The Most Common Chinchilla Diseases and How to Spot Them

Wild chinchillas are quite resilient animals. This is most likely due to their changeable natural habit in the Andes mountains, where they are exposed to extreme climate conditions. Under such a harsh environment the species evolved to be extremely hardy in order to survive.

However, after many years of domestication and breeding, the pet chinchillas we know today are quite different from their ancestors. Therefore, they are not as resistant to extreme variations in weather conditions and need to be kept at a consistent temperature between 15 and 21°C.

Chinchillas can go on to live a long and healthy life when kept in the right conditions and receiving the right dietary balance. Yet, there are some common chinchilla illnesses they may go on to experience, despite your best efforts.

Therefore, it is well worth familiarising yourself with chinchilla illness symptoms, so you can keep an eye out for anything that might be of concern and might require further investigation with a qualified veterinary professional.

Intestinal Parasites

Usually, intestinal parasites occur as a result of poor hygiene in their living environment or it could also contract them from other animals in the home.

The common symptoms to keep an eye out for are diarrhoea, poor appetite, bloat, behavioural changes such as lethargy or irritability and weight loss.

Dental Disease

As part of the rodent family, chinchillas’ teeth grow continuously. Therefore, providing you pet chinchilla with suitable chews, such as wooden blocks etc will help wear their teeth down and prevent problems.

If not prevented, Malocclusion can occur causing oral pain and difficulty eating. Symptoms to look out for are loss of appetite and drooling.

If you’re able to regularly check their teeth and if you are concerned about their length, your vet can trim them for you.

Heatstroke

Chinchillas can suffer heatstroke from being exposed to high temperatures. To avoid this, keep them away from direct sunlight and radiators/heaters/fires etc and monitor the temperature in the height of the summer.

This is a serious condition and if your chinchilla appears lethargic, weak, with deep and accelerated breathing and salivating/drooling, take immediate action by contacting your vet for advice.

Alopecia

Noticing hair loss in your chinchilla could be a sign of a number of health concerns, including ringworm, stress and lactation.

As there are a few potential causes, it’s important to visit your vet to ascertain the cause so you can provide the correct course of treatment.

Gastrointestinal Disease

Chinchillas are fairly prone to upset tummies if there is a sudden change to their diet. For example, eating food with a high water content such as lettuce or cucumber. However, if your pet chinchilla experiences a long period of watery stools and if this is combined with other concerning symptoms, like appetite loss, abdominal discomfort, you will need to investigate the problem further.

There are a wide range of possible causes that are serious such as metabolic conditions, parasites, ingestion of toxins and enteritis. Left untreated, enteritis can often be fatal so its important to not take any chances.

Respiratory Infection

Chinchillas can contract common bacterial infections which affect the respiratory system. Left untreated this can quickly progress to serious conditions like pneumonia. The symptoms to be on the lookout for include, lethargy, sneezing, nasal discharge, breathing difficulties, loss of appetite and fever.

If you notice any of these signs, take your pet to the vet for treatment as soon as you can.

Ringworm

Whilst this isn’t a serious disease for chinchillas, they can pass it onto humans which you may like to avoid. Although the name suggests it is caused by a worm, it is actually caused by a fungus.

You will know if your chinchilla has become infected as it will develop bald patches on its head, ears or feet which are scaly in appearance. To clear the infection and prevent it spreading to your family, take your pet to the vet and ensure you wear gloves when handling

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