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CHINformative - Promoting Chinchilla Welfare


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Everything posted by Debbie

  1. Fur fungus is the common, if somewhat erroneous, term used by many breeders for ringworm. Chinchillas are highly susceptible to ringworm, a fungal infection of the skin and fur, due to their thick pelts which absorb ambient humidity, thus providing an ideal growing environment for ringworm spores to flourish. There is currently an epidemic sweeping through many UK “herds” at present. There are various different strains of ringworm, tinea canis being the most likely culprit. Symptoms are characterised by loss of fur in patches, especially around the eyes, nose and ears. The underlying skin may look reddened, flaky and may be covered in crusts and/or scabs. This condition is obviously itchy and uncomfortable for the chins, and is also highly contagious, so prompt diagnosis and treatment is required. However, it is possible to miss some patches of ringworm on a chinchillas’ body, simply because their fur is so dense that bald areas can be hard to spot!! Therefore, breeders need to be vigilant when checking their entire herds for any problems. It also seems to target animals whose immune systems may be slightly compromised in some way, i.e. they may be slightly, stressed, run-down, or young or old. The good news is that is does appear to be self-limiting and will run it’s course through a herd, and the affected chinchillas, once treated, then seem to gain some sort of resistance. Ringworm is spread by contact mainly, (although spores may become airborne) via other infected people, animals and pets. This is another good reason why good quarantine procedures need to be carried out!! Treatment is varied, but focuses around antifungal preparations. The common “breeders home-treatment” consists of adding about a tablespoon of athletes foot powder to the chinchilla’s sandbaths, so they self-medicate. It is also routinely used as a “preventative” by many breeders, but I have my reservations about the wisdom of using this, as my chinchillas have displayed breathing abnormalities when the powder has been added to their sandbaths, so I no longer add it as a prophylactic. Even with anti-fungal powder added to sandbaths, a cure is not guaranteed if the infection is virulent. Topical, over-the-counter anti-fungal sprays and creams (with active ingredients such as ketoclomazole, mycoclomazole, clotazmole etc) have been used with some success, but they can be messy and difficult to apply. Thought must also be given to the fact that the chinchillas are liable to groom off anything that is applied to their bodies, and these types of human medication can be harmful to them if ingested. My advice is to take any affected chinchillas to the vets, ask them to culture some samples to establish what you are dealing with (as not every type of ringworm fluoresces under a Wood’s Lamp). Then commence treatment with whatever preparation the vet then recommends and prescribes. Malaseb shampoo appears to be very affective and the whole chinchilla need not be shampooed and can just be “spot-treated” which is ideal, as they are very hard to completely dry off after becoming wet. Two applications a week are required, and improvement has been reported even after just one application. It is also VERY important to use an anti-fungal disinfectant, in order to thoroughly clean cages, sandbaths, feed bowls and any other equipment to reduce the risk of further contamination and spread of infection. I routinely use Defence-7, Virkon S or Vanodine V18 anyway, which are all designed for use with livestock and are also effectively anti-fungal. Treatment needs to be thorough, and systematic. It may be several weeks/months before a large herd of chinchillas are free of symptoms. They then need to be all symptom-free for AT LEAST a month (preferably two) before any of them are sold or taken to shows. Full quarantine procedures need to be imposed until the herd is in the clear. With quick diagnosis and appropriate treatment, infection may be limited, minor and may not become widespread and out of control within a herd.
  2. This is another problem that is quite common. Severe cases will need veterinary treatment, but mild cases are usually treatable by the owner. Main Symptoms In mild cases the owner will only see softer droppings than usual, often found squashed flat around the cage. More severe cases will manifest themselves as very runny droppings, resembling cowpats, or smelly, liquid watery droppings. Enteritic conditions may be characterised by the presence of mucous. Possible Causes Many causes. In mild cases, often too many treats are to blame. Lack of fibre in the diet (possibly dental-related). Unsuitable or poor diet. Poor husbandry/sanitation. Possible gastro-intestinal infection. Protozoal infection. Full veterinary tests may be needed. In mild cases where there is only soft droppings present, squished flat onto shelves, and the chin is well in itself - then you will only probably need to do the following: Reduced or no pellets for 24 hours No treats Increased hay (but only if it is top-quality hay - as poor quality hay may make the problem worse - or even have caused it) VERY burnt toast (a thumb-sized piece once a day) Probiotics in the drinking water If the condition persists for longer than 48 hours then I give some Paediatric Kaolin (or Kaogel) (@ 0.5ml - once or twice a day) In cases where the chin is showing signs of abdominal pain, and/or the droppings are liquid, smelly, mucoussy or even blood-stained - then urgent veterinary treatment is needed - don't delay! Ensure good sanitation at all times - and always disinfect the cage and shelves after an outbreak of gastric disturbance, whatever the cause.
  3. Constipation in my opinion should be regarded as a condition that does require prompt treatment. Main Symptoms are: Small, dry, scant droppings. Thin, curved droppings. Few droppings or no droppings at all. Lethargy. Lack of appetite. Abdominal pain. Possible Causes Dental problems that mean the chin is not eating enough fibre. Unsuitable diet lacking in fibre. Illness. Bloat. General treatment should begin immediately. But in acute cases veterinary advice is recommended (as always). For mild cases a little syrup of figs can be given. 1ml twice a day - and an improvement should be noticed by the next day. Probiotics (from vets/suppliers) in the drinking water is also useful. A little extra exercise may also help. Ensure that the chinchilla is drinking well and is fully hydrated. The latest thinking is to avoid giving anything too sweet (although syrup of figs is the exception) - as sugary treatment (such as pineapple juice) in some rare cases can cause bloat to develop in a constipated chinchilla. If you wish to get the same effect as pineapple juice - but without the sugars - then try giving bromelain powder (from health food shops) in the drinking water. Bromelain is a proteolytic enzyme (an enzyme that digests proteins) and this can especially be useful if the constipation is caused by post-partum gastric stasis. Strong laxatives should only be given if you are certain that the chinchilla is not suffering from a blockage or intersusseption. This WILL require a veterinary examination to be sure. If the chin is free from a blockage - you can also try medicinal liquid paraffin. 1ml twice a day is usually effective - and once again an improvement should be noticed by the next day. Do not give liquid paraffin for more than 2 days - as the gut can become immune to its effects. Do not give castor oil - as this is harmful to a chinchillas digestive tract. If no improvement occurs after 48 hours - or the chinchilla is showing signs of abdominal pain - then seek urgent veterinary advice.
  4. You will find some fairly detailed information on breeding chinchillas on this link: http://www.azure-chinchillas.co.uk/pages/b...chinchillas.php
  5. Fur chewing is a vice that affects a small percentage of chinchillas. Chinchillas can do it to themselves - and/or other chins sharing the same cage. They chew the top layer off the fur - leaving the undercoat exposed and giving an untidy appearance It has many suspected causes ................ Stress Boredom Dietary Genetic Hormonal There are a few old records stating that one theory was that chins that fur-chewed consistantly were deficient in Arachidonic essential fatty acid. This is mainly found in animal-based sources - so ranchers would hang bacon rind in the cages for the chins to chew. This appeared to work in many cases?? I am not sure how advisable this is though - seeing as chinchillas are herbivores (and I am not recommending it as such - only stating it as a historic fact). Other sources state that it is an inherited vice (a dominant gene) that is responsible for fur-chewing (Kline). Another theory is that affected chinchillas could be deficient in certain amino acids. And finally some sources state that it may be a hormonal anomaly (Kraft). Basically - no one seems to be 100% sure!! There is no 100% effective treatment but the following may help some cases: Just provide a good, balanced diet - peace and quiet during the day - and plenty of mental and physical stimulation when the chins are active. Flowers of Sulphur or a pet-safe bitter-spray can also put a chinchilla off chewing it's fur in mild cases. It is also wise not to breed from affected chins or continue to breed from chins who's offspring have shown inclination towards the vice.
  6. Fits/convulsions are relatively common in chinchillas. Although no one is entirely certain why. Symptoms can be ...... loss of coordination rigidity unresponsiveness unable to move normally flattening of ears and a stiff posture flattening of the body twitching and head-tilt stretching head backwards arching of the back There are many possible causes ...... hypo or hyper glyceamia (especially in chins less than a year old) hypo or hyper calceamia (also seen in younger chins) diabetes stress/excitement (AKA feeding fits) thiamine deficiency (rare) genetic/hereditary causes trauma/injury overheating/exhaustion epilepsy Cardio vascular anomalies disease/illness poisoning With "calcium fits" the chinchilla can go rigid, with it's head arched backwards, may stagger around and lose it's balance. "Thiamine fits" are indicated more so by twitching, shaking and trembling, as well as loss of balance. When a chin is fitting - it is best left alone and quiet - as there is nothing you can do - other than ensure they dont injure themselves. Afterwards, keep the chin warm and let it rest quietly to recover. If the fit lasts longer than a few minutes - then veterinary advice should be sought. A chinchilla that fits regularly should also be taken to the vet - and a diary should be kept (recording details such as what was fed, excercise, temperature, interaction with a companion, age etc etc) which may help the vet pinpoint a cause. Strokes may look similar to a fit - but are often longer in duration and usually cause some sort of long or short-term disability such as paralysis. In all cases where a stroke is suspected - veterinary attention should be given and some sort of post-event care should be given (treat as for shock). I hope this helps.
  7. Just adding a section on working out nutritional ratios - as this links in with the calcium topic ........ Chinchillas require calcium to phosphorous in the ratio of around 2:1 respectively (or at least 1:1) to ensure healthy skeletal and dental development (in conjunction with vitamins A, C and D) - as discussed!! It is very likely that chinchillas can tolerate calcium ratios well in excess of the suggested 2:1, but more importantly, it is wise to ensure that the chinchilla is NOT eating a diet that has an inverted calcium:phosphorus ratio, as this (over time) may result in a decrease in bone density. Most hays are naturally calcium to phosphorus balanced too. (This also includes Readigrass (Justgrass) and Supa Forage Excel, which are dried grass products) Some examples: Calcium/Phosphorus Meadow Hay 0.29%/0.23% Timothy Hay 0.43%/0.20% Alfalfa hay (a lucerne not a grass) is high in calcium, and is a high energy food. Alfalfa 1.24%/0.22% Many of use also feed grains/cereals (oats/wheatgerm) in addition to pellets and hay - and I have borne this in mind……. Cereals contain an inverted calcium to phosphorus ratio. Here are some average values. Oats 0.05%/0.34% Wheatbran/germ 0.13%/1.13% Barley 0.05%/0.34% It is worth bearing in mind that hays and grains are natural products and their mineral content may vary somewhat, depending on where and how they are grown, how and when they are harvested and how they are stored. N.B. At the risk of boring you all, there is a way of calculating what ratio of calcium of phosphorus your chinchillas get in their diet……. 1. Weigh what you would feed one chinchilla in a day (these are examples only)…… Pellets 40g Timothy Hay 40g Oats 1.75g Wheatgerm 1.75g 2. Multiply the weights by both the calcium and the phosphorus % content Timothy Hay Calcium = 0.43 x 0.40 = 0.172g Timothy Hay Phosphorus = 0.20 x 0.40 = 0.08g Pellets Calcium = 1 x 0.40 = 0.4g Pellets Phosphorus = 0.25 x 0.40 = 0.1g Oats Calcium = 0.05 x 0.175 = 0.00875g Oats Phosphorus = 0.34 x 0.175 = 0.0595g Wheatgerm Calcium = 0.13 x 0.175 = 0.02275g Wheatgerm Phosphorus = 1.13 x 0.175 = 0.19775g 3. Add all the calcium totals together = 0.6035g Add all the phosphorus totals together = 0.43725g 4. Divide the total calcium by the total phosphorus. 0.6035 divided by 0.43725 = 1.45 So - this diet is 1.45:1 calcium to phosphorus All of the above ratios are adequate and are not inverted. Alfalfa given as an occasional treat will bump up the calcium levels slightly. This is why a diet of pellets and hay is recommended - as it takes the guesswork out of balancing vitamin and mineral requirements!! I hope that this is of interest.
  8. Chinchillas will happily exercise on a wheel, if given the chance to do so, but care must be taken to ensure that a suitable wheel is used. Extra-large wheels, manufactured for rats are not suitable. Some years ago, chinchilla wheels were only available in the USA, but they are now getting much easier to get hold of in the UK. Chinchilla wheels need to be at least 14" in diameter, have fully enclosed bearings, and be of solid construction (not runged) to protect tails and toes from getting trapped. The "Flying Saucer Wheel" and the "Leo Braun Wheel" (both manufactured specifically for chinchillas) can currently only be imported from the USA and Europe. John Hopewell in the UK also makes two different sized wheels suitable for chinchillas (14" and 16") - my chinchillas have the 16" wheels and they really enjoy using them!
  9. There is very little space between the female's urethal cone and her anus. Whereas with the male chinchilla, the gap between the penis and anus is much more pronounced, even as kits. **awaiting undignified photos of digruntled chins **
  10. Some of the below colours are not commonly seen in the UK, but are worthy of mention. Wilson White (AKA Silver, Mosaic) Incomplete Dominant, Lethal Factor, Heterozygous Only Tower Beige (heterozygous or homozygous) Gunning Black (Black Velvet) Lethal Factor, Heterozygous Only Tasco Black French Blue Busse Ebony Wellman Beige Recessive Sullivan Beige Recessive (red eyes) Albino Charcoal Sakrison (Curly Brown Charcoal) Stone White (prone to opthalmia) Larsen Sapphire Lester Black Treadwell Black Young Lavender-Brown Sullivan Violet Deutsche Violet Many more mutations can be created by crossing the above colours to produce a hybrid or blend.
  11. Chinchillas are very suseptable to shock. Many pet chins die from delayed shock, even when the actual injuries may be relatively minor. Symptoms of shock may include the chinchilla appearing listless, withdrawn, sleepy and lethargic. Paws and ears may feel cold to the touch. There will almost always be a total lack of appetite and the digestion may shut-down, so few (if any) droppings will be observed. It is imperative that shock is treated IMMEDIATELY!! Phone the vet for advice - but do commence basic treatment yourself, as prompt care is essential. Warmth is paramount, keep the affected chinchilla warm (but not hot). Use a hot-water bottle wrapped in a towel or a specialist heat-pad to ensure that continuous warmth is supplied. Fluids are also essential. Dehydration treatments are better than water alone (they can be bought from chemists - i.e. diaoralyte - and should be made up according to packet instructions). Slowly and gently, drop by drop if necessary, syringe as much fluid orally as you are able (5-10ml at a time, aiming for about 40ml spread throughout the day). Ensure that the chinchilla does not inhale any. If necessary sub-cutaneous fluids can be administered by a vet. This is essential if a chinchilla is too weak to take anything orally. Ensure the chinchilla is kept as stress-free as possible. Provide a retreat or nest-box that the chinchilla can snuggle into, and keep warm and feel secure. Apart from administering medication/fluids, disturb the chinchilla as little as possible. When administering treatments, do it quietly with as little fuss and bother, and maintain a speedy and efficient routine to minimise stress. If the chinchilla survives the first 24 hours, but is still not eating, then you can try offering favourite foods to tempt the appetite (Oxbow Alfalfa Nibbles are recommended). If no food is eaten voluntarily eaten, then try a little food replacment (see the "nutritional first aid" article). Although there is much you can do yourself to help (and keeping the chin in a familiar environment can pay dividends), in many cases veterinary care is also required, as any wounds sustained will often need veterinary treatment/antibiotics to prevent septicaemia occuring (very common if the chinchilla has been fighting). However, do ensure that the chinchilla has improved (stabilised) a little before risking transportation to the surgery!
  12. What Age to Breed? This mainly depends on how soon your bloodlines mature, as some mature far later than others. I tend to initially start introducing potential breeding mates at around the age of about 8 months old, no younger. Chinchillas usually become capable of reproduction from the age of around 4 to 6 months, depending on the individual, of course. But breeding from such young animals may result in complications, so is not recommended. I have even heard reports of chinchillas as young as 8 weeks managing to breed, but this is exceptionally rare, but still serves as a reminder to separate siblings at a reasonable age to prevent any interbreeding. What Type of Chinchillas are Most Suitable for Breeding? If you intend to allow a chinchilla to have a couple of litters, it is wise to choose your breeding stock wisely, as certain problems may be inherited. With this in mind, it is best to use the highest quality chinchillas that you can (within reason), that have a traceable history. You can also fully discuss the chinchilla’s background with the breeder when you go to view the chinchillas too. I do not recommend breeding from chinchillas that have had any history of dental problems, as this dreadful affliction is becoming way too common and it is my belief that is arises from poor breeding practises, among other causes. If you purchase from a pet shop, it is unlikely that you will be able to get any background on a chinchilla, and you will not be able to ascertain if the chinchilla has been bred from healthy bloodlines or not. For these reasons I would not recommend using such an animal for breeding although they will still make enchanting and wonderful pets. My only recommendation is to always aim to purchase quality breeding stock from reputable chinchilla breeders, whenever possible. How do I Pair Chinchillas Up? Chinchillas are territorial and if caged together with no introductions can and will fight. Try to pair suitably matched chinchillas for breeding (i.e. similar in age and size). I have found the best way of introducing monogamous pairs is to cage them side-by-side so that they can see and smell each other. Once they have become accustomed to each other's presence (this can take a while with some chinchillas) you can then allow them to meet on neutral territory, supervised of course. If all goes well, the put the female into the male's cage and keep a watchful eye on them. If no aggression occurs after several hours, then they should have accepted each other and you will see plenty of mutual grooming going on (this is always a good sign). If they snarl and snap at one another, or of the female sprays at the male, then it is time to separate them before things develop into a full-scale fight. Allow them a few days (still caging them side-by-side) to settle down, and then try again. The length of time that they need to accept each other can vary from as little as a day or two to as long as a few months. Just be patient and don't try to rush things, compatible pairs usually accept each other in the end. What is the Usual Oestrus Cycle? This can vary, but the normal cycle can average from 24-42 days. My females seem to come into season every 35 days during the winter months, almost without fail. How do I Tell if a Female is in Season? If you have a look at the females genital area, you will see her anus and then very close in front of it you will see her urethal 'cone'. In between these two structures is the female's vaginal opening. It is shut and virtually invisible when the female is not in season, but when she comes into oestrus the vulva will become visible as a horizontal opening. Sexing Chinchillas? There is very little space between the female's urethal cone and her anus, whereas with the male chinchilla, the gap between the penis and anus is much more pronounced, even as kits. How do I Know if a Chinchilla has Mated? Chinchillas are not at all discreet when is come to procreation. The best way to tell if a female has mated is to actually witness the mating itself. This will consist of a lot of tail-wagging and squeaking on the part of the male. He will also chase the female around quite a bit and she will respond by being quite aggressive at times, until she is ready to receive him. The male will continue to mate with the female, at intervals, for many hours and you may hear a curious 'hiccoughing' cry from the male sporadically. The female may produce one (or several) mating plugs. These look like white waxy 'blobs' averaging between 1 and 3 cm long. These mainly consist of seminal fluid, and if found are usually a good sign that mating has taken place. By morning you may also find clumps of fur littering the cage floor (chinchilla mating is pretty physical), this is all quite normal behaviour, but do ensure that they are not fighting. What are Fur Rings? Due to the way chinchillas mate, and the fact that they have copious amounts of fur, it is possible for a male chinchilla, especially a novice male, to develop something called a fur-ring (or hair-ring). This is where the penis collects a ring of fur around it (usually under the foreskin), during the act of mating which can cut off the blood supply to the penis. It is prudent to quickly check the males 'bits' after he has mated to make sure that all looks normal. The penis 'telescopes' out of the foreskin for examination, but ensure you are careful and use plenty of lubricant when you do examine him in this manner. If there is any redness or swelling or the penis looks discoloured and congested or if the foreskin is not covering it properly, then prompt attention is needed to remove the fur-ring. Ensure that the penis remains moist and does not dry-out (KY jelly is recommended). You can attempt to carefully remove the fur-ring yourself, if you feel confident, but take considerable care not to damage or injure the penis. Use plenty of lubricant and carefully try to tease the fur-ring apart with your fingers. Once removed, ensure that everything goes back into place normally and that the penis does not prolapse. If you are unsure, or are not able to remove the fur-ring, then take the male to the vets to have it removed. Do not delay, as the penis can suffer irreparable damage if left untreated. How long is Gestation? 111 days, give or take up to 5 days either way. How Many Kits are in a Litter? The average is 2 kits per litter. Singletons and triplets are also common. Quads and quins are rarer, but do occur. Most females rear twins easily but triplets upwards may require supplementary feeding or rotating as one kit may be 'runty'. How Can I Tell If My Female Is Pregnant? A mating plug (if you find one) is a sure sign that a mating has occured - but not if conception has occured. Some signs of pregnancy are: * Significant weight-gain (in the 2nd month particularly). * Swollen/hard belly. * Engorged/reddened teats. * Kits will be seen to kick. * Lying on side more than usual. Be careful when handling pregnant chinchillas. Don't palapate the stomach if you are not certain how to. Remember that all chinchillas are different - and will show their pregnancy in different ways - this is merely a basic guide. What Can I do to Prepare For a Forthcoming Litter? Unless a Female is particularly used to being handled and is very relaxed about it, do not over-handle a pregnant female if at all possible. With very highly-strung and nervous females, the less handling they receive whilst pregnant, the better. Some people like to weigh their females regularly during pregnancy, to ensure that she puts on weight, but I find that this is not usually necessary and can disturb them unduly. Kits are born precocious (fully-furred, eyes open and can walk almost immediately). It is a good idea to line the floor of the cage (if wire-floored) with clean newspaper, as the female approaches her due-date, until the kits are a couple of weeks old. This helps the kits when walking, as they do find wire-floored cages a bit difficult at first. Change the newspaper regularly for hygiene reasons. The female can have a sandbath right up to her due-date, but do not leave it in the cage unsupervised, as she may have her litter early and you do not want her littering in the sandbath. Once the kits are born, withhold the sandbaths for about 7 days, in order to reduce the risks of infection. The kits can have their first sandbath, along with mum when they are about a week old. The male should be removed shortly before the kits are due, to prevent a breedback. He can be returned after a week (but will probably mate with her as soon as she comes into season again - which in my opinion is not giving the female enough rest) or after the female has rested for a few months, after weaning her litter. Females come into season within 12 hours of giving birth. If they are mated again immediately, this is known as a breedback. This can be very tiring for the female, as the kits can take an awful lot out of her, so breedbacks should be avoided if there are more than 2 kits in a litter or if the new litter is already the product of a previous breedback. To ensure that the male and female accept each other again after being apart, they should always have contact (i.e. caging them side-by-side). The Birth Female chinchillas always seem to have their litters in the early hours of the morning. You may first notice that her chest and forepaws are soaking wet, this is due to the waters breaking. The female will also be licking repeatedly at her undercarriage too. Contractions are usually quite visible. During these, the female may arch her back, strain a little and even cry out. The kits are delivered headfirst and the female uses her teeth to pull them free. There may be a couple of hours between kits being born - BUT UNDER NO CIRCUMSTANCES SHOULD A FEMALE BE ALLOWED TO STRAIN OR LABOUR IN VAIN FOR LONGER THAN 3-4 HOURS WITHOUT PRODUCING ANYTHING!!! If she does - then IMMEDIATE veterinary advice should be sought!! When the birth is over, within an hour or two the female will start expelling the afterbirths. There is usually 1 per kit, but occasionally kits share a placenta, so this is not a hard and fast rule. If you do not witness the expulsion of the afterbirths, the usual evidence is a bloody snout, forepaws and a bloody patch in the cage. The female and the kits soon dry off, especially if clean dry newspaper is placed in their cage. Additional heating is usually only necessary if the female is kept in an outside unit or littering in an unheated room in the colder months. A heat-pad or a light bulb placed in a biscuit tin, placed under the cage, will keep an area of the cage warm. What do I Need to do Once The Kits Are Born? Sometimes the kit's eyes do not open, but instead remain gummed shut from dried birth fluids. I usually bathe the eyes either in warm saline solution or Optrex, to soften any dried matter, and then very gently prise them open with my thumbs, taking care not to cause any injury. The kits squeal in protest a bit, but they do suckle much better once they can see!! Happy, well-fed kits will not squabble much or bite mum’s teats, they will make happy 'peeping' sounds when suckling, their bellies will feel full and their tails will curl upwards. Restlessness, fighting, a hunch-backed appearance and an empty-feeling belly are all possible signs that there is not enough milk, or that the mother’s milk supply is slow to come in. In which case supplementary feeding is advised. But not so much that the kits do not attempt to suckle, as the quantity of milk produced by the female is subject to the demands of her kits, and if they are not hungry they will not suckle - and she will, in turn, not produce much milk. You can also give the female a couple of millilitres of syrup of figs (if she will take it), either by syringe or off a teaspoon. This will help her pass the afterbirths that she may have eaten. Although they usually pass unaided through the digestive tract, a few ml of syrup of figs won’t harm. Some breeders remove the afterbirths, and prevent their females from eating them but this is not necessary, as they are full of much-needed protein. Weaning Kits I wean my kits from 8 to 10 weeks old, depending on how well they are doing. They will have been eating solids since a few days old, but just ensure that they are drinking proficiently from a drinking bottle before weaning them. I do no stagger weaning or do it in stages, the youngsters are simply removed from their dam into cages of their own or sometimes into similar-aged, same-sexed pairs depending on the size of cage available. Do keep a very close eye on the kits for a few weeks after weaning, to ensure that they are coping well on their own, before even thinking about selling them on. Keep all treats to a minimum, as too many sweet or rich treats can severely upset a young chinchilla's digestion. Never be tempted to buy or sell a young chinchilla under the age of 12 weeks old. Personally, I think that 14 weeks is a better age to purchase a youngster at. Care of The Breeding Female All breeding stock should be in excellent health and be fed a sensible basic diet of top-quality pellets and hay. Despite these precautions, in some cases a female chinchilla can lose too much weight and condition after rearing a litter. This may be due to her having a large litter or that she has not been rested sufficiently between litters. If a loss of condition does occur then she should be rested completely and not used for breeding again until she has regained condition. It may not harm to occasionally weigh her at this stage. Good accurate digital scales that weigh in 1g or 2g increments are ideal, and will easily allow you to monitor the weights of females and kits alike. However, do not become too reliant on them as daily weight fluctuations and disparities are quite normal and it is easy to become paranoid. Learn to SEE what constitutes a healthy chinchilla without always resorting to weights! Breeding chinchillas can be very enjoyable, but it is not without it’s complications, as with breeding any animal. It is wise to gain some degree of knowledge and understanding before venturing into the realms of hobby breeding. You do need to take into account the amount of separation and weaning cages you will need, sourcing and purchasing quality stock, maintaining accurate breeding records, possible veterinary care and it’s associated costs and also the time, effort and money involved with finding good homes for any surplus offspring. This takes a lot of time, money, understanding and effort - but if approached sensibly, it can be extremely rewarding.
  13. All wood should be taken from areas that have not been sprayed with chemicals. They should also be away from busy roads where car-exhausts won't have affected them. Thoroughly wash (in hot salted water) and allow to fully dry before giving it to the chins. If necessary, dry the wood in a warm oven. If your chin is not used to eating/chewing wood - give a tiny amount at first - and gradually increase it over a period of weeks. Be aware that some woods turn a chinchillas pee bright orange. This is nothing to worry about. The following are all regarded as safe - but if in doubt - don't feed it!! Apple, pear, medlar and hawthorn. Rose and bramble prunings are enjoyed (watch out - they may be too prickly for some chins) Elm Mulberry Poplar Aspen Ash Birch Lime (not the citrus wood - but the common UK Limetree) Sycamore Willow - with the exception of white willow. Hazel Pine wood is safe (kiln dried - not fresh pine) Thoroughly washed and dried "old" pinecones can also be given.
  14. Showing Chinchillas When a chinchilla is being judged at a show - the judges consider several main points - clarity, density, condition and conformation. Conformation - a show chin should be big and "blocky" in shape - and not "necky" (weak-necked) or "wedgy" (narrow at the shoulders). Clarity - the colour should always be a "clear" blue and not tinged or off-colour. Regardless of the colour, be it brown velvet, pink/white, ebony or pastel there should always be a blue "aura" to the colour. Any white (including the under-belly) should always be a persil-white and not yellowish or off-white. In standards, there should always be plenty of veiling or "tipping" to the fur, this may be described as "good veiling coverage". Density - the fur of the chinchilla should be very thick, silky, plush and strong and so packed-in that it stands up on its own and you can barely see the skin if it is parted. Some colours have a tendency to have silky, weak fur (such as self-blacks) that can flop around everywhere. Chinchillas that are weak-furred tend to "fall-open" at the hips (the fur parts at the hips). Condition - A chinchilla that is moulting (priming) - will not get as good an award as a chin that is in "prime" (finished moulting). A chinchilla that is not in best condition (this could be weather influenced) will "break-open" this is where the fur parts or "splits" at the sides or around the neck (this can also relate to the chinchillas fur-quality too). A good groom can sometimes prevent "splitting" but it is hard going to hide any "priming-lines" (a wave of fur that spreads out from the crown of the back, downwards across the chin in a horseshoe shape, as the chin moults or "primes". Preparation Keep the chinchilla in immaculate conditions from birth. A daily sandbath in fresh clean sand, and perhaps an occasional quick groom to remove the dead undercoat. No sandbaths any later than a day or two before the show. No food that may stain the fur!! Preparation On The Day Give the chin a final thorough groom ...................................... See "Grooming a Chinchilla" Once groomed, chinchillas are kept in their cages and not handled, as this will spoil the well groomed fur. Register your Chinchilla Dont forget to take a pen - as you will need to register your chin into a class ....... (you have to register before 10.30am) Main Classes A: Young standard females under 7 months. B: Young standard males under 7 months. C: Adult standard females 7 months and over. D: Adult standard males 7 months and over E: Young Mutations under 7 months. F: Adult Mutations 7 months and over. Novices can show in the same classes - but their cage cards will be suffixed with an "N" (for novice). There is a fee of £1 per chinchilla to enter into a show. You do have to be a National Chinchilla Society member to actually exhibit chinchillas - but all shows do welcome non-members as spectators (I believe it is possible to become an NCS member on the day too). The showing season is from September to March/April. This is for several reasons. Firstly this avoids the hotter weather, as chinchillas are extremely prone to heat-stress, and secondly, the chinchilla should have a more superior winter pelt at this time of year. Regional Shows are held throughout the season all around the UK. They then culminate in the best and final show of the year - The National Show!! So come along for a fun day out, there will be hot and cold refreshments, a raffle and, of course, experienced NCS members available to give full advice and support - not to mention some of the top UK chinchillas too!! Please see this site for more information ... http://www.natchinsoc.co.uk/
  15. Debbie


    Healthy Treats: Apple Tree & Hawthorn Twigs/Branches - should be cleaned in warm water. Once cleaned, the bark should be left on. You can give a twig or two daily, but branches will last a little longer. Chinchillas love to strip off and eat the bark, which provides an excellent fibrous treat that is good for the teeth. It closely resembles their natural diet too. Willow and hazel and other kinds of fruit tree wood (as long as the fruit DOES NOT contain stones) may also be given instead of apple wood. Hawthorn is relished too. Alfalfa Hay - May be given once or twice a week. High in calcium (although much of it is calcium oxalate) and protein too. A tasty and healthy treat. Readigrass or Supa Forage Excel - freeze-dried grass. Naturally contains the correct balance of calcium to phosphorus. A good source of fibre. An ideal treat and may be fed once or twice a week. Natural Liqourice Root - A very tough, fibrous treat, great for the teeth. A length about an inch or two long may be given once a week, if your chinchilla likes it (not all chinchillas do). Dried Herbs - a good pinch per chinchilla can be fed a few times a week too. Some herbs are full of phyto-nutrients and can provide a good source of vitamins and minerals. However, they can also have medicinal uses, so do check the suitability of your chosen treat before feeding it. Introduce all new foodstuff slowly, as usual. Shredded Wheat - has no added fat or sugar and makes a suitable treat for chinchillas, if fed in moderation. Treats that may be given Sparingly: Raisins and other dried fruit - Chinchillas will sell their souls for a raisin or other kind of fruit. However, they are usually preserved in a little vegetable oil, and if fed too much, the chinchilla may develop slightly soft or runny droppings. In fact, because of this, many breeders treat them as more of a medicine than a treat, and will give them to chinchillas who appear to be slightly constipated. Only the equivalent of a couple of raisins should be given weekly. The raisins (or other fruit) can be split into smaller pieces, in order to make them go a little further. Baked Dry Bread - I sometimes put sliced wholemeal bread into the oven, and bake it until it is dry and crunchy. I feed about a quarter of a slice per chinchilla as an occasional treat. Although the bread is actually quite a healthy treat, it should only be given occasionally as it is quite filling and the chinchillas may not eat up all their staple diet if too much is fed too often. Fresh Apple - If fed in excess can have slightly laxative properties. However, a thumb-sized piece once or twice a week is relished by most chinchillas. Treats to Avoid: Sunflower Seeds/Peanuts - Although some breeders say that they can be fed as a very occasional treat, I personally avoid them totally. Most seeds and nuts, such as sunflower seeds, peanuts, coconut, millet etc etc, are actually very high in fats and oils. Chinchillas should not be fed a diet that is high in fats, as it is too rich for their delicate digestive system. With so many other more healthy alternatives, there should be no need to feed them to chinchillas at all, and chinchillas will certainly not miss them. If they simply must be fed as a treat, then do so a sparingly as possible, as infrequently as possble. Green Foods - Foods such as broccoli, lettuce and fresh grass etc, should not be fed to chinchillas. They can (and have) caused bloat in chinchillas and therefore, should be avoided. Commercially Made Treats - Some types of chinchilla treats available in petshops are actually quite unsuitable. Try to avoid anything that contains seeds, nuts, oils and sugars as these will not be healthy for your chinchilla. Human Food - Once again, although chinchillas LOVE biscuits and cereals etc, please use your common sense when feeding them. Biscuits are extremely high in fat and sugar, and you are not doing your chinchilla any favours if you feed them regularly. Some sugar-coated cereals should be avoided too.
  16. Here are some useful terminology and meanings. Homozygous - two identical alleles on the corresponding gene loci. Heterozygous - two different alleles on the corresponding gene loci. Phenotype - an animals appearance/charactisterics Genotype - an animals genetic makeup Mutation - in this case, any colour that is not Standard Chromosome - Structures in a cell's nucleus that house the genes (chinchillas have 64!!) Allele - one of two alternate forms of a gene that can have the same locus on chromosomes. They may be responsible for alternative traits - i.e. some alleles are dominant over others. Locus - A locus describes the position of a gene on a chromosome. A locus can be occupied by any of the alleles of the gene. (Leading us - once again to the term homozygous = (have the same allele at a locus) or heterozygous = (have different alleles at a locus). TOV - An American term "Touch of Velvet" meaning a chinchilla with the "Velvet" gene Standard - Standard Grey - the natural colour of chinchillas Lethal Gene Factor - certain colours (white and velvet) are not viable if homozygous for that colour (i.e. they can only exist in the heterozygous state). These colours are said to have a "lethal factor". Carrier - A chinchilla of any particular phenotype may "carry" a single gene for another colour. i.e. may be a heterozygous carrier for a recessive colour. Recessive colours are only expressed in the homozygous state (when a chinchilla inherits both genes). A chinchilla can carry more than one recessive colour - if bred to do so. Recessive Inheritance - Two chinchillas carrying one recessive gene, although carriers, are not violet coloured - as they only have one gene apiece (recessive colours only express themselves in the homozygous (2 gene) state). Dominant Inheritance - One parent has a single, dominant gene (i.e. black velvet) - which appears phenotypically. When the parent mates with a "normal" or standard (non-carrying) mate, the offspring will either be Black velvet or standard, but they are never carriers as the dominant gene cannot be carried.
  17. Signs of Over-Heating Ears may flush bright red as the capillaries dilate. Chinchillas tend to lie down on their sides in the heat of the day, but should always be responsive. Any chinchilla lying down that is not responsive should be checked immediately. Breathing may become shallow and rapid. In severe cases, the chinchilla may lose consciousness and be limp and floppy when handled. Or it may be convulsing. Emergency Treatment As a last resort, you can attempt the following if a chinchilla has become severely over-heated. Immerse the chinchilla up to the neck in tepid (NOT COLD) water, to bring down its core-temperature. When the chinchilla regains consciousness and becomes more coherent, remove it from the water, and wrap it in a towel to remove some excess water and leave it in a secure, cool and dark place with minimal disturbance to get over the shock and stress. You can offer some rehydration solution (such as Diaoralyte - available from chemists and mixed according to the instructions on the packet) either from a syringe or water bottle. But do not force the chinchilla to drink, as this will only cause further stress. Seek veterinary advice via telephone, before risking a stressful journey. We are often caught out, one way or another, by our fickle weather, and because of this it is a good idea for the chinchilla owner to keep one eye on the weather forecasts and to be prepared for that sudden, unexpected "heatwave". As with many things, prevention is far better than any cure. Keeping chinchillas as quiet and cool as possible on those hot summer days will prevent an emergency situation from arising.
  18. Many people (including myself) have come across the odd kit that appears to have been born dead. It may not be breathing and appear to be rather chilled and lifeless. Usually, our first reaction is to pick up the poor kit - examine it for signs of life - and when we find none - give it up for dead. However, if the kit has only recently been born - you can try to revive it. Here are some tips: You need to keep the kit warm and stimulate it's breathing and blood circulation. The easiest way to do this is to rub the kits (fairly vigorously) in a soft towel - starting with it's head down to help drain any birth fluids from it's lungs. You can also try gently swinging the kit ("banana-swing") - with a straight arm - to try to clear it's lungs of fluids - but DONT shake the poor thing. If it is chilled - some breeders recommend immersing the kit (not it's head though) in warm water - to raise it's body temperature. I have found the towel method is better - as you also need to get the kits circulation going as soon a possible. Keep going - don't give up after 5 minutes. Alternate between the warm water and firm but gentle towelling if you wish. DO NOT try breathing into it's nose or mouth - we have much much bigger lungs than a tiny kit - and you will only do damage. As a last resort you can try blowing at it's nose from a distance of a few inches. DO NOT try to feed it any brandy either!! Many breeders have successfully revived kits that have appeared to be stillborn - and it is always worth giving it a try.
  19. I have had 100% success when fostering - with an age gap gap of no more than 4 weeks between the foster mothers own kits and the orphan/s - (but you ideally want them as close to the same age as possible). I always try to use females that have only had only ONE kit of their own, at a push, two, as I find older kits can gang-up and bully smaller orphans, (but if mum has adequate milk and the kits are all of a similar age, then she should be able to rear three kits in total with few problems). I remove the females own kit/s into a small box, and put the orphan/s in with them. They are then left for an hour or two, for their scents to intermingle. Some soiled bedding can be added to the box to assist with this. When some time has elapsed, orphan/s are put in with the female first and allowed to settle and bond with the female, as undisturbed as possible. If all looks OK, then her own kit/s are returned. Monitor everything closely and ensure that the kits are not squabbling too much (a little barging around at first is normal). The females milk should increase on demand to allow for the extra kit/s, but this may take a day or two, so rotational or supplimental feeding may also be needed until the milk supply compensates. Just one word of caution though, dont expect miracles from a foster mother and dont expect her to rear more than 3 kits in total (including her own).
  20. This is only an option if the dam is producing milk. On occasions when triplets (or more) are born, the larger, stronger kits feed well, but the smaller kits (runts?) do not get a look-in and are fought off by the larger kits. This is where rotating them is very useful. I remove the larger well-fed kits for up to two hours at a time, allowing the weaker kit/s to suckle undisturbed. The larger kits are placed in a secure, warm box with a soft towel to snuggle into, whilst the smaller kits take their turn with mum, unmolested. The kits need to be rotated every 2 hours or so during the day and at least 2 or 3 times at night for the first fortnight (always remembering to return the larger kits when the smaller ones have had their allocated time with mum). After the first fortnight you can gradually cut down on the nightly rotations. Then over the next few weeks (until they are weaned around 8 weeks old) you can gradually reduce the daily rotations. If the kits are not fighting, then the weaker kits can be left in with the dam all the time and only the stronger kits are removed. If there is continual fighting, then the weaker kits need to be removed when the stronger kits are returned, for their own safety. This is when you may need to hand-feed the weaker kits with some additional feeds yourself, a few times a day, in order for them to thrive. The Pros: The dam does all the cleaning and looking-after of the kits for you. There is no equipment to sterilise and prepare. There is no milk formula to make up. The Cons: You still may have to handfeed the kits yourself a couple of times a day. Rotation only works if the dam has milk. You still have to get up during the night. Not much good if you have to work full-time.
  21. I have succesfully hand-reared many kits on the evaporated milk formula to date, even though chinchillas are lactose-intolerant. However, if you do get problems (such as the kits getting upset tummies) then try kitten milk instead of evaporated milk. Here is my method - although other chinnie owners may have other methods that work equally well: Formula: One part evaporated milk Two parts cooled boiled water One pinch of glucose One drop of abidec vitamins (Optional: you can also add a pinch of probiotics to the formula if necessary - to maintain a healthy gut flora) N.B. Some websites appear to recommend using condensed milk!!! This is completely wrong - and only evaporated milk should be used!!! I keep the evaporated milk in a sterile sealed tuppaware container in the refrigerator - it will keep fresh for 3 days this way. I always make up a fresh formula with each feed (the kits seem to prefer this) and never re-warm a formula for another feed. I also sterilise all the equipment, containers and pipettes between each feed with milton fluid (according to the instructions) just as you would for a human baby. Make sure you are sterilising everything thoroughly - as milk is an excellent breeding-ground for bacteria. If your kits do develop diarrhoea you can give them a few drops of paediatric kaolin before each feed - this usually sorts it out quickly - or try diluting the milk a little more until their tummies are back to normal. If all this fails then you may have to try them on kitten milk instead. Diarrhoea can dehydrate kits very quickly - which will make them feel unwell so they wont feel like drinking any fluids - which makes things worse - a kind of "catch 22" situation. So you need to sort out any diarrhoea VERY quickly - i.e within six hours if possible. Bring the formula up to blood temperature when feeding - I do this by standing the formula in a bowl of warm water to warm up slightly - if you feed the milk too cold it can give them tummy-ache. I also "top & tail" the kits with every feed using a dampened cotton wool ball. After the first week I make solid food available to the kits - if they wish to try eating it. At two weeks old I have observed kits "tasting" water from mums water bottle - so you can at least offer orphans a water bottle at this age - even if they ignore it. Make sure you are sitting somewhere comfortable and have everything you need to hand. If you are relaxed and settled the kits seem to sense this and will drink more. Give them as much formula as they will happily drink - once they start pushing the pipette away - then stop - they have had enough. Avoid getting milk into their noses at all costs. If they start blowing milk-bubbles from the nose - that means they have breathed some milk in - you may have fed the milk too quickly - if this happens - stop feeding them - wipe the milk away from their nose - and return them to their "home" to recover for half an hour before trying again. First two weeks: Every two hours they will need a feed. Two to four weeks: Every three to four hours (depending on the kits appetite and weight-gain). Four to six weeks: Every four to six hours (you can start cutting out the night feeds). Six to eight weeks: Every six hours (four feeds a day). You can also start gradually diluting the formula with more water to start to wean the kits off the milk. By eight weeks: They should be virtually weaned off milk by now but if they still want a feed or two a day then you can continue until they are ten weeks old. I usually try to wean them by eight to ten weeks - but usually they decide when to wean themselves!
  22. Using a medium-gauge chinchilla grooming comb - starting from the head, comb the coat in the direction of the tail - gently removing dead undercoat. If you encounter any snags or tangles - tease them out gently from the tips working down to the roots - don't just drag the tangles out. Make sure you do groom around the chest and hindquarters - but there is no need to groom the belly. Once you have gently de-tangled the chinchilla from head to tail - then work from tail to head - grooming the chinchilla's fur backwards in the direction of the head. Once the chinchilla has been groomed, I then use my hand to firmly stroke the chinchilla backwards from tail to head. This helps to remove any loose hairs that may be sitting on the top of the fur after grooming - and will detract from the overall appearance of the animal. A final tidy with the comb through the tips of the fur - backwards from tail to head again. When you have finished grooming - place the chinchilla on a solid surface (careful not to touch the beautifully groomed fur) - and grasp the tail, close to the body (this will not hurt) - lift the hindquarters a little and very gently and lightly "shake" the chinchilla. This does not harm the chinchilla in the slightest - apart from being a little undignified - and merely serves to drop out any "grooming lines" that the comb may have made, as well has helping the fur to fall back into place. Gently place the chinchilla into the show cage, ready for the judging!
  23. Gestation Calendar A chinchilla's gestation, following a successful mating, is about 111 days. January Mating Birth January 1 April 22 January 2 April 23 January 3 April 24 January 4 April 25 January 5 April 26 January 6 April 27 January 7 April 28 January 8 April 29 January 9 April 30 January 10 May 1 January 11 May 2 January 12 May 3 January 13 May 4 January 14 May 5 January 15 May 6 January 16 May 7 January 17 May 8 January 18 May 9 January 19 May 10 January 20 May 11 January 21 May 12 January 22 May 13 January 23 May 14 January 24 May 15 January 25 May 16 January 26 May 17 January 27 May 18 January 28 May 19 January 29 May 20 January 30 May 21 January 31 May 22 February Mating Birth February 1 May 23 February 2 May 24 February 3 May 25 February 4 May 26 February 5 May 27 February 6 May 28 February 7 May 29 February 8 May 30 February 9 May 31 February 10 June 1 February 11 June 2 February 12 June 3 February 13 June 4 February 14 June 5 February 15 June 6 February 16 June 7 February 17 June 8 February 18 June 9 February 19 June 10 February 20 June 11 February 21 June 12 February 22 June 13 February 23 June 14 February 24 June 15 February 25 June 16 February 26 June 17 February 27 June 18 February 28 June 19 March Mating Birth March 1 June 20 March 2 June 21 March 3 June 22 March 4 June 23 March 5 June 24 March 6 June 25 March 7 June 26 March 8 June 27 March 9 June 28 March 10 June 29 March 11 June 30 March 12 July 1 March 13 July 2 March 14 July 3 March 15 July 4 March 16 July 5 March 17 July 6 March 18 July 7 March 19 July 8 March 20 July 9 March 21 July 10 March 22 July 11 March 23 July 12 March 24 July 13 March 25 July 14 March 26 July 15 March 27 July 16 March 28 July 17 March 29 July 18 March 30 July 19 March 31 July 20 April Mating Birth April 1 July 21 April 2 July 22 April 3 July 23 April 4 July 24 April 5 July 25 April 6 July 26 April 7 July 27 April 8 July 28 April 9 July 29 April 10 July 30 April 11 July 31 April 12 August 1 April 13 August 2 April 14 August 3 April 15 August 4 April 16 August 5 April 17 August 6 April 18 August 7 April 19 August 8 April 20 August 9 April 21 August 10 April 22 August 11 April 23 August 12 April 24 August 13 April 25 August 14 April 26 August 15 April 27 August 16 April 28 August 17 April 29 August 18 April 30 August 19 May Mating Birth May 1 August 20 May 2 August 21 May 3 August 22 May 4 August 23 May 5 August 24 May 6 August 25 May 7 August 26 May 8 August 27 May 9 August 28 May 10 August 29 May 11 August 30 May 12 August 31 May 13 September 1 May 14 September 2 May 15 September 3 May 16 September 4 May 17 September 5 May 18 September 6 May 19 September 7 May 20 September 8 May 21 September 9 May 22 September 10 May 23 September 11 May 24 September 12 May 25 September 13 May 26 September 14 May 27 September 15 May 28 September 16 May 29 September 17 May 30 September 18 May 31 September 19 June Mating Birth June 1 September 20 June 2 September 21 June 3 September 22 June 4 September 23 June 5 September 24 June 6 September 25 June 7 September 26 June 8 September 27 June 9 September 28 June 10 September 29 June 11 September 30 June 12 October 1 June 13 October 2 June 14 October 3 June 15 October 4 June 16 October 5 June 17 October 6 June 18 October 7 June 19 October 8 June 20 October 9 June 21 October 10 June 22 October 11 June 23 October 12 June 24 October 13 June 25 October 14 June 26 October 15 June 27 October 16 June 28 October 17 June 29 October 18 June 30 October 19 July Mating Birth July 1 October 20 July 2 October 21 July 3 October 22 July 4 October 23 July 5 October 24 July 6 October 25 July 7 October 26 July 8 October 27 July 9 October 28 July 10 October 29 July 11 October 30 July 12 October 31 July 13 November 1 July 14 November 2 July 15 November 3 July 16 November 4 July 17 November 5 July 18 November 6 July 19 November 7 July 20 November 8 July 21 November 9 July 22 November 10 July 23 November 11 July 24 November 12 July 25 November 13 July 26 November 14 July 27 November 15 July 28 November 16 July 29 November 17 July 30 November 18 July 31 November 19 August Mating Birth August 1 November 20 August 2 November 21 August 3 November 22 August 4 November 23 August 5 November 24 August 6 November 25 August 7 November 26 August 8 November 27 August 9 November 28 August 10 November 29 August 11 November 30 August 12 December 1 August 13 December 2 August 14 December 3 August 15 December 4 August 16 December 5 August 17 December 6 August 18 December 7 August 19 December 8 August 20 December 9 August 21 December 10 August 22 December 11 August 23 December 12 August 24 December 13 August 25 December 14 August 26 December 15 August 27 December 16 August 28 December 17 August 29 December 18 August 30 December 19 August 31 December 20 September Mating Birth September 1 December 21 September 2 December 22 September 3 December 23 September 4 December 24 September 5 December 25 September 6 December 26 September 7 December 27 September 8 December 28 September 9 December 29 September 10 December 30 September 11 December 31 September 12 January 1 September 13 January 2 September 14 January 3 September 15 January 4 September 16 January 5 September 17 January 6 September 18 January 7 September 19 January 8 September 20 January 9 September 21 January 10 September 22 January 11 September 23 January 12 September 24 January 13 September 25 January 14 September 26 January 15 September 27 January 16 September 28 January 17 September 29 January 18 September 30 January 19 October Mating Birth October 1 January 20 October 2 January 21 October 3 January 22 October 4 January 23 October 5 January 24 October 6 January 25 October 7 January 26 October 8 January 27 October 9 January 28 October 10 January 29 October 11 January 30 October 12 January 31 October 13 February 1 October 14 February 2 October 15 February 3 October 16 February 4 October 17 February 5 October 18 February 6 October 19 February 7 October 20 February 8 October 21 February 9 October 22 February 10 October 23 February 11 October 24 February 12 October 25 February 13 October 26 February 14 October 27 February 15 October 28 February 16 October 29 February 17 October 30 February 18 October 31 February 19 November Mating Birth November 1 February 20 November 2 February 21 November 3 February 22 November 4 February 23 November 5 February 24 November 6 February 25 November 7 February 26 November 8 February 27 November 9 February 28 November 10 March 1 November 11 March 2 November 12 March 3 November 13 March 4 November 14 March 5 November 15 March 6 November 16 March 7 November 17 March 8 November 18 March 9 November 19 March 10 November 20 March 11 November 21 March 12 November 22 March 13 November 23 March 14 November 24 March 15 November 25 March 16 November 26 March 17 November 27 March 18 November 28 March 19 November 29 March 20 November 30 March 21 December Mating Birth December 1 March 22 December 2 March 23 December 3 March 24 December 4 March 25 December 5 March 26 December 6 March 27 December 7 March 28 December 8 March 29 December 9 March 30 December 10 March 31 December 11 April 1 December 12 April 2 December 13 April 3 December 14 April 4 December 15 April 5 December 16 April 6 December 17 April 7 December 18 April 8 December 19 April 9 December 20 April 10 December 21 April 11 December 22 April 12 December 23 April 13 December 24 April 14 December 25 April 15 December 26 April 16 December 27 April 17 December 28 April 18 December 29 April 19 December 30 April 20 December 31 April 21
  24. Some male chins are more prone to hair rings than others. Breeding males should be regularly checked - especially if they are "novice breeders". However, males that are not used for breeding can still get hair rings too - and should periodically (monthly) be briefly examined. Usually the first symptom of a hair ring will be that the penis will look rather swollen, maybe a red or purple colour too (congested). The foreskin may not be covering the penis in the usual way either and the male may be licking at himself more than usual, and in severe cases he may sit hunched up, reluctant to eat or move. A normal looking penis will be the usual skin-colour for your chin, and will look "pointy" - this this the foreskin completely covering the penis. To perform a full examination ............... 1. Two pairs of hands are easier than one - unless you are experienced at doing this. 2. Restrain the chin in a suitable way - wrapping in a towel can help 3. Application of cold water can help reduce any swelling prior to checking - but do be careful not to cause freezer-burns by applying ice directly onto such a tender anatomical part!! 4. Liberally apply a water-soluable lubrication to the penis - such as KY 5. Gently push the foreskin back 6. Whilst holding the foreskin back - gently pull the penis out of the sheath - it kind of "telescopes" outwards 7. If no fur ring is visible - then apply a little more lubrication - and gently push the penis back in-situ. If you do see a fur-ring - then GENTLY remove it with your fingers - by gradually "teasing" it apart. This is safer than using scissors. Be very careful when removing a fur-ring and use plenty of lubricant. 8. When you are sure that there is no fur-ring. Carefully pull the foreskin down, back over the penis - making sure it is fully covered - and "pointy-looking" again. ALWAYS PERFORM THIS PROCEDURE WITH THE UTMOST CARE OR SERIOUS DAMAGE CAN RESULT Some breeders do not retract the penis after removal of the ring. Instead they prefer to allow the penis to retract itself - and that way they know all is well. However, if it does not retract then assistance (and veterinary advice) is needed - as some damage has obviously resulted. If a chin is suspected of having a fur ring - it should never be left - as it can restrict the blood-flow to the penis - causing it to atrophy - which is extremely painful and requires major surgery and can even be fatal.
  25. "Wetters" I have only come across this problem once in 17 years. With me, it was with a male charcoal kit who I aptly named Piddle. At the time I rang around lots of experienced breeders to see if anyone else had heard of this problem, and only found one other breeder (Brenda from Brenvics Chinchillas) who had dealt with a similar condition (I have since heard of several other cases in the UK in the last 2-3 years). I have also recently read of the condition in a 1960's Ranchers Handbook, where the kits are described as "wetters". It appears "wetters" were first documented in the 1940's on a ranch in Virginia, USA. It is basically a genetic deformity of the urinary system, resulting in incontinance. The entire belly is usually soaked in urine, and the chin becpmes very smelly. It is incurable, sadly. If incontinence is diagnosed (by a vet) then you will need to ensure that the chin is kept as clean and comfortable as possible by ensuring that the fur is clipped short, as it will only get soiled and matted. Wash the chins belly once or twice a day with a mild antiseptic solution (hibiscrub), diluted in warm water. Thoroughly dry the chin with a hair-dryer on a cool setting (quicker and more thorough than a towel). Then apply some Sudocrem cream on the skin (sparingly), to avoid urine scald. There is little a vet can do with this condition (as a chinchilla is too small to perform a "re-plumbing" operation on). So the owner will need to ensure that an affected chin is kept clean, dry and comfortable. N.B. Mild incontinance can also be caused by infection (i.e. cystitis) or bladder stones. Veterinary treatment/diagnosis is essential. This type of mild (temporary) incontinance usually clears up after appropriate treatment.
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