Health, Behaviour, Sexing Chins
There are so many aspects to chinchillas health and behaviour. I'll be adding to this section to ensure it covers many aspects.
Male vs Female
There is a lot of thought as to what is the better sex to own and the answer is either. The first thing you should do is to know how to sex a chinchilla. Even if you have been told the chin you are getting is a male or female, it's best to check. Chinchillas are often sexed wrong. MANY rescues come into the Canadian Chinchilla Rescue saying they are one sex but aren't.
You will hear two common issues when deciding on a male or female. Females spray and for males you have to do a hair ring check. Both don't sound very fun so here is the scoop on both.
Here are some pics to tell male vs female:
FEMALE CHINCHILLA- the cone is close to the anus
Male chinchilla- the penis is spaced from the anus.
If your chinchillas shows any of the following signs get to a vet ASAP:
Eye sealed close
Discharge from Vagina, Anus or Penis
Heavy breathing or gasping
Crying non stop
Common Health Issues
These are some common issues that may come up if you own chinchillas:
Eye infections: a quick trip to the vet is in order if your chinchilla has discharge from their eye or if you notice they have a sealed eye. Eye drops are usually prescribed and their eye will clear up soon
Dry Ears or Feet: sometimes chins get too dry feet or ears. You can apply Bag Balm to help with that.
Fungus is something that occurs from time to time. For minor bouts of fungus you can apply Blu Kote or Blue Lotion and have the chinchilla have a dust bath with tinactin added to the bath (2tbsp of tinactin to 2 cups of dust)
Squishy Poop can happen for a variety of reason. If the poop does not clear up within a few days get to a vet for fecal test for parasites. You can offer a chin burnt toast, shredded wheat, activated charcoal in the water or pet pectillan to firm up their poops. It can be from too many treats, to a feed change, stress or you may never know what caused it. Once you have ruled out a parasite it should clear up quickly. Some people remove pellets and feed only hay for a few days.
Small injuries can occur and if it is minor you can treat with Blu Kote (blue lotion).
MORE TO COME.....
Serious Health Issues
Malo is the one issues that is always dreaded with chinchillas. Malocclusion covers any issue of the teeth. With chinchillas the more severe type of Malo is root growth. It is a death sentence for chinchillas as their is no cure and no way to manage this condition without causing a lot of pain to the chinchilla. With root growth the teeth roots grow until they either grow into the eye area or out the bottom of the jaw. Sometimes the first sign pet owners see is their chinchilla drooling OR a weepy eye. It is very upsetting to go through this.
If you notice your chinchilla no longer eating the same amount and drooling or having some weeping from their eye you need to take them to the vet asap. The vet will look into your chinchillas mouth with an otoscope BUT they MUST take x rays to get a clear look at what is happening. MOST vets will do 5 views to get an idea of what is happening. Root growth will show up on the x rays and if your chinchilla does have this condition you need to decide when to end their suffering. It is a decision that every pet owner hates but with root growth it is a must. Some vets will offer surgery to remove the teeth but this does not seem to be an option that has long term good results as it will affect their other teeth. Some pet owners will take their chinchilla home and manage their pain if they can and end up hand feeding their chinchillas as they tend to no want to eat anymore. It is a stressful time and one I have gone through.
Hearing your chinchilla has Malo is NOT a death sentence for all chinchillas. Some chinchillas get spurs and need them trimmed on a regular basis and are fine otherwise. This can be caused for a variety of reason and these chinchillas go on to lead perfect chinchilla lives. After a tooth trim they may need to be hand fed for a few days but then bounce back to their old self.
MORE TO COME......
Fur chewing is something that can occur for a variety of reasons and for no reason at all. Stress, boredom, genetics, habit are just a few reasons for fur chewing. As fast as it occurs it can stop and not return for a long time. It's difficult to know if a chin that is fur chewing will stop but for the most part they should always be considered a fur chewer even when they aren't doing it. I've seen a chinchilla stop for months and months and then one night they decide to chew.
The chin in the pic is a rescue, Fluffy, that came in and was a big fur chewer. She has since stopped and her fur has grown in but she may chew again. It's hard to predict when and why but it really doesn't do anything to the chinchilla other then make them look like they have had a bad haircut from a toddler who got ahold of some scissors.
First Aid Kit
A first aid kit should NEVER take the place of a needed vet visit. Some people have an advanced first aid kit depending on their experience with chinchillas. I am only posting a BASIC first aid kit. Please always seek a vet if you think your chin is in trouble.
Basic First Aid Kit:
Simethicone (baby gas drops such as Ovul)
Blu Kote or Blue Lotion (note: Blu Kote is found in the USA and Blue Lotion is in Canada)
Critical Care (most vets will only sell you this when needed)
10 ml syringe for feeding ( I like to use Lixit's)