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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Comments

  1. says

    Just what I was looking for. My dear chinchilla has a bald patch on his leg that’s getting worse and worse. We just moved and with the Holidays and everything I think she’s been under some stress. Thanks for all the info – especially the TV idea!

  2. Laurie Ostroff says

    Many breeders and ranchers firmly believe that genetics play a significant role in fur chewing as well. I’m surprised you didn’t include that.

    • says

      Thanks for pointing this out. As we say – SPS is a community, and that more people that interact the better. So thanks for taking the time out to reply.

  3. Ashley says

    I got a rescued chinchilla a couple of years ago and he has always had matted hair on his butt. I’ve cut as much of the mats out as I can but he doesn’t like to be handled. He doesn’t look to have any other issues besides the hair. We keep his cage very clean and dry. He also gets a dust bath a few times a week. Any ideas?

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