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Topics - GrayRodent

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Health / Preventing respiratory infections
« on: July 04, 2016, 11:14:42 AM »
When it comes to respiratory infections in chinchillas - prevention is always the best cure.

Respiratory infections in chinchillas are rare but you do hear about them from time to time. When they do occur they can advance rapidly and turn into fatal pneumonia in a matter of days and sometimes hours. Antibiotics are always advised when a respiratory infection is diagnosed and vet visit is always advised when a respiratory infection is suspected. I think it is rare and not something that the average pet owner needs to be worried about but I write this hoping to help with understanding its causes and factors.

From my experience here on the boards I've come to the conclusion that there are two archetypal scenarios for infections; Spontaneous, and concurrent infections.

1. Spontaneous infections
Some chinchillas develop respiratory infections out of the blue. This is very rare but it does happen. When it happens symptoms are usually runny eyes or nose, breathing that you can hear, which is always abnormal, and sometimes loss of appetite. Spontaneous infections are not always preventable or survivable even in the best conditions, but early detection and treatment can and does work.

2. Concurrent infections with immunodeficiency
I think most respiratory infections are concurrent with something else. It could be a parasitic infection in the intestines, or low weight caused by improper diet. Low weight and malnutrition caused by dental problems seem to lead to respiratory illness. The link may have something to do with involvement of the tooth roots and sinuses but I think overall it takes out the immune system.

Low weight and malnutrition kills. Monitor your pet's weight and food consumption regularly. Get its healthy baseline weight you can compare its other weights to. If your chin is less than six months old you should see a slightly upwards trend every week. If it's over a year old you should not see a steep drop in weight, more than 10% of normal at any time. Not all respiratory illnesses present with watery eyes and outward symptoms. Sometimes weight is the only clue you're going to have that your pet needs to be seen by the vet and once symptoms appear it may be quite advanced. Sick chinchillas usually go off their food and may require syringe feeding (at the direction of your veterinarian) to survive.

Malnutrition can also be caused by improper diets. You would be amazed that at pet stores you can have on the same shelf a diet that is very good, and another diet that is known to cause irreparable harm both marketed to chinchillas.

Please ask questions about pelleted diets. Believe me we are in the know. We are not conspiracy theorist health nuts who think everything is going to kill and only recommend the prohibitively expensive quack diets. Chinchillas have very basic, although specific dietary needs and good food isn't extremely expensive or hard to find.

Always, always, always have loose hay or hay cubes available in addition to the pellets to keep those teeth healthy. Pelleted diets will keep weight stable and keep it up. Too many treats can be a big problem with some owners. Treats have little or no use to chinchillas and when they fill up on junk they won't eat their normal food in proper amounts. This often leads to tooth overgrowth, malnutrition, and that deadly low-weight and immune compromised condition. If in doubt just don't feeding any treats. Ironically, your pet will thank for it.

Healthy pets that develop spontaneous respiratory infections have much greater chances of recovering from it. But if your pet's weight is low fatality is almost guaranteed if a respiratory infection occurs.

Sometimes eye infections that are not treated can spread into the sinuses and take hold before spreading into the lungs. Once in the lungs survival rates are minuscule. Eye infections can't always be prevented but they can be monitored and treated. So if you suspect an eye infection, call your vet, ask questions, and get involved in its care and monitoring. It doesn't have to spread and become a gigantic problem.

3. Environment
Although this isn't a main cause it can become one if your pet is kept in conditions that are too hot. Heat (Above 73 degrees F) can have long term effects. One of them is depression, lazy eating and chewing which causes dental overgrowth, and that dangerous malnutrition and low weight. In extreme cases you have acute hyperthermia, organ failure, and seizures to deal with. This is a highly preventable problem but in the long run you are going have an compromised animal with a high risk of contracting any kind of infection.

I think in some cases bowel obstruction is a factor. Plastic in the cage that is ingested (plastic should never be used with chinchillas), paper bedding, or ingestion of fleece pads (some pets are incompatible with using fleece in the cage) can cause a physical obstruction. There is no cure for this and depending on where this happens starvation, and respiratory illness may manifest right at the end.

4. One thing to mention is quarantine. If you have a chinchilla and you bring a new one home please keep them in separate rooms for 3-4 weeks and watch for changes. If your new chinchilla is infected it will take about that much time to manifest symptoms. Respiratory infection is the biggest reason to quarantine. It typically a disease that is not spontaneous but passed from chinchilla to chinchilla. This is a huge prevention measure.

5. Accute illness must be treated properly
In many cases chinchillas get sick with something treatable, then stop eating. The owner feeds treats because that is the only thing the pet eats. I cannot emphasize how deadly this is. If you look at our cases this is a recurring theme and it never ends well. Have recovery diet on hand. Establish a relationship with a local veterinarian experienced with chinchillas. Feed at your vet's direction if you have to wait for an appointment. A day or two can mean the difference between life and death.

Antibiotics are mandatory to treat a respiratory infection. Unfortunately there are risk associated with meds and sometimes chinchillas can die from the meds. But they'll always die of pneumonia if they don't get them. Understand the biggest risk of antibiotics is intestinal stasis, but this can be minimized with syringe feeding the correct prescribed diet. Sometimes it requires additional stimulants or hospitalization at your vet clinic. If you manage its food intake chances are you won't have to. Any time you are sent home with oral antibiotics express your concerns with your vet. Learn all you can about methods of identifying, preventing, and treating that condition. It could save you time, money, and a whole lot of heartbreak if you are one of the few who have encountered this.

Health / Remarks about this board
« on: July 03, 2016, 07:49:19 PM »
I just want to remind everyone considering getting a chinchilla as a pet to please not think the posts you see health board represent normal chinchilla problems.
Consider the fact that if you go to a cat or dog forum you're probably going to find rather routine things. But for chinchillas routine is healthy and normal but when bad things happen they usually are pretty bad and most vets don't handle exotics so boards like this one are filled with last resort efforts.

There are a several reasons for this.
1. Most chinchillas are purchased from pet stores whose employees don't provide good advice, appropriate diets, or select pets from reputable breeders. These things combined cause a majority of things you might see here. Going in with the right diet, the right cage and environment, and obtaining your pet from a reputable breeder will reduce the risk of illness such as malocclusion, seizures, and hyperthermia.

2. Chinchillas are small, unable to cope well with injuries, and when injured it's usually very serious.
Most injuries can be prevented by thinking in advance, considering chinchillas are fast, silent, chew dangerous things like power cords, and must be handled in a secure and careful way. Accidents do happen. The most common kinds are minor cuts and scrapes that can be treated at home. The injuries you see on this board are usually serious, the owner is desperate to save the pets life, and it usually does not end well.

3. Owners are not quick to identify dangerous conditions before they become dangerous.
Monitoring your pet each day, weighing weekly, keeping mental notes of fecal output, water consumption, behavior, etc. and simply paying attention can mean the difference between a simple vet visit, and hospitalization and death. Unfortunately vet visits are not always possible on the weekend which is why I recommend having a basic first-aid kit, and syringe feeding supplies and recovery diet on hand at all times. This can potentially keep your pet alive for a day or two until you can obtain more comprehensive assistance.

4. Sadly, and something that happens quite often is that owners are desperate to save an animal that is doomed. Some pet owners will opt to euthanize while others want to keep going. I'll help as much as I can and provide advice pretty much knowing what the outcome is going to be. Please understand these exchanges don't represent usual circumstances either but they are recorded here as well.

I know of many pet owners, who own multiple chinchillas, who do not have horrible diseases or die morbid deaths. There may be the occasional diarrhea or eye infection that is treatable if detected and treated early. Yes, freak accidents and rare conditions happen to the best of us, but that goes for any animal.
I know it can look, and sometimes feel like doom and gloom here, but providing advice and documenting cases of sick and dying pets is part of what we do and does not necessarily reflect what you'll actually experience as a chinchilla owner.

General Chat / Spam control
« on: June 05, 2016, 08:33:21 AM »
I'm constantly battling spam and have been able to keep our boards pretty well cultivated. I do want to just spot check and ask if anyone is being spammed through personal messages or anything like that. Unless my board is specifically targeted a live person instead of a robot it is very hard for spammers to get in. If anyone is please report it to me ASAP. Thanks.

Reference Board / DIY Cage Shelving
« on: January 09, 2016, 05:15:40 PM »
I think every chinchilla owner should know how to do this. Shelving should be replaced about once a year and also if a chinchilla contracts a contagious illness.
If you have any questions or would like clarification please feel start a discussion in the cages forum.

Reference Board / Travelling with chinchillas
« on: April 08, 2015, 10:18:30 AM »
When transporting chinchillas your biggest concern is going to be heat. Do not put the cages on the floor or the heat of the exhaust and drivetrain can bring the temperature up in the cage. Chinchillas should never be exposed to temperatures over 80F. Try to keep the car a maximum of 75F inside. For chinchillas used to cooler temperatures even this may be pushing it. They should be transported in small travel cages with nothing inside that can cause injury if the cages gets tossed around during the trip. Make sure they have water at night and that you have a way to attach your watering system to the cage.

Covering the sides of the cages during the trip to prevent them from seeing motion may make them more comfortable as well. ALWAYS keep them out of direct sunlight as the heat can KILL them in a very short time. Know how to perform first aid on a chinchilla with heat stroke before going on a long trip during a warm time of year. You are better off transporting them in the winter if you can help it.

When transporting them for several days at a time your next biggest concern will be the fact that chinchillas typically don't eat when traveling. Traveling by air is safer for that reason. If it will be more than three days you may need to syringe feed to prevent complications from gastrointestinal stasis, dehydration and starvation. Ask your veterinarian for instructions and obtain supplies if you don't have them. This is not really an orthodox way to do it but it is playing it safe. Weigh your chinchillas each day. If the weight drops below 10% of their original weight you are facing serious consequences. If your road trip is more than 3 days you are far better off trying to make arrangements to move them by air as chinchillas can die from stress.

The fact is your pets will be very stressed and will lose weight rapidly. They will be stressed for several days after they are put into their home as well but they should start eating by the next day after they are relocated. Do not feed treats until they are established in their new home and adjusted to their new surroundings. Feeding treats is not needed for you pets' diet and can make them very sick if they are under stress. Offer hay and pellets only for food until their fecal output is back to normal.

Also note typical vacuum type water bottles which are typical of watering systems may fail to dispense with changes in temperature and altitude. Always check to make sure the water bottle is dispensing before you put them up for the night.

The level of stress will be different depending on the animal. Some will take it harder than others.

House Rules / Current Official House Rules
« on: February 25, 2015, 01:33:30 PM »

General Chat / Chinchilla a Day Personal Art Challenge
« on: February 24, 2015, 09:31:03 PM »
To help hone my art skills for upcoming website graphic designs, and the fact that my pencil drawing skills became quite rusty after specializing in digital art, I've challenged myself to draw one chinchilla a day for 30 days if I can do it consistently, at least, 30 chinchillas, from different places on the internet (mostly on facebook). Right now I'm closely imitating reference photos but I intend to embellish more as I go.

Health / Chinchilla with dental problems
« on: January 18, 2015, 12:29:18 PM »
I'm starting this post in a different thread. Message by Messi:

So sorry for posting in wrong thread.. Can't seem to generate a new post.. My Chinchilla Messi is 10 years + and only started showing signs of dental issues christmas week.. I of course brought her immediately in my vets and her incisors were long and she had them clippe and filled down a little. I had concerns for her molars but no irritation could be seen during the exam. Them on Wednesday I see more wet chin and I rushed her back in. We knew that being 10 years + anaesthesia wasn't a very good idea but we had no choice as her molars were in fact in a bad way . Messi has never eaten hay not ever and we've had her for 8 years + . I've tried every kind of hay and recently even got some shipped in from the states and my friends fussy rabbit eats only this hay. And Messi still won't eat it. She has the op to file down her molars on Friday morning and it took her 11 hours to come around from the anesthic :( we thought we'd lost her several times and vet had sent her home to die but she made it through the night...

I always make sure she get good quality chin food only she never gets treats but I have given her raisins as they are soft and her mouth is pretty sore . She is also on antibiotic and anti inflamatory but she still isn't eating. I've mushed up some alafa pellets and am using a q-tip to gently but some in her mouth every 3-4 hours I'm hoping I can keep her digestive system going until her mouth feels better. She has pooped but only a small amount ..

I'm worried I'm loosing her :( how long will I assist feed without her showing any signs of interest in food before I have to accept it's not working ?  If she still hasn't pooped by Tuesday does that mean the digestive system has in fact stopped :(
The vet said he took years of growth off her molars but why did she only show signs of dental issues in the last 2 weeks ? Her eyes have always been clean and  never has she ever had a wet chin before. She's always been a big girl and ate her food .. She weights 400gms now and she had been eating up until Friday mornings op..

I've bought dried cranberries , bananna chips, dried mango, and coneflower & special petal mixture for chinchillas in the hope that they won't be hard and she'll eat them but wheni put some in her mouth she pulls it out..

I'm at my wits end .. I've lost two cats in the last 6 months and I can't bare the thought of loosing Messi :(

Sorry again for posting in wrong thread didn't know how to post new thread

Chit Chat / Merry Christmas
« on: December 25, 2014, 07:53:46 AM »

In spite of the continuing onslaught of liberal Bible scholarship that wishes to discredit the Word of God, the Bible remains indestructible in the light of the philosophical, scientific, and anthropological facts that not only surround its history but support its authenticity. While skeptics and entertainers compare it to fairy tales and spin their own sensationalistic conspiracy theories, just a cursory examination of fact reveals just how shameful and groundless they are.

Even today we commemorate the very incarnation of the eternal God who healed the sick, subdued nature, fulfilled ancient prophecy from years before, and raised Himself from the dead. The writings and testimony of the people that surrounded Him have been circulated and preserved for thousands of years and from them we learn of this One called Jesus who came to save people from the condemnation that is owed to all of us. He brings hope to a world that is not at peace with each other, much less, at peace with God. It blows my mind how the Creator would ever enter into His creation to freely give his life in the most humiliating circumstances. May our thoughts be set on Him this Christmas not as a baby in a major but the reigning King who will return to consummate His kingdom in power and glory, and the One, who alone is worthy of our devotion and unwavering trust.

Isaiah 9
For to us a child is born,
to us a son is given;
and the government shall be upon his shoulder,
and his name shall be called
Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God,
Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.
Of the increase of his government and of peace
there will be no end,
on the throne of David and over his kingdom,
to establish it and to uphold it
with justice and with righteousness
from this time forth and forevermore.
The zeal of the LORD of hosts will do this.

Chit Chat / I am thankful for...
« on: November 27, 2014, 12:30:36 PM »
I am thankful for my family, a beautiful home, a nice computer to work on, my chinchilla, and most of all the Bible, which is God's revelation to us, so that I am not groping in the dark at the mercy of humanity's inner wickedness.
I am thankful for the luxury of peace, at least in my nation for this time, and the hope of freedom for generations to come.
I am thankful for many things, way too many things to list.

What are you thankful for this thanksgiving holiday?

Chit Chat / Call for content
« on: November 02, 2014, 07:57:35 AM »
We are refurbishing, the Chinchilla Club, Virtual Chinchillas, and the Chinchilla Breeders Organization, and Chinchilla Magazine websites.

We maintain a repository of articles on every aspect of chinchillas as we can and would like to have the latest in scientific research and legal aspects of chinchilla ownership. If you have any articles that we can host our site, that you would like to write, or that you would like me to read and comment on, please e-mail me and I'll see what I can do. Not all articles submitted may be published. Content outside of this forum will be posted at my sole discretion. Controversial topics will be covered as objectively as possible with the aim of sharing information useful to pet owners and chinchilla breeders. I want to take advantage of the overlap of knowledge between industries regardless of the controversy of using animals for fur or science. There is much that can be learned.
As always we aim to be professional and family friendly. We also respect copyrights.

This includes information on:
-Best practices for caring for pets
-Common chinchilla diseases and ailments prevention and cures
-Case studies of your chinchilla experiences
-Best practices for breeding chinchillas
-Chinchilla shows best practices, tips, etc.
-Chinchillas shows in your area.
-Chinchillas in agriculture and fur production
-Chinchillas in scientific research
-Animal rights and legal restrictions on pet ownership (effecting chinchilla breeders and owners)
-Chinchilla genetics
-Chinchilla products, cages, food, and accessories.
-Whatever else that you may think is of interest to anyone who breeds or keeps chinchillas. is your community. Its success relies on your participation.

Chit Chat / Updating the website. Ideas anyone?
« on: November 02, 2014, 07:09:16 AM »
I am in the process of redesigning our website from the ground up to modernize it. I learned the hard way last month that changing it piecemeal is not going to be effective so we're going to make some sweeping changes at the core. Once the core is updated that will let me go in and change things like logos and graphics and all the cool stuff I wanted to do in the first place.

I'm full steam ahead in the process of learning web development and all of the necessary technologies and tools. Instead of using pre-made templates I am building the site from the ground up. I am also assessing the site and its services to organize and improve them for the new design. I have some friends who are highly experienced who are also helping me

Here are our domains as they stand - CBO promo site - Virtual chinchillas promo site - Chinchilla club home page - Chinchilla related products and services directory - Virtual chinchillas promo site - Not built yet - hosts chinchilla magazine issues

Here are my thoughts on the current organization of the design:
- should go to a website about breeding real chinchillas with articles and resources specific to breeding.
- will be like a chinchilla encyclopedia with tutorials, case studies, and hopefully I'll be able to do some interviews with experts. It will be a site geared towards keeping chinchillas as pets as opposed to breeding.

- should be more than a promo page, it should be a home page for the CBO with CBO specific content.

- needs to have chinchilla club specific content and should be the members area of the site.

- The public forum should be located in, not Although the chinchilla club will be prominently promoted there it is not a member's only forum. It doesn't make sense to me to keep it here.

- should continue to be the portal for products and services. It will have its own membership that starts with a free membership to allow users to add and edit their content in the directories. Upgraded membership will add advertising benefits Additional services, such as graphic design and product promotions, can be purchased.

- should continue to host articles. It will be updated to be more SEO friendly and easier to search. Right now it's invisible to the search engines. I might also add a moderated comments area.

-There needs to be more premium content for the Chinchilla Club available to members who support our cause. We should be promoting membership and premium services to keep things running and to build the community. Not everyone is into gaming so I want to have more there that I can promote. Not sure exactly what yet. Existing services will be updated as well. The more revenues that we can generate the more services we can offer. Your ideas and input on this are greatly appreciated. At this point membership is synonymous with vchins. I want to attract people who aren't into vchins to be members too.

- Virtual Chinchillas will be redesigned yet again. The codebase will be completely rewritten. This will make page loads faster and make more sophisticated features possible. It will be updated to work well on small screens. The game will be more user friendly and have clearer gaming objectives. Most importantly the educational elements will be ramped up providing links to articles about real chinchillas for each simulation aspect. The simulation aspect itself will become more realistic and it will integrate existing data so no one will loose any v-pets.. has to be a community effort. I certainly can't do everything myself in the way of generating content. I'm not a breeder, nor a zoologist. If you have content that we can host on our site and publish please let me know.

Chit Chat / Learning to rebuild the chinchillaclub website
« on: October 29, 2014, 08:14:55 AM »
I have been learning a lot about website design from many different online sources. Right now I know just enough to be dangerous when it comes to web design but that is changing rapidly.
When I started programming for The Chinchilla Club years ago I basically learned php and sql from scratch. Now I realize there are best practices and very useful ways to make development much more efficient.
My plans at this time is to rebuild everything from the ground up and get it operational, hopefully, by next spring.

I am recommending this resource ( for anyone who wishes to learn how to program and develop websites from the ground up. The video tutorials are free and if you code and test the code along with the instruction it will accelerate your learning process and as a bonus you have code that works. You can pause the video at any time and go learn about concepts you are unfamiliar with before coming back and starting up again. And you can play with the code and experiment as you go. This is how I'm learning and it's been quite enjoyable. Of course phpacademy is not the only learning resource online. Another very important place is If you've never been there go there first and learn about html, css, sql, php, and javascript first.
It is overwhelming at first but it makes more sense when you understand what these technologies are for and how they work together.

News / Moving our server
« on: October 14, 2014, 05:18:17 PM »
I am in the process of readying the website to move to another server. This will allow me to have more control of optimizations to improve the performance of the site and extend my abilities to maintain and modify it.

Please do not panic if the website goes down for maintenance. It may take a day or two for the DNS mapping to update globally. I will provide more specific details as the time gets closer to flip the switch.

Health / Kulu has eye infection
« on: October 09, 2014, 02:15:21 PM »
Looks like my chinchilla, Kulu, is in the beginning stages of an eye infection. Yesterday there was some slight drainage from his right eye which I wrote off since yesterday was a bath day. Today there is now enough to cause some very slight matting of the fur and there is a layer of mucous at the front corner of the eye by the tear duct. I examined it closely with a 10x loupe and a flashlight (not easy to do with a fidgedy chin!) to see if I could detect any scratches or foreign objects. I determined that I'd have to flush the eye in order to see what's under the mucous because it is somewhat opaque. I really don't have what I need to do that on hand so I'm probably going to have the vet do it tomorrow. He does seem to be scratching at it as well.

His weight, food and water intake has been very steady (I log mine daily) and there don't seem to be any other symptoms.

This would be my first actual experience with this in a chinchilla (although I've treated other kinds of animals and have helped many people on the boards with this problem). Although I usually answer questions about eye infections I'd be glad to hear someone else's take on it who's been through this.

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