Eyes, Ears, Nose, and Mouth
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Bettina Hansen's (website no longer live)
A New Owner's Guide to Chinchillas by Audrey Pavia