They’re so cute with their little button eyes and bat ears, and can live to be up to 15 years old. To ensure that your chinchillas stay healthy for longer, it’s important that they have regular health checks.

Chinchillas make incredibly pretty and interesting pets, which is why their popularity is on the rise. They do have a reputation for being quite delicate in terms of health. However, as long as you follow a couple of rules, you’ll find that raising these animals properly and caring for their health is not as difficult as it sounds.

The top priority for chinchilla owners is to keep them dry, which means that keeping chinchillas outside is not an option. Maxi Zoo vet Lioba Schaetz explains, “At our latitude, chinchillas should not be kept outside as it’s too damp and cold for them here. Moisture is lethal for these animals. Their fur is not water-repellent so it becomes saturated, causing the animals to cool down too much and catch a cold. This is also the reason why you should never give your chinchillas a bath”.

In fact, it’s not necessary to bathe chinchillas for hygiene reasons as these cute little rodents groom themselves. All they need is a tip-proof bowl filled with chinchilla sand so they can clean their fur. Chinchillas use their sand baths to relieve anxiety and maintain their social network – making their bath an anti-stress programme and friendship forum in one!

Be aware of changes in behavior

It’s also important that owners always keep a careful eye on their chinchillas, as these pets can go a long time without showing signs that they’re not well. Even if they’re ill, they will still come to their food bowl and socialise with their companions. They do this because this is how they would behave in their natural habitat. They need to eat to survive and also have a strong need for social interaction. Even minor changes in your pet can be an indication that something’s not quite right. But if your chinchilla loses a lot of weight, seems weak or even listless, it might actually be too late to save him. And because it’s difficult to detect illness early, these animals are often thought of as being complicated when it comes to their health care. On the contrary, it’s simply a question of getting to know your pets well and keeping an eye out for change.

Observe how they behave when feeding. Do all of them race to get to the bowl, or just some? Is their feeding behaviour the same as always and do they eat as quickly as usual? Do they seem agile, curious and lively? Are they bounding about and running around like they usually do? And check their droppings: are they normal or do they differ in some way? You really need to make these checks every single day. If you notice anything unusual, you need to get them to the vet immediately.

You should also take the time to give them regular mini health checks, as vet Dr. Lioba Schaetz suggests. This includes weighing each animal and recording the results. This will help you see if one of your chinchillas has lost weight. Clear, shiny eyes and clean ears are signs of good health. You should also check inside their mouths on a regular basis to see if their teeth are in good condition. Examine their bodies thoroughly to check for any potential thickening or swellings. In doing so, you will also notice if they are bloated or suffering from skin problems. And cast a glance at their hindquarters regularly too – a clean bottom means that your chinchilla’s digestion is working well. If it’s matted and dirty you need to take your chinchilla to the vet as he is probably suffering from diarrhoea; an emergency situation which can quickly become life-threatening.

Any abnormalities – go to the vet immediately

There are a few other signs that should ring alarm bells if you come across them. If your chinchilla’s nose is gummed up or wet and they are sneezing, your little one is probably suffering from an infection. Mushy, soft excrement indicates intestinal problems. If he has bald patches in his coat, he might have a fungal infection. If he scratches himself a lot, it might be that he has an allergy. No matter what the abnormality: go to the vet immediately because your chinchilla’s life is at stake.

Generally speaking, health care for chinchillas isn’t all that difficult. You just need to get to know your pets well and pay them the attention they deserve. Which, with these comical little animals, is a joy in itself.

Call into your local store today to discuss your small animals’s personal needs with our Maxi Zoo Pet Experts.