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Dr. Taus
Dr. Taus, Veterinarian
Category: Veterinary
Satisfied Customers: 505
Experience:  Veterinarian with experience in equine and small animal medicine.
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Hi Was wondering if you could help me! My chinchilla died

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Was wondering if you could help me! My chinchilla died suddenly in the early hours of Saturday morning! He was only 4 years old! He was fine on Friday, I went out for a meal with a few colleagues and gave him a stroke before I went out and when I woke up on Saturday he had passed away!

He'd shown no signs of ill health and was eating and drinking normally and was as active as ever! He was very well looked after and had regular sand baths, his diet consisted of Timothy hay and pellets and I gave him the occasional treat.

I recently put him in a bigger cage (a parrot cage) which I converted properly with appropriate sized mesh (from his original cage) on the bottom of the cage and untreated pine for the shelving! He was really happy in his new cage which he'd been in for several weeks! I just really don't understand what could have happened! His cage was regularly cleaned and he was in very good health, he'd never had any health problems and his fur, teeth, feet etc were perfect! He wasn't kept in direct sunlight or a draft and the room was always an appropriate temperature! When I found him, he just looked like he was sleeping, there were no signs of injury. He'd had a bit of diarrhoea the night he had died but I obviously didn't see that until I had found him! He'd had no changes to his diet and it was the first time he'd ever had diarrhoea. I keep racking my brain wondering what could have caused him to die so suddenly and worry I have done something wrong! I'm just really upset as he was very much loved and would just really like some suggestions as to what could have caused sudden death in such a healthy and happy pet.
Hi there,

I'm so sorry to hear about your chinchilla! How sad to come home and find such a young little fellow gone!

Unfortunately, there is a broad variation in breeders, and I would be curious to know where you got your chinchilla. Unless you bought Chomper from a person who is breeding low numbers of chinchillas specifically as pets, it's quite easy to get an animal who has been bred solely to make money, without regard for good genetics. Many are quite inbred, as they were bred to produce a certain popular shade of grey coat, or are from genetic lines used for fur in the 1950s. These animals have luxurious coats, but were never intended to live very long, so they carry many genetic abnormalities that shorten their lifespans.

Heart disease is frequently seen in chinchillas, especially those that come from pet stores. It is possible that Chomper may have had underlying heart disease but was not showing symptoms, and that he had an arrhythmia and suddenly died. The diarrhea you saw may have been either a stress response if he had mild symptoms before he died, or it may have been a separate issue entirely. When there is no change in diet and the diarrhea is a new finding, it's rare to lose a chinchilla within a day of the diarrhea starting, so I'm reluctant to blame what happened on a GI disorder.

The only way to know for certain what happened would be to have a veterinarian do a necropsy (autopsy) on Chomper, and even then we don't always get a firm answer. It sounds as if you were very diligent in his care and that he had a wonderful life for a chinchilla in your home. I would be very suspicious that he had an underlying genetic disorder (especially if he was rescued or acquired from a pet shop)that resulted in sudden heart failure.

I'm so sorry that this happened to Chomper, and I do hope you won't blame yourself as you come to terms with things. It is clear that you cared deeply for him and gave him excellent care. I hope this is helpful; if so, please rate me positively, and don't hesitate to let me know how I can help further.
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Customer: replied 3 years ago.
I bought him from a pet shop! He was 8 months old when I bought him. Thank you so much for replying! It really has put my mind at ease! Thanks so much! It's sad that they are bred in volume without a regard or stronger emphasis being on their health! Just have to keep telling myself he was happy and I gave him a good life!
Yes, it's very sad. There are good breeders out there-- you have to really hunt to find them, but they are there-- and those chins tend to live longer. It's clear you did the best you could for him. I hope this helps you feel better about it!