Breeding Chinchillas: Quick Facts
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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:
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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!
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.
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.