Your Guide To Chinchilla Temperature Extremes
When you own a chinchilla, perhaps the most important thing for you to be educated about the ideal temperature of the environment your chinchilla is in. Temperature extremes - both hot and cold - can seriously affect the health of your chinchilla.
In this post, we’re going to go over everything you need to know about a chinchilla’s ideal temperature range, how to keep your chinchilla comfortable during a summer power outage, and how to keep them warm from a cold front.
What Is A Normal Chinchilla Body Temperature
Like their human companions, chinchillas can have body temperatures ranging from 98º to 100º degrees Fahrenheit. However, they are fragile because of their small size and thick fur, which leaves them prone to significant fluctuations in a room without a stable temperature.
What Temperature Should You Keep Your Chinchilla At
So now that you know what a healthy chinchilla body temperature is, you might be wondering what temperature range you should keep in the area where your chinchilla is housed. Typically, we recommend the room of your house that your chinchilla is in to be no more than 70º degrees fahrenheit and no less than 64º. While chinchillas can withstand degrees up to 75º and down to 55º for very brief periods, we cannot recommend keeping the room they are in outside of the sweet spot - as that’s the temperature chinchillas respond to best.
It's also worth noting that you should position your chinchilla's cage away from windows where direct sunlight can come in as this will heat a chinchilla’s already dense fur year round.
How To Keep Your Chinchilla Cool Without Air Conditioning
It is not uncommon for power outages to occur in many neighborhoods across the US for a variety of reasons, but if they leave your AC out of commission for an indefinite amount of time it can be a serious problem for any animal, especially chinchillas.
The good news is with a little handiwork and a handful of products, you can keep your chinchilla stabol until the power returns.
Move Your Chinchilla To The Basement
First, think about moving your chinchilla to your basement if you have one. Typically, below-ground levels will be a few degrees cooler than any other areas of your home, though be sure to monitor the temperatures with battery-powered thermostats to ensure it won't exceed 70º degrees Fahrenheit. If the room begins to rise above this, it is wise to combine this with some of the other cooling methods listed below. This also helps your chinchilla stay away from direct sunlight.
Put Chin Chillers In The Cage
We recommend that you have at least two chin chillers per chinchilla so that you can change the tiles as needed. Since your freezer will still retain it's low-temperature short-term, you should have luck switching out and cooling the tiles there for the duration of the power outage.
Use Freezer Pack or Frozen Food Bags
If you don’t own any chin chillers, any frozen packages can help. Whether it’s a cooler ice pack or a bag of frozen food like peas or corn, any frozen item should do the trick - just be sure to wrap any exposed plastic with fleece to prevent chewing and ingestion.
Move Your Chinchilla To Someone Else's House
If the power outage lasts for a long time, you may want to put your chinchilla in their travel cage and bring them to a close friend or family member's house temporarily to have your chinchilla in a stable temperature environment. Here's a blog for some traveling tips and advice.
Signs Of An Overheated Chinchilla
Even when you have working air conditioning, it is vitally important to know the signs of your chinchilla becoming overheated as heat stroke can be deadly in a very short amount of time.
Lethargy is the first major sign that your chinchilla is overheated. This is also the most serious symptom on the list, so if your chinchilla becomes lethargic, it is extremely important to get them to an emergency vet ASAP
Ears Turning Red (This Is More Common In Lighter Colored Chinchillas)
This is one of the earlier signs of heat exhaustion and heat stroke in light-colored chinchillas. Their ears will become bright red and hot to the touch as chinchillas send blood up to their ears to cool the rest of their body down.
If your chinchilla gets overheated, it will begin to drool over itself and its cage. This can open up a host of problems in addition to the heatstroke, such as your chinchilla’s fur becoming wet under its chin and chest.
Rapid breathing patterns
Another early sign of your chinchilla becoming overheated is when their breathing pattern changes. Similarly, this occurs in dogs who pant to cool themselves down.
How To Cool Down An Overheated Chinchilla
Keeping a chinchilla cool and cooling them down are two different ballparks. Keeping them cool is more preventative, and as such, you can adjust exactly how you plan to keep them cool. When they are already overheated, there is more urgency and you may need to resort to more drastic measures.
While Chin Chillers are great preventative measures, they’re also the fastest way to be able to cool your chinchilla in an emergency. Many owners create fleece sleeves for their chin chillers but in an emergency, we recommend placing the tile in the chinchilla's cage bare.
Put Your Chinchilla In An Open Fridge
We cannot stress enough that this method only be used in an emergency and with supervision at all times, but if your vet can’t immediately see your chinchilla, keeping them on a shelf in the fridge with the door open should cool them off and keep your chinchilla stable until your vet can see them.
Small Ice Cubes
In some cases, owners recommend giving small ice cubes to your chinchilla because it allows your chinchilla something cold that they can grab onto and chew to cool them down from the inside out. As the melting of ice cubes poses issues with your chinchilla getting wet, this is not widely recommended.
This method also allows for extra hydration when your chinchilla may not want to drink from their bottle.
Put A Damp Cloth On Their Ears
It’s worth noting that this method is also only recommended as an emergency solution as any water near your chinchilla can pose a risk, even if it is for a good reason. If your chinchilla gets too wet this blog can help.
But as mentioned earlier, chinchillas regulate temperature through their ears, so if you cool them down with something like a damp cloth, it will cool down not just their ears but the rest of their body.
How To Know If Your Chinchilla Is Too Cold
When you’re researching the proper temperature you may see a lot about the risks of hot weather, but not as much about the dangers of your chinchilla being too cold.
While their thick fur can certainly regulate their body temperature and keep them warm when the temperature is cold outside, there is such a thing as your chinchilla being too cold, which poses its own risks to a chinchilla's health.
Hypothermia is extremely rare in chinchillas, but temperatures that are too cold can result in many illnesses and infections in your chinchilla including respiratory issues like pneumonia - so if your room dips under 55ºF, you should keep an eye out for any sicknesses that could follow.
How To Keep Your Area Warm In Winter
If you live in a Northern state or another location where temperatures in the winter can plummet during both the day and the night, you might be wondering how your chinchilla will stay warm in the cold weather.
We don't recommend heat lamps or heating pads near your chinchilla's cage as these could overcorrect past the ideal temperature and could result in your chinchilla overheating.
If absolutely necessary, some owners will put a heater in the area their chinchilla is kept in to keep the room warm into the night, but others discourage this if you're planning to sleep while running the heater as you cannot keep an eye on if the temperature is getting too high.
If you're not comfortable with external heating, supply your chinchillas with extra fleece in their cage to burrow under and stay warm. Use towels, blankets, or more fleece to cover up any cracks where cold air can enter.
If you have bonded chinchillas in the same cage, you can sleep comfortably knowing that they will often bundle up with one another to warm up.
While there are not many resources on how to warm up a cold chinchilla as it's not a common risk, we can recommend in good faith taking your chinchilla to a warmer room in the house, and even moving their cage to a more suitable temperature environment as long as it doesn’t fall to the other extreme and become too hot in the new location.
Although large temperature swings in either direction can be a problem for your chinchilla, a few simple items can ease the process of helping them adjust. Whether it’s chin chillers for the summer or extra fleece for the cold winter months - you can be sure that your chinchilla will remain comfortable and happy.
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