Fur Issues in Chinchillas – Matting & Bald Patches

Chinchillas are generally one of the cleanest animals you could wish to own.  There’s a reason why chinchilla fur is so sought after – and it’s because it’s the softest, densest and most wonderful animal pelt imaginable.  If it was possible to pick up a cloud, it would probably feel like chinchilla fur.

In a happy, healthy chinchilla the coat will remain soft, silky, clean and dry.  But should you ever see a chinchilla that has areas of matted, broken or clumpy fur, then alarm bells should start to ring.   Fur problems can be an early sign that something is not well with your chinchilla.

Matted, bald patches or broken fur in chinnies can occur due to a number of issues.  They include the following:

—  Behavioral issues

—  Environmental issues

—  Illness or physical issues

Behavioral Issues

On occasions some chinchillas will begin to bite at their fur (or the fur of their companions).  This will firstly show up as areas of shorter fur, and the fur might appear wet and become matted.  There are many schools of thought as to why some chinchillas develop this habit, although none have been definitively proven.  Likely causes include

  • Boredom
  • Stress
  • Poor diet
  • Unwanted noise

If you suspect that fur biting is the cause, then careful observation of your chinchilla should reveal that this is the case.  Although it’s not believed to be particularly harmful to the chinnie, it spoils the smooth look of their coat – plus it’s not very nice to think that your chinchilla might not be particularly happy.

Ensure that you feed the best diet possible, make sure that your chinchilla’s home is in a quiet location and that he or she has enough toys to play with and play time.  If you think boredom might be the issue then try to up the attention he gets.  Maybe you could consider getting him a companion or even think about getting a TV to help keep him amused (see last week’s blog for more details on this).

Environment Issues

Chinchillas don’t do well in environments of high humidity.  If his surroundings are too hot or too humid this can cause the fur to clump.  It can also occur if a chinchilla doesn’t have the ability to have regular dust baths, which they should be allowed to do at least two or three times per week.  Dust baths are the chinchilla’s natural way of keeping the oils in his coat evenly distributed, as well as keeping himself well groomed.

Illness or Physical Issues

Clumping fur can also be a sign of minor or major underlying health issues.  For instance, a fungal infection can be indicated by either inflamed bald patches, or areas of broken and thin fur.

Matted fur around the hind quarters of a chinchilla can be an indication of a fairly serious tooth issue, meaning he’s unable to groom himself correctly.  Wet or matted areas around the mouth or bottom area of a chinchilla can also signify various health issues.

Any of these types of fur clumping or fur issues need further investigation by a chinchilla savvy veterinarian.  Remember, chinchillas are prey animals by nature, and are extremely adept at hiding signs of illness.  It’s far better to get your chinchilla checked out earlier rather than later, when an illness or health problem has had chance to progress.

Of course, this is not a definitive list of why a chinchilla might suffer from clumping fur, broken areas or bald patches.  If you’re at all worried about your little one then it’s best to seek expert advice.

Till next time – love those chinnies…

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Jacki
 

Jacki has shared her life with small pets and other animals for, well – pretty much forever! Always keen to absorb as much knowledge as possible about animal care, Jacki enjoys sharing her years of experience with like-minded people, and helping to ensure that pets and animals everywhere are healthy, happy and bring as much joy as possible to their owners.