There are two species of chinchillas long-tailed chinchillas (Chinchilla Lanigera) and short tailed chinchillas (Chinchilla Brevicaudata).
They are native to the Andes Mountains in South America. They live in colonies called herds.
Chinchillas were hunted nearly to extinction for their pelts. The domestic chinchilla is descended from the long tailed chinchilla. The domestic chinchilla comes in 3 tapes; La-plata, costina and raton.
The gestation period is 111 days, longer than the most rodents. Due to the long pregnancy, chinchillas are born with open eyes and fully furred. Litter size can be from 1-6 babies with an average of two. Individual babies are called kits. New born kits can weigh anything from 35g to almost 100g. Baby chinchillas are normally weaned at eight weeks. Chinchillas can live anything from 10 years to 20 years in captivity.
Why do chinchillas eat their own poop
The large intestine absorbs what it can, but much of the nutrients made available by fermentation are lost in faeces. The cecum makes a poo called cecotropes. Cecotropes are nutritionally concentrated and full of beneficial bacteria. This is the poop that chinchillas will ingest. It might seem gross but is very important for their health. That provide nutrition and help maintain a healthy gut flora.
Feeding your chinchilla
This brings us to the fact that chinchillas should have food at all times. Chinchilla pellets are not the most important part of feeding only one or two table spoons of chinchilla pellets a day are enough. Timothy feeding hay is the most important part of feeding. Feeding hay is very important for the digestive system.
Be sure to provide the food where they can’t choose what to eat. By choosing can turn into a bad and unhealthy habit for your chinchilla that is not good for its health, digestive system and teeth.
Alfalfa hay (Lusern ) is too rich in calcium and not to be fed to much, it can cause bladder stone in chinchillas. To feed alfalfa three times a week would be enough. Don’t use alfalfa hay as bedding.
Chinchillas don’t drink a lot of water, but they do need clean fresh water daily. We prefer glass drinking bottles due to hygiene. Don’t use tap water use bottled water or good filtrated water. Food bowls can be ceramic, glass or stainless steel for hygiene.
Dust bath are very important for your chinchilla. By doing this they remove the exes oils from their fur, and it helps maintain a good looking healthy fur. They need to bathe at least four times a week, but it’s better to keep the sand bathe in the cage if possible.
Cages should be cleaned at least twice a week. Dirty cages can cause serious health risks like stress, ringworm and other bacterial infections.
If you change from one food to another you need to do it gradually, not to cause an imbalance that could cause bloating (gas). Gastrointestinal (GI) problems in chinchillas occurs secondary to other illness and to other conditions that cause stress of pain. Chinchillas with GI may have decrease appetite, decreased to no stool production, diarrhea , prolapsed rectal tissue and a bloating gas filled belly. Several causes of GI disease in chinchillas exist, including sudden diet change, feeding excessive amount of carbohydrates (typically chinchilla pellets) or vegetables. A treatment with antibiotics or GI parasite infection can also cause bloating.
Chinchillas don’t get sick very easily. By the time you can see something is wrong, it can be very serious. Do not hesitate take your chinchilla to the vet as soon as possible.
Malocclusion teeth disorder
Chinchillas have twenty teeth, 4 incisor teeth and 16 molars. There are five teeth upper left and five teeth lower left and the same for the right side. Malocclusion is one of the worst things that can happen to a chinchilla. It is a life threatening and often a fatal disorder that effects the alignment and growth of teeth. This can be genetically or wrong feeding.
To help prevent malocclusion make sure you are feeding the right type of food, and enough good quality feeding hay and safe materials to gnaw on. Healthy chinchilla teeth would have a orange colour.
Signs of Malocclusion
Chinchillas are common carriers of ringworm. This is a fungal skin infection that causes hair loss and scaly skin. Ringworm can transmit to people or other pets, so treat it immediately.
Stress, heat stress, damp air, bad ventilation and dirty cages are some of the causes of ringworm. With the lack of cleaning your cages, the risk of ringworm infection is much higher due to the moist levels caused by urine. Contact your exotic vet to provide you with the wright treatment.
Chinchillas came from the Andes Mountains of Chilly South America where it is cool and dry.
Chinchillas don’t have sweat glands therefor they cannot sweat to control body heat resulting in overheating. Breeders normally keep their chinchillas around 22-24’C and in a dry environment.
Chinchillas should not be in direct sunlight where they cannot escape to a cooler place. Ice bottles or frozen clay tiles can be used in cages to help cool chins down. Fans can also work by circulating the air, but the best option is a air conditioner on very hot days.
Chinchillas with heat stroke need to be treated immediately, because of the risk for stroke, organ failure, brain injury or death.
Hair ring are a condition that develops in male chinchillas. A hair ring develops around the foreskin of the penis and causes a serious complication, including inability to mate with a female. This can also cause urinating problems.
Basic Chinchilla colour and genetics
In the wild chinchillas are usually grey. This original grey colour is genetically the most
important colour in a breading herd. This gene is recessive to beige, black velvet and white. It is weakly dominant with ebony. But it is also dominant to sapphire and violet. Standard grey chinchillas are genetically
This describes the inheritance patterns of certain trades. Also describe how likely it is for certain phenotype to pass from a parent to offspring.
Sexually reproducing species have two copies of each gene. The two copies called, alleles they can be slightly different from each other. These differences can cause variations in the protein that is produced. They can change protein expression; when, where and how much protein is made. Proteins effects triads, so variations in protein activity or expression can produce different phenotypes.
A dominant allele which can come from just one parent
For a recessive allele to produce a recessive phenotype the individual must have two copies, one from each parent.
An individual with one dominant and one recessive allele for a gene will have a dominant phenotype. They are generally considered carriers of the recessive allele. The recessive allele is there but not the recessive phenotype.
It is a dominant gene. A, hetero beige is genetically beige plus standard. A, homo beige is genetically beige plus beige
This means that homo beige have two beige genes.
This is an incomplete dominant gene. White mosaic, Wilson white and silver chinchillas are genetically the same by meaning it is white plus standard. This gene can’t exist in the homozygous state due to the lethal factor.
Also a dominant gene referred to as TOV (Touch of Velvet) or Gunning black. This gene is a gene for colour pattern rather than colour.
This gene is more for colour pattern then actual colour. It darkens any colour that it is combined with. This creates the “wrap around effect”. Ebony is genetically ebony plus ebony and hetero ebony is ebony plus standard.
Carriers inherited the gene, from one parent.
This means that the chinchilla carries a gene for another colour, but it is not visible.
The recessive mutations, known as carriers includes the Royal Persian angora gene. This gene can exists and carry in all colour mutations.
For instance, if you pair up a standard grey with a violet. All the babies will be standard but carry the recessive gene.
If you pair up a mosaic RPA with a standard, the babies will be mosaic or standard RPA carriers.
This is very important to know as it can cause your chinchilla great harm and permanent damage. The Lethal Factor exist for white and Velvet. When 2 white or 2 Velvet genes meet it can cause the mother to reabsorb the baby back into the system. This can cause permanent damage to her uterus and for future breeding as it can block the tubes of her two-horned uterus. If the baby is carried to term it will most probably die within a few days after birth. If it survives it will be small and weak. So it is therefore not advisable to bread any 2 chinchillas which carry the white gene or any 2 which carry the velvet gene. Even if the 2 are not pure white or pure velvet the result will be the same.
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