Eyes, Ears, Nose, and Mouth

Table of Contents

Chinchillas are generally energetic creatures. When they are ill, their energy level drops so it is important to watch for this sign. A change in the amount of water and food consumed can also be a sign of illness. Whenever you suspect there may be problems, examine your chinchilla's eyes, ears, nose, and mouth for clues as to the underlying ailment.

Eyes

Healthy chinchilla eyes are clear and lively looking. However, since chinchillas spend time in wood shavings and in dust baths, they sometimes suffer eye irritation. Signs of such irritation include an eye being held shut, constant pawing, and excessive tearing. A vet will be able to determine if there is something physical causing the irritation or if there is an infection that will require eye ointment.

Ears

Chinchillas don't often have problems with their ears. However, if you notice fluid coming from their ears, if there is repeated scratching, or issues with balance, you should seek the advice of a vet. Also watch out for ears that are unusually warm and red. This can be a sign of a fever and may be the beginning of pneumonia.

Nose

Believe it or not, chinchillas can get a cold just like people. Signs of a cold include a runny nose. The treatment for a cold is one of patience and ensuring that the chinchilla has enough water and is kept warm. Make sure to keep the chinchilla warm and that it is drinking well. Monitor the situation to make sure it doesn't get worse. One other thing, while a chinchilla's nose is runny, you should avoid giving it a dust bath.

Mouth

Chinchillas need to be constantly chewing on hard objects like wood or pumice stones to keep their teeth trimmed. If a chinchilla's teeth grow too long, there can be some serious health complications. Symptoms of teeth problems include:

  • Repeating pawing of the mouth.
  • Dribbling or drooling when eating.
  • A dramatic reduction in food consumption.
  • Significant weight loss.
  • Watery eyes that can be caused by excessively long molars.

A chinchilla's teeth should be yellow and not white. White teeth could mean calcium deficiency. This condition usually only affects nursing female chinchillas. You can read more on the importance of tooth health.

Sources:
Bettina Hansen's (website no longer live)
A New Owner's Guide to Chinchillas by Audrey Pavia

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69 Comments

  1. Hi, My 4 yr old Chin is sneezing & has clear discharge from his nose. Other that that he is his normal self. He's eating, drinking, playing urinating etc, is there anything I can do to help him myself or does he need a vet? Thanks

  2. My husband has a chinchilla who is small and skinny. She's eating her treats and not much of her Mazuri food. We looked at her teeth and they are trimmed and even, they are also yellow. If anyone can help give me advice on what to do I would appreciate it a great deal. I don't want to lose her my husband loves her so much. Please Help Me!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  3. My little guy is sneezing alot more frequently, but it is only when I really come in and let him out for play and exercise time. I don't use any chemicals around him or near his cage area or the room he is kept in. I don't wear perfume or any type of thing that would cause him to start sneezing, but when he comes towards my outstretched hands he just starts sneezing. I don't hear any coughing or rattling and he doesn't have any liquid coming out of his nose. His eyes are clear, teeth are trimmed up good, skin is clean and ears are dry, clear, and cool. If someone could please give me some I would really appreciate it, cause I don't want to see my little chin get sick. Plus I am also a new owner and I really am not sure what to expect...

  4. My little guy is sneezing alot more frequently, but it is only when I really come in and let him out for play and exercise time. I don't use any chemicals around him or near his cage area or the room he is kept in. I don't wear perfume or any type of thing that would cause him to start sneezing, but when he comes towards my outstretched hands he just starts sneezing. I don't hear any coughing or rattling and he doesn't have any liquid coming out of his nose. His eyes are clear, teeth are trimmed up good, skin is clean and ears are dry, clear, and cool. If someone could please give me some I would really appreciate it, cause I don't want to see my little chin get sick.

  5. Are chinchillas able to get sick from people? I had pneumonia about a month ago so I am likely to get it again within the year. I know some animals can get sick from other breeds, but I am not sure about chins. Thank you!

  6. My chinchilla's tail hair is falling off or he's pulling it out. I don't know what to do. I'm scared that he's dying. Please help!

  7. I picked up my chinchilla a week ago and saw tiny scratches on her ear. When i picked her up a few days ago, the scrathes were still there and hadnt even faded. We have recently gotten another chinchilla and they've been getting along fine, but i still dont know where the scratches are coming from! can you please help me and my chinchilla, Gracie?!

  8. My chinchilla is going bald around the ear i don't know what to do.

    • Take him to a vet who specializes in exotics.

    • Could be ringworm a fungus infection... You can put a small amount of Foot athletes powder in their dust bath.

  9. My chinchilla every so often will paw repeatedly at her mouth,but this doesn't always happen.Is there anything wrong?What should I do?

    • A visit to a good exotics vet. They should be checked up annually anyway, but when a problem is observed it is important to see a vet soon because chinchillas tend to hide signs of illness. An unfortunate but common problem in chinchillas is malocclusion, a misalignment of the teeth that can be very serious.

  10. Why does my chinchillas eyes have black spots in its eyes?

  11. Hello, If a chinchilla has a cold, would it have green mucus coming from its nose? My chinchilla is six years old, and he has been to the vet multiple times over the past few months due to teeth problems. He's had teeth filings and an abscess removed that was caused from his teeth scraping the side of his mouth. It finally seemed like he was getting better, but just recently he's been acting strange. He's been patting at his nose/mouth a lot. We've been looking at his x-rays that were taken a few months ago, and it looks like the roots of his bottom teeth are growing into his bottoms jaw. We've been to two exotic vets that have said this is fine though. My mom has been talking on a chinchilla forum about it, and everyone on there is telling us that we need to put him to sleep asap. They say that since he's patting his nuzzle, this means he's in a lot of pain. My mom and I figure that this has to be why he's acting so unusual and why he's patting at his nuzzle, so we're going to take him to the vet to be put to sleep tomorrow (Feb. 20). However, as I've been spending time with him during his final hours, I just noticed that he has a lot of green mucus dripping out of his nose. It's dripping down his face, and he keeps patting at his nose to wipe it away. That's why I'm asking what color a chinchilla's mucus would be if it has a cold. If my chinchilla only has a cold (and isn't bothered by his teeth), I'd be pretty upset if I put him to sleep over that... I'm sorry if this all sounds a bit scattered... I'm so sad right now! I love this chinchilla so much. He's my little buddy! I'm going to miss him so much... Thank you, Erin

  12. My chinchilla's eyes seem a bit teary. He's not eating much of his pellets, but will still eat his hay and very few treats. Eye irritation? Should I take him to the vet?

  13. my chinchilla's fur is shedding.. but in like little clumps. not huge ones and no bland spots we just got her from a pets store about a week ago. and she has been doing good. but should i be concerned?

    • With your chin, I was told from my pet store that when a chinchilla is shedding it is out of fear. That is how they survive when they are in the wilderness. Our chinchilla does that when a new person comes in. It is nothing to worry about right now. It is just a sign of survival. Just stay calm when holding your chinchilla he/she will start to remember you and your touch and the shedding will come to an end.

  14. My chinchilla has a bald patcharound its eye but im not sure what to do with her. Should i take her to the vets

    • yes take her to the vet. it sounds like she has fungus in which case the vet can give you some ointment and prescribe care as he/she sees fit.

  15. regarding a chinchilla not eating. i have been noticing my chinchilla not eating or drinking for a week and we took her to the hospital that cares for exotics and the dr. told me she looked fine but she still hasn't changed any behavior. we have been making her drink with a syringe and i also niticed that she started making a sucking noise with her mouth and making a puckering look with it.

    • take her to a different vet. it sounds like the vet doesnt know what he/she is doing. if there is weight loss, loss of appetite, or your chinchilla is not eating she needs to go to the vet ASAP. they go down hill very fast and this indicates that there is something seriously wrong.

  16. here was my first response to chinchilla not eating because of an ear infection Countryside Animal Health Center LLC Categories: Veterinarians 3334 E Freeland Rd Ste B Freeland MI 48623-9416 Phone: 989-695-2200 This is where I took my chinchilla when he was off balance and not eating. He would walk in a circle then he would even roll over and had difficulity getting up. He had a serious ear infection that affected his balance. It took a bit of round the clock care from me to take care of things. It was about a year ago. My chinchilla is at least 15 years old now. Funny that now we are closer than we were before in that he seems to trust me and call out in a soft way much more than before. you can use my name when you call the vet and tell them i recommended them. Just tell your vet to call them and they will give the recommended treatment. Tony Rocha God Bless!!!!

  17. My chinchilla has not eaten for 5 days now, I toke him to the vet and they said he had a ear infection and over grown teeth, he was put on medicine for the ear, that was 3 days ago. He does not move around that much, and drinks very little water. I am very worried about him and am worndering if it is the end for him. I would like to know if their is some way I can get him to eat, he is only 6 years old, I don't know if their is some other problem the vet doe's not know. I would apperciate any advise as to what I should do.

    • did they give yout a special diet to give your chinchilla since he has gotten sick? when my chinchilla was sick there was a special diet of hay and vitamines mixed with warm water that I gave him thru a syringe in his mouth about 5 or 6 times a day before he got better. my chinchilla is 16 now and that was 4 years ago.

  18. We have two chinchilla's and one of them seems to be sneezing and seems to have a stuffy nose, no visulal signs of mucous. She does wipe her mouth/nose frequently. The other one does not have any of these symptoms. It has been going on intermittently for about 2 months i think she is allergic. I have tried to keep the Alfalfa hay and Timothy hay away and now I think she may be allergic to Almonds. She has not lost her energy, still very active and curious. Are you familiar with this?

    • I would consider useing a different beding for your chins. I dont know what you use but that would be my first suggestion. Lots of litter contains dust which can lead to respitory problems. I wish someone would have told me this a while back when I had another smaller rodent who got very sick and died from standard store brand wood chip beding. I now use carefresh natural bedding for my two chins. It contains very little dust and is easy to clean up. If this doesnt resolver your problem then remember chinchillas can get colds just like humans. If it goes untreated in can evolve into more seriouse problems. It doesn't sound like this is the case do to his energy levels not changeing. So try the later and see how that works. If it is the litter its only a matter of time before your other will start sneezing to. It might take a while but breathing in all that dust from the litter over time is a recipe for disaster.

  19. I wanna know what they look like.

  20. What are some physical characteristics of a chinchilla? Please tell me, because this is for school.

  21. Recently i felt a round lump near the left side of the cheek in my chinchilla. any advise to what i should be wary of in regards to that lump?

  22. My chinchilla keeps scrating himself as if his skin in his fur is itching. He either uses his teeth or his paws. It's frequent and I want to know if it's because it's from too much bathing in the dust. Because of the summer weather I leave the dust bowl in the cage to keep from overheating. I also have the marble tablet as well. Please let me know if it's another underlying issue.

    • yes your chinchilla most likely has dry skin, from like you said to many dust baths. Limit your chinchilla to having 2-3 dust baths per week.

  23. My chinchilla bited her self in "that" place and i foud dry blood. I called vet doctor and he said to use some antiseptic.. but i still worry (afraid). what else can i do? (sorry for my english.. its moscow 'calling")

  24. my chinchilla has a balance problem and is sleepy almost all the time. he stopped eating or drinking water. I tried some vitamins but doesn't work. I went to the vet but nothing again! I really don't know what to do! Please if can help me. Thanks anyway!

    • Countryside Animal Health Center LLC Categories: Veterinarians 3334 E Freeland Rd Ste B Freeland MI 48623-9416 Phone: 989-695-2200 This is where I took my chinchilla when he was off balance and not eating. He would walk in a circle then he would even roll over and had difficulity getting up. He had a serious ear infection that affected his balance. It took a bit of round the clock care from me to take care of things. It was about a year ago. My chinchilla is at least 15 years old now. Funny that now we are closer than we were before in that he seems to trust me and call out in a soft way much more than before. you can use my name when you call the vet and tell them i recommended them. Just tell your vet to call them and they will give the recommended treatment. Tony Rocha God Bless!!!!

  25. My 3 year old chinchilla is active but I'm worried about her left eye. There is some fur lost and a bit of "eye boogies" as I call it. She eats healthy foods and gets a dust bath 2 times a week, what could be causing the fur lost and the eye boogies, could this be a serious health problem?

  26. My chinchillas' ears have been drooping for a couple of days now, he always has fresh food and water. He has had no change in food or diet and his bedding is always cleaned. He always has a cuddle bone or something to chew. His stools don't appear to have anything wrong with them (not excessively runny or small) but still he seems very irritable and his ears are always drooping. I live in northern Missouri and the weather has been fair; not extravagantly hot or cold. I have no idea what could be wrong. The vets here in town are more farm animal than exotic... so I am afraid they won't have any idea what to do. Has anyone else had this problem???

    • Alyssia- did you ever find out about your chin? Mine is doing the same thing now- droopy ears and just looks mad. Eyes are clear, ears appear clear. Not eating much hay but will eat pellets (which I was told is like giving candy to them- their main diet should be hay.) Please let me know if you had a resolution with your chin... thx

  27. Oh, and as a follow-up question, my chinchilla has been dropping some of his whiskers too. I think he might be stressed. Is this a serious threat?

  28. Chris Celnar

    Brian, Losing fur can mean many things. A vet is your best bet.

  29. Hi, My chinchilla has been missing fur lately, and I'm not sure if it's because he's biting it, or if some lice or ticks are getting at it, or for some other reason. It's only missing on his legs, and the grayish-white top layer of the fur is gone. Is this anything to worry about?

  30. Hi! I would really like to get a chinchilla-I have wanted one for years. I have a question, however. Can a chinchilla catch a cold from a human? Can they catch any sickness from humans? Can humans catch any sickness from a chinchilla?

  31. I would also like to note that I have seen no decrease in appetite or activity, so I am hopeful that I have caught this early. Thanks again

  32. Hello again, thank you for your quick response to my last post. My chinchilla Ace has a small lump on the right of his neck under his jaw that I think may be an abscess. I have no idea how he could have gotten it, but I am going to take him to a vet tomorrow to get it checked out. I was just wondering if this is life threatening and what I may be able to do to help him before I can get an appointment. Thanks.

  33. Chris Celnar

    Caroline, It's hard to say if the red spot is serious. However, we have seen similar injuries from chewing activities. Does your chinchilla like to chew on the bars of her cage a lot? When she does this, she may be irritating part of her nose through repeated rubbing against the bars. Try giving your chinchilla more alternatives for chewing so that she's less inclined to chew on the bars.

  34. My chinchilla Winnie as a little red spot right below her nose. I can not tell if it iss a cut or not. What should I do to help this?

  35. Hi, I have a chinchilla named Chilly, and I got him from a friend's brother. I think Chilly is around 5-8 years old and he has some black spots on his ears and around his ears, nose, paws, and feet. Do you think there's something wrong with him?

  36. Hi, I have a older male chinchilla named Vick. He is very healty and heavy. i just recently got him a female chin, to keep him company. When i brought her home and interduced them, they got along great! I noticed that the female had a patch of hair missing around her eye, along with white crust, what looked to be like dandruf. the following day i noicted some fur missing from her noise. i will be taking her back where i bought her, so they can find out the problem and treat her, but my concern is for my male Vick. should i be worried that this is contajoius and how should i go about fixing the problem before it starts??

  37. question 13 by morgan: was this ever diagnosed? My chinchilla that I have had since @ 93 or 94' is doing the same thing. He was fine till a couple of days ago I noticed he was very quiet. when I tried to get him to come out of his home he was off balance. then started to walk and wobble to the right. I gave him a rasin and tried to give him water. didn't work. I put his dust bath in the cage and he made it there several times but he is not making any sounds and I am worried. I am trying to find a good vet but here in Michigan its cats dogs or farm animal vets.

  38. sorry here is my e-mail

  39. Hi. I just came back to my chinchillas and I found that one looks like he has scraped the inside of his hind leg. I also see him chewing his wound. Do you have any idea how to treat it? Some web sites are saying to put salt and water on it so I might do that. Please respond quickly as possible.

  40. Chris Celnar

    Nan, Start with our article on handling chinchillas. Be warned that some chinchillas will never like to be held. But they should enjoy your company if you let them come to you rather than chasing them. As for the wire size, your cage sounds fine. The spacing might be too wide for babies, but for a 15 month old chinchilla there shouldn't be any problems. We're assuming you're talking about the walls of the cage and not the bottom. We don't like wire bottoms at all.

  41. Sorry, one other question. I bought him a three story cage made of the correct wire. I'm not sure if the width is too wide, it's approximately one inch spaces. Is that too large? I don't want him to get hung up on anything, or stuck between the wires. Thanks.

  42. Hi. I recently purchased my first chinchilla. He is 15 months old, and apparently has NEVER been handled. He scares me as much as I scare him at this point, because every time someone puts their hand near his cage, he wants to bite. He seems to be very skittish still after four days of being in our environment. What is a good way to gain his trust. Keeping things silent here is impossible as I have a six year old son, and a 13 year old son and they like to bicker, but they have toned it down a lot, and I try to keep them away from him in a completely different room if they're playing. He's already established his routine. He knows when we wake, when I vacuum (which I thought would be a problem but wasn't), when we all return home from school, when his feed time is, etc.. He was whining at me in fact, just a bit ago to put his food dish back in his cage. I'm just worried that he and I won't have a bond. I know that four days is probably rushing that issue, but I'd at least like him to start to experience some affection. He was doing the "lonely talk" early, and I tried to communicate with him by mimicking. He just leaps all over the place. Please help. Thank you.

  43. Chris Celnar

    Mary Beth, We would separate them and go to a vet. Nothing beats a hands-on examination which is something we can't do with a web site. Good luck!

  44. I have two male chinchillas about the same age in the same habitat. The one now has lesions-- scratches, torn ears, etc. There does not appear to be any heat - no temperature emitting from the ears. Is there anything I can do or is a vet call necessary?

  45. Chris Celnar

    Morgan, We've been lucky enough to not have had our chinchillas experience the problem you've described. Going to a vet seems like the best possible action, but as you've learned the hard way, it really helps to find a vet that deals with chinchillas or the more general category of exotic pets. Those that work with dogs and cats just don't have the experience or knowledge. We once went in to a place where they didn't even know what a chinchilla was. We of course turned around and walked away. We hope things turn out well for you and your chinchilla. Please let us know what the diagnosis is.

  46. I'm worried about my chin!! Approximately a month and a half ago Chuck had gunk flowing out of his ear. I took him to the vet and she prescribed an antibiotic. Chuck took it twice daily and has been healthy for about three weeks. His ear is completely back to normal and has been eating and drinking again. HOwever, about an hour ago he started twirling. He has his head cocked to the left side (the same side as the infection) and is spinning in circles. I can't get him to stop! I've been holding him for most of the time trying to comfort him but I'm worried. I'm going to try and make a vet appointment for tomorrow, but I don't trust our last vet. She didn't seem to understand chinchillas very well and had to look everything up in the book. Have your chinchillas ever had this problem?? Do you know of anything I can do for him? Thanks!

  47. Chris Celnar

    Daniele, We're sorry to hear about the troubles your chinchilla is having. You've moved in to a realm that is out of our league. We're no vets and our chinchillas have been healthy. We wish we could be of more help!

  48. I took my chinchilla to the vet today because he has seemed lethargic and has had a lack of appetite. The vet thinks he has tooth eruptions on his bottom jaw. He has to go back in the morning to be sedated and have x-rays to confirm this, but my chinchilla is possibly facing tooth extraction! Have you had any experience with this? How much am I looking at for this procedure and what can I expect to do for him during his recovery? Any advice you can give would be much appreciated.

  49. Chris Celnar

    Simon, We think there's still hope for your two chinchillas to get along especially since you say that things are getting better. Did you introduce them slowly like we describe here: http://infolific.com/pets/chinchillas/introducing-two-chinchillas/. If you went straight to having them play together, that might be the problem. As for the eye problem, we're hesitant to try and diagnose a chinchilla over the web. Although what you describe might be caused by some external irritant e.g. dust bath, it might turn out to be contagious. All the more reason to check in with a vet as soon as you can. You wouldn't want your new chinchilla to develop the same problem.

  50. I bought a new chinchilla to accompany my old one because the old one seemed to get lonely. The older one is a male who is more submissive to the newer one which is about 4 months younger. When i put the both in a bathroom, the newer one attacks the older one by biting its fur. Its been a month now and it looks like they're making progress but slowly. Do you think they'll will ever get together? Also the older one's been having an eye problem in one of his eyes. The fur around it looks wet and sometimes there is a white blob at the edge of his eye. Do you know what it is? Its been going on before we got the new chinchilla.

  51. Chris Celnar

    Kt and Bryan, We have not had direct experience with chinchilla heart murmurs. However, The California Chinchilla Association has a good description of heart murmurs symptoms and proposed treatment. Chinchilla Park Place also references a few heart murmur treatments. To be safe, you may want to solicit a second opinion to confirm your chinchillas suffer from heart murmurs. Good luck with the treatment.

  52. We just took our chinchillas Zoe and Squish to the vet this morning and come to find out they both have heart murmurs. Do you have any information on chinchilla's with heart murmurs? There does not seem to be a lot of information out there on this topic.

  53. Chris Celnar

    Not that we know of. However, even if there was you'd probably be better off finding out what is irritating them and removing that rather than just addressing the symptoms.

  54. Is there some kind of ointment or something over the counter that I can put in my chinchilla's eyes for irritation. This comes and goes. Thanks!

  55. Chris Celnar

    Connie, How old is your chin? Has she ever eaten out of a dish? If she is very young, then she may still be learning to be weaned. However, if she is older and stopped using a dish, then there might be a problem. I recommend you get a second opinion. Be sure the vet has experience with chinchillas.

  56. My chinchilla will not eat her food or drink her water out of her dishes although she will take baby food from an eyedropper. I took her to a vet and he could find nothing wrong.

  57. Chris Celnar

    Rebecca, Is your chinchilla eating more hay and pellets? Or is it the "treats" or some other food that is being eaten too much? It isn't normal as far as we know, but we have heard that newly weaned males do sometimes eat more than they should. Also, if you've recently changed foods, your chinchilla may be eating too much of it because it is new. You could try limiting the amount of pellets given. Rather than filling the dish, put in only 2 to 3 tablespoons. Feel free to provide more detail. Maybe something else will occur to us once we know more.

  58. I am worried about my chinchilla. He is eating a lot more than he usually does and has gained a lot of weight. He has a lot more energy than usual and is feisty. Is this normal behavior?

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