Breeding Chinchillas: Quick Facts

Before we dive in to the topic of breeding chinchillas, please be aware that 1) we aren't chinchilla breeders ourselves, and 2) we don't recommend that you engage in such activities unless you really, really know what you're doing. There are plenty of unwanted chinchillas out there and there is no need to add to the list.

This is part 1 of our look at breeding chinchillas. Let's start with some important facts:

Litter Size

Chinchillas can have from 1 to 6 kits in a litter although more then 3 is unusual. While chinchillas do have 6 nipples it is very difficult for them to raise any more then 4 kits so you may have to learn a bit about hand rearing.

Birth Weight

The average weight of a newborn chinchilla is 30 - 60 grams (1 - 2 ounces). Kits in the lower range can be a challenge to keep alive and should be watched closely.

Weaning Age

Aim to wean your kits at 8 weeks of age. Two exceptions to this rule would be if it's a large litter and mom is having a hard time with it or if the litter is a single kit who, due to a lack of competition, is fairly large and otherwise mature enough for an early weaning.

Puberty

Young chinchillas can reach sexual maturity as young as 4 months old so it is important to remove the kits from the family cage by that time if there is any family member of the opposite gender living there. Inbreeding is a very bad practice in chinchillas.

Breeding Age

While young chinchillas are sexually mature at a young age the females should not be bred until they are at least 8-9 months old. It is actually best to wait until they are at least one year old as they are still growing themselves until then! The drawback here is that it's harder to introduce older chinchillas so the ideal set up is to have them in two adjoining cages. If the female is not in heat you certainly can (and should) let them have supervised play time together. On the other end of the age issue is the fact that if a chinchilla has not reproduced by the time it is 2 years old, it probably never will.

Breeding Life

Healthy chinchillas in captivity live for up to 17 years. Until they are about 10 years old they can be in breeding. After that they certainly deserve to enjoy their retirement!

Estrus Cycle

Chinchillas are seasonally polyestrus from about November to May with heat cycles anywhere from 25 - 50 days and an individual heat lasting 3 - 4 days. There is often a mid summer heat as well. When a female is in heat the transverse opening of the vagina, normally not visible, becomes visible, moist, and reddened. She may also expel a small (0.5") waxy "estrus plug". Her behavior maybe noticeably different, perhaps more aggressive or more submissive, and urine spraying and fur slip is more common at this time.

Postpartum Estrus

Fertile (40%)

Gestation

Pregnancy lasts an average of 111 days. During this time the mated pair, and perhaps another female or two, live together harmoniously. By day 90 the female should have abdominal enlargement and her nipples will be swollen and reddened. Avoid palpating her as this can cause harm to the babies. The best way to monitor a pregnancy is by monitoring weight gain. A weight gain of 25 - 30 grams per month is expected initially, increasing in the last month of gestation. A healthy, balanced diet is very important at this point. Supplementing the diet with a sprinkle of Calf Manna in the first two months of pregnancy is beneficial but can be harmful in the last 2 months as kits can get too large. Also, a nest box should be provided on the lower level of the cage along with at least 2 inches of pine shavings. During the final weeks (or month) of pregnancy the mama-to-be will often lie on her side and you may even be able to see signs of the kits moving about.

Note: This breeding-related content comes from Amy of ChinBins.com, a website that is no longer active.

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32 Comments

  1. I've always thought I had 3 males. Until April 6 when I noticed 6 very small babies!!! Turns out I had two females and one male! SHOCKER!! I have removed the male and separated the other two females and there little ones. Is there anything I should do besides watching the weight of the babies to make sure they are healthy. Any comments will help!

    • If the females are ok with each others babies you can leave them together until the kits are 8 weeks. After that check who is male and female if not they will breed with mom when they are old enough. I have 3 females and 2 males. One of my females gave birtg the day before easter. The babies will do all on there own. You really don't need to weight tge babies look at how well there taiks are curling up. If they are tgey are healthy kits.

  2. Although I do not believe in breeding, As there are so many "Kids" out there that need homes - I feel most important is the health aspect, What is a healthy diet?, what is not? I am not cutting anyone down, just want to promote proper feed/Hay/Chew stuff/ Correct Water/Pumice/Timothy-Alfalfa hay blocks/Toys/Dust/ NO RAMPS, Leaping ledges for safety. If anyone would like to contact me, I would be happy to answer any and all questions. Sincerely, Tamara chinchildrenchinchillarescue.yolasite.com

  3. I am a proud owner of 3 chins- 2 female and 1 male. I have every intentions on babies in the near future but I don't know much about the subject. One of the females has seemed to pair up with the male and they have been breeding. What I wanna know is what's the possibility of pregnancy and delivery complications? I read something about needing to check the male's genitals after he breeds.... is that a necessity? Also, will the male breed with both females eventually? Thanks --- kinda clueless---

  4. I now have 7 chinchillas. Not planned exactly but I dont mind. My "breeding" pair had 3 kits with their first litter. The smallest of the kits did end up getting the end of his tail nipped off and his left front foot bitten off. As to who done it we do not know. But he's grown very well and now can climb the sides of the cage along with his siblings. Their father is the only one of my adult chinchillas that I've had do this. I've had alot of inquiries about people wanting to buy them, in part because they are the hetero-beige. We're keeping the 3-footed one because we got attached to him early on.

  5. In response to Tom I dont know how old these posts are without dates being shown, I was searching the net and just happened upon this site. I have been breeding chinchillas for about 5 years now and (in MY experiance ) I have never had a mother or father chinchilla eat the young ( but i am NOT saying it couldnt happen) I have seen both parents take very good care of the young. But with that being said, new borns can be mobile and ready to go minutes after being born and can escape a cage through holes that you wouldnt think are physicaly possible. I recomend a search around the room.

    • Not knowing the date of this...but I just wanted to agree on searching. We had one escape the first day or two and it took awhile to find it since they can get in such small spaces and hide fairly well. Needless to say we got some wire screening and wrapped it around the outside of the cage to avoid any further escapes. Our kits are now 5mths old today and I have to say it's been wonderful and alot of fun watching them grow and develop their own personalities.

    • Hi My chinchilla have just had triplets, as advised by th vets i have taken Dad out is this the correct thing to do Regards sarah

  6. My female chinchilla is aggressive towards the male. She has never acted like this before so we separated them. Now they cry to each other every night and my mom is getting really mad. The female is also getting like a twitch in her stomach. Is she preg? I don't know what to do because I feel really bad but I don't want either chinchilla to get hurt. If you can help me thanks but if not thanks for reading.

  7. Is there any point at which a chinchilla becomes sterile/menopausal? I have a 15-year old male and an 11-year old female (the grand-daughter of the male), and I feel bad that they're both alone (the female had a sister that died a few years ago) and I'd like to put them together, but they're way too old to have babies. Are they still fertile though?

    • I am not positive, but I had done some research that stated they can reproduce up to around 17 years. I am sure that it depends on each chinchilla.

  8. I am concerned I have a couple of Chins that have had 2 litters and I received them in October. She has slowly been getting larger and have a feeling that she may be preg. But her temperment is extreamly mellow and actually does not scatter amoungst the cage like she used to. I have heard their screeches and seen mating but nothing has come of this. How can you tell when they are due if they do become pregnant and it was un-noticed until later on in the pregnancy?

    • Hey Look. You put two animals of opposite gender together and yes they will have babies. It's how nature goes. If you don't want this, neutering is the only way to go. Or separating them though it seems as if they are a bonded couple and I would not recommend that. She might be preggie. Most of the times chinchillas get all bleh when they are pregnant. Does she spend a lot of the time on the bottom of the cage, or does she jump all over the place like usually? And also, does she lie down on her side more? If so, these are signs that she is going to have babies. If she is lying on her side look carefully as sometimes you might see the baby move. If that doesn't help, take her to the vet. If she isn't preggie, then she is just getting fat. I recommend cutting all the treats out of her diet Hope this helps. Muffin

      • I barely give her treats. I would like them to breed I want more chins. They are a bonded couple they are so cute togther he sleeps with his head on her back (from the side) it is really cute.; She is extreamly Blah. I have yet to see her lie on her side. Also I obtained a attitude wth you. I did not ask for that what so ever. I am new at this. I was told by the previous owner that they did go a year without reproducing. Thanks Anyway.

    • Yeah chinchilla couples are the cutest thing in the world. Welp, wish you luck! One thing you have to watch out for is if you decide that she is preggie, keep them in a place as silent as possible, and with lots of water. Some people sugest providing a water bottle with half water half organic apple juice later in the pregnancy. Since she is so blah, as little handling as possible is recomended. Sometimes you can feel the babies in the tummy, but don't poke her too hard because it could be quite dangerous (that's why the vet thing came in) And no, no attitude =] just being really blunt. Sorry if taken the wrong way. Wish you a hundread lucks with the baby! Do you know how old they are? They should supposedly stop reproducing after they are 7 or something like that.

    • To tell you the truth, there is no way to tell when her due date is if you didn't know she was preg. You can tell when it's close when she is very big, she doesn't eat very much, and when she always sleeps on her side. I hope I could be of some help! :)

  9. We thought we had two male chinchillas until a baby showed up this week. This morning I went to check on the mom and baby and there's no baby. Is it common for a female to eat the young and leave absolutely no trace?

    • Chinchillas are the rodent with the longest gestation period. Because of this, they take better care of the babies, and do not eat them very often. They can do so though if they are under a lot of stress. It is recommended not to bug them when they just gave birth. I'm sorry about your loss, and I would recommend neutering the male. Cheers Muffin

      • Hi. I have two female chinchillas. I got the second because I thought my first might be getting lonely, and same-gender companions werre supposed to be the best. The first got the second to do a fur-slip, though, when I let them run together. I thought then that maybe it was better to have a male and a female. Is this true? Or will they fight, too? Do you have any suggestions for bonding my females? And also, since it was a fur-slip and not a tearing of the fur, is that still a bad sign, or was it just dominance mounting? Thanks.

    • Tom: Is it possible that the baby chinchilla slipped out of the cage and scared ran away? They are extremely little and able to wiggle out of the smallest spaces.

      • We bought chinchilla and we had no Idea that she was preg. and when the baby was only days old he would sneek out and we had to put cardboard up around the cage to keep the baby from climbing out and running around...so it is a very good posibility that it snuck out...

  10. Hello, I had Chinchillias 8 years ago and when the mother gave birth she was fine but the father would attack us if we went near her or the babies. he was very protective. Now after all these years 9 months ago I bought a male n today a female they both like to be held n petted especially on the head. I am worried that the father might get violent again after they mate. What should I do ? I do not want to lose the sweetness they now have since my 6 year old doughter plays with them daily. Thanks Sam sam@aicg.biz

  11. Hi; I have recently obtained 2 chinchillas 1 male and 1 female not related. 10-12 months old. They are excellent friends no babies yet. But is it okay to keep the male in while babies are born? After we remove him for 5 days to prevent breed back? Or if he has to be kept separate for the duration of 2 months or until the kits are fully weaned is there going to be a need for a reintroducing period or can they be placed together again? Would like to know before breeding happens hopefully. These two have been cage mates for 6 months great companions we have had for 5 days. Bought from a groomer who due to housing was unable to keep them in an apartment we have had them 5 days doing well, friendly, and have gotten a new full wall cage. Thank you in advance for any information you are able to give.

  12. hi i have just recently got my female a male as she was aggressive and was advised to do so. so the outcome will be for her to have a litter of kits and then get one of them done which would be better to get done him or her? as she is the aggressive one and not him? also can i keep the male in with her throughout the whole of the pregnancy?

  13. we recently acquired 2 baby chins, a male and a female. AT what point do we need to separate them? Is it true that siblings should not mate? If by accident what is the risk/outcome?

  14. how can tell if my chinchilla is in heat? she is in a home w/ a male

    • you should see a bit of blood on her bedding and a chinchilla goes into heat every six months or when they are born they also go into heat at four months so if u see the female like playing with her self then shes proably in heat.

      • my baby male wants 2 ride my arm, y is that? he is about 6 to 7 months. help

  15. I have a question...i have 4 chins...two females ( mother & daughter) and two males.....i am trying to mate two of them and so far it is going very well...they get along great...the other pair not so much lol My question is should i keep the happy couple together all the time? Or would it be ok to keep the mom with her daughter? The daughter and the new male DO NOT get along...but the mom and daughter get along great....so im unsure of what to do...thanks

    • Well, give the baby daughter and the new male some time Give them a couple weeks to get used to eachother And if they don't then sure keep the mommy with her. I tried this thing, it's called the "butt to butt" method and it worked with my two chinchillas that were being assholes to eachother. Wish you luck!

    • Okay first of all if u are wanting to breed the chinchillas then u should keep the male and female together. Due to when the female gives birth the male can help with parenting.Second if ur other male and female dont get along then u should reintroduce them in a mutual place. Dont ever try to place the male into the females cage or vice versa do to they are pretty territorial. They will fight from the get so my advice would be to place them together in say the living room with u close by so if anything goes wrong u are there to stop it. If they start fighting then u have to place them separate. If the other female is already pregnant u can't place the yoyunger female with her due to she will be killed when the mother gives birth. She might kill the babies or mother during the fight thus the babies will die as well. So get another cage. Also remember it only take a second for them to mate so if shes been with the male longer than two hours shes already pregnant.

    • Oh ya i forgot if the daughter isn't old enought then don't place the male with her due to she will just kill him. Or he will get her pregnant before she is ready Then just giving birth will kill her. She must be at least seven months old before u try to mate her,any earlier will kill her ,or him if shes not ready.

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