commonly used inhalation anesthetics

  • Isoflurane
  • Sevoflurane

Less commonly used inhalant anesthetics

  • Methoxyflurane
  • Halothane
  • Desflurane
  • Nitrous oxide

% of anesthetic metabolized

  • Methoxyflurane up to 50% is metabolized by the liver and kidneys
  • Halothane up to 20-25% is metabolized by the liver and kidneys
  • Sevoflurane 3.0 % is metabolized by the liver and the kidneys
  • Isoflurane 0.17% is metabolized by the liver and the kidneys

Preparation

Ensure your chin is well-hydrated before the operation – as this can lessen the risk of adverse effects.

There is no need to starve a chinchilla before an operation.

When you drop the chinchilla off at the vet’s, take some of the usual food in – just in case the chinchilla needs to stay overnight.

It sometimes helps to write any special instructions down – so the veterinary nurses are aware of any unusual requirements while the chin is in their care.

Immediately after the operation

Within the first few hours of getting a chinchilla home after a surgical procedure of any kind, I recommend the following.

  • Keep the chinchilla warm
  • Ensure the chinchilla is eating within a few hours – to prevent eventual anorexia. Encourage the chinchilla to do so by offering favorite foods (but not too many treats).
  • Keep the chinchilla as stress-free as possible by minimizing handling and providing a nestbox (or similar) as a retreat. Ensure the chinchilla is in an area where there are peace and quiet.
  • Make sure the chinchilla drinks – a little pure apple or pineapple juice can be added to the drinking water to encourage drinking.

Post Operative Tips

Metacam can be prescribed by the vet if extra pain relief is required – or you can give Calpol 6+ (see “First Aid Kit Contents” for correct dosages). However, please liaise with your vet first as an analgesic injection may well have been given – which can be effective for a couple of days.

An oat and wheatgerm mix can be given to build up chinchillas (see “supplement recipe”). But feed no more than 1 teaspoon a few times a week – or otherwise the chinchilla will not eat its staple diet (pellets and hay).

Apple or cider vinegar can also be added to the drinking water (10 drops to 250ml water) to help act as a tonic and stimulate the appetite.

For further info on all these (and other) subjects you can do a word search using the facility at the top of your screen.

I hope that the above is useful. However, it is worth mentioning that although anesthetic techniques have improved enormously in recent years, there is still a small risk whenever a chinchilla requires surgery.

However, the above tips may help to prevent some adverse post-operative conditions.

Chinchilla Hair Rings – What It Is And How To Remove It – Video Demo

Some male chins are more prone to hair rings than others. Breeding males should be regularly checked – especially if they are “novice breeders.”

However, males that are not used for breeding can still get hair rings too – and should periodically (monthly) be briefly examined.

Usually, the first symptom of a hair ring will be that the penis will look rather swollen, maybe a red or purple color too (congested). The foreskin may not be covering the penis in the usual way either, and the male may be licking at himself more than usual, and in severe cases he may sit hunched up, reluctant to eat or move. A normal looking penis will be the usual skin-color for your chin, and will look “pointy” – this the foreskin completely covering the penis.

To perform a full examination 

  1. Two pairs of hands are easier than one – unless you are experienced at doing this.
  2. Restrain the chin in a suitable way – wrapping in a towel can help
  3. Application of cold water can help reduce any swelling before checking – but do be careful not to cause freezer-burns by applying ice directly onto such a tender anatomical part!!
  4. Liberally apply water-soluble lubrication to the penis – such as KY
  5. Gently push the foreskin back
  6. While holding the foreskin back – gently pull the penis out of the sheath – it kind of “telescopes” outwards. If no hair ring is visible – then apply a little more lubrication – and gently push the penis back in-situ.
  7. If you do see a hair ring – then GENTLY remove it with your fingers – by gradually “teasing” it apart. This is safer than using scissors. Be very careful when removing a hair ring and use plenty of lubricants.
  8. When you are sure that there is no hair ring. Carefully pull the foreskin down, back over the penis – making sure it is fully covered – and “pointy-looking” again.

ALWAYS PERFORM THIS PROCEDURE WITH THE UTMOST CARE OR SERIOUS DAMAGE CAN RESULT

Some breeders do not retract the penis after removal of the ring. Instead, they prefer to allow the penis to retract itself – and that way they know all is well.

However, if it does not retract then assistance (and veterinary advice) is needed – as some damage has obviously resulted. If a chin is suspected of having a hair ring – it should never be left – as it can restrict the blood flow to the penis – causing it to atrophy – which is extremely painful and requires major surgery and can even be fatal.

Is Chinchilla Malocclusion A Long Agonizing Death Sentence

Chinchilla Malocclusion

Malocclusion is a disease that all Chinchilla Owners should be aware of. The reason being that if your animal is affected, it will suffer a long agonizing death, unless you act promptly. There is no cure for this genetic disease. Everyone should be aware, that once diagnosed, the animal, at some point, will have to be put to sleep.

As chinchillas are members of the rodent family their teeth (and roots) continue to grow constantly, they can grow 2-3inches per year. If the alignment of the teeth does not grow parallel, malocclusion can occur. Malocclusion is when the teeth begin to grow in a spiral shape into the chinchilla, they overlap when they meet. This is an incurable disease with agonizing effects leading to death. Watery eyes and drooling are the most common symptoms; watery eyes occur when the roots of the upper molars rub on the back of the eyes, this causes the animal considerable pain and irritation.

The most obvious symptoms of Chinchilla Malocclusion are drooling, watery eyes and continued weight loss. Drooling occurs when the animal is unable to swallow properly. You may also notice that the animal does not eat its pellets properly, leaving most of them half eaten or chewing in a pile under its cage. Watery eyes occur when the roots of the upper molars rub on the back of the eyes, this causes the animal considerable pain and irritation.

Nobody is completely sure of the causes of Malocclusion but the preferred explanation is that the condition is a genetic one. Although it is worth mentioning that occasionally foodstuff, such as hay and cuttlefish, can become wedged between the teeth causing them to Malocclude. When this happens and is diagnosed, a Veterinary should be able to remove the offending particles and then grind the teeth down, leaving you with an animal that should recover to live its life normally. The genetic condition is thought to be recessive in much the same way as for coats colors, Violet and Charcoal etc..

Symptoms

 

Causes

 

Treatment

Prevention

Watery eye or eyes, pawing through food, loss of appetite, weight loss, lumps under jaw line, drooling. Genetic makeup, sharp object trapped in between teeth, such as splinter from a log, broken teeth, too little or no gnawing materials, and calcium deficiency. No treatment. The animal will have a shortened life with discomfort leading to immense pain. Chin will have to be put down. Do NOT breed from a chin with or carrying malocclusion, give cuttlefish as an alternative to wood.

Examples

Here are some examples of how Malocclusion is carried through lines of Chinchillas…..

  1. Standard with Malocclusion mated to Standard without Malocclusion will breed only Standards carrying Malocclusion.
  2. Standard with Malocclusion mated to Standard with Malocclusion will breed only Standards with Malocclusion.
  3. Standard with Malocclusion mated to Standard carrying Malocclusion will breed 50 percent Standards with Malocclusion and 50 percent carrying Malocclusion.
  4. Standard carrying Malocclusion mated to Standard without Malocclusion will breed 50 percent Standard carrying Malocclusion and 50 percent Standard without Malocclusion. But Beware! You cannot tell which is which just by looking at them!
  5. Standard carrying Malocclusion mated to Standard carrying Malocclusion will breed 50 percent Standard carrying Malocclusion, 25 percent Standard without Malocclusion and 25 percent with Malocclusion. Again Beware! You cannot tell which is which just by looking at them!

In the above examples, numbered 1 to 3 an animal with Malocclusion has been used to predict the offspring which can be born. This is only an example, as no breeder will breed with an animal that has Malocclusion. The interesting examples here, being 4 and 5, as it is from these types of matings that Malocclusion can be passed on. The appearance (Phenotype) of the animals is the same, being Standard Grey in color. The genetic constitution (Genotype) is however different, with some animals carrying Malocclusion, some with the disease already and some without Malocclusion. Only time will tell the difference between each one. This can sometimes mean that years elapse before one of the parents Malocclude or you get a phone with the news that one of the offspring you may have sold several years earlier has Malocclusion. It is only then, that you will find out that you have Malocclusion in this line of your animals!

Photograph

Here below is a photograph, of a Chinchilla skull, that was destroyed, due to it having Malocclusion. You can clearly see on the top jaw of the animal, that the roots of the teeth have grown through into the eye sockets, causing rubbing against the back of the eyes, which then causes the eyes to water. On the bottom jaw, it is also possible to see, that where the jawline should be smooth, all the teeth roots have grown out of the bottom of the jaw. Also, if you look into the mouth and at the teeth, where the teeth have become so out of line, the front teeth have grown to twice the size that they should be, leaving them sticking out into the lips and roof of the animal’s mouth, causing the animal to suffer.

When examining this skull, I found that every tooth in this animal had maloccluded. From the first diagnosis of Malocclusion, the animal whose skull is pictured here deteriorated to this state within two months.

Chinchilla Malocclusion
Chinchilla Malocclusion. Credit: VetDent.eu

What To Do

If you suspect that one of your animals has Malocclusion then do not panic. Contact an experienced breeder who can help either deny or confirm Malocclusion. If you are still unsure, then take the animal to a knowledgeable Vet. If your Chinchilla definitely has Malocclusion then you know it is going to have a shortened lifespan. If this particular animal is inbreeding, then it will have to be removed and placed in a cage by itself, whilst you decide what you are going to do with it. If you bought the animal, then look up in your records and find the breeders name and telephone number. Give them a call and explain what has happened to the animal. This will enable the breeder to alter his breeding program, which should prevent further Maloccluders from being born. Some of the more reputable breeders may even offer to replace your animal for you, especially if you have purchased it within the previous twelve months. If you have purchased the Maloccluding Chinchilla from a Pet Shop then inform them also and ask for the breeders’ name and telephone number. However, if the Pet Shop will not give you this information, then there is very little that you can do. Other than not to purchase any further Chinchillas from them and advise your friends to do the same!

Luck Vs Untruthful

Any breeder who tells you that they have never had any Chinchillas Malocclude, are either extemely lucky, or are not being forthcoming with the truth. Every breeder that I know of, has at some time has this unfortunate experience. If any of my own animals Malocclude, I usually have them put to sleep straight away and would advise everyone to do the same. Occasionally people find it hard to have their pet destroyed and wish to wait whilst they come to terms with the disease. If you decide to do this, then weigh the animal as soon as possible. Then weigh it at weekly intervals. As soon as you notice that your pet is losing weight on a regular basis, after having already been diagnosed as having Malocclusion, you should realise that he is not eating enough food. You will then know for sure that it is time to have the animal destroyed before the disease gets so bad that your pet starves to death.

Personal Recommendation

I personally, recommend the following. If you intend to purchase any Chinchillas, then please do not buy from a Pet Shop, unless they provide you with a pedigree for the animal, giving the breeders name and telephone number and check the breeder out yourself! Or unless the Pet Shop itself breeds the animals and can show you the parents before you purchase an animal from them. (Again check their living conditions, you do not want to support breeders who are not treating their pets properly!) I prefer to rescue rather than purchase from breeders. It’s a personal preference from my many years of seeing these beautiful creatures crammed into small cages and bred time after time for the sole purpose of turning a profit. The term puppy-mill doesn’t just apply to puppies.

Chinchilla Care Sheet

Chinchilla-Care-Sheet

Before bringing your chinchilla home:

  • Ensure you have a cage set up and ready,
  • Be sure that your family is aware your new pet will need peace and quiet to settle into their new home.
  • Ensure your chinchilla is not unduly disturbed by other pets such as cats and dogs.
  • Ensure that any younger children understand a small animals nervousness and that they will need to be gentle and patient

 Setting up a Chinchilla Cage

There are many types of cages which will make a wonderful home for your chinchilla. The one we use is the Midwest Deluxe Critter Nation. As chinchillas love to run around, choosing as large a cage as you can accommodate comfortably would be a wise decision. We don’t feel a cage should be smaller than 24″ x 24″ x 18″ as this allows a single chinchilla some running room. Two-story cages are larger and nice if you are accommodating several chinchillas. You can buy your cage or make it yourself. It is nice to incorporate shelves, a hideaway house, toys and a wheel for exercise. Our preference is to use ½” x ½” on the bottom and 1″ x ½” on the sides and top. This is especially important if you are planning to breed a pair of chinchillas. Babies are great escape artists and can get out of wire mesh that is larger than 1″ x ½.” Also, if you have babies, it is best to have them in a single story cage with no shelves as they can fall or be injured by a jumping adult.

You can choose to have a wire bottom cage or a cage which rests in a pan. If you choose a cage that rests in a pan or has a solid metal bottom, you will want to use natural pine shavings that contain no oils or tars. Do not use cedar shavings as they can be toxic to chinchillas. If you choose a wire mesh bottom cage, the size of the mesh is extremely important. The mesh bottom of the cage should be no larger than ½” x ½.” If the wire is larger, a chinchilla can get a foot caught in the mesh. In its distress, a chinchilla can chew off its foot, break its leg or the leg trauma may necessitate amputation. Why take a chance! If using a wire bottom cage, be sure the chinchilla has areas where it can sit or rest where its feet are not directly on the wire. We use houses or shelves and sometimes wood planks (which we change regularly because they can harbor bacteria). Chinchillas can develop sores on their feet from the continued direct contact with the wire.

A standard chinchilla cage is constructed of strong wire mesh; this mesh should not be coated in plastic which could be chewed and swallowed. Wooden shelving should be provided inside the cage to give them a place to rest off the wire; they will also appreciate a wooden house or box to retreat to.

Accessories you will need include: 

  • a hay rack (unless one is built into the cage),
  • a water bottle,
  • a food dish which cannot be knocked over,
  • a dust bath,
  • food, and hay,
  • Chinchilla dust or chinchilla sand. Do not use ordinary sand as this is too coarse.
  • Litter – wood based cat litter is ok. Alternatively, you may line the litter tray with newspaper provided the chins can not reach the paper. Do not use sawdust as this is too fine, and do not use cedar wood shavings (cedar is harmful to chins).
  • exercise wheel

The cage is best placed where other animals will not bother your chinchilla; away from drafts; not directly in front of a radiator; and not in direct sunlight where they may be at risk from heat exhaustion. A good spot is against the wall, or in the corner of the room where the chinchilla will feel
less exposed.

When your chinchilla arrives home, place them in their new cage and leave them alone for the rest of the day. Before they start to interact with you, they need time to settle in, investigate their home, and become accustomed to all the new smells and sounds around them.

Exercise Wheel:

When choosing a wheel, do not select a wire mesh wheel or a hamster wheel. Many chinchillas have had legs amputated or have been killed when caught in these wheels. Choose a wheel that is solid all the way around. The ONLY two that I have found to be safe are the Exotic Nutrition 15″ Chin-Sprint and the 15″ Chin Spin Chinchilla Wheel (Handmade in the USA)

Water Bottles:

Many good water bottles are available. Heavy glass water bottles are nice because they can be sterilized in the dishwasher, but be sure the drinking tubes are very heavy glass, so the chinchilla does not bite through them. There are also many varieties of plastic water bottles from Lixit and Nivek which also work well. Be sure the bottles do not leak, especially if the chinchillas sit on litter. Damp litter is very unhealthy for the chinchilla. If using plastic water bottles, it is important to put a sheet metal guard between the water bottle and the cage. Chinchillas will chew through a plastic water bottle at every opportunity. We cut a piece of sheet metal large enough to shield the water bottle and make a hole for the water nozzle. This has worked very well. Also, be sure the water bottle is securely fastened to the cage as the chinchillas enjoy unhooking the wires that hold it to the cage.

Chinchillas need access to fresh water at all times. It is important to change their water daily and keep the water bottles clean so as not to breed bacteria.

Toys:

Chinchillas enjoy chewing and need to chew to prevent their teeth becoming overgrown; chewable toys are therefore ideal for chinchillas. Avoid toys that have small or sharp, metal parts, or have plastic parts. If (or when) your chinchilla chews these they will end up swallowing the plastic
and could end up with a blockage in their intestine.

Many chinchillas enjoy hanging toys with bells on the bottom and wood blocks (usually pine or fir) stacked on the chain. They delight in chewing off the blocks and like the sound of the bell. It is important that chinchillas have adequate items to chew as their teeth continually grow. We often supply wood blocks, hanging toys, pumice blocks, booda bones, etc. If you use any wood in the cage, be sure to change it often as wood can harbor fungus and bacteria.

Be sure your chinchilla has a little hideaway house so s/he can have somewhere to go when s/he needs to feel safe. They do truly enjoy their houses and often feel comfortable lying on their sides or backs totally relaxed.

Food Dishes:

We like to use stoneware crocks that sit on the bottom of the cage. This allows us to monitor the food intake to be sure the chinchillas are eating well. Although sometimes the chinchillas will soil the dishes and the food, they can be easily washed and refilled. We tend to use different size crocks depending on the number and age of the chinchillas in the cage. Crocks that are 4″ and 5″ tend to work well. There are also metal feeders which hook onto the side of the cage. However, with these, the chinchillas tend to pull out the food, and it scatters over the cage bottom.

[alert style=”warning”]Items which are also suitable to leave in your chinchillas’ cage are:

  • hanging parrot toys
  • sisal ropes (again designed for parrots, but chins love them)
  • pieces of pumice stone
  • some rabbit or large hamster toys
  • wood or branches, e.g., kiln-dried pine (not fresh pine), apple, pear, or willow.[/alert]

Feeding

Two words: Hay and Pellets

All a chinchilla needs are good quality hay and pellets; and fresh water – a very basic diet is, without a doubt, the best diet for them.

Hay needs to be available at all times as it is essential in helping wear down their teeth and keep them in trim. If your chinchilla is not eating its hay then reduce the amount of pellets you feed to encourage eating of hay. You can’t give a chinchilla too much fresh hay.

It is also a good idea to provide a cuttlefish bone to chew on as this provides calcium which is essential for healthy teeth.

You will see mix foods which say they provide a well-balanced diet however problems which become apparent when feeding a mixed food are:

  • Most mix foods contain treat foods.
  • Given a choice, most chinchillas will pick out their favorite food and choose not to eat the rest. Chinchillas can become picky – they will tend to eat more treat foods and less of the other ingredients.
  • A diet rich in treats is not considered a good diet for a chinchilla.
  • A mix of food is formulated to provide a well-balanced diet based on the assumption that all ingredients are eaten.

We recommend feeding your chinchilla twice per day (morning and evening). Chinchillas enjoy a routine and look forward to being fed at the same time each day. We have used APD-Alffy Pellets (American Pet Diner) and Mazuri pellets. Our chinchillas have maintained excellent health on this diet. We offer timothy hay, hay cubes, and alfalfa cubes.

Always be sure that any food, timothy hay or alfalfa you use is fresh, free of mold, mildew and toxic weeds. If your chinchilla eats “bad” hay, diarrhea often results. This can sometimes lead to intestinal problems which, if untreated, can lead to an untimely death to your pet.

When changing your chinchillas’ diet do it slowly to decrease the risk of digestive problems. Start by mixing in a little of the new food into the existing food, then throughout a one or two weeks (approx.) gradually increase the quantity of new food, and decrease that of the old food.

Feeding Treats

Although pellets and hay are all that a chinchilla needs they can be given some treats. All treats offered should be low in salt, sugar, fats, and oils. Therefore commercial foods, e.g., biscuits, crisps, crackers, etc. should be avoided. Nuts and seeds should also be avoided or given only occasionally as
they are high in fats and oils, for example, pecan nuts contain approx. 70g of fat per 100g. All treats should be given in small quantities, and only one or two each day as too much fresh fruit, veg, and grains can cause digestive problems. Peanuts and corn should not be given.

Treats which can be given are:

  • Fruit, try fruits with seeds, not stones or pits, e.g., raisins, dried cranberries, dried strawberries, dried blueberries, dried rose hips, a banana chip, or a piece of apple, pear, grape, or kiwi.
  • Veg, e.g., a piece of carrot, flaked peas, parsley, chard, romaine, a dandelion leaf (small and washed). Avoid anything gas forming, e.g., broccoli, cabbage.
  • Dried herbs, if available you can pick herbs, then after washing them, hang them upside down (in bunches) in a warm area until they have completely dried out. Herbs suitable for chinchillas include oregano, comfrey, mint, nettle, dandelion, and raspberry leaves.
  • Grain, e.g., rolled oats, oat grouts, healthy cereals low in sugar like Shredded Wheat or Cornflakes.
  • Nuts and seeds, very sparingly – e.g., almonds, sunflower seeds, pumpkin seeds, flax seeds
  • commercially prepared, e.g., chinchilla crackers (produced for chinchillas and available in the US & UK), a small piece of dry toast, or an alfalfa-based animal treat.

When introducing a new treat, do it slowly – introduce one treat at a time, and when first feeding it to your chinchilla only give a small piece. If you have just bought a chinchilla and are not sure if they have been given fruit before then start by only give one small piece at first.

Fat/oil content of nuts and seeds

The table below is provided for information only to allow a comparison of different nuts and seeds. The fat/oil content is expressed as a percentage, e.g., sunflower seeds contain 47.5g oil per 100g. I know sunflower seeds, pumpkin seeds, and flax seeds can be fed to chinchillas – I can not guarantee that all the items listed below are safe for chinchillas to eat!

Nut or seed type Fat/oil content (%)
Pumpkin 45.6
Peanut 46.1
Sunflower 47.5
Cashews 48.2
Pistachios 53.7
Almonds 55.8
Hazel 63.5
Brazil 68.2
Walnuts 68.5
Pine nuts 68.6
Pecans 70.1
Macadamia 76.9

 

Possible problems resulting from feeding peanuts

Your chinchilla will benefit from some essential fatty acids provided by nuts and seeds. However, it is believed that too much fat in a chinchillas diet may make them prone to hepatic lipidosis. Hepatic lipidosis tends to occur in animals which cannot metabolize fat well. It is literally fat infiltration into liver cells – fat globules build up in the cells until they are unable to perform their natural function. Severe hepatic lipidosis can cause major problems and even death.

Peanuts may also be a source of aflatoxins. This carcinogenic mycotoxin is produced by certain fungi and is a potent poison. It remained undiscovered until 1960 when 100,000 young turkeys died after eating contaminated feed. Aflatoxins appear to work by modifying the structure of DNA in the liver cells resulting in highly corroded livers. It is thought that there is a link between primary hepatocellular carcinoma and the consumption of aflatoxins. Foods most likely to be contaminated are corn, peanuts, and cottonseed, although it has also been detected on other foods.

While many chinchillas are given peanuts as a treat with no apparent ill effects, it is considered better to avoid peanuts, give seeds as a treat instead, and reserve other nuts as a ‘special’ treat.

Sugar and fiber content of dried fruit

This information is included because a few owners have reported tooth cavities in their pets. While the diet of those animals is not known, it seems sensible to limit the amount of sugar your chinchilla eats.

Dried fruit is often high in sugar because the sugar that is naturally present in the fruit becomes more concentrated by the drying process. It is, therefore, best to avoid feeding fruit with added sugar to your chinchilla.

Information in the table below is based on dried fruits to which no sugar was added. Once again this table is provided for information only to allow a comparison of different dried fruits. The sugar/ fiber content of each fruit is expressed as a percentage, e.g., raisins contain 71.4% sugar, and 5.8% fiber per 100g. All these fruits can be fed to chinchillas – in small quantities, e.g., one or two raisin-sized pieces.

Fruit Sugar content (%) Fibre content (%)
Banana 29.6 6.0
Cranberry 57.1 28.6
Mango 62.0 ?
Strawberry 71.4 7.1
Raisin 71.4 5.8
Blueberry 81.8 9.1
Apple 84.6 11.5
Pineapple 86.4 4.5

 

Changing your chinchillas’ food

Changing your chinchillas’ diet should be done slowly to decrease the risk of digestive problems. Start by mixing in a little of the new food into the existing food, then throughout a one or two weeks (approx.) gradually increase the quantity of new food, and decrease that of the old food.

When introducing a new treat, again do it slowly – introduce one treat at a time, and when first feeding it to your chinchilla only give a small piece. If you have just bought a chinchilla and are not sure if they have been given fruit before then start by only give one small piece at first.

Taming and Handling

A chinchilla can live up to 20 years, so you have plenty of time – take your time getting to know your chinchilla, a weeks progress can suffer a severe setback if you inadvertently scare your pet.

Remember that chinchillas are timid and can easily become frightened; each chinchilla is different and the time it takes to develop trust between you and your new chinchilla will vary with each animal – some animals can take six months or more to trust their owner completely. It is worth remembering that in the wild a chinchilla is a prey animal – and they have evolved to be alert to dangers, and to run and hide if there is something they are not sure of.

Approach the cage slowly and speak quietly and gently to your chinchilla, offer them a raisin or some other small treat. Chinchillas are naturally curious so after a while, s/he should come to the side of the cage and accept the treat. When your chinchilla is happy with this try reaching into the cage and offering a treat, do not pursue your pet – be patient and let them come to you, and allow them to explore your hand and arm. As your chinchillas trust in you increases you can try stroking their back, and in time you may be able to pick them up. It has to be said here that some chinchillas will never like being picked up.

Exercising Your Chinchilla

It is important for chinchillas to have exercise. A safely constructed wheel (not wire) in your chinchilla’s cage provides both entertainment and exercise. A wheel (if your chinchilla enjoys using it) also helps to keep your chinchilla from becoming overweight and lethargic. If you have a spare room, a closet or a bathroom that you can “baby proof,” use this for your chinchilla to run free. They leap, jump and ricochet off the walls with abandon. If you are sitting on the floor, they will use you to leap upon as well. It is important to be there to supervise a chinchilla’s playtime to ensure there are no mishaps. Be sure toilet seats are down; garbage cans are covered, no cupboards open no electric outlets are exposed or cords accessible to the chinchilla. We usually take a few chinchilla toys (toilet paper rolls, PVC pipe tubes, plastic balls, whiffle balls, etc.) and spread them on the floor. Chinchillas are very nosy and love to explore the toys, carrying them around the room. Often your chinchilla plays so hard, s/he wears himself out and then goes right to sleep when you put him/her back in the cage.

Whichever play area you chose you will need to chin proof. This involves ensuring that:

  • no electrical (or telephone) wires are available for chewing,
  • they cannot get behind or under any gas fires, fridges, freezers, washing machines, etc. where they may become stuck or may come to harm,
  • you have no objects lying around that you really don’t want to be chewed,
  • the toilet seat is kept down – chinchillas have died or been badly harmed by toilet incidents.

Your chinchilla will need to be supervised at all times. When you leave the room for five or ten minutes, you may walk back in to find your pet has managed to climb up and reach some electrical wires or has discovered the delights of wallpaper stripping!

Use caution – while your pet is outside the cage it is extremely important to know their whereabouts, they can move very quickly, but at other times they can move very quietly – it is very easy to turn around and tread on your chinchilla! Likewise, before sitting down check the seat, your chinchilla may have pinched that spot.

Getting your chinchilla back in the cage can be a challenge. It is a good idea to avoid chasing them, especially if you are still working on gaining their trust. One method is to offer them their bath when they hop in just take them back to their cage.

Health

The most important thing to keep in mind is that by the time you notice your chinchilla is feeling poorly, they may have been ill for some time. If an infectious illness is suspected isolate them from other chins, then take them to the vet as soon as possible rather than try to guess what may be wrong
and possibly give inappropriate treatment.

Having said that chinchillas tend to be healthy animals. Problems that may occur include overgrown teeth, diarrhea, constipation, heat stroke, fur fungus, eye infections, colds, hair ring.

Teeth

Chinchillas can get overgrown teeth or tooth spurs. If your chinchilla appears to be having difficulty eating, is reaching their paw to their mouth frequently, and particularly if you notice wetness around the mouth or on the chest then take it along to the vet as soon as you possibly can. These symptoms may indicate tooth problems which in some cases can require surgery – treatment is best undertaken before the chin loses too much weight and weakens through lack of food.

Chinchillas can also develop cavities – so beware of giving too many sweet treats!

Digestive problems

These can occur due to change of diet, too much fruit, and vegetables, or through illness. Again a visit to the vet is in order. A chin with constipation may benefit from extra exercise, while in the event of diarrhea the following may help: withhold all treats, offer your chin charcoal in the form of bird
charcoal, or extremely well-done toast (completely blackened).

Heat stroke

Chinchillas generally will not survive temperatures over 75 degrees for extended periods. They can become very stressed even at 70 degrees if humidity is high.  If kept over 80 degrees, chinchillas can suffer heat stroke and die. Keep your chinchilla in a cool place, being careful to avoid drafts. It is important to have a good exchange of air in the room. You should consider acquiring an air conditioning unit if you have chinchillas in your home (and perhaps a backup unit if you have many chinchillas). We repeatedly warn people of the heat dangers to chinchillas since chinchillas cannot perspire as we do.  We are adamant about instructing people not to put their chinchillas outside during the summer months because of the risk of heat stroke.  If you leave your chinchilla outside in the sun, on a porch or even under a tree during very hot weather, you will be killing your pet.  So many chinchillas die from heat stroke every year, and it doesn’t have to happen!

In the book, Joy of Chinchillas, there is a section that talks about heat stroke.  The following is an excerpt from that section:

 Chinchillas can die from heat stroke, and it is preventable!  If temperature (in degrees Fahrenheit) and humidity add up to 150 (e.g. temperature is 90 degrees Fahrenheit and humidity is 60%, the sum equals 150) then that is dangerous to the chinchillas.  The chinchilla comfort zone is 65 degrees to 80 degrees Fahrenheit tops.  They can tolerate cold far easier than heat (of course, they have a nice fur coat).  Humidity should be around 30% to 40%.  Below 25% humidity even humans develop dry cracked skin – so, decrease bathing which causes dry skin if done excessively.  Remember, if you are uncomfortable from either heat or humidity, your chinchilla will also be uncomfortable.  The rule of 150 goes for humans too, and if the temperature plus humidity is 150 or above you also are in danger of heat problems.  If you are in danger, how much more your chinchilla, which cannot sweat nor take off its nice fur coat!!!”

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.  Having access to an air conditioner can save your animal’s life.  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.  (Chinchillas sometimes chew on ice cubes, and though this is thought to crack teeth, it is not as yet been proven.)  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…

A chinchilla suffering from the effects of heat may lie on one side and remain motionless, the ears may become pink – this is most noticeable in beige chinchillas or those with pale colored ears. They may also have difficulty breathing.

To keep your chinchilla cool:

Keep the heat out

  • If the sun shines in through the window, then ensure the cage is not near the window. Keep the curtains at least three quarters closed when the sun is on the window.
  • A thin dark material over the window will help keep out the sun, but let in the air.
  • Consider buying curtains or blinds which have thermal properties – these keep out heat in summer and retain heat in winter.
  • For a chinchilla room, or chinchilla outbuilding you could paint cool glass on the window. This is used on greenhouses to provide shading and will wash off. Look for it in shops selling gardening products.

Let the heat out

  • Opening the windows may cool the room down, however, if there is no breeze you may simply be letting warm air in!

Cool the cage area 

Some methods have been suggested to do this:

  • Find some really cheap tins of soup/beans etc. Remove the labels and freeze them. When they are frozen run them under a warm tap for a moment to remove the white frosting (the kind your fingers may stick to!), dry them and put them in the cage.
  • Fill and freeze ice cream containers, or use frozen tins, ice packs, or terracotta tiles. When frozen place them on top of the cage. Warm air rises and cold air sinks, so the temperature in the cage below should fall. You may want to ensure condensation does not drip into the cage.
  • Large beach stones (or similar) can be frozen and put in the cage – your chin can sit on them and try chewing them. Alternatively, use terracotta pots/tiles.

I use ice packs on top of the cage if I am out all day during very hot weather; however, if you use any water-filled plastic container (e.g., ice packs for picnic boxes) then ensure your chin cannot chew the plastic and make it leak! Note that terracotta tiles are best wetted before freezing.

Fur fungus

If your chins have fur fungus the vet will prescribe an antifungal powder which can be mixed in with the bath sand – the fungus should start to clear in a few days. Do not confuse this with fur biting – some chins bite their own (or other animals) fur so that it appears short and bristly – it is thought this
can sometimes be caused by stress.

Eye infections

If your chins eye is closed and has a discharge coming from it, then this may be an infection, or it may the result of a scratched eyeball. Until you see a vet you can make the chin a little more comfortable by trying to keep the eye open: make some tea (no milk, no sugar) and allow it to cool,
use some cotton wool dipped in the tea and wipe the eye from the inside corner outwards to clear away the discharge.

Colds

Cold symptoms in chins are similar to those in humans, including a runny nose! Ensure your chin is warm enough and is continuing to eat and drink. If the chin has problems breathing or appears to have a fever then see a vet immediately.

Hair ring

A male chinchilla may develop a penile hair ring if they do not clean themselves properly. This can result in severe discomfort and even death, it needs to be carefully removed, either by the vet, or yourself (if you are confident and have a friend to hold the chin). A little lubricant like Vaseline or KY
jelly can help.

 

 

Preventing Chinchilla Environmental Stress

Preventing Chinchilla Environmental Stress

Environmental stress can distress your chinchilla in many different ways. This type of stress results in either behavioral or health concerns. Your pet can experience the following: anti-social behavior that comprises of biting, fighting, spraying urine, fungus, or irritation of the eyes. Your pet can also feel anger towards other chinchillas, biting the fur, gnawing on their cage or even depression.

 

Transition Time

Giving your pet this transition time is essential and very important because if they came from chaotic surroundings, they would have to learn to unwind and if they came from boredom surroundings, they must have time to settle in to handle noise in a timely manner.

Like any other animal, a chinchilla has its own needs that should be addressed, both physically and psychologically. Some extensive research should be made in order to learn the type of food they need to eat, the living conditions they are comfortable with, and more.

Cage

When it comes to a pet chinchilla’s home, make sure that the cage used to keep the chinchilla is big enough for the creature to move around in.

Exercise

Pet chinchillas require regular exercise and recreation. You can place an exercise wheel inside the cage so that the chinchilla can do some physical exercises whenever they feel the need. Pent-up emotions that aren’t released contribute to a stressed chinchilla and will be bad for the little animal’s overall health.

Vacation

Some time away from the cage (not less than 30 minutes a day) is also needed in order to satisfy the animal’s roaming instincts.

Toys

Throw in some chew toys, and your pet chinchilla can keep itself occupied whenever it’s feeling bored. The cage should also be closed up when no one’s around in order to give the chinchilla a sense of security.

Changes

Pet chinchillas don’t adjust really well to change. It’s in their nature.

New living conditions, a new owner, interaction with other chinchillas – all these things need to be done gradually so as not to shock the chinchilla. Sudden or drastic changes in the creature’s environment can easily lead to stress.

A pet chinchilla can feel overwhelmed by what’s going on around them.

Yes, Your Chinchilla Can Die From Stress!

The severe stress that comes with the outpouring of unfamiliar and threatening stimuli may even lead to death. The effects can be gradual, so it’s imperative for any chinchilla owner to monitor the temperament of his pet every chance he gets. Chinchillas that are always hyperactive are the ones prone to stress-related shock.

Chinchillas are creatures of routine, which is why they don’t respond well to new situations and new stimuli.

They have a capacity for coping up and adjusting, but only in small doses. Temperament to change can vary from chinchilla to chinchilla, though health and age can have some influence. Older chinchillas also tend to become more territorial than the younger ones, which is why they have a tendency to bite other chinchillas whenever it feels that its supposed territory is invaded.

To give your pet chinchilla a sense of well-being, you have to introduce new types of stimuli to keep it amused.

Other than chew toys and an exercise wheel, you can place it in front of the television or even play some music. This will be enough to keep your pet entertained. But if your beloved chinchilla still shows signs of boredom and stress, make some adjustments until a change in temperament for the better is made apparent. The key is to be patient and observant about your pet’s behavioral patterns.

Chinchilla Temperature – Keeping chins cool in the summer

Chinchilla Temperature

The chinchilla in the wild has adapted to live in a rugged terrain, where nightly and winter temperatures may drop well below freezing.

Being crepuscular/nocturnal creatures by nature, during the day when temperatures may rise, they may rest amongst rocks, boulders, fissures and “scrapes,” which would shelter them from the extremes of temperature.

A pet chinchilla should be kept in a safe and clean environment where the temperature and humidity are controlled. Temperatures higher than 70 degrees Fahrenheit are already too hot for the animal, and the humidity level should also not go beyond 80 percent. If these conditions are not met, the chinchilla can suffer from heat stroke and even from a heart attack.

 

The Chinchilla’s Fur

Anyone who wishes to take care of a chinchilla should know the basic things about the animal. One of these is the fact that the chinchilla has the thickest fur among all animals on land. Although this keeps them safe in a cold and harsh outdoor environment, it can become quite a problem in an environment that is hot and cramped.

Using an Air Conditioning Unit

Pet owners who want to take care of a chinchilla should highly consider using an air conditioning unit for their pet. This will make sure that the desired temperature is maintained and will, therefore, keep the animal from suffering any stress or dangers caused by too much heat. It will also be best if the air conditioner has an auto function that lets it turn off by itself once the desired temperature is reached. Not only will this save on energy, but it will also help create a controlled environment for the chinchilla where the animal can feel relaxed and comfortable.

Fans

Chinchilla owners may be tempted to just use a fan instead of an air conditioning unit. While a fan is good to have around the chinchilla so that the cold air may be circulated, it may not be enough to keep the desired level of temperature that a chinchilla needs for it not to feel stressed.

Use a Thermometer

Those who want to make sure that they have the right level of temperature for their pet chinchilla should have a room thermometer handy. This will make it easier to keep track of and monitor the heat and will be an effective way of keeping your pet chinchilla safe. Similarly, an instrument that measures humidity should also be used, especially if the chinchilla is kept in a closed space such as the basement. These precautions will save much headache and stress, not only for the chinchilla but for the chinchilla owner as well.

Taking Care of Your Pet Chinchilla

If your pet chinchilla still suffers from too much heat and humidity, you should be able to tell the signs and respond right away. The chinchilla will often lie on its side with its chest moving erratically due to labored breathing. This condition is referred to as heat prostration and is a sign that the animal is suffering from too much heat or humidity.

When this happens, pick the chinchilla up very carefully and try to keep it moving so that it does not surrender to the heat stroke. Of course, while this is happening, make sure that adjustments to the temperature and humidity are already being made to make the environment more ideal for the animal. Putting the chinchilla in the chiller or even the freezer is also a good idea, but make sure that you keep all foods out of the way and that there is a layer of clothing between the freezer itself and the chinchilla – DO NOT LEAVE HIM IN THE FREEZER! Use Common Sense

 

 

How Does Exercise Effects Chinchillas

How Exercise Effects Chinchillas

The chinchilla is a very special exotic animal. It is nocturnal, has the thickest fur among all land animals, and is also very sensitive to high levels of heat and humidity. However, like all other animals that are used to being in the wild, the chinchilla is also one that needs constant exercise. While this may appear to be common sense, many chinchilla owners take this for granted.

Exercise and Stress

Chinchillas that are not able to get the right amount of exercise will be under a certain amount of stress. Sometimes, the chinchilla will show signs of irritability and will not appreciate anyone who tries to come near them. Other times, they can even turn hostile and bite or scratch both the people and the other chinchillas around them. It is also a common sign of stress for the chinchilla to bite its own fur, and even to spray urine all over itself and its surroundings. If you want to avoid these problems, make sure that you give your pet chinchilla the right amount of exercise every day.

Chinchillas and Obesity

Another reason why the chinchilla should be given proper exercise on a regular basis is for it not to become too fat or obese. Many animals being kept as pets suffer from this condition, and the chinchilla is no exception. No matter how healthy and regulated your chinchilla’s foods are, regular exercise is still necessary for it to be healthy and to live a long life.

Taking the Chinchilla for a Walk

It is fairly easy to provide exercise for the chinchilla. Because the animal is small, a walk that would normally have to be done outdoors can simply be done at home provided that there is a wide enough space. Allow the chinchilla to get out of the cage at least once a day. Of course, this needs to be accompanied by constant supervision to make sure that the chinchilla does not get into any harm or trouble.

By letting your pet chinchilla outside of its cage, you will already know how it has been treated in its past home. A chinchilla that is used to exercise will move actively about while a chinchilla that has been kept in the cage will move at a slower, unsure pace. The chinchilla is a naturally hyperactive animal. It is only right that the animal is allowed its moment of freedom at least once a day.

Exercise in the Cage

If you think that you have limited space inside the home and are afraid to take your pet chinchilla outside, an exercise wheel inside the cage will also work perfectly. The chinchilla can get its much-needed exercise anytime it wants, and it will be in a safe environment too. The chinchilla naturally knows what its body needs, so providing it with the right equipment is enough on your part as a chinchilla owner.

Love Your Chinchilla

Making sure that your pet chinchilla has the right amount of exercise that it needs is just one of the ways that you show how much you truly love your pet. Having a chinchilla is a serious commitment and it is not something that you just forget after all the excitement wears off. If you truly love your pet chinchilla, take it out regularly and make sure that it gets enough exercise so that it lives a long and healthy life.