Mating, Gestation and Childbirth in Chinchillas

three baby blue diamond chinchillas on top of a toy train
12 May 2020 Pets4Company

From mating to the birth of small Chinchillas!

Mating

When we acquire a couple of chinchillas or introduce several elements of different sexes in a colony, it is possible that mating situations will occur as well as the birth of new babies.

Female Chinchillas go into heat every 28 to 40 days. At this stage, only 2 to 3 days are considered a fertile period during which a pregnancy may occur after a successful mating.

The pregnancy period may vary between 111 to 113 days after which the kits are born, covered in fur and with open eyes but totally dependent on the parents for survival.

During the mating period, the male is more active and we can sometimes observe a kind of dance in which he courts the female by wagging his tail followed by attempts at mounting. After mating, both chinchillas take care of their hygiene which in the case of males may involve the removal of hair rings from the penis. Failure to remove them can lead to serious health problems including infections of the genital organ and even anuria (inability to urinate) which in many cases becomes fatal.

Notions of Anatomy and Gestation

Females have two mammary chains, each with 3 nipples. The uterus is bifurcated, making it possible, in rare cases, for two pregnancies to occur simultaneously. The offspring can be born at different times or in the same birth and one or more offspring may show poor development since they are premature babies.

In the first 60 days of pregnancy, no changes are normally visible. After the 90 day mark, it becomes visible. The female may become slower, rounder and over time we can even see and feel the kits moving. Some females consume more food while others, especially in the last days, eat less and less. The day before the birth the female does not usually eat.

Childbirth

As the chinchilla is a nocturnal animal, childbirth usually takes place at night or in the early hours of the morning and is relatively quiet, which, in most cases, goes unnoticed until the morning after when the owner finds small chinchillas , fully formed and with their eyes open under the mother or walking around the cage.

Hours before delivery, when the first contractions begin, the female may be more quiet and still or make discomfort sounds. As a general rule, no intervention is necessary. If there is the possibility of assisting the birth, we must observe if there are complications such as a waiting period of more than four hours between the birth of each child or if there is no expulsion of the placenta followed by the birth of the child or several at the end of the birth ( if it is a multiple delivery). It is common for each pregnancy to result in the birth of two or more offspring and the birth of only one or as many as six at a time.

During the process the female proceeds to extract each kit and, in normal cases, it is born with a nose facing forward. If the offspring is in a bad position, with the rear legs appearing first, the birth can be longer or even fatal for the mother and the offspring. Injuries can occur in the various attempts to extract the offspring or even death from one or both. We call this process “breech birth”.

The female then cleans the kits nose by clearing the airway and, taking advantage of a new contraction, removes the rest of the body with a tug of teeth. The young is cleaned so that it does not cool. It can follow, as already said, the expulsion of the placenta that the female eliminates, eating. It is a good source of protein and allows chinchillas to eliminate odors that can attract predators in their natural state. At the end of delivery, as a general rule, there is no trace of blood or “after birth”. It is possible that the mother does not let the clean babies suck until the whole birthing process is over.

In the first hours the milk produced by the mother is more watery but contains a whole range of defenses and antibodies that will become the first defenses of the young, so it is essential to observe if they are feeding and, especially in the case of litters large, if all the elements are able to feed in the same way. The health of a chinchilla baby is fragile and can easily decline in the first few days due to the mother's lack of food or improper feeding.

The male, as a general rule, is not aggressive and can even help the mother, caressing her and cleaning and heating the young.

A few hours after giving birth, and for a period of seven to ten days, the female will go into postpartum heat. This can lead to new mating generating a new litter. In this case, it will be advisable to separate the couple, keeping them in close “enclosures” so that they can see each other and smell them, facilitating the new approach later.

Long-term periods of pregnancies and births can weaken your chinchilla and generate weak offspring or even development problems due to malnutrition as they are not provided with the amount of calcium and proteins due. The female is forced to produce milk while carrying on a new pregnancy.