How to Tell If Your Chinchilla is Overheating, and How to Help
As a chinchilla owner, you’re well aware of the chinchilla’s extraordinarily thick fur. In fact, the fur on these little furballs is among the densest in the animal kingdom. While this is a lovely and cuddly trait, it puts them at risk of overheating if their artificial environment isn’t temperature controlled.
Heavy breathing, red ears, excessive drooling, and an abnormally warm body temperature are all signs of a chinchilla that is overheating. Keep in mind that these are just symptoms; they don’t always mean a chinchilla is overheated, but they can suggest a risk of heat exhaustion or stroke in some circumstances. When in doubt, seek the advice of a professional.
The following information will teach you everything you need to know about chinchilla overheating and what you can do to help prevent it.
Summary of today’s article:
- Five signs of overheating
- What happens to chinchillas
- When they overheat
- What triggers a heat stroke?
- How to help prevent heat stroke
- How to treat chinchilla heat stroke
Five Signs of Overheating
Because chinchillas cannot sweat, they expel heat through their ears. When a chinchilla becomes overheated, the inner side of its ears becomes inflamed and turns a bright red/pink color. This is quite uncomfortable for them and is typically a clear indicator of overheating.
Regardless of the discoloration, detecting inflammation can be difficult, depending on the color of their inner ear hairs. Dark hair makes it harder to notice.
When a chinchilla gets too hot, it starts to take deeper and longer breaths, almost like panting. The issue is that chinchilla panting might suggest dehydration or heat exhaustion.
It is perfectly normal for them to breathe heavily at times, such as when they are excited or during an especially energetic play session. Overheating may be to blame if heavy breathing does not return to normal within 10 to 15 minutes or becomes a chronic problem.
Some of the most common issues with chinchillas involve their teeth, for which drooling is a major symptom. But besides dental problems, chronic drooling may also indicate they are overheated.
This behavior is less commonly linked to overheating than the others, but this may be the culprit if dental issues aren’t the cause.
Abnormally Warm Body
This may seem obvious, but these critters can generate a lot of body heat, especially after some vigorous playtime. However, if they are unusually warm, it may indicate that they have difficulty cooling down, and they will feel as if they have a fever.
If your chinchilla has become unusually lethargic, this could be a sign that they are overheating. Although lethargy can be a symptom of a variety of problems, it can also lead to heat exhaustion and heat stroke if other possibilities are ruled out. Regardless, if you notice them becoming significantly less active, don’t be afraid to seek professional help.
What Happens to Chinchillas When They Overheat
Can Chinchillas Die When Overheated?
Unfortunately, they can die from overheating, and it can happen much faster than you might think.
Chinchillas have such thick fur that it is challenging for them to expel accumulated body heat. Any temperature of 75 degrees Fahrenheit (F) or higher can put them at risk of heat exhaustion or heat stroke. It’s critical to create a living place with regulated temperatures because failing to detect the early signs of heatstroke can have swift and deadly effects.
Remember that while overheating may not always be deadly, heat strokes have the same symptoms. So, if you spot something, don’t be afraid to seek professional help.
Ideal Environment for Chinchillas
First and foremost, if you’re going to keep a chinchilla, you must have some sort of air conditioning. Chinchillas have a hard time living in temperatures above 75 degrees(F), and the temperature in their enclosure should be kept between 60 to 75 degrees(F).
Remember that chinchillas originated on the rocky cliffs of the Andes Mountains and have adapted to the cool temperatures that come with living at such a high altitude. Their fur is so thick that they have 80 hairs per follicle, whereas humans only have one. That’s some seriously thick fur that needs to be kept cool.
Chinchillas require a low-light environment, cool temperatures, and a low-traffic area (meaning a less-busy space of the home). A room with a window is fine, but never place their cage in direct sunlight. Make sure their cage is against a wall or corner for added security.
The increased security is beneficial because it reduces their stress levels. Continuous stress can cause chinchillas to overheat.
Difference Between Heat Exhaustion and Heat Stroke
The majority of the time, heat exhaustion is exactly that: exhaustion. It’s the fatigue that comes from not being able to cool down to a safe temperature. This is harmful in and of itself, but if not addressed quickly, it can progress to an even more catastrophic problem, heatstroke.
Heatstroke, on the other hand, resembles a serious disease with a high fever. This is the most severe type of heat-related injury.
If heat exhaustion is not properly addressed, this is the following step. It happens when the body’s internal temperature rises to dangerously high levels. This temperature is around 103 degrees Fahrenheit in humans; however, it is unknown for chinchillas.
Although heat exhaustion can be treated at home, heatstroke will require immediate professional attention.
What Triggers a Heat Stroke?
In any living organism, this is the most common cause of heatstroke. Long periods of strenuous activity without adequate hydration or rest can cause their small bodies to suffer from heatstroke.
Even if the room temperature isn’t excessively hot, increased blood flow and heart rate from over-exertion can cause the body to overheat. So, when playing with your chinchilla, avoid overstimulating them and raising their heart rate too high.
Not just for comfort but also for safety, a chinchilla’s dwelling place must be well ventilated. By failing to filter out any residual heat, a lack of ventilation can lead any room to become stuffy. A healthy airflow not only improves air quality but also helps your chinchilla stay safe by regulating temperature.
Stress can cause the Hypothalamus Gland (which regulates body temperature) to overstimulate, causing the body to overheat. Chinchillas are prone to becoming anxious.
Predators in the wild frequently hunt them, so this enhanced stress is practically written into their DNA. Anxiety can be triggered by various factors, including too many people at once or improper cage location.
Obese chinchillas are more likely to suffer from heatstroke. Fat layers that are too thick act as extra insulation, making it difficult for the body to release and transfer heat. Furthermore, overweight chinchillas generate much more body heat than those of average weight when doing vigorous activities.
How to Help Prevent Heat Stroke
Placing their cage next to a window may appear to be a kind gesture, but direct sunlight can cause them to overheat. Their cage should be placed in a cooler, lower-light area of the house. Or a peaceful location that can be kept between 60*f and 75°f with or without air conditioning.
Make sure to keep those water bottles topped up! Chinchillas can be pretty active inside their cages, so one of the best things you can do to avoid heatstroke is to keep your chinchilla hydrated by providing constant access to water.
It’s a good idea to purchase two water bottles, so you always have a clean backup on hand. Make sure to rinse and refill their water bottles with fresh water daily. A chinchilla may refuse to drink water that is clouded with debris or other messes.
Because chinchillas are easily frightened by even minor changes in their environment, it’s best to keep their environment consistent with few changes. Although anxiety is not directly related to heatstroke, it does cause vital signs to rise significantly, making it more difficult for the body to cool down.
Use a Humidifier
High humidity, like high temperatures, can be just as dangerous. This, however, is dependent on where you live. If you live in a humid climate, your chinchilla will almost certainly require a dehumidifier. Ideally, you want the room to linger around 50% to 60% humidity.
How to Treat Chinchilla Heat Stroke
Call Veterinarian Immediately
If you suspect your chinchilla is suffering from heatstroke, always seek the assistance of an expert. Heat exhaustion can be treated at home, but heatstroke is a much more severe condition that should be treated by a trained professional. However, if you can cool your chinchilla down to safe temperatures, the vet may insist you keep them at home to avoid stressing them out.
In any case, it’s a good idea to call the vet and listen to any advice they can give you.
In the unlikely event that you cannot reach or contact a veterinarian, you can treat your heat-stricken chinchilla at home.
The important thing is not to chill them down too quickly. Extreme temperature swings might shock and damage their systems.
Wrap them in a towel that has been dampened with cool, not cold, water. Make sure the area where you’re treating them has enough ventilation and airflow. The idea is to gradually reduce their body temperature rather than suddenly lowering it drastically.
To summarize, never take chances with anything as serious as heat stroke. It can happen quickly and quickly deteriorate. If you feel your chinchilla is suffering from heatstroke, seek professional assistance as soon as possible.
Keep an eye out for indications of heatstroke, and do your best to give your chinchilla an environment that reduces the risk of heat exhaustion and heatstroke.