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Chinchilla Bumblefoot

chinchilla bumblefoot

With special thanks to Katherine Milligan and Amy Ogilvie

Bumblefoot in chinchillas. What the heck is it? I mean, it definitely sounds quirky. It almost sounds kind of like a cute nickname. But it's not pretty, and it's not a nickname. Chinchilla bumblefoot is defined as an infection or inflammation of the footpad(s) and connective tissues of the foot. A callous will often grow on the bottom of the feet, and a crack will form. (And it’s not that unusual in the animal world.) The footpad may be red or swollen. If there’s an infection, too, you may see blood or pus (think abscess). If the abscess breaks, the sore has the potential to heal over, and more scar tissue could form, making the footpad even larger and more uncomfortable for your beloved pet.

Chinchilla graphic

Symptoms obviously present on a case-by-case basis, but an exotic vet visit is in order ASAP if you notice anything off. 

Suppose chinchilla bumblefoot isn’t caught in time (or goes untreated). In that case, the infection can penetrate into the foot tissue and extend to tendons and into the bone. It absolutely needs to be treated immediately before it becomes a worse problem that can seriously harm your chin.  

Chinchilla Bumblefoot Causes

The cause isn’t easy to exactly pinpoint if it happens to your little chin. Still, some factors can definitely contribute. 

  • Enclosure flooring: Wire flooring and fleece are super-hot topics concerning bumblefoot. Wire flooring puts continuous pressure on feet, potentially irritating them significantly, causing infection or inflammation. Unsanitary conditions caused by urine in fleece play a role, too. Bacteria present + a cut or sore in the foot = potential abscesses. 
  • Health and genetics: Diabetes, obesity, and a genetic predisposition to bumblefoot are also notable causes.
  • Lack of floor time: Chinchillas are just like any other furbaby and need time to run around. If you don't allow enough out-of-cage time, chinchilla bumblefoot is a severe problem. 

How is it Treated?

Different ways. And this is why you should see your veterinarian quickly to come up with a plan of action. 

Potential Options

  • Systemic antibiotics (treating the infection internally) combined with a topical ointment is an effective option.
  • Liquid bandages to treat externally are also an option.
  • There are so many different ointments on the market, and we’re not prepared to recommend anything specific. That’s for your veterinarian (and for you) to decide. 



In the enclosure

After treatment, you also absolutely need to make sure your chin’s cage is super clean with lots of our bedding too. Amy from Small Pet Select Customer Service said, “I like our bedding because it absorbs the urine. Also, Mochi, my chin, has very little interest in eating it after discovering it's not that fun tasting 🤣.”

Mochi sleeping
Mochi and Small Pet Select Bedding

Mochi enjoying her Small Pet Select Bedding.

Photo credit: Amy Ogilvie

Floor time

Chinchillas in the wild so rarely have bumblefoot because they're not on the same terrain all the time. Also, they’re obviously not stuck in their cage. More from Amy: 

“I've always set up my bathroom or office area with enrichment boxes filled with stuff for them to dig in and find treats and a couple climbing stations. Bedding, rocks, pet safe paper, untreated wood planks; all are some fun options for them that also keep their feet healthy ❤.”

We're all ears graphic

Chinchilla bumblefoot shouldn’t be taken lightly. It’s a serious issue, and if left untreated, it will become more advanced. Keep an eye on your little chin's feet. Check 'em on the reg. Make it a habit. You deserve peace of mind. And they deserve the care.

DISCLAIMER: The links and information are being provided as a convenience and for informational purposes only; they do not constitute an endorsement or an approval by Small Pet Select of any of the products, services or opinions of the corporation or organization or individual.

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