Can My Chinchilla Get Fleas?
Chinchillas are known for their lush dense fur and exotic looks. Being a chinchilla owner is very rewarding and once you get a chinchilla you will want more that is a given.
Whether you are already a chinchilla owner or an aspiring chinchilla owner, you will definitely check out articles about these animals in order to understand them better and to comply with their needs.
You might come across articles stating that a chinchilla’s fur is very dense and not able to sustain life for parasites like fleas and mites, unfortunately, this is not true. Chinchillas can have fleas, although this occurs rarely and is mostly an unheard of problem regarding chinchilla’s health.
There are signs by which you will be able to tell whether your pet has fleas and also there are methods to get rid of these parasites.
Summary of today’s article:
- Fleas in chinchillas are rare
- Signs and symptoms of fleas in chinchillas
- Treatment for fleas in chinchillas
- How to prevent fleas
- All in all
Fleas In Chinchillas Are Rare
Although we are led to believe that chinchillas have such dense fur that no parasites can live in it or even reach their skin, this information is unfortunately not true. In fact, chinchillas can have fleas, although it is very rare.
Fleas are very persistent when they are hungry and they might not reach the skin on the back of your chinchilla, but they can reach it in areas where the fur is missing, shorter or not so dense, like the feet, belly, head and tail.
To diagnose a chinchilla with fleas can be difficult but there are signs that you can look for or even consult a veterinarian who will give you the right diagnosis for your pet’s condition and recommend you with the proper treatment.
Signs And Symptoms Of Fleas In Chinchillas
1. Itching And Scratching
Flea bites are very irritable and cause very persistent itching. Your chinchilla will try to relieve itself from this unpleasant feeling by frequently scratching affected areas of the body.
Although periodical scratching is normal and not a sign of a problem, constant scratching especially in the same areas is a sign that something is wrong with your pet’s health.
2. Loss Of Fur
From all the scratching a fur slip or alopecia can appear. Chinchillas will try to relieve their itches by scratching the affected areas with their feet, biting the skin and tugging on their fur, resulting in patches of missing fur and exposed skin, which in effect can cause the fleas to gather in even greater numbers to this “easy meal” exposed skin.
3. Visible Fleas On The Fur
Although rare, fleas can be visible on chinchillas. The dense fur of the chinchillas makes it difficult to inspect and diagnose your pet with fleas, in rare occasions fleas do come up to the edges of the fur and you will be able to see them for a short time.
At this point, it will be safe to assume your chinchilla has a flea or multiple fleas in their coat.
4. Flea Dirt
Flea dirt is a term used to describe flea excrement, which is essentially dried blood since blood is their only diet. Flea dirt is usually accumulated in patches in the pet’s fur, right next to the skin.
It looks like tiny, black dirt or flecks close to the skin, usually grainy to the touch and hard to clean, similar to tiny dandruff.
5. Flea Eggs
Flea eggs are very small, oval, white and are quite hard to find. Since fleas do not dispose of their eggs in clumps, you might even mistake a flea egg for a speck of dust, they might even resemble a grain of salt.
6. Flea Bite
Red, bumpy, inflamed skin. By checking the skin of your chinchilla you would be able to tell if your pet has a flea bite or not.
Check the area where your chinchilla scratches often, it will be difficult to go through the fur and reach the skin since the fur is so dense, but by gently blowing air on to the inspected part of the skin you will be able to “comb” through your pets fur in this manner.
There is also a very good chance that your chinchilla has already pulled out some fur from the affected area by the constant scratching, leaving more of the skin exposed and making it easier for you to spot the irritations.
Treatment For Fleas In Chinchillas
Although there isn’t an exact medicine or treatment towards getting rid of fleas in chinchillas since this infestation is very rare, there are medications that your vet will be able to prescribe to help your pet deal with these pests.
Ivermectin or Selamectin are a safe choice for treating your pet with fleas as long as they are prescribe by a vet and used in the right dosage – both medications are used for treating a wide range of parasites, including fleas.
Regular dust baths and grooming with a flea comb is a risk free way to get rid of fleas. Use dust baths every 2 days to get rid of the fleas and do not reuse the same dust bath if there is an ongoing flea infestation.
The flea comb will allow you to go thoroughly through the fur of your pet and pick up any fleas, eggs of flea dirt that is trapped under the fur, allowing you to clean up and remove the unwanted guests and their leftovers.
In rare cases, mild shampoos can be used to bathe your chinchilla in order to groom them and get rid of the fleas. The usual type of shampoos is the one used for kittens, as long as it does not contain permethrins or pyrethrins – your veterinarian will prescribe the right brands and types of shampoos if needed.
Keep in mind that the water bath is the last option. If you have done everything mentioned above and your pet still has fleas, your remaining option is to give your chinchilla a water and mild shampoo bath.
Bathing chinchillas is acceptable, if you do it properly and take precarious. The water needs to be at room temperature and after the bathing the hairdryer needs to be set on the “no heat” mode, where you would just blow the room temperature air on your pet in order to get its fur dry and not overheat the chinchilla.
How To Prevent Fleas
1. Inspect other chinchillas for infestation because you do not want cross-contamination. If one of your chinchillas catch fleas there is a very good chance that the others have caught them too if they are all in the same room.
Your pet will catch fleas from an infected animal, dog or cat usually, even if you do not let these animals interact with your pets. Fleas can jump of their host and live in upholstery, get into the carpet and even on your clothes and wait for the next host, like your pet chinchilla, to jump on to.
2. Disinfect and vacuum up the home. Since fleas and flea eggs can live in an environment without a host for a long period of time, your best chance of getting rid of them is by thoroughly cleaning, vacuuming and disinfecting your home.
By using a white vinegar solution to disinfect and clean, you will be destroying any remaining flea eggs and removing all flea debris, while making an environment that is not welcoming to the fleas. You can also use flea powder on your carpets and vacuum it up after 30 minutes from spreading, this way you will kill any fleas that are living in your carpet or on your furniture.
3. Make sure that the cats, dogs and other pets are receiving proper treatment for avoiding flea infestations. If any of your pets have fleas, there is a real chance that your other pets will get fleas too.
Fleas are not very fussy when it comes to choosing a host and if they get very hungry almost any patch of exposed skin will be a great home and buffet for them. Make sure that your dogs, cats, rabbits and any other pets are treated against fleas and have the right protection against these parasites.
4. Cage hygiene is very important and thus a thorough cleaning with a white vinegar solution will help remove any dirt, flea eggs and other possible parasites lurking in your pet’s cage. Not only will this solution disinfect the cage, it will also remove any odors and it is completely safe to use around your chinchilla.
All in All
A healthy chinchilla will have a strong immune system and rich fur so the chances of getting fleas are minimal, but never zero. If your chinchilla gets fleas, you could notice changes in its behavior, it will get more edgy and might resist being handled or touched.
Fleas can also get on to humans and be a real pain to deal with, that is another reason why you will have to treat all of your pets against fleas. Thankfully, fleas can be defeated, it just takes a little bit of time and persistence, but it is doable.