Chinchilla Examination, Signs and Early Diagnosis
A proper and good chinchilla examination should be done periodically, about every week or at least two times a month. However, many of these examinations must be done daily, as there is no need to handle the chinchilla to be done, because they basically require your observation. Early diagnosis of a problem is the most important factor in preventing and identifying illness or injury. Close observation of your chin, his behavior first of all, is essential. Lookout for variations in the normal looks and sounds of your chinchilla. The best preventative method is to know your chinchilla. Chinchillas are prey animals, and therefore do a good job at hiding their illnesses and injuries until many times it is too late when they finally do show symptoms. But there are signs to see and understand if something is wrong with their health. By knowing what to look for and what to do if you suspect your chin is ill can mean the difference between life and death. Observe if he eats and drinks, if is active and play at night or lethargic. As we said many times, it is really vital to watch your chinchilla and know what to watch and when. In addition you must know how to examine your chinchilla and what to examine, as some things must be examined frequently, irregardless of health issues.
Chinchilla Examination Areas
Weight – Weight your chinchilla every week and keep a record. If your chinchilla seems to be sick or such, also check its weight right away. Checking your chinchilla weight is one of the best ways of knowing if your chinchilla is eating properly or is getting over illness or it develops dental problems. In most cases the first sign of a sick chinchilla is weight loss.
Eyes – Healthy chinchillas eyes are clear, bright and shiny with no cloudiness. Watery eyes, discharge or matted fur around them, redness or swollen eyelids, an eye being held shut or white discharge are signs of illness or infection or dental issues. Watery eyes can also can also be a sign of irritation from wood shavings and or dust baths . Finally an irritated eye could also come from a fight with another chin. Eyes must be monitored every day as these are generally one of the first areas a chinchilla will expose any health issues.
Ears – Chinchillas Ears should be smooth and soft. Ear ailments are not common and are usually the result of another infection or lower resistance due to a poor diet. However, if you notice fluid coming from their ears, if there is repeated scratching, tip its head to one side repeatedly, or issues with balance, you should seek the advice of a vet immediately. Chinchillas can suffer ear injuries in fights so watch for cuts or bite marks and bleeding. Exposure to extreme temperatures, cold basically, as chinchillas can’t really live to temperatures more than 25 Celsius, can harm chinchillas ears and result to wounds. Chinchillas ears can also indicate a fever if are warm to the touch, and bright pink or even red.
Nose – Chinchillas nose should be clean and dry with no discharge. It should not be damp, red, irritated or inflamed. There should not be patches of fur missing from around the nose and if it happens there is probably an infection like fungus or ringworm. Wheezing or discharge from the nose can indicate a serious respiratory issue like pneumonia.
Mouth – Chinchillas mouth should be clean and dry. Any signs of wetness, around the mouth area, drooling, damp chin, or pawing at the mouth will generally mean there is a tooth issue. A chinchilla that does not close its mouth properly, the back molars have overgrown and are preventing the chinchilla from closing it properly. Mouth issues are closely related to teeth issues.
Teeth – Chinchillas teeth should be dark yellow to dark orange in color. Only young kits have white teeth but they yellow out soon. White teeth in older chinchillas may be a sign of calcium deficiency, poor diet, lack of vitamin c and other health issues. Pregnant or nursing females teeth could sometimes become white. Chinchillas have 20 teeth, 4 incisors and 16 molars. Their teeth should be straight, uncurled and unchipped. The top teeth should sit in front of the lower teeth and no tooth should be missing. They should not be overgrowing and curving backwards to form the beginnings of a loop. If the teeth do not align properly, they are diagonal or overgrown they can develop spurs and points, which can tear the cheeks and gums, leading to pain and infections. By puling aside the chinchilla’s lips you can check the incisors, but checking the molars usually must be done to your vet. Dental issues are a serious condition in chinchillas and can prove fatal if not addressed soon enough. Signs of bad teeth is a bad smelling breath, drooling, and eating slowly or not eating at all. Chinchillas can starve themselves because of their incisors being too long or uneven. It you notice any teeth problems and signs see a vet as soon as possible!
Chinchillas all teeth grow throughout their lives, and we must supply and make sure our chinchillas have many items to chew on plus their food. You should constantly refresh their cage with things and woods to chew on. You should provide hay every day as it helps for the proper functioning of the digestive system but also helps to grind and wear their teeth down keep them in good length and preventing tooth disorders. Hay cubes and alfalfa cubes should be fed also as they also help to grind and wear their teeth down. Alfalfa hay cubes are high in calcium and this is good for chinchillas that have malocclusion and calcium deficiency or other teeth issues and should be offered daily. However healthy chinchillas should receive alfalfa as a treat ONLY 2-3 time per week. Alfalfa is NOT a hay-replacement and you must provide fresh hay daily.
Fur – Chinchilla fur should be smooth, clean, dry, untangled and should not look uneven, with holes in the coat or be bald in any areas of the body. There should not be patches of fur missing, revealing, red, scabby or irritated looking skin. Shorter patches of fur can indicate fur biting and bald patches in the fur with inflamed skin exposure, or dry, flaky patches on the ears, can indicate a fungal infection such as ringworm and other forms of fungus. If one of your chinchillas develops this, keep it away immediately from all other pets, as skin fungus are very contagious. A veterinarian must diagnose the infection, and give your chinchilla the proper antifungal treatment. Any matted, wet and missing fur beneath chinchilla’s mouth, his chest, and his frond legs usually indicate a serious tooth issue that needs immediate investigation from your vet.
Genitals – Chinchillas, males and females, genitals must be examined frequently. Male chinchillas need to be checked at the very least once a month for hair rings on the penis. You will need to look for a hair ring by gently pulling the chinchilla’s foreskin completely back and examining for strands of hair, which will be wrapped around his penis. This is a fatal condition to a male and if a ring is found, it must be removed immediately! You can use some vaseline for lubrication and with someone else help to hold the chinchilla for you can gently remove the hairs. If you really can’t do it then you should go to vet, it is really essential to check for hair rings and interfere immediately if found.
Female genitals should be dry, clean and they should have no bleeding in the vaginal area, unless after birth or during. Bleeding sometimes can be caused from mating but also when miscarrying or unfortunately from other infections inside and will need investigating by your vet.
Any discharge from both, the male and female, probably with a strong smell, can indicate an Urinary Tract Infection and need immediate medical attention
Droppings/faeces/feces/stool/poo – Many words for this!! But also very important to monitor and easy as there is no need to handle a chinchilla, you can just watch the hundreds of droppings around! Chinchillas poo constantly, they have no control and they can’t be trained where and when to poo. Chinchillas drop approximately 200 faeces per day! You must watch every day and many times their droppings and the best way to examine feces is to actually pick one up. The droppings should be dark brown or brown-black, dry, firm, plump, slightly moist, rounded or oval and solid. Chinchillas droppings doesn’t smell. Holey droppings can be a sign of digestive problems. Droppings with evident strands of hay will indicate a tooth issue. Squishy droppings that stick to the chinchilla’s fur and the shelves in their cage are a sign of diarrhea. Pointy and brittle faeces or very tiny and hard with strange shapes is a symptom of constipation. If either condition lasts for more than a few days or worsens you must see a vet for further investigation. Droppings covered by mucus or stuck together in long strings surrounded by a viscous liquid with air bubbles, the animal will need to see a vet as this symptom is more serious than simple diarrhea or constipation. Chinchilla droppings are a really good indicator of the chinchilla’s general health and digestion.