The first step that you must take when you decide to get a chinchilla is to prepare yourself for everything that you may have to deal with as a chinchilla owner. In some cases, caring for a disabled chinchilla will be one of those responsibilities.
It’s important to be aware that there are a few key disabilities that your chinchilla may have to deal with, and we’re going to cover them all and how to make sure that your chinchilla leads a healthy, happy life.
Can Disabled Chinchillas Live A Normal Life?
In most cases, disabled chinchillas can live a perfectly happy and otherwise healthy life! There are accommodations that need to be considered, which we will go into shortly, but with those in mind, your chinchilla can live their full expected lifespan.
Now, there are some cases and conditions where a chinchilla will not have a positive quality of life and it will be more humane to put them down. A chinchilla in constant and severe pain is something no owner wants to see and this option should be discussed with your vet if you notice their quality of life drastically declining.
What Types Of Disabilities Chinchillas Are There?
Now that we know that many disabled chinchillas can live happy and long lives. The first step is to learn more about what disability your chinchilla has.
The good news here is that there’s only a small handful of common disabilities you may have to deal with so there’s rarely ever a scenario where you will not have the proper information to take care of them.
Blindness in a chinchilla is the most common disability you may have to deal with. This blindness can either come from birth or as your chinchilla ages and begins to lose its eyesight.
While the most common, this is also the least harmful to your chinchilla as they can easily be accommodated and adjust quickly. The only caveat to this is any underlying conditions that could cause blindness, which need to be discussed with your vet more in-depth if your chinchilla is becoming blind with little to no explanation.
Things like corneal ulcers, where hay, hair, or dust either scratch or irritate the eye, and eye infections may cause temporary cloudiness or blindness in chinchillas so it’s important to take them in if you notice discharge, pawing at their eyes, or keeping one or both eyes closed when not sleeping.
A tripod chinchilla is a term for a chinchilla with a missing or amputated leg. Typically, chinchillas can get used to exploring as a three-legged chinchilla, but it’s important to arrange your cage so it’s easier for them to navigate.
The reason a chinchilla might need an amputation is typically because they have encountered some trauma in that leg and your vet decided the safest option was to remove it, as a broken leg beyond a simple fracture in a chinchilla is extremely hard to set.
Malocclusion in chinchillas is where their incisors don’t grow properly and are misaligned. Unlike humans, who can correct this issue with braces, there is, unfortunately, no cure for malocclusion and the most you can do is manage any symptoms of pain.
Some owners who have gotten chinchillas from rehoming due to a negligent home may be more likely to experience this as not having toys to chew on can often be a cause of malocclusion in chinchillas.
One of the more common consequences of chinchilla malocclusion is euthanasia. This is because, as mentioned above, chinchilla malocclusion has no cure and only symptoms and pain management.
Malocclusion in some cases can also cause dental diseases and grooming issues so it’s very important to keep an eye on a chinchilla with malocclusion.
Cage Accommodations With A Disabled Chinchilla
The cage accommodations when it comes to a blind chinchilla are fairly simple as blind chinchillas can work with a normal setup, all you have to do is help them get acclimated to everything you have placed in there.
The biggest thing you need to keep in mind is that it is vital to not move anything in the cage once you have it in place, as taking away or adding things could disorient your chinchilla and cause them to hurt themself
It’s also important to make sure you hand your chinchilla items to help file down their teeth and prevent malocclusion and have another issue.
When it comes to a tripod chinchilla, each case is different in how to make the cage work for them, as some chinchillas can fully roam their cage as normal without any assistance or accommodation, and others have the amputation so far up that they’ll need a little help navigating their cage
No matter what, if you want your chinchilla to feel a bit safer, giving it the option to move from one level to another with ramps can be the best option when you are not around their cage to keep an eye on them.
In severe cases, chinchillas may need help filing down their teeth. And you might start wondering how to file chinchilla teeth, but we highly recommend you see a chinchilla vet for this procedure. As any failure with filing them down could cause worse issues for your chinchilla
How Do I Exercise A Disabled chinchillas?
This section is more applicable to blind and tripod chinchillas, as malocclusion chinchillas should have no issues with exercising as normal.
For blind chinchillas, we recommend putting them into a playpen without anything to jump on so that they can run around and play with toys under supervision so that you don’t have to worry about them going to jump for something and missing
When it comes to tripod chinchillas this is another consideration where it depends on how far up the amputation was made. We also recommend having little to nothing for your chinchilla to jump up on to prevent any issues.
This is one place where having a chin spin in your cage comes in handy, as your blind chin will know it’s there at all times and will be able to jump on it whenever they want to exercise. Similarly, since there are no open holes on the chin spin, it’s entirely safe.
In any case, it’s important to find a vet that has experience in treating chinchillas with your chinchillas disability, as they’ll be able to think of treatments for other ailments while taking your chinchillas specific accommodations into account.
We recommend and encourage you to ask your vet questions to see how they’ll take your chinchillas disability into treatment options and ensure that you can feel safe with them in the vet's care.
Pet Sitter Considerations
Although we have an article on how to choose a pet sitter for your chinchilla, there are a variety of other factors you need to consider when looking for a pet sitter that you may not have thought about otherwise.
With any of the cases outlined below, it’s important for you to be safe with the knowledge that the pet sitter will take great care of your furry friend, and it is recommended you find someone with experience in pet sitting a disabled chinchilla, as the care may look different in the short term.
It’s also VITAL for you to make sure that your pet sitter has your veterinarian’s number on hand in the case of any emergencies or issues that pop up that might require your chinchilla to be taken in and checked over.
In the case of a blind chinchilla, it is important to introduce the pet sitter to your chinchilla gradually, since it may be traumatic for your chinchilla to hear and smell an unfamiliar voice or scent.
For a tripod chinchilla, the ability level still comes into play but if you have your pet sitter take the chinchilla out for playtime, it may be wise to keep them in their cage while you’re not around as your sitter won’t know your chinchillas behaviors the same way you do.
For malocclusion chinchillas, it’s important for you to teach your pet sitter the signs of when there’s an issue with their teeth, as the vet will likely be the one to refer to if there are any problems.
Disabled chinchillas can lead just as normal and happy lives as a healthy chinchilla can if you take a few small considerations into mind about their living situation and how you care for them. Whether it’s rearranging their cage, to making appointments for anything a vet may need to take care of or just some extra loving care - these guidelines will help your chinchilla have a wonderful quality of life.