The chinchilla is a rodent that is native to the Andes Mountains in South America. This animal is super cute, fluffy, and popular with families with children all around the world.
But there are a lot of photos circulating of chinchillas with serious cases of alopecia.
Is there such a thing as a hairless chinchilla?
If a chinchilla is hairless, it is the result of a genetic mutation. Illnesses, stress, and threatening behavior from predators can make a chinchilla suffer from bald patches and irritations on its skin. Dust baths, clean living conditions, and the right diet contribute to good fur health.
Up next in this article, we are going to discuss why some chinchillas are hairless and what you must do to prevent this from happening to your pet.
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The Hairless Chinchilla – What You Must Know
Chinchillas are well known for their thick and dense fur. They have the densest fur of any land mammal with about 50 hairs emerging from each hair follicle.
So how did the hairless chinchilla come about?
Coming up next, we are going to discuss 5 reasons why a chinchilla might have a serious lack of fur.
If you have seen a hairless chinchilla about on the internet it was most likely a genetic mutation. Normally bred chinchillas have no shortage of fur and are very soft to the touch.
Breeding a hairless chinchilla is very dangerous because these animals need their fur to keep warm. A chinchilla without any fur will feel very cold and will also suffer from countless skin irritations.
One activity that causes hair loss in a chinchilla is called a fur slip. This is when a patch of a chinchilla’s fur falls away from its body leaving a gap in its fur coat.
A chinchilla will use a fur slip as a defense mechanism when it is caught in the grasp of a predator. It might also have a fur slip when its owners pick the chinchilla up but are not gentle enough.
This looks like a patch of hair that is missing and takes about 6 to 8 weeks for the hairless patch to regrow.
A chinchilla that is under a lot of stress might begin to chew on its fur. This excessive grooming can cause uneven patches on the chinchilla’s coat.
As well as excessively grooming itself, a chinchilla might begin to excessively groom the other chinchillas in its cage.
Your chinchilla might lose some of its hair when it is sick. Ringworm is one of the fungal infections that these pets can suffer from.
Ringworm causes bald patches and it also makes your chinchilla's skin dry, irritated, and scaly.
The reason why some chins will chew their coats and suffer from alopecia is because their parent or parents suffered from it and passed that gene on to them. In these cases, there is nothing wrong with the chinchilla and the chewing will not cause the animal any psychological distress.
Sometimes a change in its living environment can reduce how often the chin chews, but in other cases, it will not.
How to Look After Your Chinchilla’s Coat
Chinchillas are super cute animals with lush thick coats. Thick and shiny coats are the signs of happy and well-looked-after chinchillas.
What can you do to ensure your chinchilla is healthy?
Take a look at the following tips to find out.
To clean its hair and keep it shiny, your chinchilla must roll in a dust bath at least twice a week. Dust baths prevent skin irritations and diseases.
Your chin will roll its face, head, tail, and entire body in the dust.
Rolling in dust encourages natural grooming behaviors and is also good for your chinchilla’s physical and mental health. The best dust for chinchillas to bathe in is:
- Made of 100% volcanic ash (otherwise known as pumice or aluminum silicate).
- Free from lime powder, silicone powder, glass powder, or any other toxic substances.
To prevent boredom, your chinchillas must stay occupied throughout the day and night. One great way of ensuring this is by providing chew toys for your pet to gnaw on.
These toys are good for your animal’s mental health. The best toys for chinchillas to chew on are:
- Made of wood. Chinchillas love to chew things, plastic toys are not suitable for them.
- Dyed with vegetable dyes. Your chinchilla will keep gnawing at its toy blocks until they have completely devoured them. The use of vegetable dyes ensures the blocks are good for your chinchilla’s health.
- Attachable. A chew toy that hooks onto your chinchilla’s enclosure makes it easier for it to play with.
Every responsible chinchilla owner will ensure their pet gets the medical care it needs. All chinchillas need regular examinations.
At the vet, your pet will undergo a fecal test to check for parasites. It will also check the animal’s skin for abnormalities.
We recommend the following frequency for vet checks:
- If you have a new chinchilla, take it to the vet within the first few days of bringing it home. Do the same for chinchilla babies.
- Take adult chinchillas to the vet every year.
- Take old chinchillas to the vet every 6 months.
In the wild, chinchillas will live in groups of up to 100 members called herds. These animals like to live in pairs or in small groups in captivity too.
To make sure your chinchillas are happy and their coats are gleaming and healthy, they must be in one another's company and spend time with their owners too.
Here are the best ways to pair these animals:
- Two females or a small group of females.
- Two males or a small group of males.
- Mixed sex groups with neutered males (to prevent breeding). If all of the chinchillas were from the same litter they would get on well. If not, you will have to introduce them to one another slowly.
Chinchillas that eat right and drink enough water will have soft and shiny coats.
Responsible chin owners will ensure their pets have access to fresh drinking water every day. They will also take care to give their pets the right diet.
Here is a list of the best food for a chinchilla:
- Commercial food. Your chin must eat 1 to 2 tablespoons of commercial food pellets for chinchillas every day. Do not give them food pellets for rabbits, guinea pigs, or any other animals.
- Leafy greens. Like a guinea pig, your chin must eat fresh greens every day. These include collard greens, mint, and chicory.
- Timothy hay. Your chinchilla must have access to hay all throughout the day. This way, it will be able to take a bite whenever it feels hungry. Have your chinchilla’s cage set up with a hay feeder that will allow it to nibble on hay whenever it wants to.
Your chinchillas will be more likely to develop bald patches and irritations in their skin if their cages are not clean.
Here is a schedule for a pristine enclosure:
- Spot clean the enclosure once a day.
- Remove your chinchilla from the enclosure and change the bedding or fleece covers once a week.
- Scrub and disinfect the entire enclosure once a month.
If you have a small group of chinchillas, you will have to complete these steps more often.
To prevent your chin from feeling trapped, it must live in the right size enclosure. If you have a small group of chinchillas living together, it might be best to keep them in a small room rather than in cages.
You must also give your chinchillas at least 2 hours outside their enclosures every day so they can really stretch their legs.
Understanding the Hairless Chinchilla
There is a lot of conversation online about the hairless chinchilla and many people can’t decide what to make of it. Thanks to this article though, we have found the truth about these defenseless animals.
The hairless chinchilla is the result of a genetic mutation by irresponsible chinchilla breeders. But chinchillas also suffer from alopecia when they are unwell, stressed, or in danger of their predators.
Did you find this article interesting?
At Oddly Cute Pets, we always strive to provide you with the best articles about how to feed, train, and house your favorite cute pets. For more information on how to look after a guinea pig, chin, or any other small pet, check out our website.
Thanks for reading!