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Chinchilla Secrets

A Comprehensive Pet Owner's Guide

By Jessica Harrison
(Edited by Prabhu Lazarus)

Copyright 2006 Geostar Publishing

All Rights Reserved
This eBook shall not to be copied in any form/ emailed/ distributed, in
part/ full, without the written permission of the Copyright holders.
First Edition: February 2006.

Copyright 2006 Geostar Publishing

All Rights Reserved

DISCLAIMER: This eBook is to be used for education only. Not to be used in lieu of

advice from a licensed veterinarian and/or medical professional.

Tone Of The eBook

hinchillas are cute, loving and occasionally mischievous - an

adorable combination. Whoever said that "love is absolutely

wonderful" must have been talking about a chinchilla

relationship. Spend a couple of minutes with one and you will agree that

few creatures can be as appealing.

Truth to tell, raising a chinchilla, is in a way setting the score right for

the extent to which these cute little creatures were hunted for their little

soft pelts. Thanks to the American, Mathias F. Chapman, the animals

were saved from certain extinction.

Chins - as chinchillas are affectionately known - are a runaway favorite

because it is quite easy to raise them. And they are quite handy, generally

well-behaved and don't cost much to maintain.

Even if you didn't know anything about raising these cute little creatures,

this book tells you all. Right from the different types of chins to selecting

a healthy specimen, housing it, feeding it and even taking care of the

health issues - this book is a single-source chin reference manual.

This is an extensively researched book that has answers to questions you

didn't know existed. The approach is structured and simple. It's a must for

the rookie and the veteran alike.

Table of contents




Choosing a Chin...............................................................21

Checking out the Chin....................................................22

Cost of Chin.....................................................................24

Where to Buy a Chin......................................................25


Chin's Nature...................................................................26

Nocturnal Behavior..........................................................26


Basic Cry...........................................................................27

Shrill Squeal......................................................................28


Rasping and Snarling.......................................................28

Loud Cries........................................................................28


Table of contents


Mating Call ....................................................................29

Chin and Children.................................................................30

How Chins Interact...............................................................31

With Other Pets.............................................................31

Feeding and Nutrition.........................................................33

What They Eat................................................................34

Commercial Pellets.........................................................34



General Feeding Pointers................................................38





Fungal Growth...............................................................42

Training & Taming................................................................44

Table of contents


Sleeping House...............................................................50


One Chin Or Two Chins For You?.............................53


Dropping Tray................................................................55

Water Bottle ..................................................................56

Exercise Wheel...............................................................57

Chew Things...................................................................57

Perches and Shelf............................................................58

Cage Maintenance..........................................................58


General Chin Health......................................................60

Chin First Aid Kit..........................................................60

Choosing a Veterinarian................................................62

Antibiotics Prescription.................................................63

Diseases and Illness in Chins.........................................64

Table of contents

Exercise for Chinchilla........................................................105

Exercise Wheel...............................................................106

Free Run Time...............................................................106

Traveling With Chins..........................................................110


Mating & Reproduction in Chinchillas.......................112

When Are They Ready To Breed?..............................112

Mating Period ..............................................................113

Litter Size.......................................................................113

Introducing Your Chins...............................................114

How Is This Done?........................................................114


Delivery Complications ...............................................120

After Delivery Care for Mommy Chin......................122

After Delivery Care for the Kits.................................122

What I Do With The Male Chin?................................123

Separating the Mother and Kits..................................125

Table of contents



Where to Buy Chinchillas.....................................127

Where to Buy Cages and Accessories........................133

Great Chinchilla Names.........................................134

Where to Find a Veterinarian......................................137

Meeting Other Chinchilla Owners....................138



ust one touch and that's all it takes to know why this animal

was once bred for its "soft, dense" pelt.

What has the body of a rabbit, the large ears of a mouse, and the

tail of a squirrel?

Chinchillas (chins) ofcourse.

When nature was in one of its more generous moods, it made

chins. Not only did it give chins the best of three worlds, it also

gave them infinite variety. Chins come in all the colors from white

to black. And each has its unique personality. There are no two

similar chins whichever way you look at it.

Origination - The Wild Chin

These small furry creatures originated from South America. Their

natural habitat includes the cracks and crevices in the Andes


Discovery and history are always interesting subjects, but not for

the chins. These little fur balls were discovered by the Spanish in

the 1500's. When they conquered the Chinca Indians, probably


their richest booty was the pelts of soft-coated creatures.

By 1800s, the chin's fur coat became one of the must-have items in

the wardrobe of European royalty. By the end of 19th century,

chins were going the dinosaur way - towards extinction. But

fortunately, the Chilean government took steps to preserve them

by passing laws to prevent their killing.

Chins found their way to the US through Mathias F. Chapman,

who brought them in 1923. Mathis, a mining engineer took

interest in chins, when a native captured one, and took it to him.

His interest in the Chins led him to seek permission from the

government to capture chins and export them to the US.

The story goes that Chapman had hired 23 men to capture chins

and had managed to get 11 chins in 11 years. This was a feat

considering that the chins were almost extinct. Other explorers

who attempted this did not succeed due to the fact that they

never allowed the chins to adapt to the newer climatic conditions

and they therefore had no success in keeping the chin alive.

These rodents made their debut in Los Angeles in February 1923.


Initial pairs of chins cost as much as $3200 per pair - a stark

difference from today's cost of $100-$150. Chin-breeding became

quite successful and by the 1960s, the prices came down to the

rates they are today.


ere are some bookish facts about your chin -

something's you may need to know from a zoological


Scientific Classification

Kingdom: Animalia

Phylum: Chordata

Class: Mammalia

Order: Rodentia

Suborder: Hystricognathi

Infraorder: Caviomorpha

Family: Abrocomidae

There are two species of chinchillas a) C. lanigera and b) C.

brevicaudata. Though it is only the former that are kept as pets, it

may be of interest to know the difference between the two.

The significant difference between the two is in the tail - the

brevicaudata chins are short-tailed while the lanigera are just the

opposite. They are long-tailed.



As the chin trade industry grew, the increase in demand for these

small 'n' unique creatures gave rise to a new

trend - color mutations.

The original chin is standard gray, but the

mutations that came about range from beige to

black to white.

When a standard gray is bred with black, beige

or white, half the offspring should be of the same mutant color

and the other half of standard color; this is known as dominant


A chin is cute irrespective of its color. But if you are very specific

about your pet's color, then this chapter will help you understand

the different colored chins.

The basic thing you need to understand is that you can identify

the mutations based on the coloring of the body parts. These

color differences are more prominent on their underbelly, ears,

eyes, and paws and tail and are quite distinct from one mutation

to another.


Standard Gray

Color/ Tone: light to dark gray

Underbellies: white

Eyes: black

Ears: gray

Paws: black

90% of the chins are standard gray. A chin with black underbelly

will breed a kit that is ebony.


Color/Tone: pure white

Underbellies: white

Eyes: black

Ears: gray

Paws: white

Also known as the Wilson White, this mutation came from a

ranch in North Carolina in 1955 and set a trend in the mutation

of chins.

There are permutations in mutations as well, like the pink-whites,

white-mosaics, white-ebony, and white-violets. Now, these are all

basically white with minor difference in shading.

And remember do not let the white breed with white-pink, white-

mosaic, white and silver-white.

Pink-white/ Beige-mosaic

Color/ Tone: white with tan patches

Eyes: red

Ears: pink

This color mutation is mostly a result of breeding a Wilson White

and beige.

Silver White

Color/ Tone : white with lots of mixed-gray hair

Underbellies: gray

Eyes: black

Ears: gray

White Violet

Color/Tone: white with violet hue on the shaft

Eyes: black

Ears: white and violet mix

Tail : violet at the base of the tail

White Ebony

Color/Tone: white with black shading or spots

Eyes: black

Ears: ebony

Tail: ebony

This is a cross between a pure-white and Ebony.


Hetero Beige

Color/Tone: light cream beige to dark beige

Underbellies: white

Eyes: ruby

Ears: pink

This mutation came about in 1955 in the Oregon ranch of Ned

Jensen. Hetero beiges have one dominant and one recessive gene.

Homo Beige

Color/Tone: lighter than hetero beige

Underbellies: white

Eyes: light red/pink

Homo beiges have two dominant genes. Consider yourself lucky if

you find one of these, as they are not easily available.



Black Velvet

Color/Tone: dark black fading to light black

Underbellies: white

Eyes: black

Ears: gray to black

Paws: black

The black velvets are also known as Gunning Black because of

their origin from the ranch of Bob Gunning in the state of

Washington. Never mate two black velvets. This will prove lethal

(due to their genetic deficiency)

Brown Velvet

Color/Tone: brown fading to tan

Underbellies: white

Eyes: light red

Ears: pink

This mutation is mostly a result of black velvet and beige pairing.

Do not mate two brown velvets, as they cannot produce healthy


Homo Ebony

Color/Tone: shiny solid black

Underbelly: black

Eyes: black

Ears: black

Ebonies are recessive mutations. So, if you want an ebony chin,

you better carry a lot of money in your wallet, as they are rare

and therefore a lot more expensive. Standard gray, white, or beige

chins that have a black underbelly will mostly have an ebony



They are similar to ebony, with the only difference being in the

coat shine. The charcoal chin will have a dull black coat compared

to the ebony's shiny black coat.


Tan Color/Tone: shiny solid brown

Underbelly: brown

Eyes: red

Ears: pink

Paws: pink

They are similar to ebony chins as they are from recessive

mutations and are rare to find. Tans are a result of breeding beige

to ebony.


Color/Tone: steel blue color

Underbellies: white

Violets are once again a recessive mutation from a ranch in

Rhodesia, Africa. The violets are also known as Sullivan Violet.

This name is because they are also bred at the Loyd Sullivan

ranch in California.


Color/Tone: dark blue gray

Eyes: black

Ears: gray

No matter what color chins come in, they are charming and that's

for sure!

Choosing a Chin

You can choose a chin based on its health and temperament.

Animals are always scared of humans at first. So, please be careful

and cautious with your actions and

tone. If you are loud or move fast,

they are bound to retreat and you may

go back home without any chin.

Do give the chin time to warm up

to you. You could try scratching behind its ears. Chins love this

show of affection.

You would know that a chin has taken to you if it nibbles your

finger or sniffs you - because it is its way of showing affection. If

you want to pick it up, you can place one hand under its body

and pick it up by the tail or cup your hands to and pick it up.

However, the former is advised as this ensures that the chin does

not jump off from a height.

If the chin does not squirm and squiggle in your palm, then it

indicates a relative level of comfort. NEVER GRAB A CHIN BY

ITS FUR. This is because chins have a release mechanism whereby

they can shed their fur to free themselves. Because of this, the

chin you pick up could fall from a height and this could prove


Checking out the Chin

You need to check for the following while picking your chin.

(These subjects are discussed in detail in the health section).

= Absence of heart murmur

= Check their stools under microscope for parasites

= Clean and clear eyes


= Aligned teeth

= Healthy fur coat

= Dry, clean nose

= Clean ears

= Oval-shaped, solid droppings

= Clean anus

These are just a few indications of a healthy chin. But, there are

chances that your chin might fall ill later on. However, with

proper care, many "chin related aliments" can be avoided.

Common chin aliments are discussed in detail in the later chapter.


Cost of chin

A factor you may want to consider is the cost of the chin.

Different colored chins come at different prices.

Color US Price (In US $) UK Price (In US $)

Beige 112 68
Black Ebony 156 166
Black Velvet 135 90
Brown Velvet 135 112
Charcoal 142 120
Gray 79 68
Pink white 107 160
Sapphire 107 120
Violet 173 120
White 165 73
White Mosaic 117 96

Note: The above prices may not be accurate figures, but are

certainly indicative. Besides, there may be price differences

between male and female chins.


Where to Buy a Chin

Always buy your chin from a breeder. This is because a breeder

would know the background of the chin and would have

abundant chin knowledge. Pet stores stock many other animals

and birds as well, therefore they may not be chin experts.

A good breeder not only specializes in chin information, but also

will also provide you with chin equipment and feed as well. Look

for a pedigree certificate. Most pedigree chin generations range

from generation 1 to generation 5. This certificate will also contain

other details such as the color, date of birth, name of the chin and

the breeder's code. (See the Appendix)


C hin’s Nature

Chins are extremely nervous. Strangers, noises or sudden

light agitates them. It is always best to keep them in a

secluded spot; you can see more of this information in the housing


Look out and save your head from a bump because chins are

excellent jumpers. They can jump up to 5

feet high. Chins are animals of routine and

find it stressful even if there is a minute

change in what they do every day.

So, do not make too many changes in their

routine: food-wise or habit-wise.

Nocturnal Behavior

Like owls, chins are nocturnal creatures and this means two things:

You must be ready for some late night racket if you want to own a

chin for a pet.

You must be an evening person, i.e., active in the evenings so that

you and your chin can play and bond well with each other

Their nocturnal nature extends to their mating habits as well. This is

why many chin owners are surprised to know that their chin is



Stand by their cage and hear the sounds they make and observe the

actions that follow. Definitely, you cannot

understand all the sounds at one go, but

over a period of time and with a little

experience you can interpret the sounds

your chin makes.

Here are the range of sounds your pet makes and its meanings.

Basic Cry

The basic cry in a chin sounds like a ‘click’; it does not literally

mean crying. Chins use this among themselves to tell each other to

stop doing certain actions or simply go away.

E.g., a mother chin could tell her kit to stop biting her nipple with

this sound.

Shrill Squeal

Shrill squeal indicates pain or fear. The volume of this shrill varies

with situations, i.e., it will diminish as the fear or the pain goes



The kits squawk when they want to be fed or when they are feeling

insecure. Mothers respond to this call by nibbling and nudging.

Rasping and Snarling

Chins do this when they are angry - mostly over food bowl or

mother teats.

Loud Cries

Chins make cries, which are high pitched, repeatedly when they are

agitated or excited. They could do this a minimum of 15-20 times.

It's an “alert call” that they make when they notice something

suspicious or when they are separated from their companions.


This sound is emitted mostly after chins eat or when they grind

their teeth. If the chin makes this chattering noise without eating, it

is to let other chins know that it's in a bad mood.


Chins sneeze if there is fine dust in their bath.

Mating Call

There are very minimal chances that you can hear the chin’s mating

call. But if you must know, it sounds like hiccups and it lasts a few

Chin and Children

W hen it comes to kids, it is better you do

not let them handle the pet. Chins are

too fast for kids, plus they are too fragile

to be handled by kids.

Always be around to supervise their interactions. A

chin is bound to get scared if a child makes jerky

movements or handles the rodent roughly.

How Chins Interact

We know that man is a social animal.

Now, the question is, are chins social rodents?

In this chapter, we will learn how chins interact and how they

behave within their territories.

In order to build a special bond with your chin, you

need to figure out how chins mix and communicate.

That is exactly what this chapter will deal with.

You will understand two aspects of chin-interaction by the end of

the chapter:

$ With other pets

$ With you

With Other Pets

Usually we face the dilemma of dog vs. cat, and with a chin in your

house it's chins vs. any other animal. Chins do not get along with

other pets such as cats and dogs. So, do not try to get them

acquainted. It would be a bad idea to opt for a cat or dog as a pet if

you have chin and the vice-versa.

How Chins Interact

Caution is always advised when you opt to

have a chin along with other pets. Here you

need to understand the interaction of two

different pets and their compatibility. Cats

may mistake your chin for a furry rat and

make a meal out of it !!!

Even if you think that your pets are getting

along fine, do not leave them unattended.

Always let them mingle under your

supervision and this is especially true in case

of their exercise time.

The best way to ensure that your pets do not cause harm to one

another is, by acquainting them with each other from a young age;

this way they lose their fear and differences and will get along just

fine with each other.

Feeding and Nutrition

C hins eat to live, i.e., their lifespan depends on what they

eat. In their native habitats, Andes, chins are used to

eating plants, grasses and seeds.

Given below is a general guide to foods for your pet. As the

chapter progresses you will get more

specific ideas as to what to feed your chin,

but besides this, you can always apply the

principle of this guide to feed your chin.

Pick food that provides all nutrients. This

is inclusive of water, energy, protein, (amino acids and nitrogen),

essential fatty acids, minerals and vitamins.

Food that is labeled “Association of American Feeding Control

Officials” and “Animal Feeding Trials” are considered safe.

Buy branded or recommended products as they are considered


Select food that has proper proportions of various essential

nutrients. Choose food that is easily digestible by your pet.

Check with your vet for feeding your pet besides the feeding
Feeding and Nutrition

instruction provided on labels.

What They Eat?

Chins do not have many options when it comes to food, as their

digestive system is extremely delicate. The lifespan of chins depends

on their dietary intake.

A good chinchilla diet consists of four parts:





Commercial Pellets

The commercial pellets or chin chow have very specific dietary

requirements and this should be given in limited quantity (35 grams

per day, which is roughly 2 tablespoons). The basic ingredients of

these pellets are wheat germ, soybean oil meal, alfalfa meal, oats,

molasses, corn and added vitamins and minerals. Do not try to reuse

the pellets, as they may be contaminated, causing trouble in the

Feeding and Nutrition

delicate digestive system of the chins.

If chin food is not available near your home, rabbit pellets that do

not contain hormones can serve as a good substitute. However, do

not feed cabbage, corn or lettuce (as you would feed a rabbit).

These vegetables cause gas, which is fatal for the chin’s

gastrointestinal tract.


Alfalfa and timothy are popular choice of hay for chins.

They are available in loose or cubed form and can be

given in large quantity, as it is and are very good for

their digestive system. Hay provides the necessary fiber

in your chin’s diet. However, they should be free of

chemical sprays and mold.

Give your chin fresh hay, which has been dried and

cured thoroughly. To prevent mold formation, store in dry place.

An adult chinchilla can eat a handful of loose hay or one pressed

cube of hay each day. You can also feed the chin, untreated

Bermuda grass, which helps to clear up any digestive problems.

Feeding and Nutrition

Other Food

Alfalfa meal

Alfalfa meal is composed of chopped or cut fodder, which is either

sun-cured or hot-air-dried.

Hot-air-dried alfalfa is better as it is cut and then transported for

processing unlike sun-cured alfalfa, which loses lot of nutrients

because it is completely dried out in the sun and then sent for


Processing of alfalfa

The alfalfa is loaded into a rotating, heated drum dryer. It takes 3-5

minutes to evaporate the moisture. Following this, a pneumatic air

system evacuates the concentrated dry alfalfa into a hammer mill

and the alfalfa is then ground to a uniform particle size, which is

compressed into a pellet.

The pellet needs to be lubricated to pass through a die. It is teamed

for this purpose.

Storing is done in tanks enclosed with nitrogen, which preserves the

vitamins K and E, carotene and xanthophylls from oxidation. The

Feeding and Nutrition

pellets need to be cooled before storage.

Anti-nutritional factors in alfalfa:

Saponins, tannins and coumestral are natural toxins present in


Saponins have a bitter taste and might irritate the lining of the

mouth and intestine. Coumestral is an estrogenic substance; this has

certain effects in reproduction.

Tannins inhibit protein digestion.


Apart from these two staple foods, chins love treats. The treat could

range from an apple, carrot, orange, grape, raisins, nuts or celery.

Do not try to pamper your chin and feed them more, even when

they make doe eyes at you. Everyone knows that such cute chins

are simply irresistible. But if you do so, it could be dangerous for

your chin. chins are known to die from over-eating so restrain

yourself and never ever over-feed your pet. Never make the treat

the main source of nutrition.

Feeding and Nutrition

General Feeding Pointers

They cannot adapt to change and hence you should becareful

with their eating schedule

When you plan to change their diet, do so by mixing the old

and new food at a half to half ratio. If you do not mix their food,

they stop eating altogether

Keep many chewy toys in the cage so that they can file their

teeth, if their teeth grows long they will stop eating

Check to see that the food is clean, chins may poop or pee in

the food, eating this can prove fatal to their gastro-intestinal tract.


Provide ample fresh water to the chins as, it is a very essential part

of their digestion. Water left in the water bottle forlong periods can

harbor bacteria, so change it everyday.

You must also make proper provision for feeding your chin. There

is more about feeders and water bottles in the 'Housing your Chin


A s you know, chins are very anxious animals and get

scared or become nervous easily. So, always handle

them cautiously.

If you get rough or careless while handling your chin, it could stay

away from you and severe all the

relationship you had painstakingly built.

And it does not end with that. It may take

your chin a very long time to trust you

again. So be very careful.

You can tell the anxiety of your chin by observing its heavy

breathing and squirming in your hand. The defense mechanism of

chins is called fur slip where, it sheds fur in order to release itself

and escape. This is not a good thing as fur slip damages the coat of

the chin and may even prove fatal if the chin falls from a height.

Chins are rarely known to bite in defense. In an agitated condition,

your chin could bark or even urinate on you.

The best way to handle a chin is to keep it close to your body - to

support it - and then enclose it with your forearm. You can also

keep your chin in your “cupped hands” and bring your hands close

to your body. Do not squeeze or stroke too hard, chins like to be

stroked lightly behind their ears.

The temperament of a chin is inherent. So, when you opt to buy a

chin or breed chins, ensure that the parent

chins have a good temperament because

even with training and taming, an ill-

tempered chin can never be brought under


Keep raisins in hand while handling your chin. It is bound to get

closer and calmer if it knows that there is a treat waiting for it if it

behaves well.

Learn to be slow and cautious with your chin irrespective of the

number of times you have handled it.


H ow do you groom your chin?

Grooming a chin is easy because they do not have lice and other

external parasites. To start with, chinchillas should never be bathed!

And their fur should never get wet.

So, how do you clean a chinchilla without water?

Well, to clean your chinchilla you ought to give it a dust bath. It

may seem odd giving a chin a dust bath to clean it. But this dust is

alright. It's not the regular dust. It is

“chinchilla dust” like “blue cloud” and can

be got from any chin pet store.

To bathe your chin, place a layer of dust

in a dust bowl and keep it in the chin's

cage for 5 minutes. Make sure that the dust bowl is big enough for

your chin to roll in.

The dust helps to remove oil and dirt from it healthy. You can dust

bathe your chin twice a week. Never leave the dust bowl in the cage

for long. Remove it after 5 minutes, or else your chin is bound to


make its fur dry by bathing often.

They could also tend to poop and pee in the bowl and this is not

hygienic for them or good for their fur.

Dust can be re-used for 2-3 weeks, but do throw it away when the

dust gets clumpy. Summer months are very hot and dry, and makes

your chin's coat dirty very soon. So, chinchillas bathe more often in

this season.


Do not get worried if you notice fluff balls in the cage or uneven

fur growth.

This denotes shedding.

Chins shed their fur every 3 months. Their fur grows again,

beginning from the neck. Do not forget to comb your chin to

remove dead fur. By doing this new fur will grow evenly.

Fungal Growth

Even though grooming the chin is a relatively easy task, one

problem remains when it comes to fur care and that is tackling the

fungus. Fungus is air borne and can quickly


spread through breeding, sharing dust baths or trays.

This is especially true in the case of a humid climate. Ensure that

there is proper circulation and good lighting to prevent fungal


You can find out if your chin has fungus if you see patchy hair

revealing the skin as opposed to uneven hair. You can also look for

scabs on skin (due to scratching from skin irritation).

What you can do then is, add a little quantity of any anti-fungal

powder in the dust to prevent fungal growth. It will help to do

away with any remaining fungal germs and prevent the chins from

getting infected again.

Training and Taming

N ever push your chin into a relationship; this will only

have the opposite effect on your pet.

The only way to ensure a friendly relationship with your chin is to

condition it from a young age.

However, it is very normal that your chin is not friendly initially.

Do not be disappointed, it is probably just scared or


Training and taming chins is a part of building that

special bond. If you want the best of their attention, talk

to them in the evenings; they are more active and fun

to be around then.

You can also win over your chin with treats like raisins (but never

over-feed them with treats).

Your chin might get scared if you pick it up or take it out of the

cage initially. Be cautious and avoid this. Just remember that it will

start the relationship on a wrong note.

To begin with, simply sit next to the cage and offer treats. Do not
Training and Taming

overdo the treats.

If your chin moves closer to you, try to place your hand inside the

cage; this will encourage your chin to explore. You can draw your

pet to you with a raisin in your palm.

After 2 or 3 days, your chin will be comfortable with your hand, so

allow it to climb all the way to your shoulder. Avoid quick

movements, as your chin could fall down.

Finally, make sure your chin is kept as comfortable as possible and

reward it suitably. Once you have established a relationship with

your pet, then there is no looking back.

Your chin needs at least one hour of your devotion, even though it

is excessively enthusiastic to sit on your lap and play with you all

the time. Chins give you their attention by climbing on you or

running around you while you sit on the floor. Do not let your

chin climb on you while you are standing. Sit down so that your

pet can bond with you. This will also reduce any chances of your

chin falling from a height (which is fatal for a small rodent like the


Chins also show their affection by nibbling, nuzzling, cuddling and

Training and Taming

more. And soon enough you can go to the supermarket with your

chin in your pocket.

Chins are intelligent; they respond to names and

can be taught basic tricks like 'come here' and 'sit

up'. The power to do this lies in your hand,

actually the raisin in your hand! They are

however rodents of routine; their interaction depends a lot on how

you take care of them. If you upset the feeding and bathing routine,

they may not respond well to your calls.

Whatever you do, just make sure not to let a chin out in the open if

your pet is not used either to you or the surrounding.

Fun and Antics

You really can't cuddle your chin or keep it on your lap or play

fetch with it, but this certainly does not mean chins are not fun.

There can be many instances when you and your chin can have a

great time Like:

Bath time

Your chin is a “circus act” to look at during bath

Training and Taming

times. Watch your pet flip, roll and frolic in a dust bath.


Chins need as many toys as you can provide them to keep them

from getting bored. Give them small objects that are easy to push

around. Make sure that these objects cannot cause your chin any


Watch your chin redecorate the cage over and over again by

moving its toys. The toys that you give it should only be a small

wooden block or cardboard piece. In fact, this could also be used as

a chew toy by your chin.


Watch your chin go at the wheel. It might be

exercise for it, but it is certainly fun to watch its

quirky movements on the wheel.

Free run time

When you let your chin out in the open in an enclosed room, the

scampering and scurrying can tickle you. You will be amused by the

way it explores the room and goes around in circles discovering


ousing your Chinchillas

The chin is a small rodent, but its living space is state-

of-the art. The needs of a chin could blow your mind!!!

So, let us begin with cage location. Then we'll go what needs to be

put inside a chin's cage.

Cage Location

Chins thrive in temperatures of 77 ºF. But temperatures above that

may pose a risk and spells D A N G E R!!!

If the temperature rises above 85 ºF, chins might suffer heat stroke.

Therefore, ensure that you do not place cage by a heater, radiator

or any machine that emits heat. Also, ensure that a chin's cage is

well ventilated.

A sure sign that your chin is uncomfortable is when its ears turn

pink. If the temperature begins to rise, move the cage to a cooler

location. And if that does not help, then turn on the air conditioner

to cool your chin. Do not try to replace an air conditioner with a

fan. As chins do not perspire, a fan gives no relief.

There's no need to panic if you don’t have air conditioner. Place a


big pan of ice inside the cage and watch your chin snuggle and

snooze off to beat the heat.

If you have tried everything to bring the temperature down but did

not succeed, then you are left with only one option and that is to

let your chin sleep through the heat. It is only if it is awake and

active that it is bound to risk a heat stroke.

Chins don't adapt very well to change. So, make sure you do not

change their location/environment often.


It is very important that the cage is 'chin-proof'.

Wondering what chin-proof is.

Well, chins have this amazing ability to squeeze through the tiniest

of openings in the cage mesh. Therefore, the mesh-opening gap

should be no more than 1 x 2 inches. When

you have kits, reduce this by half i.e., 1/2 x 1

inch. This is necessary because kits are

better climbers than adults. And they are

inherently naughty. And they will do


everything possible to squeeze their way out of the cage.

Another aspect of "chin-proof" is that the mesh should be made of

wire, as a chin can chew its way out of plastic mesh. If the flooring

is made of wire, ensure the flooring is made from pine boards.

As for the size of the cage, 24 x 24 x 18 inches is considered good.

A chin can move about comfortably in a cage of this size. Anything

smaller than this will cramp your chin. However, you could always

decide on a bigger cage. The size will of course depend on your

budget and the space you can spare for the cage.

An average cage should cost about $50 or more.

Inside the Cage

A chin's cage is normally equipped with

the following:

Sleeping House

Chins rest well in dark places. The sleeping house protects the chin

from sunlight and draft. Plus, it provides privacy and makes a good

chew toy. If you have kits, they will be well-sheltered inside the

sleeping house.

You can make a sleeping house out of wood and keep it inside the

cage. The wood should be organic and untreated - regard this as a

rule of thumb while making the sleeping house.

There are certain recommended woods like apple, pear, hazelnut

manzanita, pine (phenol free) and willow,

which are considered safe for this purpose.

And some wood are considered the

absolute no. They are orange, grapefruit,

lemon, wild cherry, plum, walnut and

cedar. These are unsuitable because of their aromatic or poisonous


Regardless of whichever wood you choose, build the house with lots

of love and care. Because it is here that your chin is going to

snuggle and rest comfortably. Also be careful if you are using nails

in the construction of the sleeping house. Nails that stick out of the

wood can hurt your chin.

You could even use a fish bowl for a sleeping house. In fact. this

also adds to the decor of the cage. However if money is a


constraint, there is always cardboard.


Your energetic chin needs to rest after all that darting and dashing

around. So, a nice cozy bed is an absolute necessity.

A chin’s bed is made of wood shavings. The wood that you should

avoid for making the sleeping house, must also be avoided while

making a chin's bed.

These woods are considered dangerous because they contain a

natural aromatic chemical called phenol. Phenols are commonly

used as disinfectants.

Phenols are poisonous, acidic compounds. When inhaled they have a

direct side effect - the liver and respiratory systems are damaged

making them susceptible to infection by microorganism. Other side

effects range from chronic respiratory disease to asthma. Human

beings are also prone to these side effects.

Woods like cherry, apricot, and peach contain cyanogenic

glycosides. In simple words, they release cyanides during digestion.

Wood shavings of any of the other recommended wood will do well.


Pine is an easily available wood. You can use it if it is untreated and


One Chin Or Two Chins For You?

It is not a hard and fast rule that a chin must have a companion,

though it is only common to see owners keep chins as a pair.

The way chins interact with one another depends on how they are

caged and more specifically cage conditions. If you opt for a single

cage for two chins, they better be females, as they are

accommodating. Introduce the two female chins when they are

young, as older female chins might not get along well with each

other. (This also depends on the individual personality of each


Caging two male chins will be a

problem, if the cage is not big enough

for both; male chins could fight over

territories and turn aggressive.

However, two male chins will get along

with each other if they are from the

same litter.

Chins of the opposite sex when caged, get along well with each

other. And if they hit it off, kits (baby chins) are guaranteed.

However, if you keep more than two males chins with a single

female, it is certain that they will fight with each other for the


Whether you are trying to breed two chins or simply house two or

three chins in the same cage, you need to introduce them as

explained earlier.

Introducing refers to giving time so that the two Chins are

acquainted with each other. If you want to bypass the introduction

procedure, opt for chins from the same litter. This will save the

worry about them getting along.


If you had all the time in the world, you would hand feed your

chin every time and every day.

But we all know that, this is quite unlikely. Therefore, a feeder is a

better option.

There are plenty of feeders available in the market, but the hopper

style feeder is best suited for rodents.

Hopper feeders are those that are attached to the outside of the

cage. The chin will stand on its hind legs and take out as many food

pellets as it wants to eat. This will ensure that the chin does not

waste food or urinate in its food.

If you choose to keep a bowl instead, make sure that the bowl is

heavy enough so that your chin does not topple it over. Otherwise,

not only will the food be spilled, but your chin may contaminate

the food and consume it as well.

And this, as you can guess is not in the chin's best interests.

Dropping Tray

Make sure the chin's cage is equipped with a tray for its droppings.

You can choose between cages that have a drop-in style tray or a

pull-out style tray.

Pull-out trays are known for their safety - they cause fewer

accidents and as the cage does not have to be opened – as in the

case of the drop-in trays - there is less chance of drafts. Pull-out

trays are therefore a better option.


A chin’s cage needs to be clean and hygienic to prevent sickness.

Newspaper has good absorbing properties. As such, it makes cage

cleaning easy. You can simply throw out soiled newspaper and

replace it with fresh paper.

To neutralize bad odor, sprinkling of baking soda in the “pee

corner” will do the job. Pine shavings are great substitute, if you do

not have a wire bottom cage.

Disinfecting the cage every 2 months is recommended. This is

especially true in the case of a sick chin. An unhygienic cage would

complicate its recovery.

Water Bottle

Chinchillas should have been named chewchillas. They chew through

almost everything. You must take great care with each and

everything you place inside the cage. And remember they must be

chew-proof to the extent possible.

The water bottle is no exception to this rule. Do not keep a plastic

water bottle inside the cage. If you do, it is guaranteed that your

chin will chew through it and there will be no water left in the


However, if you do not get anything else other then a plastic bottle,

ensure you protect the bottle in a metal casing or buy a good

quality plastic bottle that cannot be gnawed at.

The bottle can also be fastened to the cage like the feeder.

If you hunt in more shops, you may get a glass bottle which works

great, as it is completely chew proof. Wash these bottles with soap

water and rinse every time you refill.

Exercise Wheel

Wheels inside the cage serve two purposes: entertainment and

exercise. Chins need a minimum of 20 minutes of exercise everyday.

There is more information in chapter 8 about chin exercise and

wheels. The cost of an exercise wheel is about another


Chew Things

Chins have 20 teeth - 4 incisors and 16 molars. They

constantly need to gnaw to file their growing teeth.

Besides their sleeping house, chins need chew toys to

grind their teeth. Wooden blocks, tree bark and tree


branches are easily available and can be used for this purpose.

Apply the same precaution in the choice of wood as in the case of

the sleeping house and bedding material.

Want to provide your chin with more options? Then you can place

empty toilet paper rolls, Popsicle sticks, pumice stone or cardboard

inside the cage.

But whatever you place, make sure it is not too small to be ingested

by the chin.

Perches and Shelf

Invest in a shelf or perch inside the cage and watch your chin jump

and jig. As mentioned before chins are very good jumpers, so your

chin will enjoy ledges and perches, plus your chin gets to rest its

feet from wired floors. This is another outlet for your chin to

release its abundant energy.

Remember, the perch is not spared from the chin’s tooth and they

like to gnaw on this as well.

Cage Maintenance

It does not take much to maintain the chin or its cage.


Following some general rulers and pointers of cage maintenance

ensures that you provide a healthy surrounding for your chin to

live in and help it stay healthy and fit.

The primary aspect of maintenance to be borne in mind is to keep

the cage warm and damp-free. If your chin has peed on the cage

floor and the cage smells of ammonia, it is an indication that the

cage needs to be cleaned.

Other pointers to keep in mind are:

Change water in the bottle everyday

Dispose uneaten food

General cleaning of cage to remove dust and dirt

Disinfecting cage once a week with soap and water

Washing the toys and wheels


eneral Chin Health

What follows would give you a very “general idea” of

your pet’s health. As you read on, you will know more

specifically about what can affect your chin and how it ought to be

treated. Now, this is just a very general guideline. Always take your

chin to the vet once you provide the initial treatment that gives

your chin the much wanted immediate relief.

This chapter will give you a good idea of how to identify and

handle a health complication immediately. If the condition is

complicated in nature, do not attempt to medicate or treat the chin

without any prior knowledge of the procedure. Refer the animal to

a good vet who specializes in treatment for rodents.

Chin First Aid Kit

Organize the following items in a box; this makes emergency

treatment easy and fast. Ensure that you understand the use of

every item and treat your chin appropriately. You can judge the

use of these items by studying the treatment for various


Vet wrap


Critical Care


Eyedroppers or infant nasal syringe


Tinactin Foot Powder


Blue Kote



Heat pad

Infant formula

Sterile gloves

Clean towel

Sterile scissors


Life Expectancy 10 - 15 years

Average Weight (grams*) Female 550 - 800
Male 450 - 600
Temperature (ºF) 50 - 75
Heart Rate
(Beats per minute) 100 - 150
Respiratory Rate 40 - 80
(Breaths per minute)


Length of Pregnancy (days) 105 - 118, average 111

Litter Size can start from 1

and go up 6.
Average is 2 - 3

Weaning Age 6 - 8 weeks

Choosing a Veterinarian

The first requirement that has to be met while choosing a vet is the

experience in treating rodents. Vets who have good knowledge

about guinea pigs and rabbits are the best choice

Your vet should also be accommodating and make house calls if

necessary and should be gentle while handling your chin.


There may be little or no success if you choose a vet who has no

specialization in rodent care. Besides this, you will also need to

check the facilities available at a vet's clinic.

You could also go by the recommendation of other chin owners. It

is a safe bet and you could benefit from their experience.

Overall, here are some basic questions to which you should seek

answers before selecting an appropriate vet for your chin:

Has the vet treated rodents before?

What’s the kind of experience the vet has?

Has the vet done surgery?

What’s the success rate of the surgery?

What anesthesia does the vet use?

Does the facility have equipments for X-ray and other lab needs?

How effective is the emergency care?

How do others recommend the vet?

Antibiotics Prescription

Vets know what antibiotics to prescribe for what ailment. But for

your information we give below a list of antibiotics that are

considered unsafe for chins:






As chins have a complex digestive tract, these antibiotics can throw

the pH off balance, leading to bacterial over-growth. Gram-negative

bacteria and clostridia over-growths can lead to diarrhea,

enterotoxaemia, and death.



As emphasized earlier, chin’s teeth needs constant attention.

You must provide chew toys to ensure that they are regularly filed,

else your pets will suffer from dental problems.

Malocclusion is a condition where the tooth over-grows. An oral


examination can diagnose this problem and this includes skull

radiographs to examine the crown surfaces and roots. (Chins may

have to be sedated at times depending on the extent of damage and

pain caused due to this problem.)


Drooling on fur



Loss of fur

Watery eyes

Sores in mouth or abscesses

Food falling out from the mouth as they are unable to chew


Genetic defect

Excessive growth of molars

Sharp objects trapped in the tooth


Mineral imbalance, especially calcium

Poor dental alignment


Clipping affected teeth

Including essential minerals in the diet

Antibiotics for the abscesses

The tooth may have to be extracted if the pain and infection is just

too much. This can be done under sedation. During treatment,

syringe feed your chin as mastication becomes very painful then.

Euthanasia is sometimes recommended for chins under chronic pain.


Provide sufficient chew toys like wood or mineral block for the

chinny to constantly file its teeth and ensure that there is ample

roughage in the diet of your chinny.

And do not breed chinny’s with this genetic defect.


Abscesses are infections caused by cuts or other injuries. If they are


not attended to immediately, they may get contaminated.


Baby chin biting mommy chin while nursing

Sharp projections

Chins fighting with one another


Antibiotic therapy for 3 - 5 days

Disinfect the cage thoroughly


Remove any sharp projections in the cage that might cause injury

and separate chins that fight with one another.

Bacterial Enteritis (Intestinal Infection)

Chins are know to have a weak stomach and are highly prone to

intestinal problems.

Enteritis is the infection of the digestive tract, where non-digestible

fiber is not fermented.


Examination of the faces by fecal flotation, direct smear and

culture reveals the causal agent.




Loss of appetite

Partial paralysis

Painful abdomen

Tooth grinding

Possibly bloated abdomen

Crying or moaning



Antibiotic therapy

Supportive care

Bacterial supplements like milk-free acidophilus


Anti-diarrhea medicines like Kaopectate or blackberry leaves

Chins with severe infections can be put on IV fluids.


This can be easily confused with constipation, as the symptoms are



Chin is listless and tired

Feels uncomfortable

Has a bloated belly

Loss of appetite

Weight loss

Dropping has brownish mucus covering


Feeding of excessive greens

Feeding un-matured hay


Regular exercise

1 ml of milpar liquid. Give this thrice every day until you’re

chinny’s health improves.


Regular exercise

Feed only the well-matured hay

Broken or Frozen Tails


Tail looks jagged

Tail is cut half way


Rough handling

Door closed on the tail

Tail breaks if the chin tries to escape through cage wires

Cold weather


Separate this chin from the other chins

Apply antibiotic to prevent infection

Broken Teeth


Jumping or falling hard on a surface

Chins sometimes break their teeth while trying to free themselves

from wire mesh


File the broken tooth to remove jagged edges

Give a liquid or “soft diet” till the chin can chew normally


Do not keep the chin at heights from where they can fall and hurt


Bumble Foot

This is a condition where the foot of the chin becomes red and

swollen. It is the “keratinized tissue” that makes walking painful for

your chin. Remember that you need to get this condition treated as

soon as possible, else the infection will spread to the bones and the

blood stream.


Sore cracked feet


Foot is red and swollen


The causal agent, Staphylococcus aureus, a bacteria that enters the

foot that has cuts or abrasions caused due to the wire flooring in

the cage.


Antibiotics must be given

Antiseptic/disinfectant like Nolvasan solution can be used to clean

bumbles. Blue Kote or purple spray for skin infections can be used

once a day. Bedding in the cage should be changed.

Treatment will yield results only in 2 months, though the signs of

healing will show up in 2 weeks.



Ensure there are perches for your chin to rest on when it is tired

from scampering.

Insert a wooden board for flooring

Clean the cage and bedding to prevent harboring of bacteria.


This is also a protozoan like Giardia that affects the intestine of the

chin, more specifically the lymph system.


Transmitted through fecal-oral route


Poor immune system

Poor cage sanitation

Host insects that get the infection and pass it on to the chin


Weight loss

Increased or decreased appetite

Severe diarrhea


Occasionally there is hidden bleeding


Oral medications such as Sulfonamides

Foods with high nutritional value

Plenty of fluids

Cage to be sterilized

Boil food containers and water bottles every day


Disinfecting the cage and accessories is important

Ensure you keep control of insects inside and near the cage


Constipation can just happen and in most cases it is more

uncomfortable for the chin rather than life threatening.



Chin may be uncomfortable

Stretch up on hind legs

Shows lack of appetite

Small and thin dropping seen


Excess treats


Lack of exercise


In some not so serious conditions, it can be treated with raisins and


Syrup of figs - one teaspoon

1 ml of liquid paraffin per day


Regular exercise

1 - 2 tablespoons of fresh pellets per day


Chins are known to have seizures, fits or convulsions, and this

happens without any specific symptoms at times.


Chin appears lifeless

Limp or temporary inability to move

Muscle spasms/tremors




Female chin getting pregnant at old age

Heat exhaustion


Lack of minerals (calcium or vitamins)

Excess salt

Too much of exercise

Toxin infection


In case of deficiency, add vitamin and mineral drops to water.

Reduce intake of salt

Feed the chin with cuttlefish to increase calcium content

To balance out salt content, give a mix of 70% cranberry juice and

30% water for 3 days.


Never exercise your chin for more than 20 minutes

Give fresh food

Don’t treat it too often



A protozoan from the Coccidia group, which inhabits the

epithelium of the digestive system causing lesions and cuts in the



This is a very infectious protozoan; the vet who is examining the

fecal sample must destroy the cyst in formalin before checking

under the microscope as infection can pass to humans very easily.


Lack of absorption


Weight loss


Blood in stools


This is effective only to prevent secondary infections. Fluids need to

be administered, as there will be a case of dehydration. Supportive

care should be given.


Sterilize cages and utensils/food dishes thoroughly

Boil water for 20 minutes to kill germs



Chins tend to fight and give a scar or two to one another. Usually,

these scars are nothing much to worry about. They are fatal only if

the bite or the cut is caused by some other animal.


Bath in saline solution

Avoid dust baths till the wound has healed and dried out.

Sterzac powder will help prevent any infection while it heals.


Separate chins that don’t get along with each other.


If you breed a chin for pelt, then this is a very serious issue as the

pelts you get will be damaged.


Hair loss

Scabby red lesions on the nose, feet, and around the eyes

Crust flaky skin around eyes and ears

Chins keep scratching a lot


Trichophyton mentagrophytes and Microsporum canis are the

typical agents of ringworm.

Infection from other pets


Administer Grisofulvin as prescribed by your chin’s vet

Dust bath with 1 tablespoon of Captan added

Oral treatment of Itraconazole (5mg/kg), dosage: one per day

Anti-fungal powder


Chins are prone to have diarrhea, and this again is due to their

sensitive intestinal tract. In severe cases, starve the chin for 12 hours

and give it only water.

You need to keep track of how often your chinny has this problem,

because a regular condition of diarrhea reflects parasite attacks like


Giardia or Coccidia

If your animal has Giardia, then ask for Albendozol, which kills the

parasite in 3 days of the treatment. Your chin may suffer loss of

appetite, but this will fix itself and there is nothing much to worry


You have to take diarrhea seriously as persistent diarrhea can lead

to prolapsed rectum.


Chin is weak

Loose droppings

Weight loss


In severe cases, droppings will be covered in mucus or blood


Excessive treats like raisins or prunes

Infections like bacterial, protozoan or parasitic

Change in diet (excessive green, low fiber content)


Old hay or water

Weaning of food not done properly

Diarrhea may be bacterial, or dietary in origin

Stress (new home or environment or being pregnant/lactating)

Giardia, Coccidia or other parasitic infestations

Algae in drinking water


Well-done or even burnt toast or shredded wheat cereal

Fresh pellets and water for 24 hrs

No hay or treats

Kaolin liquid (1 - 3 ml) can be given for 2 days

Children’s Cherry Kaoepectate (kaopectate elsewhere in the

article check ) 1 ml/cc for 1 - 2 days

A 50/50 mix of unsweetened cranberry or apple juice with

water will help to prevent dehydration.


Fresh balanced diet (vitamin and mineral blocks as supplements)

Moderate treats

Eye Injuries and infection


Fight between chins and scratching

Splinter or some foreign body in the eye

A symptom of another ailment


One or both eyes are sticky


Milky discharge

Matted fur around the eyes

Eyes are shut


Apply antibiotic ointment in the eye twice a day.

Remove the dust bath for a week.



Ensure that there are no foreign objects in the cage.

If chins are known to fight, train them to get under control or

isolate them.

Fractures/broken Bones

It is common among chins to fracture their tibia - a long straight

bone in the leg with soft tissue covering. The fracture may be short

spiral or transverse.


Fall on a hard surface

Struck by a falling object

Leg caught and twisted between cage

Rough handling


Essentially, the only treatment possible is strict cage rest.

You have to isolate the chin.


Apply a collar to prevent chewing on the broken area.

Make sure you don’t exercise the chin.

Ensure that your chin gets 4 weeks of solid rest.

Soft padded bandages and lateral splints can be tried, but they don’t

provide adequate stabilization. However, “KE apparatus” has better

success for forelimb fractures.

Fur Fungus


Loss of hair on nose, eyes and genitals

Withdrawn behavior

Loss of appetite


Damp or humid atmosphere

Damp hay releasing spores causing infestation


Isolation, if you have more than one chin


Clean cage

Sterilize baths, food bowls and water bottles

Add anti-fungal powder or athlete’s foot powder in the bath


Clean cages regularly

Only give fresh hay

Check for dampness in debris

Add 1 tablespoon of athlete foot powder to all baths

Fur Slip

Chins are very anxious rodents. Therefore, one has to be very

gentle while handling a chin. A nervous chin will try to escape. If

handled roughly, it escapes by releasing patches of fur thereby

ruining its pelt.


Patchy fur


Rough handling

Anxiety in chin


Handle chin gently.

Ensure chin is supported well in hand, don’t let it suspend from


Fur Chewing/Barbering

Chins have a tendency to chew on their own fur coat and this is

called barbering.


Patchy fur



Dirty fur

Dietary imbalances

Hereditary factors

Stress or anxiety


Provide ample chew toys.

Provide ample exercise time.

Create a calm environment for your pet.

Spray Variton on chin fur; this tastes real yucky and it prevents the

chin from chewing.

Gastrointestinal Disorder

Chins have a long gastrointestinal tract as they are hindgut

fermenters. Their stomach and cecum are large and often full of

food. Their diet consists of high fiber low in energy content.

Any disruption in this system could result in many problems as

given below:



Intussusceptions (telescoping of intestines)


Mucous enteritis



Rectal prolapse


Listeria monocytogenes





Giardia is a common intestinal ailment in chins. This is caused by

Giardia - the protozoan - which clings to the surface of intestinal

mucosa in the small intestine. Fresh fecal smear must be done

routinely to check for this internal parasite.


Transmitted through water


Through fecal matter - like when dirty paws or hands get in the


Humans can pass the germs, if they handle food with unclean hands.


Increased or decreased appetite

Diarrhea or constipation

Wet stools



Give plenty of fluids

Feed high-energy foods

Clean the cage daily


Disinfect the cage routinely.

Ensure that you wash you hands before feeding the chin.

Hair balls/Trichobezoar

This condition happens if your chin swallows hair.

Unlike other animals, chins cannot vomit the hairball. So, this

hairball will accumulate in the intestine causing indigestion and

intestine-related problems.


Hair in the food

Chins lick and groom themselves a lot


Decrease in appetite

Weight loss



High fiber stimulates motility of the gastrointestinal tract and

sustains digestion

Exercise also helps in gastrointestinal motility and digestion


Regular grooming. You can brush your chin and clear the hair it

has shed. This way, it will not swallow hair while licking itself.

Heart murmurs

This happens when the heart muscle or valve is weak and allows the

blood to flow backward as well as forward or does not “pump



Only a vet can diagnose heart murmurs




There is no specific treatment. A chin with this illness is better off

euthanized as conditions become worse and difficult for it.


Do not breed chins with this condition, as it is genetically acquired

in some cases.

Heart Problem/Dilated Cardiomyopathy

This heart conditions in chins intrigues us as chins are to known to

die suddenly without any symptoms.

There is not much research material available on this condition. The

only fact that has been gathered is that heart murmurs may be

present in early life, but per se there are no other symptoms to

indicate this illness.

Heat Stroke

As mentioned before, chins cannot stand temperatures above 77 ºF.

A heat stroke gets them when they are exposed to higher

temperatures and this proves fatal in most instances.


Chins lying on the side



The body is warm or hot

Damp fur

Advanced cases: bloody discharge and/or bluish color around



Rise in temperature

Poor ventilation

Direct sunlight


Keeping ice inside the cage

Applying rubbing alcohol to their footpads

Spray cool water on your chin

Air-condition to bring room temperature down


Keep the cage in a cool location

Keep the cage away from radiators and other warm machines


Incontinence is rare in chinchillas. It is a condition where the chins


always trickle on themselves while urinating, thus never having a

dry coat.

This may lead to scalding of skin due to repeated exposure of the

skin to urine.


Chin urinates on himself

Staining rear end or belly

Scalding of skin


Genetic deformity of the urinary system

Infections like cystitis or bladder stones

Urinary tract infection


Antibiotics like Bay trill are used. In extreme cases, Hibiscrub

diluted with warm water can be used to clean the affected area.

Sudocrem can be applied to sooth any urine scald.


Keep cage clean

Regal diet

Careful breeding


Usually, this serves as symptoms for other diseases or illness.

Therefore, treatment for the diagnosed illness must be administered.

But if no specific illness has been diagnosed, you may follow the

treatment given below. Try a combination of any of the two and

keep track of the increase in appetite.


Supply Vitamin C, which stimulates appetite. You can mix 3 drops

of Abidec vitamins in water.

A teaspoon of natural oatmeal thrice a week will increase bulk in

the food.

Another food element is wheat germ; this adds more calories in the

diet. It should be high in protein and folic acid.

Vitamin B12 also increases appetite to a large extent.



This intestinal infection can be diagnosed through bacterial culture


Chins that recover from this infection may be carriers. Therefore, it

is advised that you do not breed them.


Listeriosis is caused by small, gram-positive, rod-shaped bacteria

called Listeria monocytogenes




Weight loss

Constipation or diarrhea

Pain in the stomach

Circling and convulsions are more fatal signs as chin exhibiting these

signs die.

Treatment In this case, prevention is better

Than cure as chins are not known to survive once clinical symptoms

are visible.

Attempted treatment can be prophylactic antibiotics

(Chloramphenicol or Oxytetracycline)


Hygiene should be maintained at all levels: cages, water bottles and

sand baths.

Euthanize infected chinchillas to prevent the spread of infection.

Penile hair ring/Paraphimosis

This condition is prevalent only in male chins where the fur grows

under the sheath of the penis. The hair wraps itself tightly, thereby

cutting of the blood circulation to the penis. Chins may die due to

this as blood poisoning happens if not attended to immediately.


Chin looks uncomfortable

Is lethargic

Penis sticking out

Swelling around the penis

Difficulty in urinating

Red genitals


Male chin trying to mate with an unwilling female

Male chin trying to mate too early


Pull the sheath backward very gently and clip it with a small

scissors. Be extremely careful so as to not to damage the organ at

the root. Lubricate the area with water once you have finished, this

will make it easier for the penis to retract back.


Be cautious during breeding season.

Remove female chin during treatment or if this condition occurs


Pneumonia/Respiratory Infection


Discharge from the eyes and nose

Loss of appetite

Rough hair coat


Chin is lethargic


Chest pains indicated by hunchback-like stance

Loss of appetite

Weight loss

Inflammation of lungs


Bacteria such as Bordatella, Pasteurella, Stretococcus check and


Damp housing

Cold weather

Poor ventilation




Supportive care


Environmental stress should be reduced

Keep the cage warm and dry.


Keep away from infected chins.

Keep the cage in a warm place.

Prolapsed Rectum/Intussusceptions


If the chin exerts pressure while excreting, it can lead to interloping

of the rectum - in a few cases even the volvulus of the small


intestine gets interloped.

This may happen if the chin has a case of diarrhea or constipation.


Chin keeps groaning in pain

Looks uncomfortable


Vets mostly put most of the chins to sleep as this condition cannot

be rectified. Surgery is not possible as their intestine is very thin

and they may not respond well to surgery.


Spurs is an osteoarthritis condition in which bony growths project

outward from the ends of a bone in a joint.


Genetic makeup

Sharp object(s) between teeth

Lack of gnawing material


Incorrect jaw alignment


Change in eating habits

Excessive drooling


Watery eye or eyes

Pawing food

Loss of appetite

Weight loss


Tooth trimming or burring


Keep trimming the tooth depending on its growth.

Provide ample chew toys for your chin.


Torn Ears or skin



Squeezing through mesh


Clip torn areas and wash with water and disinfectant


Separate the fighting chins.

Opt to keep chins of the same herd.

Ensure that the wires of the cage are not too wide for your chin to

squeeze through.
Exercise for Chinchilla

C hins are very energetic and need ample exercise. If your

chin’s cage does not have enough space then, you will

have one grumpy looking pet. Exercise helps

relieve your chin’s boredom. A bored chin

will take to fur biting or fight with the

other chins in the cage. So, don’t forget to

keep an exercise wheel inside the cage.

Another aspect to consider is that, if you keep your chin caged for

too long and then set your pet free, it is bound to make a great


Be careful not to get your fingers bitten by your chin for they

exercise their teeth too - and that is by constantly chewing on wood

and anything that they can find near them. So to save your fingers,

keep some chewy toys in the cage. Always bear in mind that chins

chew to file their teeth, which grow constantly.

A chin needs to exercise to remain healthy. Exercise prevents

constipation and many more illness but nevertheless, remember to

limit the time of exercise to only 20 minutes. This is because a chin

can over-work itself to exhaustion and this may lead to health

Exercise for Chinchilla

complications such as heat stroke.

Exercise Wheel

The wheel must be big enough for the chin to move freely and the

mesh should not be too loose as, their digits could get caught in the

gaps. Ensure that the wheel has a stable base and is squeak-free; else,

the wheel will shake and rattle when your

chin runs. You can also secure the wheel

by attaching one side of the wheel to the

cage; this creates space in the cage as well.

You may get dizzy if you see your chin go

at the wheel.

Your chin has loads of fun exercising!!!

As for a kit, well it cannot use the wheel. So, remove the wheel

because your curious little kit could end up being injured.

Free Run Time

If the cage does not have enough space for a wheel, identifya chin-

safe area in your house and let your chin out so that it may

scamper and scurry to vent its energy.

Exercise for Chinchilla

Chin’s safety means four things:

No possible escape holes

No electrical cords

No dangerous heights

No items on the ground that is valuable - to you - or unsafe

for the chin. It is a guarantee that your chin will chew through

anything it sees. Chin is like a termite, the only difference being

that you'll love this termite.

No other animals in the room

A chin literally memorizes its surrounding and that is why it can

scamper and scuttle without bumping into walls. And that is exactly

why it is very important that your chin gets its exercise in

relatively familiar and comfortable surroundings. Do not let your

chin into unfamiliar surroundings as it is likely to hurt itself.

This is also a great time for bonding between you and your chin.

Just sit around on the floor and watch your pet scamper around

you. Even if you have an exercise wheel inside the cage, do let your

chin out at least thrice a week to provide variety. This again reduces
Exercise for Chinchilla

stress in your chin and is good for its health.

How do I catch a chinchilla after I release it?

Chins consider their cage as their home. Do not get vexed trying to

catch your chin - they usually return to the cage all by themselves

once they are exhausted or bored of playing.

Your chin will be troublesome if you don’t release it often, and then

it will want to hold onto that freedom a lot longer.

If your chin shows no signs of going back to the cage, you can try

the following tricks:

Make your chin climb your arm and then walk to the cage and

put it in

Trick it to the cage with a trail of raisins.

Place a dust bath in its cage. Your chin cannot resist a dust

bath and will go to it as soon as it spots one.

Place a dust bath in its cage. Your chin cannot resist a dust

bath and will go to it and soon as it spots one.

The last option is chase it and scoop it up or lift it by the tail.

Exercise for Chinchilla

This will not hurt your chin. Do it carefully, but it is better if you

avoid this method.

Traveling With Chins

s emphasized before, chins are prone to stress very

easily. Stress induced by environment can prove fatal to

the chin, as many health complications occur due to

environment related stress.

If you must travel, have someone take care of the chin while you

are away. A friend, relative or a vet who has knowledge about chin

care or has some amount of experience taking care of pets will be

the ideal person.

If your journeys extend beyond 2 days, move the chin to a pet-

sitter’s house, and ensure you provide the caretaker with all the

essential chin requirements, like pellets, hay, bottles etc.

If your chin has any specific allergies or medical history, make it a

point to tell the caretaker.

And last but not the least; do not forget to give the vet’s number to

the pet-sitter.

It is absolutely necessary that you must try to recreate a very

comfortable environment for your chin. Even otherwise your pet is

prone to stress because of the relocation. Ensure that your chin

does not get too agitated with the new place.

Traveling With Chins

If you are set on traveling with your chin or relocating, you will

have to make the following arrangements before traveling, and they


Organize documents such as license, health certificate and

medical prescriptions if any

You will have to carry the chin’s cage and toys; a new

environment will be very stressful

Take the cage and toys the chin is familiar with

Ensure you are carrying sufficient food

While traveling, secure your chin and make sure it cannot


Use a rabbit or ferret leash

Line the cage with newspaper, as wood shavings are not

advisable while traveling

While relocating, one important consideration is the

temperature of the new place. If it does not suit your chin,

consider putting your chin up for adoption rather than taking

it to an unsuitable environment.

M ating & Reproduction in Chinchillas

If your chin is cute, the kit is cuter.

Baby chinchillas are called kits. Chins are bred for two purposes,

one is for their soft pelt and the other is to

be kept as pets. Irrespective of what they

are bred for, be ready to provide the kits a

good home.

Do not attempt to breed your chins if you

are not entirely aware of the responsibility of having kits. It is just

as tough as bringing a human baby into the world.

When Are They Ready To Breed?

A male chin can impregnate by 4-5 months and the female chin can

become pregnant by 5-8 months. This only concerns their biological


THEY ARE NOT COMPLETELY MATURE. If they mate, the kits in

the litter may be of poor quality as they will be weak. The female

chin is also at risk as she may die during the delivery because she is

too young to litter.

Interbreeding in chins is a no. Therefore, separate the chins and kits

to avoid this problem.

Mating Period

They can breed anytime of the year as the female chin comes to

heat every 29-35 days.

Litter Size

The mother chinchillas average a litter of two

though the range can extend up to four. The

female chin can become pregnant immediately

after - delivery. In all, chins can litter more than

3-4 times a year. However, this is not healthy for

your chin. To prevent health complications, the female

chin should not litter more than two times in a year. Isolate your

female chin from the male chin after two litters.

It is not easy to get the chins to breed; they are fussy when it comes

to picking partners. You have to introduce your chins and if you

are lucky, you will have your kits.


Introducing Your Chins

Chins are like humans when it comes to compatibility. Like dating in

humans, chins must be introduced to each other, and this is because

chins are territorial.

How Is This Done?

This is done by placing the male and female cages beside each other

for a week. Each chin has its own scent. So, when they date chins

get acquainted with each other’s scents.

You can also keep one chin in a small cage and place this cage in

the bigger one for them to be acquainted. This procedure can be

followed for introducing chins otherwise too. Do not try to breed

your chin without proper introduction. They will scratch each

other’s eyes out.

Following this, you can place the male in the female’s cage, but

monitor their behavior for they might fight causing injury or even


If they do not fight, then there are not many reasons for worry.

The male initially explores the cage and chews on the treats. The

female is anxious about the new male in her cage.

It is only later that the male chin recognizes the female and when he

does, the pair has fun playing, chasing games and nibbling each


You need to monitor these chins all the same; this is to make sure

that they do not suddenly turn hostile to each other.

Chins are known to reject each other too.

There are two techniques one can adapt when chins

reject each other. One is to trap one of them in a

container and remove the chin from the cage. The

other is to remove them by hand wearing a garden

glove so that they do not scratch you.

It is ok to try to reintroduce the chins later. And if the attempt

does not work beyond 6 months, opt to replace the aggressive chin

or reconsider the want for kits.

If you know, you want kits and do not want to go through the

routine of introduction, buy chins in pairs, this way they are

already acquainted with each other.


How the female chins get pregnant?

The male chin mounts the female from behind; it lasts only a few

seconds to impregnate the female chin. Following this the male

inserts a waxy white plug into the female. This is done to hold the

sperm inside thus increasing the chances of the female becoming


How do you know your female chin is pregnant and what to do


In general, you can assume that your chin will become pregnant

when you house the pair after proper introduction. But if you

house them all year long, it is hard to tell when your female chin is

pregnant. This is due to the fact that there are not too many sure

signs of pregnancy. The fact that they mate during night must also

not be forgotten.

Remember chins are nocturnal creatures. So, do not be surprised or

shocked to find kits in the cage one fine morning.

The only certain sign that your chin could be pregnant is the white

wax like substance inserted while mating. This is called the estrus

plug and finding it is like searching for a needle in a haystack. (It is


hard to spot the ½ - 1 inch long wax among wood shavings).

However, if you do find it, count down to 111 days. This is the

gestation period before the kits are born.

If you do not have any experience with pregnant chins, do not try

to tell by squeezing the tummy. This may cause abortion.

Other signs indicating that your chin may be pregnant are:

If your female chin does not eat well. When she is pregnant,

she eats 2-4 tablespoons of food a day and a handful of hay

If she suddenly start sleeping in unusual positions

Refuses to play in the dust

Sudden loss of weight then followed by a steady gain in weight

These are not very certain signs of pregnancy; your chin may

exhibit them due to some illness as well.

In case you are one hundred percent sure that your chin is

pregnant, try not to handle her. You need not be worried about

taking special care of your chin when she is pregnant as she is quite

capable of doing it herself. She will give birth and clean herself. But

if you suspect that your chin has developed complications, do not

hesitate to take her to the vet.

Preparing the Cage for the Kits

As mentioned in the housing chapter, you need to reduce the

wire meshing to 1/2 x 1 inch in dimension, because kits are good

climbers and can squeeze out more easily than adults. So, doubly

check your wire-mesh cage when your chin is pregnant or when the

kit is born.

Another aspect you should consider regarding the cage is the

cage floor, place cardboard on it or carpet it. This will ensure that

the kit’s leg will not be entangled the wire and cause injury.

Cut access to heights inside the cage, kits have no idea about

heights. Climbing heights will prove fatal to their delicate organs if

they fall.

Remove the exercise wheel and other items inside the cage.

These can injure the kit.


Delivering a baby is a miracle and a painful process. The chin grunts


and groans standing on her hind legs during delivery. Labor lasts

for about 30 minutes but this again depends on the number of kits

being born.

There is little loss of blood during delivery. She will lick and clean

the kit and herself after she delivers a kit. Kits needs to be cleaned

to remove the mucous and make them warm as well; else, they will

die from hypothermia. If female chin has more babies inside her,

she will deliver it after she cleans the first kit.

If your chin has delivered many kits, she may be exhausted and

cannot attend to each and every kit. You can pitch in by drying the

kits else the kit may die.

If babies are found to be strong and healthy but still very wet, a

quick brisk rubbing with a soft towel will save time in drying and

cut the chances of the baby getting chilled.

If the babies are found wet and cold, or even if they appear dead or

stiff, you can still do wonders by quickly immersing them up to

their nose in very hot water and massaging them briskly. Press your

thumb into their abdomen and arch the back by bringing your

index and little finger to a closing position towards the thumb. This

action will pump the heavy mucous out of the baby’s lungs.

Following this, blow quickly and hard into the baby’s mouth to

expand the lungs. If the kit gasps dry it completely and then warm

it up.

If the kit still does not gasp, give it your last shot with 1 - 2 drops of

caffeine, adrenalin or other cardiac stimulants (injected directly into

the lung cavity).

A small cylinder of oxygen is expensive. But this can work wonders.

Just be sure you do not use it near a flame.

The cage should be covered to prevent draft. The babies and their

mother could also use some quite and dark environment to rest.

As the gestation period is long, kits are fully developed at birth.

They can open their eyes as soon as they are born and they are

fully furred and teethed as well. Kits can start moving within few

hours of birth.

Delivery Complications

You need to know about the delivery complications in advance, as it

is better to be prepared than sorry. Have a good idea of these


complications irrespective of whether your chin is pregnant or not.

And if she does get pregnant you are all ready to handle an


In case of a complication, only a vet is qualified to know what to do

next. Your preparation ends with identifying the complications and

attending to your chin until the vet can take it from there.

If you know that your chin is due for delivery anytime now, then

having a vet around is recommended. Or else, call for the vet

immediately, if you observe any of the following:

If your chin takes more than 30 minutes to deliver one kit, it

indicates prolonged labor

If you see fresh blood. There is chance that your chin has

ruptured a blood vessel

Foul smelling delivery indicates stillbirth

If your kit is not breathing, it means it has suffocated

Some of these symptoms occur during the delivery and some after.

There is one sad part to the story and that is, if your female chin

has a miscarriage, she may become sterile, as the fetus is mostly


absorbed into the body.

After-Delivery Care for Mommy Chin

The mother loses a lot of vitamins. So, you can replenish it

with cranberry juice mixed in water

Do not bathe the mother chinchilla, this is because her vaginal

opening should heal and it may cause problems while nursing

the kits

Handle the mommy chin carefully

Stock plenty of hay and pellets, she needs the nutrition to feed

her babies

Add supplement foods such as Vitamin C and calcium

Take her out of the cage. As the wheel cannot be kept inside

the cage, you need to let her out

After Delivery-Care for the Kits

Mommy chin will not object if you handle

her kit(s) gently. Once the kit is born you

could help mommy chin by keeping track


of the kit’s growth.

The baby chin would feel light as a feather as it weighs only 25 - 60

grams. You know, your kit is growing steadily if it gains 2-4 grams

a day. You need to do this to make sure that your kit is getting its

supplement because sometimes the mother cannot lactate. If your

kit is not getting enough nourishment, provide the supplement

yourself. This would also help you and the kit to develop a bond

and the kit will develop into a social chin. Chin eats the afterbirth as

this provides nutrition for the kits.

The supplement you give the kit can be a combination of Vitamin

D, milk and dry baby cereal. You can make the mix lukewarm and

feed the kit with a dropper. NEVER EVER, force the milk down.

The kit should suckle the milk on its own; else the milk may go into

its lung. If this ever happens, hold the kit upside down with your

palm and shake it gently to let the liquid out. Ensure that all the

liquid is out and then wipe its nose.

You do not have to worry about bathing kits; they usually dust

bathe in 2 weeks by themselves.

What I do With the Male Chin?


It is considered safe to keep the male chin inside the cage, as he is

not known to harm the kit. However, if you do not want a case of

breed back, it is best to move him to another cage.

Breed back is when your female chin becomes pregnant almost

immediately after giving birth (chins are capable of getting pregnant

within 3 days after giving birth). This is not advisable for two


It is not healthy for your female chin

Kits may not get enough nourishment if the mommy is feeding

them while she is pregnant

Breed back can also happen in the instance when the male chin

impregnates the female kit after she sexually matures in 8 months.

Breed back happens among the chins and kits, as they do not

understand the concept of a family. This interbreeding is not good

as the kits from such a litter will be of poor quality and the health

of the female kit will also get deteriorated.

Therefore, it is best that you move the male chin out of the cage

(doing this creates more space in the cage for the kits as well).

Separating the Mother and Kits

Remove the kit from the cage by 8 - 10 weeks. This is done for two


To wean them from milk, you can introduce adult chin food

in small quantities

To prevent breed back between the male kit and the mother

chin or the sister chin Cage chin or the sister chin, cage chins

of the same sex together after separating them. This will ensure

that breed back does not happen.


This carries certain risks and of course there this question of ethics.

But if you are sure that you do not want any more kits/chins, you

can consult your vet to neuter your pet. This allows you to house

chins of opposite sex without being worried about the female chin

getting pregnant. Ensure that the vet has ample experience in

neutering; this is necessary because anesthetics pose a big danger to

small rodents. The most fatal part of neutering does not lie in the

procedure but the amount of anesthesia administered.

You have to consider the age and health of the chin before

neutering. It is best that your chin breeds at least once before it is

neutered. Chins can be neutered between the ages of 1 - 3 years.

Ensure that your vet does a physical examination of your pet before

the operation.

Your chin should not be ill during the operation because chances of

its recovery is low. Chins with heart murmur should not be

neutered, as they cannot be anesthetized successfully.

Also keep in mind the lifestyle of your chin before considering this

option. If you are caging chins of opposite sexes, it is a good idea to

take up this option because chins are known to breed constantly.

The neutered chin needs to be isolated for 1 month for proper

recovery (remember that the incision must heal completely).


Where To Buy Chinchillas














Where to Buy Cage & Accessories


Great Chinchilla Names

Andes Blossom Chesney Dumbo

Arwen Bob ChiChi Duster

Ashes Boo Chimmie Dusty

Ashley Boris Chinchi Dylan

Baby Bubbles Chingy Dyson

Baja Bucket Chino Eddy

Bamba Buckles Chip Elliot

Banna Buddy Chubbs Elmo

Barnaby Caelan Cicero Eve

Bawler Camomile Cloud Ezra

Baxter Charity Cutie Fefe

Beanie Charlie Cyclone Felix

Beano Chaz Dandy Ferdy

Belle Cheech Daquiri Fergie

Ben Cheena Davon Fifi

Benny Cheerio Diana Flora

Betty Chella Dino Flossie

Bifta Cherry Ditto Fluffer

Bilbo Cherub Doby Fluffy


Great Chinchilla Names

Fox Jiffy Lulu Nibbler

Frosty Jimmy Madagasca Nibbles

Gadget Job Manzana Nickle

Girdy Joe Marlo Nimba

Gizmo Jolanda Meringue Norton

Gris Jools Mia Nosfuratu

Grouch Junior Miffy Nutmeg

Gukki Karki Misty Ollie

Gus Kassy Mocha Oriel

Hal Kiki Mogwie Oscar

Harley Kimbo Molly Pan

Harriet Kitoby Morphy Panca

Harry Kitty Muggwye Peanut

Herman Lara Mumfy Pepsi

Jaffa Larry Mumsie Petal

Jaffa Leo-cario Munchie Pips

Jake Levi Murphy Pran

Java Lilac Musti Pretty

Jethroe Lucky Neffi Prozac


Great Chinchilla Names

Puffer Smokey Twister

Putty Smudge Ty

Quena Snuffy Tyson

Quigley Sophie Victor

Rachacha Sparky Vinny

Rain Speckles Violet

Ralph Spice Webster

Revel Spook Zach

Ringo Spook Zandra

Roxy Stan Zazu

Ruby Star Zebedee

Rusty Stitch Zorro

Sancho Stormy Zorro

Savannah Surf Zulu

Shuga Syko

Sid Tamale

Silver Thelma

Simba Tut

Simon Twinkle


Where to Find a Veterinarian





Meeting Other Chinchilla owners


xpect the unexpected.

Whichever way you look at it, life is demanding. And

meeting demands is to be expected. To expect someone or

something that makes little or no demands is an unusual expectation.

But it's not an unreal expectation; meet the chinchilla.

Chins are a contradiction in today's hustle-and-bustle world. Instead

of being demanding, they help us to unwind after a hectic day.

Imagine coming home, letting a chin out of its cage, watch it scamper

about, and be up to innocent antics. Few things can be more

relaxing. This is the reason by which chinchillas are such a popular

family pet.
Acknowledgements - Page No - 26, 27 - Page No - 1 - Page No - 13 - Page No - 21 - Page No - 30 - Page No - 31 - Page No - 32 - Page No - 33 - Page No - 35 - Page No - 39 - Page No - 40 - Page No - 41 - Page No - 44 - Page No - 46 - Page No - 46 - Page No - 47
Acknowledgements - Page No - 48 - Page No - 50 - Page No - 51 - Page No - 53 - Page No - 57 - Page No - 105 - Page No - 106 - Page No - 112 - Page No - 113 - Page No - 115 - Page No - 122