Given their long lifespan, Chinchillas are a big commitment as a pet. They are easily stressed and can have a range of expensive health conditions. It is important to get treatment from an experienced vet as soon as a problem begins, and keep a good awareness of your Chinchilla's normal range of behaviours and their character so you can spot strange behaviour straight away.
Many health problems in Chinchillas can arise from incorrect care, such as teeth issues where hay and wood isn't provided well enough to enable a Chinchilla to shape their teeth. Common issues for Chinchillas are listed below:
Chinchillas require acces to a dust bath to enable them to keep their fur clean. Their fur is very dense and should never be wet. A Chinchilla with wet fur can become very ill, and this can lead to Fur Fungus (Ringworm). This can be identified through missing fur, dry-looking flaky skin and sometimes blister-like lesions. This can occur on any part of the body and is the same fungal infection as Athletes Foot. This is contagious to other animals and people and needs urgent vet treatment.
Chinchillas can also have allergies or suffer from mites. They can also engage in the behaviour of Fur pulling. Fur pulling can be an obsessive behaviour and is often something triggered by environmental or stress factors. This needs vet treatment and you will need to identify the triggers for this behaviour. If left untreated, this can become a dangerous habit.
Male Chinchillas can also get something known as Hair rings. This is where hair wraps round the penis, leaving them unable to urinate. This is an emergency situation and your Chinchilla will need urgent help. Experienced Chinchilla owners may be able to treat at home, for most owners vet help is recommended.
Chinchillas must be kept cool, with air conditioning being vital for many homes to ensure this in the summer months. A Chinchilla that has heatstroke will appear weak and may collapse, needing immediate vet attention. A hot Chinchilla can be helped at home with cooling ledges, air conditioning and fans but a Chinchilla that has suffered heatstroke must receive immediate vet attention.
Seizures can be caused by a calcium deficiency, trauma, stress and a multitude of other health conditions. A Chinchilla that is overwhelmed or has overheated can have a seizure whilst free-roaming - which is why it is important to keep the area for them to explore in safe, dry and cool conditions and keep handling sessions regular but short. A Chinchilla that has a seizure needs to be seen by a vet.
Chinchillas need regular hay and wood to help wear down their teeth, but can still experience issues with teeth being worn down incorrectly. Known as Malocclusion this is where excess growth has caused teeth to grow mishapen. Signs of Malocclusion included difficulties eating, swelling to the mouth or face and excess salvation. This can be an ongoing health condition, managed by regular teeth clipping by a vet or experienced person.