Contrary to common opinion, not all rodents are low-maintenance and easy to look after. Chinchillas are quite pretentious and susceptible to a series of health affections, so here is everything you need to know about their most common problems and how to properly treat them, including how to handle a chinchilla dust bath.
Domesticated chinchillas are extremely different from their wild ancestors and are not as resilient as them. They are quite sensitive when it comes to high-temperature variations and must be kept in cool and dry places at all times, in temperatures that don’t exceed 70 degrees Fahrenheit.
If they are being taken care of and are shown love and respect, these cute animals can live a long and happy existence without too many health problems. They are known to grow fond of their owners even though they can be shy and scared at the beginning.
Unfortunately, no matter how much you’re looking after your pet, this doesn’t mean that it won’t deal with health affections later on. Out of them, here are the most common and how to spot them early.
All rodents are cursed with continuously growing teeth, so dental affections are quite common. Malocclusion is the most common problem and causes difficulty in eating and oral pain. Some of the signs you should look for include drooling and loss of appetite.
To prevent dental affections, you should take your pet for regular checkups. Make sure to pay a visit to the vet once every few months to have your chin’s teeth brushed and properly cleaned. A vet can also look for infected teeth roots and potential abscesses or infections that might endanger your pet’s life.
One way to make sure your animal’s teeth remain strong and healthy is to provide your chinchilla with various chewing toys. Wooden blocks and even edible treats are perfect for wearing down teeth and for preventing further dental problems.
Another common health problem of chinchillas is ringworm – a fungal skin infection that can cause the loss of hair in patches. The problem is that this infection can be easily transmitted to humans and signs include skin redness and irritations.
Luckily, the fungal infection can be treated in both animals and humans. With the right medication, your pet can live a long and healthy life.
If you suspect your chinchilla might have ringworm, it is important to prevent any direct contact between you and your pet. Use gloves when handling and transporting it to the vet and clean the entire area in which your chinchilla usually rests, including its cage, the carpets, tiles, toys, and accessories.
Often enough, the vet will prescribe a topical solution that must be applied to the areas of the infected skin, while full recovery may take a few weeks. In more severe cases, your chinchilla will need a longer-term treatment, as well as pills.
The causes of hair loss (alopecia) in your chinchilla are multiple, including lactation, stress or the previously mentioned ringworm infection. No matter the cause, it’s highly important to take your pet to the vet and run some tests to find the correct treatment.
Chinchillas have the thickest fur in the world so there is little natural air ventilation. Because of this, these rodents can easily get overheated, which could lead to a series of other health problems and even death.
Therefore, we never recommend exposing your pet to direct sunlight and high temperatures. You should also keep them away from heaters, fires or radiators and constantly monitor the room temperature in the summer months. It is best to keep them in cool and dry places, including in rooms where there isn’t too much sunlight.
Some of the most common signs of heat strokes include weakness, lethargy, deep and accelerated breathing, and drooling. If you notice any of these signs, you should immediately take your pet to a cooler room.
If you have to take your chinchilla on a road trip with your car, make sure the A/C is turned on all the time and your pet doesn’t face direct sunlight.
Breathing problems can also occur due to various factors, including the ingestion of sawdust and other fine particles from its bedding.
Chinchillas can contract common bacterial infections too which can lead to serious problems, including pneumonia if they are left untreated. If you notice any unusual nasal discharges, lethargy, sneezing, loss of appetite, breathing difficulties or fever, see a vet immediately.
It’s an infectious disease caused by a powerful bacterium called Yersinia enterocolitica. Another bacterium from the same genus Yersinia is known to be the cause of the plague.
The disease affects both animals and humans, but it is especially powerful in chinchillas. Generally, rodents pick up the bacterium in the wild from other affected species. Other ways to contract it include the consumption of infected feces or from a carrying mother. The symptoms may vary but usually include the loss of appetite, lethargy, depression, and constipation or diarrhea.
Left untreated, yersiniosis will cause the death of your animal. However, if spotted early, antibiotic medication can put your pet back on its feet again. If the treatment is successful and your chinchilla fully recovers, it should be kept separately from other rodents to prevent their infection.
Unlike other rodents, chinchillas have a rather strict diet and any changes in it could lead to serious gastrointestinal illnesses and pain. We strongly recommend you to check with your vet before feeding any new ingredient or food to your chinchilla.
As a general rule, you should also avoid fruits and veggies that are rich in water as they can easily cause diarrhea and abdominal pains.