Chinchillas

Basic Facts

  • Originally from the Andes Mountains
  • Size
  • Males: 400-500g
  • Females: 400-600g
  • Live span: 10-20 years
  • Herbivores
  • Primarily Nocturnal
  • Puberty: 4-12 months
  • Gestation Length: 111 days
  • Precocial young, average of 2 per liter, can range from 1-6
  • Some reasons why Chinchillas make great pets
  • Very active, agile climbers and jumpers
  • Habituate very well to humans if handled at a young age
  • Fairly Clean
  • Husbandry
  • Housing
  • Large, multi-level cages are ideal
  • Wire cages provide ventilation
  • Solid wheel
  • Avoid cedar shavings (they are toxic)
  • Hide boxes, PVC pipes or other accessories
  • Can be housed in groups, although females can be aggressive and may need to be housed alone

Temperature
  • 60-75F
  • Especially important for chinnies- they are prone to heat stroke at temperatures > 80F
Dust Bath
  • Required to maintain the health of their fur
  • Commercially available dust and dust huts
  • Allow access daily or several times per week – remove after the Chinchilla is done bathing to avoid contamination with urine/feces and excessive bathing
Diet
  • High in fiber
  • Require free choice dry Timothy or grass hay
  • Alfalfa hay is not recommended (unless pregnant, nursing, or babies)
  • Commercial chinchilla diets are available – for example Oxbow Chinchilla diet
  • 1-2 Tablespoons / adult / day
  • Cage mounted bowls prevent spilling
  • Water- Cage mounted bottle best- glass is recommended (they like to chew)
Treats
  • Should be fed in limited quantities
  • Raisins tend to be a favorite
  • Hard foods to gnaw like Porous stones (pumice) and wood chew toys
When should my Chinchilla see the Veterinarian?
  • Any new pet should be examined by a veterinarian, then have yearly check-ups with a veterinarian as long as they are healthy
  • Below are some common problems seen in Chinchillas and recommendations of when to see your veterinarian. If you are ever concerned about the health of your pet do not hesitate to call.
Common problems with Chinchilla’s and Signs to watch for
  • Dental disease (malocclusions)
  • One of the most common problems in Chinchillas
  • Also known as Slobbers
  • Common signs- Drooling, wet fur on chin and forelimbs, decreased appetite, weight loss
  • Make an appointment to have your Chinchilla’s teeth evaluated
  • Fur Slip
  • Chinchillas can lose their fur when handled roughly or when frightened
  • Heat stroke- EMERGENCY
  • Lying on their side, panting, drooling, reddened ears and gums, bloody diarrhea, cyanosis (glue gums)
  • Call your veterinarian immediately
  • Enteritis
  • Diarrhea- feces smeared in cage or matted around the base of the tail
  • Can be caused by inappropriate diet or bacterial infection
  • Contact your veterinarian
  • Constipation
  • Decreased fecal pellets, straining to defecate
  • Possibly due to inadequate fiber in the diet
  • Contact your veterinarian
  • Fur-ring &Paraphimosis
  • Fur wrapped around extended penis
  • Unable to retract penis, susceptible to trauma, necrosis, urinary obstruction, infection
Call your veterinarian immediately
  • Conjunctivitis
  • Excessive dust bathing
  • Dirty, poor quality bedding
  • Contact your veterinarian for an appointment
  • This list contains the most common problems seen in pet Chinchillas. If your chinchilla is not eating, is acting lethargic, or if you are at all concerned call your veterinarian, they can assist you in determining if and when your pet should be seen.
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