We know… it’s kind of an awkward topic, but it shouldn’t be, because they happen. And can be serious if left untreated. Chinchilla hair rings are a thing.
Male chinchillas can develop hair rings around their penises. They’re actually a pretty big concern; the ring can has the potential to get tight enough to restrict urination, effect circulation and cause some serious pain. And none of these things are obviously anything that we want for our little ones.
It’s actually more common for males that are breeding to get hair rings, but every male can develop them (fleece cage liners could be the culprit, too) and they need to be removed immediately. If you’re a male chin owner, protocol should be to do hair ring checks at least once a month. Male chinchillas do clean the area independently, but sometimes hair rings will develop that require human help to remove.
HOW TO HELP YOUR MALE CHIN REMOVE HIS HAIR RING
Hold your chinchilla with their back against your chest and gently pull on the sheath. To do this, ease the sheath back until the tip of the penis is exposed. Then, grasp the tip (gentle, guys!), between two fingers and gently pull until the entire penis is visible. Once the chinchilla hair ring is exposed, carefully pick at the hair ring until all hair is removed from the penis. Then, carefully place the penis back in it’s sheath. If it’s dry, it may need a little assistance or lubrication. For lots of owners, it’s much easier to use two people during the check process, so keep this in mind.
Monitor your chin after, to make sure he’s doing okay. (Watch for issues with urination, pain, circulation issues.) If redness or swelling occurs, or the penis won’t fully retract into the sheath, you’ll need to get to your exotic veterinarian for them to be checked out… and to treat a possible infection.
It’s really, really important to remember that chinchilla hair ring checks should be done at least once a month. Don’t skip them, even if they’re cleaning the area themselves. Any time a male is having trouble urinating (or changes urinating habits i.e. uses shelves when he previously did not) or cleans the area excessively… check for a hair ring before you go into panic mode. Because it could very likely be the culprit.