Kept under the wrong conditions, a chinchilla
will be susceptible to disease and illness.
When a chinchilla gets sick, they go "down hill"
very fast, therefore it is important that you
examine your chinchilla regularly. Symptoms
are subtle and often are only noticeable after
conditions have worsened. Chinchillas, by
instinct, strive to mask any display of pain
that would, in their natural habitat, show
their vulnerability and make them an easy
certain illnesses/diseases quickly is important
if your chinchilla is to return to optimal
health conditions. It is YOUR responsibility
to make sure your chinchilla is kept healthy
at all times. There will be cases when you have
done all the right things for him/her and they
cease to live, but give yourself peace of mind
knowing you have taken all the steps necessary
to prevent it. If medical intervention
is needed, make sure you get your chinchilla
to an exotic vet who is experienced in
chinchilla care IMMEDIATELY!!!
***NOTE*** This is only a guide from previous
experiences. We are NOT veterinarians!! When
in doubt, seek your specialist's advice.
1. Malocclusion/Dental problems:
Chinchillas teeth constantly grow. They
ALWAYS need something to chew on to enable them
to wear them down. When their teeth are overgrown,
they are unable to eat, will lose weight &
become more susceptible to illness.You can give them
pumice stone, dried pine, dried cholla (cactus),
dried apple branches & lava bites just to name a
few items. There is a list of "Safe" &
"Unsafe" woods they can have listed on
this website. Click on the "Cages and Setup"
link. Make sure you let them dry out
first. They may have cuttlebone, but
only one to two per month so they won't get
overdosed on calcium. That could give them
more problems. Check with your vet if you are
unsure whether or not your chin can have a
particular item for chewing. Severe dental
problems can be a result from chinchilla's
teeth overgrowing. They will have much
difficulty in eating. When the teeth overgrow,
it causes damage to their jaw & teeth. It
might even cause bone spurs. If that happens,
the vet can file them down, but it is painful
for the chinchilla & can be expensive.
Signs of Possible Malocclusion:
~ eating or drinking more or less than usual ~
~ tiredness or seems restless ~
~ watery eyes or runny nose ~
~ crooked bite or overbite ~
~ drooling ~
~ noticeable bumps on jawline ~
~ bad odor from mouth, ears or genital area ~
~ trouble drinking, eating or moving ~
~ staying in a crouched or huddled position ~
~ difficulty breathing & hearing raspy noises in thir chest ~
~ weight loss ~
~ change in character ~
If you notice any of these symptoms in your
chinchilla, don't wait to take them to the
vet! Malocclusion is believed to be hereditary.
DO NOT breed a chinchilla that has malocclusion!
Malocclusion is eventually fatal in chinchillas.
Their teeth can grown upward into their eye
sockets & brain.
2. Upper Respiratory Infection or Pneumonia:
Uri's & Pneumonia are fairly common in
Chinchillas. These conditions cannot be treated
at home. A vet visit is required as soon as
possible. A course of antibiotics is usually
prescribed & they may need oxygen.
Signs of Pneumonia or Uri:
~ wheezing or rapid breathing ~
~ difficulty or shallow breathing ~
~ tiredness ~
~ hoarse sounding throat ~
~ chattering teeth ~
~ loss of appetite ~
~ weight loss ~
~ changes in character ~
~ sneezing ~
~ watery eyes ~
Pneumonia & Uri's are almost always fatal if
they are not treated immediately. Just like
in humans, if the condition is viral all you
can do is treat the symptoms & wait. If it is
bacterial usually a course of antibiotics
improves their condition. Let your exotic
specialist in chinchillas decide what course
of action to take.
3. Imbalance in the GI Flora, Gastroenteritis,
Bloat, and Gastric Parasites
**GI Stasis** is the lack of gut movement caused
by problems in the digestive tract. Usually
it is caused by a blockage from something that
is undigested or from an inappropriate diet.
If left untreated, it could be fatal for your
Signs of GI Problems:
~ Bloat--the chinchilla becomes very tired,
losing appetite, chatters its teeth when
you push gently on its stomach. The stomach
feels very hard & round. You can try massaging
the stomach in a circular motion, which might
get things moving again & allow gas build up
to pass. The GI Tract MUST get moving again or
GI Stasis (above) will set in. There are things
your vet can do to try to relieve pressure that
is built up.
~ diarrhea--runny or mushy poop is something
that needs immediate attention from your vet.
It can be fatal to your chinchilla.
You can try taking your chinchilla's pellets
away and offering only hay, small pieces of
very burned toast (no white showing) or plain
Shredded Wheat for a day. Do not give them
back their pellets until the diarrhea has
cleared up. Keep some 100% Apple or Cranberry
Juice with NO sugar added around for your
chinchilla for times when they have diarrhea.
is no improvement in 24 hours or becomes worse,
see your vet immediately. Ask your vet about
"Probiotics". It contains live bacteria that
helps the imbalance in the intestines by replacing
the good bacteria.
~ Constipation--this condition can also be
fatal to your chinchilla. Examine your
chinchilla's poop. It should be oblong shaped,
not round. It should not look very dry. The
color should be black, not light brown. They
definitely should not have to strain to poop.
Constipation can lead to "Rectal Prolapse", which
means when a chinchilla strains too hard
to poop, it can expel their intestines from
their rectum. Signs of hair in the poop could
mean there is a hairball blocking the intestines.
Try giving them a piece of papaya. Stop their
pellets & offer some raisens. Again, if
the constipation lasts more than 24 hours or
they look seriously uncomfortable, get
your chinchilla to the vet.
4. Hair Rings--male chinchillas--Their penis
has a sheath over it, which kind of folds back
onto itself. Fur can get wrapped around this
or the head of their penis. When erect, it
can constrict and cut off blood flow to the
penis. When the erection is gone & the penis
retracts, the hair ring can get caught and cut
off the blood supply to parts of the penis.
This causes the male to not be able to urinate.
Bacteria can build up and kidney and urinary
problems can be a problem. It is VERY painful
for a male who has this condition. "Hair ring
checks" should be done on all males at least
once a month if not more.