Diarrhea and constipation
We will discuss these two symptoms together. We call them symptoms because they are normally a sign that something else is wrong. The most common causes are the wrong diet and a sudden change in diet. If you want to change a chinchilla’s diet it must be done gradually. Every day a little less of the old food and a little bit more of the new food must be given. When you buy a chinchilla make sure what it has been fed. If it was the correct diet, stick to it. If it has been fed rubbish, fix it but gradually.Symptoms to check for are very loose droppings that can even be puddles with mucus in it. The looser it is the bigger the problem. If there is mucus in it there can be a severe intestinal irritation or bacterial infection. In a case like this get the chinchilla to the vet without hesitation. If the droppings are just loose the problem is more often than not that the diet lacks fiber. Give more fresh hay like Lucerne and less pellets. Too many treats can also be the cause. A chinchilla is like a kid eating candy, as long as you give it, they’ll eat it. Remember moderation, you do not want to love your chinchilla to death.We always allow our chinchillas two days to recover from diarrhoea if it is not too severe. If it persists or there is any mucus in it it’s off to the vet. Again, it is important to know your animals. If they have diarrhoea combined with other symptoms like a hunched back, sudden weight loss or loss of appetite the problem is most probably more serious than diet alone.With constipation the droppings can be small, shriveled, dry and very dark. We have never encountered this so I will take some information out of a very handy book we bought called Chinchilla Care written by J.W. Houston and J.P. Prestwich, published in 1962. This book was written for the chinchilla fur industry but is very thorough on health matters.Constipation can be caused by infections of any part of the chinchilla’s body, too much pellets without the other necessary foodstuffs, lack of water, shock, nervousness caused by improper handling or living conditions and overcrowding. The most common remedy mentioned is to ensure that the chinchilla is housed correctly and have access to enough water. They also mention other home remedies like laxatives and force feeding fruit juice. We do not agree with this and would rather give a small piece of apple or carrot. A golden rule for us is that if a chinchilla does not want to eat a piece of apple there is something wrong. But do not wait until they don’t want to eat it, if there are other symptoms, take them to the vet.