Chinchilla Teeth

As with all rodents, Chinchilla's teeth grow throughout their lives, including their front teeth and their molars. From a "survival in the wild" perspective, this constant growth is required to ensure that chinchilla's teeth don't get worn down to nothing from all the chewing their food requires. As pets, we need to make sure our chinchillas have many items to chew on plus their food.

Maintaining Tooth Health with Food

Chinchillas innately know that they need to chew on things continually to keep the growth of their teeth in check. The first step is to ensure that they have teeth-appropriate foods. One example is timothy hay which is quite coarse and reportedly popular with chinchillas and their owners. As a backup, we've heard that high quality meadow hay is also good. Check the hay to make sure it doesn't smell musty or dusty.

Chinchillas should be given as much hay as they want. Unlike with treats, chinchillas won't overeat hay so it's safe to keep a constant supply in their cage. It also makes sense to keep the hay in a rack of some sort attached to the side of the cage to keep it from getting soiled. Hay that has been compressed into cubes is also a good way to keep it from being inadvertently used as bedding.

Other Ways to Maintain Tooth Health

In addition to the right food, you'll want to make sure that chinchillas have enough other things to chew on. Of particular importance is supplying them with safe wood. Cardboard boxes are also good and your chinchilla will enjoy being able to hide in them. For those with a little extra money to lavish on their chinchillas, there are various chew toys available, many made out of wood.

Sources:
eRodent

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32 Comments

  1. you can not toilet train a chinchilla. they do not have control over their bladder and bowels the way that they would need to in order to toilet train them. kinda like guinea pigs

    • I've trained my chinchillas not poop when they are out of their cage and on the sofa in the evening. It is possible to train them, but we don't let them stay out for more than 15 minutes at a time, because we don't want them to withhold their poops too long. Peeing has never been a problem: for some reason they just don't pee when they are out. I don't think it is good to train them to hold back if they tend to stay out for more that 15 minutes. A friend of ours told us about the 4 o'clock rule: she noticed that chinchillas tend to poop beginning in late afternoon (4 o'clock). If you can take them out earlier than 4 pm, there will be fewer poops to deal with. We have a 16 year old chinchilla. I just took her to the vet for drooling, and he saw that her molars are worn down almost to her gumline, so it seems that they aren't growing like they should. The front teeth (incisors) are fine. Possibly this is due to aging. Has anyone else with an older chinchilla had this problem? We're giving antibiotics to help the inflamed gums.

  2. Hi i just took my chinchilla to the vets. she as to stay get her back later. she started to drool They said it was possibly her back teeth. I did not know chinchillas had back teeth. they are putting her to sleep. get her back later this afternoon.... Anyone know how to toilet train chinchillas

    • Been again to vets Chilli keeps moving her jaw. smells like sick. but her eats plays as usual Vet said she had cut in mouth & tongue Told me best to put her to sleep. NO i have had Metacam 4 drops with food daily and Baytril 0.1 mis 2 times daily. hope it works. i am going to try a drop of Apple cider vinegar in water ....

      • If the vet recommends putting her to sleep, you really should. Chinchillas hardly EVER show pain, even when they are in very much of it!! It sounds like your chinchilla is leading a miserable life, and you're not being a good owner by prolonging it. A chinchilla does not want to live in that kind of pain.

      • I'm sorry to hear this. We lost two this way. At first, the problem could be controlled by antibiotics. It was a gum infection problem. But later, the anitbiotic didn't work help. There's nothing much they can do. We tried to keep ours alive by feeding, but it is impossible to keep up their weight. We tried everything, and with three daily feedings (a total of about 1-1/2 hours a day, everyday) we were able to keep them alive for 9 months. We ground up the food, mixed with water and feed with a syringe. The only reason we did this is because we always thought they'd eventually try to eat on their own, but they never did. I would never do this again: They just got gradually thinner and thinner, and an X-ray showed teeth overgrowth locking the jaw together: a horrible site. Our vet at the time (no longer) was triming only the front teeth, so we didn't know the molars were a mess. Of course, chinchillas will go along with it and pretend everything is OK, but it isn't. We made a video of one of them during that time, and looking back at it, we didn't realize at the time how ill she was (we were fooling ourselves).

  3. hi I have a question, I has my chinchillas teeth filed down a few months ago - he's been eating and drinking normally, last week he started drooling again, I've just managed (with the help of a mate) to pin him down andget a good look at his mouth and he's lost a front bottom tooth, there isn't any tooth above the gum line and I can't tell if the root has survived. he is still eating and is maintaining his weigth...is there anything else I can do? cheers Sara

    • My chin lost both his lower teeth a couple of years ago... I think he stopped chewing his chew toys because we moved & he was stressed. Now I just take him to the vet every 3-4 weeks & get his top teeth trimmed, and I moisten his food just a little & drain off any excess water to make it softer. He does fine, seems very healthy & happy, and is DEFINATELY not loosing weight-lol. Good luck! Rod

  4. Hi, I'm after some advice. I have a 6 yr old male chinchilla with a drool/teeth problem. He has stopped eating hay and chewing on his many toys. He drinks normally and eats nuggets normally. He has lost weight though. I have taken him to have his teeth clipped by my vet. Does anyone have any advice re getting him eating and chewing again?

    • Hi Andy Does your vet specialize in exotic pets? My Apollo had his teeth done several times - none were "clipped" I can't even imagine the pain if your chinchilla's teeth were treated like heavier rabbit teeth. Please please get him good oral care. They loose weight so fast and other complications move in. Alison

  5. ok, so cardboard is ok? is it ok if it like a shoe box and it has like the disine on it? or does it have to be plain card board?

  6. hi i have a chinchilla who has suddenly stopped eating, cant see no obvious things wrong with him he is jumpaing about the cage and drinking ike normal just not eating. can anyone tell me what could be wrong with him and how to sort it? many thanks

    • Get your baby to the Vet Claire - the earlier you can find out the cause the better. They are little creatures and fail so very fast. If you love your baby get it there ASAP.

    • Hi Claire, My chincilla stopped eating too and drinking which I took him to the vets. There, they give me a B-12 injection and he started eating quickly again. Kendra

  7. Hi Paul You need to take her to the vet to get the prescription for the Metacam and also the herbivore liquid diet. It comes in powder form and you add water and feed it to them with a syringe. Apollo would sit up at the edge of his cage while he had dinner or breakfast licking it while I squeezed it thru. I would give him the Metacam in the morning after his breakfast so it didn't upset his tummy. I also switched to alfalfa grass from timothy as it's richer and helped him with keeping weight on also. Between occasional trips where the vet would grind down the over grown teeth and the Metacam and hand feeding Apollo and I had an additional 2 years together. It was a lot of time and work but truly was a labour of love.

  8. Hi Kelly Take your baby to the vet - one specializing in chins/exotics. My baby Apollo was about 3.5 yrs old when he started to drool. First trip to vet increase timothy hay but didn't do anything. At 4 I took him back and big drool issue - xrays found he had the tooth growth issue (malocclusion) which could be treated by filing down the teeth but bigger problem he had root issues as well that we couldn't do anything about. For 2 years I hand fed and gave him his pain meds and occasionally we had to get his teeth filled down again. It was expensive but we had 2 good years together before it was all too much for him. He left me in June this year but I wouldn't trade those last 2 years for anything.

    • My chinchilla unfortunatly has the root issue,she is still eating but im afraid she will stop soon and id like to make the few weeks/months she has as pleasent as possible. I keep reading that people are getting metacam or some other kind of "pain medication" for their chins,im wondering how i would acquire the medication,seems like its not an over the counter pain med.

      • Of course Paul - You don't get percs over the counter either. It is a prescription medication and needs to be given under the supervision of your vet. They adjust for weight. You will also need the powdered diet supplement twice a day at least so she doesn't starve to death. You don't want that to happen.

  9. If a chinchilllas teeth have grown too long, what can be done about it? My chinchilla may be drooling(?) he has been getting wet from the mouth down his belly and has been pulling out his belly hair...his skin is clear and slightly pink and appears to be in good condition.... I've dried him several times because he is "wet"...His ears, nose and eyes are clear and clean and he is energetic ,eating and pooping with no diarrhea....From what I've read, he could either be stressed and/or having teeth problems....Another site I found said it is likely stress....What do you think? What can I do? He has plenty of things in his cage to chew on and I feed him Timothy Hay and Timothy chinchilla food...with an occasional carrot or raisin...Help!

  10. Chris Celnar

    Di, If you provide your chinchillas with a lot of options for chewing (wood, pellets, pumice stone, etc.) there shouldn't be any problems with their teeth. Also note that chinchilla teeth are supposed to be yellow and not white as you might expect. Our chinchillas haven't had any teeth-related problems.

    • How long are a chinchilla's bottom teeth suppossed to be? I'm having a hard time finding info on the subject.

  11. Hello, your ansswer with my previous question was very halpful, but I have a few more: Since their teeth grow throughout their lives does that mean that they are prone to malocclusion or abseces? Have your chinchillas had either one? if so, was the treatment difficult or alot of extra maintanence? I'm sorry, I know that those are alot of question but the answer really affects my decision to get one. Thanks for all your help.

    • I've owned chinchillas now for over 6 years and sadly i lost 'Ellie' my first 2 years ago at the age of only 4.5 years. Cause of death was disintergration of lower and upper left jaw due to dental desease. I was devastated when i lost her at such a young age. Now her sister is showing problems with her teeth in particular her molars. She is now on soft watered down pellets and is having treatment. The future prognosis isnt looking good as the extent of her mouth will get worse and is incurable. As much as i love chinchillas i wouldn't recommend them as pets because i feel that as they are exotic pets we still have a lot to learn about their wellfare etc.Therefore they should remain in the wild as only through our intervention we have in some cases managed to prolong their lives through treament , medicines etc, which i feel is putting the animal through a lot. Although they give you joy they can also give you heartace! The American who introduce Chinchillas into domestication has a lot to answer for as he didnt realise that these lovely rodent's take a lot of looking after and dont deserve to be put through such evasive and stressful treatments to prolong their lives because it is a fact that in the wild the lifespan on a chinchilla is only 5 years. Please do think carefully before you decide to purchase. Regards. Beverly. Hi Di, In some cases,yes and treatment can be expensive. I've just paid nearly £100 for dental work and i have another consultation fee of £30 to pay on next check up visit. .

  12. Chris Celnar

    Kimmey, As long as it is just a pumice stone you should be fine. We have one. Our chinchillas don't chew it all that much though.

  13. i have baught a mineral block for my new chinchilla, its called "gnaw it chinchilla nibble" is this going to be ok? it looks kinda like a pumice stone type block, i was just wondering as i know there are many products sold for chinchillas that arent actually very good for them.

  14. Chris Celnar

    Kelly, The formulation is likely different so we don't recommend it.

  15. can i give my chinchilla guinea pig food. I had to throw out his food, because magots were in it. thanks.

  16. Yellow teeth in chinchillas shows they have enough Vitamin C in their diet for healthy teeth. If your chinchillas teeth aren't yellow is when there is a problem.

  17. Chris Celnar

    Kelly, Yellow teeth are the norm. No need to worry.

  18. Are chinchillas supposed to have yellow teeth? I have one chinchilla and he has had yellow teeth since I got him about a year ago.

  19. Chris Celnar

    Kacy, Chinchillas will chew on just about anything. More so than hamsters or gerbils. Paper tubes are fine, but you'll want to make sure that your chinchillas are not eating the tubes instead of their regular food. Cardboard boxes are also good chew toys along with safe wood such as aspen.

  20. I'm hoping to get a chinchilla real soon! I already have 2 gerbils. I always give my gerbils paper towel and toilet paper tubes. Can you give these tubes to chinchillas or do they not have to chew on them? Thanks for answering my comments/questions, you've been a lot of help!

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