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Once you have confirmed that your chinchilla is pregnant, provide that chinchilla with plenty of extra hay, food, and water. Expectant mothers will drink and eat quite a bit more, so it is imperative that more food and water are at the chinchilla’s disposal. Some people will stop giving calf mana to there chinchillas once they know they are pregnant. People have reported that calf mana can cause larger babies and therefore causes the mother to have a more difficult birth. This could result in the baby getting stuck in the birth canal.
A chinchilla’s vagina opens before the chinchilla gives birth. Each chinchilla is different, so this can occur a week before she delivers, a few days before she delivers, or on the day of delivery. If you do not know your chinchilla’s due date, it is best to remove the chinchilla from her partner once you see she has opened. This will prevent breedback from occurring.
Breedback is when the female chinchilla has delivered her litter, and the male will breed her again. This causes a lot of stress on the chinchilla’s body because she is feeding and looking after kits on the outside, and nurturing kits on the inside. Breedback takes a lot out of a chinchilla mother. If breedback does occur, make sure the chinchilla gets a long break before she is put back into breeding.
After the female chinchilla has given birth her vagina remains opens for approximately ten days. Once her vagina has closed the male chinchilla can be put back in with her to help raise the kits. Monitor the female and male closely to ensure nothing negative happens. Also, monitor the female’s genitalia after she has given birth. Sometimes females can get infections, so watch for any discolored discharge or bad odor. If you see any signs of infection, the chinchilla will have to be taken to the vet for antibiotics.
If you’re lucky enough you will get to witness the birth of your chinchilla’s kits. People often miss the birthing because it usually occurs in the early morning. However, chinchillas can give birth at any time during the day or night. If you have a cage with multiple levels, the chinchilla will go to the very bottom level to give birth; this usually happens about a week before the birthing. When the time to deliver comes, your chinchilla will begin to start stretching. She will walk around the cage stretching her back legs.
Once the contractions start your chinchilla may be sitting on all four legs or standing on her back legs. If the chinchilla is having contractions while on her back two legs she will stand straight up when having the contraction. She will then go back to sitting on her back two legs. If the chinchilla is on all four legs having contractions, she will lean forward during the contractions. You may even be able to see the sides of your chinchilla become really indented during each contraction. It is not uncommon for chinchillas to grind their teeth while in labor, some will even let out squeaks of pain.
Once the water breaks your chinchilla’s stomach may become soaked with water, however, this doesn’t always occur. Sometimes when the water breaks the water will just go into the shavings, and there will be no visible signs of the water had broken.
You may notice your chinchilla monitoring her vagina during the process of her labor. Once the chinchilla is ready to deliver a kit, she will bend down and pull the kit out with her teeth. She will then proceed to clean the kit off. Sometimes with first-time mothers, they become a little eager to clean their baby. This can sometimes result in the kit getting injured. If you notice your chinchilla becoming a little too eager with her kits, you can remove the kit and start to dry it off yourself.
In the case of multiple litters, the mother chinchilla may start to have contractions right after delivering her first kit. She may then ignore the kit that was just born and move on to begin delivering the second kit. If you see this happening, remove the kit and start to dry it off until the mother chinchilla can focus her attention on it.
The mother chinchilla will deliver an afterbirth, and in most cases, this signifies the end of the birthing. However, there have been cases where the chinchilla is not finished. Chinchilla’s have two uterine horns and can hold kits in both horns. The afterbirth may just be the ending of one of the uterine horns.
Once your chinchilla has finished giving birth, it is best to pick her up and check her stomach to make sure there are no other chinchillas inside her. By gentle pushing her stomach, she should feel squishy, but if her stomach still feels hard and you can still feel lumps, she still has kits inside her. Give the chinchilla some time to see if she has the kits on her own. If her labor has stopped completely, she should be taken to a vet. Some chinchillas can go hours between kits, and some will have one right after the other.
If a kit becomes stuck in the birth canal, you can gently try to ease the kit out with the chinchilla’s contractions, *most kits often die when they become stuck, and you have to work them out*. This should only be done if you are confident in handling your chinchilla under stress. If you are unable to get the kit out, the chinchilla needs to be taken to a vet. The faster you get the kit out, the better chance you have of saving the mother chinchilla. Kits that becomes stuck are fatal to the mother chinchilla. Chinchillas will bleed during delivery, but not a whole lot of blood will be noticeable. If you notice your chinchilla is bleeding quite a bit and continues to bleed after she has finished delivering all the kits, she needs to be taken to a vet.
Chinchilla Mother’s Milk
It is always best to find out if the mother’s milk is coming in before you decide to hand feed any kit. Finding out if the mother chinchilla’s milk has come in can be tricky if your chinchilla does not like to be held. Make sure to hold the chinchilla firmly so it cannot get loose. You then gently spread the fur covering the teat, you should be able to visibly see an elongated red/pink teat. Gently squeeze the teat at the base of the chinchilla’s skin in a downward motion, this should cause milk to come out of the end of the teat.
Do not worry if on the first day no milk appears to have come in. Chinchilla mother’s milk usually does not come in on the first day. To help the mother’s milk to come in you can put a water bottle, consisting of half water and half unsweetened cranberry juice, into the cage. Make sure you provide the chinchilla with a water bottle with just water in it as well. During the first week of life, make sure you weigh the kit often to make sure the mother is providing them with enough milk. Kits should gain 2-5 grams per day.
Hand Feeding Kits
Only start hand feeding if it is absolutely necessary. Hand feeding should take place every 2 hours for the first week the kit is born. You can get away with 3 hours at night. Then increase the time between hand feedings by an hour of each additional week. Week 2 feed every 3 hours, week three every 4 hours, etc.. At night you can increase the time by an hour as well. You may have to go back to hand feeding every two hours if the kit is not gaining.
This is what I used while hand feeding, but it may have to be modified to each specific kit.
When starting to get a kit to hand feed gently hold the kit in one hand in an upright position. Place your fingers over the legs to prevent the kit from getting loose. Try not to hold the kit too tightly, just enough so it cannot get away from you. Then, place the syringe on the lips in the kit, and allow one drop to sit on the kits lips. The kit will then lick the drop off its lips. Continue to do this until the kit gets the hang of hand feeding.
You do not want to rush the kit into hand feeding because you then run the risk of aspiration. You will know the kit has aspirated if it starts to make a coughing noise and milk starts to come out of the kit’s nose. Don’t be alarmed if this happens, because chances are it will occur when your kit is starting out at hand feeding. If this happens put the kit’s body into your hand (make sure you support the neck) and bring the kit up to your body, then swing the kit down towards your legs. This will force out any fluid remaining in the lungs. If not a lot of milk has entered the lungs of your kit then the kit should be able to cough it out by itself, just make sure you wipe off the milk coming out of the nose to prevent it from going back into the nose.
Hand fed kits should be weighed at every feeding during the first week. It’s much slower for weight gains in hand-fed babies. This is because it takes them a while to figure out the whole hand-feeding process. If your hand feeding a kit and the kit is not gaining any weight and has started to lose weight, you need to start hand feeding more often. If the kit is not gaining and not losing you can try to feed them more often. During the first week of life, kits should be taking anywhere from 1 – 3 full syringes. One syringe equals one cc.
Recipe for Hand Feeding
- One can of goat’s milk (if goat’s milk cannot be found you can use evaporated milk)
- One can of water
- One tablespoon of live active bacteria culture yogurt
- One tablespoon of dried baby rice cereal
- Two drops of light corn syrup (I didn’t use this in my mixture because it gave the kit diarrhea)
This mixture only stays good for two days. You can freeze the rest in ice cube trays