We are all familiar with the phrase “A healthy pet is a happy pet” – but there is probably also something to be said for keeping your chinchilla happy in order to maintain its health. If you know your pet you will probably quickly recognise the signs that suggest it is not well.
What are the signs of good health?
A healthy chinchilla will have bright eyes, clean ears, eyes and nose and be interested in what is going on around it.
If your chinchilla’s weight remains constant then they are eating the right amount of food. You should be concerned if their appetite or water consumption suddenly changes or they suddenly start to gain or lose weight. When in good condition the coat should be shiny, soft and free of parasites.
How do I keep my chinchilla in good health?
Your chinchilla must be fed a healthy diet and allowed regular exercise. The closer your chinchilla’s diet and environment is compared to how it would eat and live in the wild, the healthier and happier it will be. Giving them plenty of enrichment in also hugely important for their mental wellbeing.
What is a healthy diet?
A healthy diet is a balanced diet containing all the nutrients your pet requires. Chinchillas are herbivores, which means they only eat vegetable matter e.g. hay and/or alfalfa. This can be supplemented with a pelleted diet if you choose.
How can I maintain my chinchilla's health?
There are a number of measures that can help prevent your pet developing diseases. You should discuss the special needs of your pet with your vet.
Neutering It is a sad truth that the number of pets born every year is far greater than the number of good homes that can be found for them. As a result, thousands of healthy animals are destroyed and many unwanted ones are abandoned. Neutering is a common procedure in rabbits and chinchillas can also be neutered.
Vaccinations Chinchillas do not require vaccinations.
Dental care All rodents and rabbits have front teeth that grow continuously, so a high fibre diet of hay and/or grass is essential to allow the teeth to wear down naturally.
If you notice any signs of overlong teeth then your vet will be able to burr the teeth down and advise you further.
How do I know if my chinchilla is unwell?
If your chinchilla has a poor coat condition, dull eyes, dirty ears, eyes or nose it may indicate that they are unwell. Changes in behaviour (a normally happy and affectionate animal may become grumpy and avoid human contact, preferring to hide away by itself), altered appetite or water consumption should also alert you to the possibility that there may be a problem.
Most animals recover from illness in 24-48 hours – if your pet does not seem to be improving in this time or is getting worse then you should contact your vet.