Chinchillas are Prone to Heatstroke

Chinchillas have fur for a reason. In the wild they live in the Andes mountains where it gets cold. Their fur is what keeps them warm. However, domestic chinchillas are prone to over-heating since most people's homes are much warmer than the Andes.

The ambient temperature where chinchillas are kept shouldn't rise above 80 degrees. But temperature is not the only consideration as humidity also plays a role. A good rule of thumb is to add the temperature and the relative humidity together. If this number exceeds 150, you should take action to reduce both.

Failing to maintain a proper temperature can result in heatstroke. This is a dangerous situation and one that can be fatal. Warning signs include panting and lying down stretched out on one side.

If your chinchilla is suffering from heatstroke you should seek the attention of a vet. However, to bring the chinchilla's body temperature down consider offering some cool water to drink, wrapping a cold wet towel around the body, or submerging the chinchilla in cool (not freezing) water. As you undoubtedly know, getting a chinchilla wet is generally a bad idea, but heatstroke is a particularly dangerous situation that needs immediate attention.

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

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  1. I got a female chinchilla 3 days ago and my temp in my apartment was 71 and we turned it down to 69 and I noticed her laying on her side and I havnt seen her do that and I was wondering if that was normal ??

    • I have 10 Chinchillas and a few of them do lay on their side. They usually lay on their side when I provide a old shirt or cloth for them to relax on. This is when I know they are very comfortable. Also they will lay on their side if they been running around and get too hot and trying to cool their belly. 71 is a good temperature. I have my temp between 67 - 70. Since my den has its own thermostat, sometime I have forgot to turn the heat on during the winter and temp got as cold as 58. They was just fine, but could of been a bit nippy for them. They would then sit upright in ball and huddle together. I believe 66 degrees is the absolute coldest for them to be comfortable and 71 is the hottest. At times in the past, I had it on 72 degrees and they start to look more restless like they are uncomfortable.

    • Yes it's normal she's just relaxing. My chinchilla, loves to be next to the ac not to where its directly on him but right next to it and i have a blanket in his cage and he lays on his side and goes to sleep.

  2. I've had my chin for a little over 10 years. When it is warm in my house I found that opening the refridgerator door and having him go in there and twirl about (I removed the crisper drawers so it's a flat surface) for a few seconds then comes out does wonders and he LOVES it. (I have the dust as well for him)
    Is there such a thing as too cold a temperature for the chin? I am also concerned when my metal wall base heat is on in the winter, he seems to perch on it and stay there for a while then heads over to me to be petted. I notice his ears are pulled back and stay like that for about a minute as I wonder if he is a gluten for punishment liking the heat, but he does not seem to be suffering as the ears get erect again. Sometimes when I let him out of the cage, he stands in front of fridge door waiting for me to go over there to open it.

    • That is so funny. I have a mini refrigerator that I only use for beverages. I will try that one day. I have placed crunchy ice within a bottle cap and they love eating it.

  3. I unfortunately didn't read up or look on the internet about Chinchilla's. I thought they were extremely cute and I have a lot of time on my hands. So my boyfriend and I bought two, because if we bought two we got the food, cage & bedding all for free. I honestly only wanted one. But, we did everything wrong. They were drinking tap water, I didn't even think to buy a dust bath, let them eat pellets with treats in them and to top it all off, held them against their will. I know, it is horrible! After my ignorant boyfriend grabbed my Chinchilla by its tail, I looked up if the chin will be okay, and found out I've been taking care of my Chinchilla poorly! I need advice, how do I get my chins to trust me again? I have now purchased a dust bath, but how do I get my chins to take one? I have the time to take care of them, I'm just not sure how to do this! Please help me! I want my chins to be as happy as possible!

    • Hi I have 2 chinchillas of my own. they are both males, in separate cages, they were together but the one started bullying the other and not letting him get a dust bath with made him very sick it seemed. but I wanted to tell you the first thing you can do to get them to like you and trust you again is get a dust hut if you haven't already. Chinchillas love to be clean, and without getting a dust bath they can develop urine stains on their fur which can mold and cause skin disease. They also definitely seem happier when they can regularly get a dust bath. Another very important thing is to make them feel safe. I only handle mind if they want to, I hold out my hands together and they jump right on and I bring them up to my chest, support their feet so they feel secure with my hand under their belly with hey front legs between my fingers, or if they are calm enough I just keep my arm around them while supporting the bottom. I NEVER hold them if they do not want to be held. Don't let friends hold them, and a lot of different people take them out of the cage because they are very scared and don't trust easily. Its best to establish a strong connection with you first, that allows them to have a better impression of people. MAKE SURE they ALWAYS have a bag of hay, hay keeps their digestive system working properly, they can die from constipation and diarrhea, also hay helps wear down their teeth just a little bit and they love the taste. Hay is very important you can get a decent sized bag of (timothy hay) from walmart for $5. Don't feed random hay from a farm because it could have parasites and could be bad. NEVER let their environment reach 80 degrees, 78degrees is pushing it. but it hard to cool them down after they go into a heat stroke. One reason they have heatstrokes so easily is because they have 60 to 80 hairs per hair follicle, which is very very very think hair. Just try to keep the peace around them. And DO NOT LET your boyfriend EVER pick them up by their tail, ***(their tails are connected to their spine and neck, and carrying them by their tail can pull on their spine possibly and usually causing seriously damage. Make sure you buy things for them to chew on because their teeth constantly grow , and it just keeps them happy. Don't give them wood you find outside unless its from a fruit tree, there is a crab apple tree near my house and I go and pull small sticks off the tree to bring home and they love them! its a cheaper way to have chewtoys also they enjoy that type of wood way more than store bought chewsticks. Feed once in the morning and once at night. Romaine Lettuce is healthy and a great treat but NO ICEBERG. if you do all these things they will eventually begin to trust you because they will now you are the one keeping them happy and healthy. im telling you all this from experience, and ive spent a lot of time reading. I hope I helped ya out. Message me for any more questions.

      • I have 10 Chinchillas and it seems like 68 degrees is a optimal temperature for them. I generally place a old shirt in their cage to relax on, and 1 hour later they would be laying on their side knocked out. They love something soft to lay on. Unfortunately they tend to pee up the shirts within 2 or 3 days. I never fed them Romaine Lettuce, but I will this week. For treats I have fed them plain unbuttered popcorn and they love it. But make sure its no unpopped kernels around. They can chock on the kernel. They also love unsalted cashews. I talked to a vet and she didn't see anything wrong with cashews or the protein it provides, but recommend no more than 3 or 4 cashews.

  4. When my air conditioning broke and our maintenance guy was nowhere to be found, I filled water bottles full of water and froze them. I would wrap towels around them, so the condensation wouldn't get his fur wet. I used rubber bands or safety pins to secure them, but if you still have to swap them out if they get damp. The ice has most likely melted by then. Just a quick fix solution for anyone in an emergency. Any frozen item will work, though think about what will happen when it defrosts (or worse if the chinchilla gets into it.) After the initial concern, I ran to a quickie mart and bought about 10 ice packs. The sales person thought I was a little strange.

  5. i know this is a little late but the best temperatures for chinchillas are between 50-70 degrees F. if it gets above 70 he/she will be uncomfortable and if it gets above 75-80 your chinchilla can get heat stroke and quickly die. hope this helps.

    oohhh and to misty: she was trying to learn and get information, instead of lecturing her and telling her to do something that she was already doing you shouldve answered her.

    • Misty is right. The o.p. is at best a juvenile who thinks chinchillas are the next cool toy. Better to put her off than to have a dead chinchilla.

  6. Maeve,
    If you do not know what temperature your home should be for a chinchilla to live happily and comfortably than I would recommend before you purchase an animal that needs a lot of care and has special needs (like temperature) you need to read books written about chins. Also, you may be able to find other chinchilla owners in your area that have experience and can give you advice. Not everything on the internet is accurate. Be aware that you should not purchase an animal like a chinchilla before you have had the chance to get as much information as you can. I have a friend that wanted one because we have a few in my home, I tried to tell her that she needed to read up on chinchilla care. Needless to say she did not and she got a chinchilla and he had a heat stroke and he died - he was barley 4-5 months old. Please people before you buy such an animal make sure you know everything you can!!!

    • I have 10 Chinchillas and it seems 67 - 68 degrees is the optimal temperature. I experimented with the temperature and took notes on their behavior. 72 - 73 is when my Chins start to show restlessness like they are uncomfortable. I cant imagine anyone having their Chins in temperatures above 75. That will decrease the lifespan quite a bit.

  7. I ended up buying a cooling tile for my chinchilla because in michigan it gets warm. on extremly hot days i put her tile in the fridge for about an hour and then put it in her cage and she lays on it which lowers her temperature and the cages temprature. you dont have to go out and buy a speciall tile if you have clean tiles at home. perferrably marble iles are the bast. i hope this helps anyone who lives in a warm cliamte. you NEVER put a chinchilla in water beacause if tha happens a mold will foprm on the fur. If you get it wet a little bit on accedent whipe it off with a towel immediatly untill it is dry.

    • you should get and ac unit. (window or portable) a cooling tile is only a TEMPORARY solution. if its either the chinchilla dying (because the heat stroke is so severe) or the chinchilla being wet the best answer is getting it wet. just make sure you dry it off and give it a dust bath to make sure it is dry. you can even put the dust bath in the fridge or freezer to make it cool for him.

  8. I´m from Mexico ( sorry about my english) and nobody in pet stores says something about hot weather, I do have air conditioned, but I´m worried about people who don´t. Chins are the best creatures in the world but does need a lot of care. If someone is thinking of getting one, need to know that you need a lot of time to take care of them. Mine came wiht a little fungus from the pet store, at first appeared like fur bitting, but then I realized tha it was fungus, it took more than a month with everyday treatment to get it out, vets and medicine are expensive. Also you should bought a very very large cage and have a playground at your place they need to run and jump free, as well you need to find the way to get thimothy hay, good quality pellets and be able to get the sand for the dust bath. I love her so much, and I´ll do everything to keep her happy, but you need to be sure you have the time, the money, and the right place ( cold weather or air conditioned) before getting one. A chinchilla is the best thing could happen to me, but once when I didnt know about hot weather se suffered a heat stroke, I almost sufferd a heart attack when a I saw her lying ont he floor, I call the vet and I was able to cool her down. Now she lives all day in the air conditioned like a Diva chinchilla , but i never want to see her like that in my entire life.

  9. umm for one thing NEVER put a wet cloth on your chinchilla or put your chinchilla in water!!! Chinchillas are not supposed to get wet at all! And fans do not help, all a fan does is circulate hot air. You need to get you chinchilla to an air conditioned area asap whether it be in your home or even in your car (car ac gets the coldest the fastest) and if you do not have an air conditioned home a chinchilla is not the pet for you. And place your chinchilla on their chin-chiller. If you do not have one i reccomend getting one (i keep one in their cage at all times to help them stay cool and one in my freezer in case they overheat it will be very cooled).

    • Look whats more fatal? putting your chinchilla in water or watching your favorite little pet die from heatstroke. You choose. I certainly would use different methods before putting them in water, but i'd rather break the rules a little before letting them die.

    • you can always dry her off and give her a dust bath after, her being wet is something she can recover from, she cant recover from dying from a heat stroke. you are right about the fan, if you need some air circulation point the fan at the ground or at a wall away from the chinchilla. if you have the fan pointing at the chinchilla then the chinchilla can develope resperatory problems.

  10. Hi Everyone,
    I wasn't worried about my chinchilla because my chinchilla is usually pretty bouncy and fine. But then as I read this I got a bit worried because when my chinchilla sleeps she either sleeps normally on her spinning wheel or she lies down flat on her side. They say that it can be a sign of heatstroke if they do that and another thing is that my room is pretty hot to me and I don't even have a thick fur coat on me! I keep her in my room with me but I am not sure how to keep her cool without getting her wet. Any suggestions? Thanks alot!

    • you should get a cooling stone or a clean perferably marble tile and just keap it in the freezer until it gets hot out than lay it in the cage to keep it cool you can also do that with her dust bath

  11. I just got a Chinchilla 2 wks ago. We have been keeping the AC temp down at 72 degrees. It's freezing. What temp does it have to not exceed in the winter time for the Chin to be comfortable? Our family still needs to stay warm. We have a granet slab that we chill in the freezer for our chin. Any suggestions welcomed. I want to be able to coexsist in the winter time with our chinchilla in the same house.

  12. my son's chinchilla is acting funny.he's lethargic and making funny sounds,we can't afford the vet right now,any tips or suggestions?

    • GET HIM TO THE VET STAT!!!!!!!!!! My previous chinchilla Puck was acting like that and died the next day he died at the vet

  13. On cooling,

    I live in LA, so its real hot out sometimes. So, in addition to A/C, I put a small metal container (from Petco, originally for storing dog treats) filled with freezer packs in the cage. Also, a granite cutting block that I put in the fridge to cool down. My chinchilla loves snuggling the cold objects and licks condensation off of the metal.

  14. Hello Megan,
    I've heard that you're supposed to give a chinchilla a dust bath at least 2-3 times a week. So, every other day (or however you want to plan the baths) would be sufficient. Experts have recommended leaving the chinchilla in the bath house for no longer than 15 minutes per bath (although I also heard a few say 30 minutes).

  15. Hi Megan,
    I'd be leary about putting a cold water bottle inside a chinchilla's cage only because chinchillas are known to chew through mostly any material especially plastic. Plus frozen water melts fast in the hot weather, so you'd also have a watery mess in the cage to deal with which wouldn't be good. What I'd recommend is to freeze an old bed sheet and place that over the top of the chinchilla's cage. If you have an ice pack, you can place the pack in between the layers of the cold sheet (to prevent the melting residue from dripping directly into the cage).

    Hope this helps.

  16. How often should i give my chinchilla dust I just gave him some yesterday and took it out today their was some left over dust in the cage and he was tring to roll around in it I have been giving it to him twice a week should I give it to him some more?

  17. Sorry about that last comment. My chinchilla got on my computer keys. As I was saying, I heard if it gets over 80 degrees in your house and the chinchilla doesn't have heat stroke yet then you can put a cold water bottle in the cage and he should find it and that should help. Is that true?

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    77 degrees is OK if that's the max and usually the temperature is lower. You want the chinchillas to be able to run around without overheating. Another factor to consider is humidity. If your area is dry, then 77 is safer than if there's 80% humidity.

  19. I'm looking to get a chinchilla in the near future. However, the windows in my house are crank-windows and therefore cannot accommodate an air conditioner. A portable AC unit is too expensive. The room where I plan to keep it (should I make a final decision to purchase a chin) doesn't exceed 77 degrees.

    Would this be a safe environment for a chin?

    Many thanks for any help or info you can provide.

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    Around 22 or 23 degrees celsius should be good. Around You also need to keep an eye on humidity as high humidity makes warm temperatures even worse. We highly recommend an air conditioner to keep the temperature cool and constant.

  21. Hi, I was wondering because I'm in Canada can you please tell me the temperature that a chinchilla is supposed to live in, in celsius?

  22. My deepest sympathies to you for the loss of Chu.

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    Chinchillas can suffer many ailments. It does sound like you need to get to a vet though. We're not really qualified to make medical diagnoses. We really hope that things work out for the better for you and your chinchilla.

  24. Is it possible for a chinchilla to get a kind of cancer? My chinchilla looks as if he is getting a growth on his neck. Unfortunately, my four year old let him out of the cage and I am worried he may have even gotten in to the wall and some old mouse poison or something. I have a call in to the vet, but am really worried. He is a part of our family and the vet says he could have to be put to sleep. Thanks.

  25. No it wasn't in place of food and thank you. Also if anyone knows a good home with someone that KNOWS about chinchillas it would help too since I don't have the funds to take care of her properly. Thanks, Katherine.

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    Pesticide-free grass shouldn't do your chinchilla any harm. However, it doesn't have the right nutrients to keep your chinchilla healthy. So if the grass is eaten in place of, rather than in addition to the proper hay/pellets then it won't be so good.

  27. I'm just wondering if chinchillas can eat grass. I live in colorado and recently acquired a chinchilla from someone that didn't want it (they had two loud huskies).

    I'm actually currently looking for a good home for her but at least here she is safe and in the quiet. She loves running around my office but is only out when I'm in the room so she doesn't get a hold of the chewing items :D Any help here would be highly appreciated. Thank you, Katherine.

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    We're sorry to hear about your loss.

  29. Unfortunately Chu didn't make it through, and the vet just called an hour ago to let me know he had passed. It's hard, because he will always be my first chinchilla and it's like a part of me has broken away. If you catch the warning signs of heatstroke, do whatever you can to get the chinchilla to a veterinarian as quick as possible.

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    We're sorry to hear about your chinchilla. It's fortunate thought that you recognized the signs and got in touch with a vet. Hopefully things will take a turn for the better today.

  31. My chinchilla suffered from heat stroke earlier today, and thanks to this site I managed to bring his temperature down a bit more -- he's recuperating at the vet's home now and will hopefully be back to normal... or alive. He hasn't shown signs of improvement since earlier :(

    I never realized the dangers of heat stroke until today, so please be careful and keep your chinchilla cool!!

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    It is normal, but can also be an indication of problems. Sorry for the wishy-washy answer. It's normal because chinchillas that have been running around sometimes lay on their side. Pregnant chinchillas also do the same.

    You'll need to look at other behaviors and assess the environment to help you decide. And if in doubt, consider going to a vet.

  33. Is it normal for a chinchilla to lay on its side?

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