What do I do if my A/C Unit Fails?
Chinchillas are a delightful pet. We keep them in our homes and are rewarded by their hilarious antics and adorable nature. Sometimes it’s easy to forget that they are not just another person, with as close as we become with our pets. Chinchillas, unlike us, have very specific temperature requirements. A room that is 75F may be pleasant to us but can be sweltering to a chin. When a chinchilla is living with you, you have to commit to a relatively cold house; ideally lower than 74F even on the hottest days. A reliable air conditioner is very much a requirement for chinchillas. So what happens if your air conditioner breaks? We might be able to tolerate the discomfort of being warm all the time, but your chinchilla will overheat quickly. It is important to have a plan in place so you don’t lose one of your smaller, furrier family members.
Most of the following information came from our friends at https://letslovechinchillas.weebly.com/
Temporarily house your chinchilla elsewhere
Friends or family that might be familiar with your chin or willing to help could provide temporary housing while your air conditioner gets repaired. You don’t have to remove the entire cage and travel with it- in fact- we don’t recommend that. We have a collapsible travel cage that would work perfectly for this!
Photo: Collapsible Travel Home
It is easy to set up and provides safe housing for several days if needed. If friends or family aren’t in a position to house your chin for you, try boarding with a veterinary hospital that does lodging. If you have a pet or house sitter that has looked after your chin before, you might give them a call to see if they will open their home to your chin for a little bit.
Regardless of who ends up looking after your chinchilla for you, always leave detailed instructions. Chinchillas are not a common pet and there is a lot of misinformation about them. You may not feed raisins but many websites, books, and even veterinarians will say that they are okay. If your temporary chinchilla guardian looks up treats for chinchillas, he or she may think it is okay to give them anything listed anywhere.
Having some instructions ready for them and be sure to stress that even a single unhealthy treat given in an effort to be nice can have dire consequences for your chinchilla. Talk about their typical behavior and habits so they aren’t worried if it looks like your chin has barely touched the pellets or so they can inform you if your chin is acting abnormally.
Keep your chinchilla cool at home
This is perfectly doable but risky if your air conditioning is going to be down for more than a few hours. All of these methods should be considered temporary!
If you have a basement, consider moving your chinchilla there. Below ground will always be a few degrees cooler, but be sure to monitor the temperatures with thermostats to make sure it will not get above 75oF. If it does creep above that, supplemental cooling methods will have to be used as well.
Granite or marble slabs, called ‘chinchillers’ are a good tool to have on hand. Stock several in the fridge or freezer to be able to switch out up to every 30 minutes. If you don’t have tiles on hand, anything frozen can help. An ice pack or frozen peas can do the same thing but remember to wrap any packaging in fleece to prevent chewing whatever item you choose.
Window air conditioners can be set up in your chin’s room. Remember that most of these add to the humidity in the room and increase the risk of ringworm.
Signs that a chinchilla is too warm
Photo Credit: Mitty @ https://lychinchillas.com/
A chinchilla’s body will try to cool itself by flushing blood up into the ears. The ears will be very red and the vessels very visible. This means your chinchilla is too warm and needs to be cooled down. All other signs are behavioral. Their activity levels plummet as they become too warm and risk overheating with a lot of exercise. You will see them stretch out, trying to expose as much of their body’s surface area in an attempt to keep cool. It is an emergency if your chin quits reacting to stimuli, such as touching or talking to them. If your chin is at this point, he or she needs to have their body temperature lowered immediately.
You can do this by pressing an ice pack gently against their body, placing your chinchilla in an open fridge (with supervision), or holding him or her in front of an open freezer. If the above is not possible, you can place your chin in a bowl of cool (not ice cold) water. Keep his or her head above the water. This is an absolute last resort and the chin will need to be thoroughly dried afterward, but if it comes down to treating for ringworm later, we think this is a better alternative than losing your chinchilla to heat stroke. If your chinchilla does not show any improvement within a few minutes, they will need to see an emergency vet immediately. If your chinchilla improves but something seems off about their behavior, we still recommend going to the vet.
Need help finding a veterinarian?
Email us at firstname.lastname@example.org or call at 844-891-6720 and we will assist in any way we can.