The Birth of a Chinchilla: Preparations and Main Cares

standard gray baby chinchilla on top of a floral bedspread
17 May 2019 Pets4Company

What do I need to know and do before my chinchillas are born?

Choosing the cage and early times of the kits:

The arrival of new babies is always a special moment. Unlike most rodents , chinchillas are born with a body covered in fur, fully formed teeth and able to see and hear.

However, it will take a while before they are able to orient themselves completely, to calculate distances accurately, so it is essential to remove any obstacle that could easily become a danger to small chinchillas as well as the highest platforms from which to fall when attempting a jump.

It is essential that the cage does not have too wide spacing between the grids as the small chinchillas can escape between them. The bottom of the cage should be smooth, not containing railings where the legs can get stuck. This is also valid for adult chinchillas as this can lead to deformation of the forelimbs, fractures and situations of necrosis.

We can and should always put absorbent material on the bottom and keep it clean and dry to avoid infections for the mother and offspring by the spread of bacteria from urine and feces. A good option will be in pellets of pressed wood, suitable for chinchillas and other rodents , containing clean wood, free of chemicals and dust.

Alfalfa , rich in protein and raw fibers, plays a fundamental role in the mother's diet during pregnancy and postpartum providing nutrition for the development of kits in the womb and rich milk.

The weight of the kits and their behavior must be carefully observed. If it turns out that they are not eating properly and that the weight does not grow or even decline, we must be prepared to intervene. In this case, we must offer the little chinchilla , with the help of a syringe or small bottle, appropriate milk.

There are cases where the mother rejects the offspring not feeding or even attacking them. Only and only in these cases, should we fully intervene by removing the offspring and feeding initially every two hours in small amounts (the offspring must demonstrate when it is already satisfied).

In normal cases the kits will gradually develop curiosity and try to nibble on hay and alfalfa and then move on to feed , harder and less palatable. After about a month they are able to intercalate milk with solid meals, breastfeeding less frequently, which also gives a certain space for the female to rest. By nine weeks they must be eating alone. There are cases in which this process takes a little longer, but the mother and child reach a balance when it comes to weaning, which should not be forced by us.

two standard grey chinchillas, mother and daughter, standing together

As soon as we can guarantee that the kit its able to feed itself (and up to a maximum period of three months) we can then separate mother and child. Generally chinchillas reach sexual maturity in half a year. Cases occur in which they enter the age of procreation earlier (around four months), generating conflicts in the colony since mating will be disputed. We must avoid mating between related elements to prevent possible dormant hereditary problems from manifesting themselves.

As the chinchilla is a community animal, deformation due to inbreeding should not occur since in this system the mating between animals with close kinship is recurrent. Dormant problems in DNA can be triggered or “woken up” when successive mixtures of the same DNA strands containing these errors occur.

In chinchillas there are also some color mutations that are not compatible either, so the mating of two elements with the same should not occur (we will cover this topic in another article). In the case of non-compatible mutations, to give you an idea, there may be situations of abortion, mummification of the dead fetus, or offspring with serious defects that end up dying shortly afterwards.

With these cares and nuances in mind, enjoy the new little ones. They grow up fast!