Chinchilla Health: Diagnosing Sickness and Other Ailments

If the chinchilla is given some good food, stress-free surroundings and lots of love they will typically have a good health. But of course sometimes they will get sick and the sooner you discover the problem the easier it will be to treat it and the chinchilla will avoid unnecessary suffering. Remember that the chinchilla can't tell when it feels a little poor, so you have to keep an eye on it and make sure that it is okay. Notice if there are signs of tiredness, loosing appetite, weightless and fur problems.

Always remember that all pets are completely depending on their owners to take of them and make sure that they will stay healthy – it is always your responsibility, since they can't take care of them self. Never ignore your pet's needs – you are its owner, provider, nurse and friend.

Below is described how you can check your chinchilla's health conditions and the most typical problems and how they are treated.


The chinchilla's eyes must be clear and sparkling and not dull or very watery.

The eyelids must not have sores or scab – this could be irritation from the sand, an infection or fungus. Eye infections are treated with eye ointment from the vet. While it is treated the chinchilla is not allowed to take dust bathes.

Watery eyes may be caused by too long molars (see “Mouth” below).


Chinchillas normally don't have problems with the ears, but if fluid is coming from the ears or if the chinchilla scratch the ears a lot or is having problems with the balance you should immediately take it to the vet. While the ear problem is ongoing the chinchilla can't take dust bathes.

If your chinchillas ears are unusually warm and red it may be an indication of fever and maybe a beginning pneumonia (see below).


If the chinchillas nose is running, but it doesn't seem to have problems breathing, it is probably just a cold. Make sure that to keep the chinchilla warm and that it is drinking well. Keep an eye on the situation to make sure that it doesn't get worse.

While the nose is running the chinchilla can't take dust bathes.


The chinchilla can have serious problems if the teeth grow too long. Symptoms of teeth problems are:

  • The chinchilla stops eating or is picking the smallest pieces of food.
  • The chinchilla repeatedly reaching for the mouth with the paw.
  • When the chinchilla tries to eat it is dribbling.
  • Watery eyes can be caused by too long molars.
  • Fast weight loss.

Tooth problems gives a fast weakening of the immune defense system and as a result of this the chinchilla will be more exposed to all other kinds of deceases. At the end a problem with the teeth can result in the death of your chinchilla.

Make sure that your chinchilla always has things to gnaw, so that it can keep its teeth in a suitable length. As gnawing material you can use untreated pieces of wood, branches from apple trees or a block of gas concrete.


Chinchillas can't have vermin like fleas or lice, since they can't build a nest in the unusually dense fur.

But chinchillas can get fungus then it will lose fur and the fur will get ruined. Fungus is treated by some powder from the vet which is mixed in the dust bath.

Chinchillas may also have a tendency to bite its own fur. This is caused by stress, low quality food, irregular feeding hours, humidity, draft or noise. If your chinchilla starts to bite its fur you must examine if something is not the way they use to be. Maybe the neighbor has gotten a dog which barks all day while you and the neighbor is away and the chinchilla is trying to sleep or …


Early signs of pneumonia are:

  • Fever – the easiest way to detect fever is if the chinchillas ears get warm and red.
  • Breathing problems.
  • Wheezing breathing.
  • Running nose.

If your chinchilla gets these symptoms you must immediately take it to the vet since pneumonia is very rough for a chinchilla and may cause its death.


One of the most common illnesses with chinchillas is constipation. Constipation can be due to stress, new surroundings, long car trips, fast change of food and lack of fresh water.

Symptoms of constipation is smaller, thinner droppings and in the end completely lack of droppings.

If you see symptoms of beginning constipation you should try to give the chinchilla some extra raisins and make sure that it gets plenty of exercise. If the situation doesn't get better within a few days you should take the chinchilla to see the vet.


The other of the two most common illnesses with chinchillas is diarrhea. Diarrhea is typically seen with young animals who have eaten too much and with animals who have eaten bad hay or bad food.

Other reasons for diarrhea is stress, fast change of food and too much green food. Symptoms of diarrhea are loose, slimy or almost liquid droppings.

If you see symptoms of beginning diarrhea you should stop giving any kinds of treats. You could give some dry bread though. If the situation does not become better within a few days you should talk to the vet.


If the diarrhea continues for a longer time it may be due to the intestine being irritated and inflamed. This can be due to an infection or the use of antibiotics for an extended period.

Besides the continuing diarrhea a chinchilla with enteritis will often lose interest for food and treats. If you think that your chinchilla may have enteritis you must take it to the vet.


Chinchillas that are exposed to high temperatures (above approximately 27°C) may have a heatstroke. They get breathing problems and lay down on the side without moving. This condition is very unpleasant and stressing to the chinchilla and you must immediately bring it to a cooler place and make sure that it drinks plenty of water. If the chinchilla's cage is placed where temperatures this high may occur you should find another place to put the cage.

Bettina Hansen

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