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Author Topic: New Chinchilla not eating very much  (Read 755 times)

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xJessiCatx

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New Chinchilla not eating very much
« on: January 08, 2017, 07:51:28 AM »

Hi,

New chinchilla mum here, I rehomed 14 month old Kupo about a week ago after wanting a chinnie for a long time and finally being in the financial position to spoil one :)
I got him with the cage he has always lived in, which was inappropriately small in my opinion, and immediately ordered a much larger cage.  I noticed the first day that his poo seemed tiny, but never having had a chin before, wasn't sure if this was normal or not.  He was on a muesli-type food and I wasn't provided with any more, only what was in the bowl.  I purchased some nugget-type food as I know the muesli-type isn't really appropriate, and changed him over as slowly as I could but only had a small amount of the old food in the bowl for the changeover.  Kupo hasn't eaten very much for the week I have had him, and not drunk very much either.  We have seen him eating and drinking so I know he is doing but just such tiny amounts.  I've never seen him eat his Timothy hay, and purchased some alfalfa hay chunks which haven't been touched.
He seems bright and happy in himself and managed to lead me on a merry dance round the living room for 45 mins when he jumped out of his cage so he has enough energy for that!  He's now in his much larger cage (Savic Royal Suite with modifications) which he loves and is not fazed at all by my three dogs and three cats, I often find them nose to nose at the cage! 
His poo is still tiny but he's passing enough of it, he's weeing ok as well even though he doesn't seem to drink very much. 
I am a Registered Veterinary Nurse and probably worrying about nothing because I've seen how bad things can get, I've ordered some Oxbow critical care just in case but would appreciate the opinion of experienced chin owners. 

Thanks
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GrayRodent

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Re: New Chinchilla not eating very much
« Reply #1 on: January 08, 2017, 11:03:53 AM »

Congrats on your new pet. I think you'll get a lot of enjoyment from Kupo.

Chinchillas poop is about the same size as a medium sized pet rat's poop which I hope gives you a reference. Unlike rats their feces are dry and dark colored and should not be green. They should be oblong. Some chins are a little different and it comes out in mixtures of balls and oblong shapes but if it's mostly ball shaped feces that can indicate constipation and insufficient food consumption.

The best thing you can do is weigh your pet and check for trends. If the weight is stable you're probably okay.
Chinchillas do best on a pelleted diet such as Oxbow Chinchilla diet or Mazuri. They are alfalfa based. Some chins don't eat much hay but it's best practice to keep it available anyway. It should be the main part of their diet and they may be consuming more than you think. They love to scatter loose hay around so it makes it harder to judge.

Chinchillas are usually mostly active at night and most will drink most of their water at night. It's a good practice to check that your waterer is dispensing every day. Some owners opt to put a rubber band on the water to mark daily levels and compare. If you would like I can give you some numbers on what mine are drinking.

Whatever cage setup you get I recommend avoiding using anything with plastic in the construction that can be chewed as chins are notorious for destroying plastic and escaping from cages and plastic is also known to cause bowel obstructions in chins. I can't recommend having dogs and cats being able to access the cage. Numerous accidents have been reported and can be fatal. Many many pet chins have been eaten by dogs and maimed by cats. It's your setup but I'm letting you know the risk is high.
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xJessiCatx

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Re: New Chinchilla not eating very much
« Reply #2 on: January 08, 2017, 02:14:08 PM »

Thanks for your reply, the information is really helpful.

I would appreciate any more information on how much your chins drink if possible, that would be great thank you.

His poo is small and round as you described, consistent with not eating enough or constipation.  Soon after I posted this, I offered Kupo some food from my hand which he had previously refused and he took it no problem and had a few pieces so I'm less worried now...phew!  Fingers crossed he'll eat a bit more over the next few days and I'll definitely get him weighed and keep a record as you suggested.

The cage originally came with lots of plastic but we have modified it with wooden shelves instead as I know it's dangerous for them to chew plastic.

The cage is in our living room so there is a lot going on around Kupo and he gets more attention, as a result of this it is impossible to keep the other pets away from the cage.  I am familiar with the risk of animal attacks, having seen them numerous times in practice.  All of my cats and dogs are used to small furries as I used to have guinea pigs, if I was worried about any of their behaviour towards Kupo then I would move the cage but this seems a shame as he wouldn't get as much attention or get to see as much.  They are all just a bit interested in him but their interest has worn off already after only a week.  I obviously have them out of the room when the cage doors are open or when I am handling Kupo.  They are good-natured dogs and cats and with the right precautions in place I'm not worried as they can only access the outside of the cage, and only the bottom area as they are all small and can't reach further up.

Thanks again for your reply :)
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GrayRodent

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Re: New Chinchilla not eating very much
« Reply #3 on: January 10, 2017, 10:39:42 AM »

Sounds good.
My Spot chinchilla drank 27ml of water last night. He weighs 586g.
Kulu drank 30ml last night He weighs 578g.
I'll guess the margin of error is +/1 1ml.
The water was refilled about 00:00h and it is now 11:30h (11.5 hours since the last fill). During the day my pets drink very little, less than 5ml. And they use industrial grade gravity fed nipples so very little is wasted. There is some waste though, just enough to moisten the wood floor by morning. Chins do like to play with their waterers. Of course in practice that's overkill precision but it should give you a feel for your pet's needs.

I have an experimental watering system that uses graduated cylinders.
You might try feeding some critical care for a couple of days, maybe do a couple of syringe feeds and see if that helps clear the constipation. It probably wouldn't hurt to do a fecal culture. If it doesn't resolve itself in a week or two I highly recommend a dental xray. Sadly, chins that are not bred by reputable breeders often develop malo, and chins that are not raised on a proper diet are also at risk.
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GrayRodent

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Re: New Chinchilla not eating very much
« Reply #4 on: January 10, 2017, 10:43:19 AM »

And I'm also going to add that cats and dog are a source of stress for chinchillas, and stress can also cause less eating, especially if the chin feels threatened and won't want to move away from their favorite corner of the cage. In your case I might suggest getting a chinchilla hut and making sure there is hay in there. You're going to have to change it out every day because it will probably get peed on. And they really don't need to be eating damp food for obvious reasons.
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xJessiCatx

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Re: New Chinchilla not eating very much
« Reply #5 on: February 08, 2017, 04:41:45 PM »

Thanks so much for your reply it's really helpful and very accurate!  I lost access to internet for a while so couldn't reply so sorry this is so late!

Kupo is now doing amazingly well.  I found out from the previous owner that he was fed on Charlie Chinchilla and she insisted he wouldn't eat anything else, but this was after he had been scoffing his nuggets for a few days so I think he was probably sulking at being given boring nuggets instead of junk food!  But as she didn't provide me with any food to change him over I had no choice but to put him on the nuggets straight away.  I had bought some Oxbow CC but he started eating before I had to use it.  He's now clearing his bowl every night, eating lots of hay and taking the occasional treat, plus he is drinking fine and a similar amount to what you have described.
He has been neutered and I am collecting a female chinnie from a breeder in March to introduce and bond with him to hopefully be friends for life as it seems unfair to keep him alone if he could have chinchilla company. 

I appreciate your concern about my cats and dogs as it's never ideal to mix them with small furries but there is only one suitable place in the house for the large cage and it would be unfair to exclude the other animals from the room all the time.  They are removed from the room for 60-90 minutes most nights so Kupo can have his mad dash around the room and a good explore.  His favourite places to hang out are surprisingly the cat tree and the dog's bed so I doubt he is overly stressed about their presence.  Only one of the three cats and one of the three dogs shows any interest in him anymore and it's only a glance at the cage if he's having a run around and making noise on the bars.  He has a hut that he can hide in but doesn't really use it, he's always out and sleeps out in the open usually stretched out on his side.

I agree that he was probably stressed about them at the beginning which may have contributed to him not eating, once he realised that they are chilled and won't bother him he became very interested in them and watches them quite a lot. 

I assure you this boy is no longer stressed, just a happy, cheeky boy 😊 I'm so looking forward to him having a friend and watching them play together - if they get on that is! 

Thanks again for all your help
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GrayRodent

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Re: New Chinchilla not eating very much
« Reply #6 on: February 09, 2017, 09:21:04 AM »

Sounds good. Changing diet is also a big deal for chins. For healthy food it's good to transition over a week but for junky food that can't happen because the chin picks his favs out of it. Very glad you didn't have to syringe feed.

Be careful with pairing chinchillas. Most chins that have been brought up in solitude prefer it. There is always a risk with pairing that will exist even after bonding. This is also going to be a big source of stress so watch weights closely during the introduction period. Most pairings are successful. With my two, personally, I had to separate them so it doesn't always work.

It is always advisable to have a minimum 3 weeks quarantine before bringing two chins into the same room and just make sure nothing overt develops in your new pet.
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xJessiCatx

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Re: New Chinchilla not eating very much
« Reply #7 on: February 09, 2017, 09:49:07 AM »

I have a spare cage that the new girl can use for as long as it takes them to like each other, or indefinitely if they decide they don't. 

I'm hoping it will go well as I think some company is important if he decides that what we wants but it's no problem if he'd rather be alone, I can just keep them separate. 

I'll keep you posted, thanks again for your help
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Re: New Chinchilla not eating very much
« Reply #8 on: February 09, 2017, 08:41:28 PM »

Please do not get him a female as a friend. He will get along with a male just as well. Breeding is not something to take lightly.
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