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Tip Of The Month


How To Spot The Signs Of Early Illness...

Learning to recognize the symptoms of an illness early in its progression will potentially save your chinchilla's life!

Chinchillas are well-known to hide their illnesses for as long as it doesn't hurt or cause discomfort after which, they will expose latter signs and decline in health and vitality rapidly. It is therefore imperative that you learn to spot the early symptoms of an under-lying illness/disease before it escalates rapidly towards incurable.

The foremost thing you must do is understand and know your chinchilla whilst it is in optimum health. To do this you must spend time with your chinchilla interacting with them and learning their vocal and postural meanings. If you know nothing of your chinchilla's natural character you will not be able to spot any changes in their behavior to indicate a problem.

A healthy chinchilla should express the following symptoms:

  • Be of good weight and eating/drinking regularly.
  • Fur and eyes are bright and shinny.
  • Gnaws regularly on hard materials such as pumice stone or rocks.
  • Grooms itself regularly but without obsession.
  • Rarely sits still and is mostly busy doing 'something' (i.e. eating, grooming, playing, gnawing etc).
  • Runs, springs and jumps about when mobile.
  • Chatters regularly especially when in pairs (this must not be confused with grinding or squealing sounds).
  • Happy to come to you and interact.
  • Sleeps soundly during the daytime hours without continual waking.
  • Is happy to be seen during waking hours.

Anything opposite to the points above can indicate a problem that must not be over-looked or ignored!

One early symptom that is so often overlooked yet so easy to spot immediately (and usually before other symptoms appear) is a chinchilla's weight. By weighing a chinchilla weekly and keeping a continual record you will have an invaluable guide to help spot illness/disease at their earliest on-set. You will have recorded their precise body-weight (as fur is quite weightless), which you can refer to to ensure consistence and weight normality. This one thing can help save a chinchilla's life - especially one with a gastrointestinal or tooth problem!

Many owners do not weigh their chinchillas on a weekly basis as they cannot believe it is possible or the chinchilla will sit still long enough - but its true - they do when you know the art of a bit of simple manipulation !

Weighing a chinchilla is simple, quick and easy with the use of two items:

  • electronic scales (with a large digital display)
  • small pinch of porridge oats

Simply open the cage door and place the electronic scales on the 'clean solid floor' of the cage. Sprinkle a small pinch of porridge oats over the top and switch the scales on. Sit back yet close enough to see the electronic weight reading and call your chinchilla to its treats (if it hasn't already noticed the new object in its cage and come over inquisitively). If you remain still a chinchilla will generally jump up and sit on top of the scales long enough for you to take its weight reading from the scale display. Once you have obtained the reading allow the chinchilla to finish the remaining porridge oats before you remove the scales. This will help towards continual behavior to a point all the chinchilla will have to do is see the scales and he/she will be begging to get on it for its weekly weigh-in.

NOTE: Any differences of 20 grams per week must be recorded and the chinchilla taken to a qualified veterinary surgeon for a full medical check-up for the reasoning behind the sudden weight loss/gain.

Weight of a Chinchilla:

  • Kit (Baby) 35-60 grams at birth increasing 5-10 p/w. Anything under 25 grams is unlikely to survive.
  • Adult (Male) 400-600 grams is a healthy weight anything above this can be classed as overweight and unhealthy. Under 350 grams poses serious health problems and immediate intervention is needed if the male is to survive.
  • Adult (Female) 450-650/700 grams is a healthy weight for a female. Anything above this recording is classed as overweight/obese and unhealthy. Like the male, under 350 grams poses a serious health problem and the female will not survive unless prognosis and intervention is made.

Chinchilla Examinations also play a serious importance on interpreting the health of a chinchilla. Examinations should be performed on a weekly basis and records kept for future reference. For a more in-depth look at chinchilla examinations, please refer to our internal Examining A Chinchilla link.


When you look at a chinchilla you must remember they are covered in 1" long fur all over, that makes them approximately 2" wider than they actually are and appearances can be seriously deceptive!


Regular dental examinations and a yearly head x-ray are also recommended after the ages of 2 years to ensure no on-set of malocclusion, which can strike from 2 years onwards if a chinchilla has been poorly cared for. Tooth Root Elongation can be diagnosed at an earlier stage with the use of a X-ray as the latter symptoms such as watering eyes, bumps along jawbone or under eye socket will be latter stages, which are sadly incurable. There is no early way of detecting tooth root elongation unless a X-ray is taken!

A poorly chinchilla or one with early stages of illness will commonly express the following symptoms, although please remember these are not the only symptoms just a list of common signs to look out for:

  • Unkempt fur, often dull and oily.
  • Dull or watery eyes.
  • Pawing at mouth or obsessively attending a particular region on the body.
  • Teeth noises usually grinding.
  • Lazying about either on side or hunched in corner of cage.
  • Not overly interested or completely uninterested in any stimuli.
  • Lessened food consumption or continually eating/looking for food.
  • Drinking excessively or reluctantly.
  • Repetitive awakening during sleeping times and falling to sleep during awaking hours.
  • Excessive and/or regular weight gain/loss.
  • Lack of vibrancy, alertness and agility.
  • Uninterested in coming out of cage or continually returning to cage for rests.
  • Moves away when you approach or wants to be held more than usual or for long periods. This only applies to chinchillas that have bonded with their human partners.
  • Tooth noises when eating or food crumbs left after consumption.
  • Ungroomed fur around the hind legs (can sometimes appear straggly or matted).
  • Generally sick looking (in need of immediate interaction as a chinchilla in this state can be only hours away from death - remember chinchillas usually hide their illnesses quite well until it can be too hard or difficult to cure. A 'sick looking' chinchilla is commonly one that has nearly given up hope).

The list of symptoms above can be quite over-whelming but if you continually weigh a chinchilla, examine them weekly, provide 6 monthly dental check-ups and yearly head X-rays you have a greatly higher chance of not coming across all of these symptoms at once and this is what we want to achieve...the elimination of preventable illnesses that express themselves in the symptoms listed above.

The Chinchilla A-Z Health & Sickness Bible is just what is says on the cover...a health and sickness Bible completely dedicated to chinchillas. This fantastic ebook covers all the symptoms of over 150+ different illnesses for owners to look out for and also helps an owner diagnose a problem to the symptoms they may already be seeing.

One happy customer that bought the Chinchilla A-Z Health & Sickness Bible said "This book is just right to enable me to prevent serious illnesses in my chinchillas and to detect problems earlier rather than later" The chinchilla owner continues to say "Thanks to the Bible, I took her to the vet the same day and she was successfully treated for Stasis over the following week. If I hadn't read the Bible, I would have waited before seeking veterinary advice because she was still well in herself." (Magz).

When detecting symptoms of any illness the Chinchilla A-Z Health and Sickness Bible makes it so much easier and combined with the definition of the illness, it also explains the causes, the treatments and all so importantly - the outcome (prognosis). Nearly every illness/disease comes with a photograph or image to help the reader identify what the symptom looks like and is truly a 'must-have' for any owner that wishes to spot the early symptoms of an under-lying illness thus giving their chinchilla a greater chance of recovery.


Learn The Secrets & Keep Illnesses Away

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Chinchilla Chronicles - Home to Chinchilla Care and Education.
Chinchilla Facts ...

A chinchilla should not be
given fresh fruit and
vegetables contrary to what
other books and websites
may say.

A chinchilla has a very
sensitive digestive tract
and offering them this type
of food product can increase
their risk for Bloat and

Provide only pellets made
for chinchillas, a handful
of hay and fresh water on
a daily basis.

Chinchilla Group - Heterozygous Beige, Dark Tan, Violet and Beige/Violet. (Chinchilla Baby/Kit) © Jo Ann McGraw.
© 2008-2024 Copyright Mirella Poli. All rights reserved. Photo Copyright: Jo Ann McCraw, Chinchilla Chronicles.