A Chinchilla’s fur coat is very thick. Each of their hair follicles contains about 50-80 hairs. A square centimeter of a Chinchilla can contain about 20,000 hairs! This makes you wonder – do Chinchillas shed their fur?
Yes, Chinchillas shed – it’s normal. They shed all year-round – the heaviest every three months – then lightly for the rest of the months. Remove the perpetual fur in its cage. Reduce shedding by correct grooming and regular dust baths.
What is the Process of Shedding?
Chinchilla shedding starts at its head and moves down its sides and back until it reaches its tail.
During the shedding process, there will be a distinct line (priming line) on the fur of your Chinchilla. It is in the priming line where the growth of fresh coats is happening.
The growth of new hair pushes old hair follicles to fall off, forming a priming line. The priming line separates the Chinchilla’s old hair from the new hair. Upon reaching the tail of your Chinchilla, the coat is in its prime condition.
The priming line may be very distinct in some Chinchillas while it may not be always noticeable in others.
The shedding process lasts for about two weeks and will be in its prime condition (when its coat is in its best condition) until it is time for the new shedding cycle to begin.
Some Chinchillas, start their new shedding cycle even before the old priming line has reached the tail and disappeared.
Shedding vs. Fur Slip
You should not confuse shedding with a fur slip. While both entail the falling of fur in Chinchillas, but both occur because of different reasons.
Shedding in Chinchillas is a normal process so they can grow new fur. Fur slip in Chinchillas is automatic when the animal is mishandled or caught. It’s a Chinchilla’s defense mechanism when it’s in a stressful situation.
If your Chinchilla gradually loses small amounts of fur on all parts of its body, this is part of its normal shedding process to get rid of older hair and replace them with new hair underneath. This process is gradual so there will be no visible bald spots.
A traumatic event always precedes fur slip. Your Chinchilla will lose a large amount of fur all at once, and a bald patch will be noticeable.
Reasons Chinchillas Shed
Why do Chinchillas shed their fur?
1. It is a Normal Process
Chinchillas regularly renew their fur – every three months. As they grow new fur, they shed their old fur.
The normal shedding of fur helps Chinchillas regulate their temperature. This is the reason they shed more fur when seasons change.
Chinchillas can only live well in certain temperatures, thus, they have come up with a method to help keep their temperature constant.
As temperatures rise in the summer, your Chinchilla will shed more fur so it can have better air circulation and ventilation within its fur.
High temperatures and humidity within the range of 800F may cause your Chinchilla to have a heatstroke. It is, therefore, important for Chinchillas to regulate temperatures.
When they do not shed their fur, some Chinchillas develop mats close to their skin. This prevents the air from circulating within their fur and can lead them to feel extremely hot. Shedding their fur will help them stay cooler.
When temperatures drop by fall, Chinchillas shed their summer coats and replace them with thicker winter coats to keep them warm.
You can comb the fur of your Chinchilla to remove some of its shedding furs. After combing your Chinchilla’s fur, you will notice that dead fur may rise to the surface and fall off. You can then either comb them again or allow the Chinchilla to shed more.
While it is normal for your Chinchilla to shed its fur all year round, it’s not normal to have bald patches on its coat. If this happens, you should immediately take your Chinchilla to the vet.
2. Chinchillas have Lots of Fur
This seems to be an obvious reason for Chinchillas to shed fur. Chinchillas are not the biggest animals but they are one of the hairiest animals.
Chinchillas have the thickest hair among mammals. While humans have only three hairs per follicle, Chinchillas have 50-80 hairs. It only, therefore, makes a lot of sense that they shed their fur.
Abnormal Conditions for Shedding
While it is normal for Chinchillas to shed, you should watch out for signs to know when shedding is not part of the normal process.
• Fur Barbering
This happens when your Chinchilla chews on its fur or the fur of his fellow Chinchilla. You may not be aware of this because you did not witness your Chinchilla actually doing it.
Your Chinchilla tends to chew its own fur when it is boring or when it does not have a dust bath. When you do not give your Chinchilla regular dust baths, they will do it themselves through barbering.
Some Chinchillas excessively chew their fur when they are stressed, have an imbalanced diet, or when it is in a very warm environment. A hormonal imbalance can also sometimes cause Chinchillas to chew their fur.
Some Chinchillas genetically, just love to bite their fur. A patchy coat is a definite sign your Chinchilla has been fur barbering.
• Fur Slip
As mentioned earlier, fur slip can easily be misunderstood as normal shedding. Fur slip is the ability of Chinchillas to release a lot of furs so they can slip away from when you are holding unto it.
Chinchillas do not like to be held. Be patient with your Chinchilla. Don’t grab your Chinchilla on its first day with you or it will do a fur slip and shed a lot of furs. This will end up with you having to deal with its fur in your hands.
If you like to hold your Chinchilla a lot, be ready to have more Chinchilla fur around your home than when your Chinchilla goes through the normal process of shedding.
If you really want to hold your Chinchilla, make sure you hold it close to your chest. Make sure to support its legs.
Skin disease can cause your Chinchilla to shed a lot of furs. Some of these skin diseases are fungal infections (ringworms) and abscesses. Bald patches are a sign your Chinchilla may have a skin disease.
Take your Chinchilla to the vet so he can prescribe medication to deal with your Chinchilla’s skin disease.
Does your Chinchilla slobber down its chin? It could lose a lot of hair from its chest and chin because of excessive salivation.
Your Chinchilla needs a lot of fiber because its teeth grow continuously and it has to gnaw them down.
If it does not get the right amount of fiber from its diet, it will find another way to wear its teeth down. This will cause your Chinchilla’s teeth to develop unevenly (malocclusion).
Malocclusion can make your Chinchilla lose appetite and a lot of weight.
If you notice that your Chinchilla has a patchy chest and/or chin due to fur shedding, take it to the vet. The vet will trim its teeth and bring your Chinchilla back to proper health.
Your Chinchilla will shed fur more than normal when it is frightened or stressed.
A wrong diet, loud noises, dirty surroundings, and being around your other pets (cats and dogs) can stress out your Chinchilla.
Placing its cage near a busy road can also be an additional cause of stress.
The only thing you can do to keep your Chinchilla from being stressed is to determine the reason for the stress and change it. If, for example, your Chinchilla gets stressed by the presence of your dog, then keep the dog away from your Chinchilla.
Take your Chinchilla to the vet if you cannot figure out why your Chinchilla is still shedding fur excessively and it is having bald spots.
How to Reduce Chinchilla Shedding
Yes, shedding fur is typically normal for your Chinchilla but there is something you can do to reduce excessive shedding.
• Groom your Chinchilla
Grooming your Chinchilla can be a bit tricky. While you want to groom your Chinchilla, it may not want it. Chinchillas tend to groom themselves but when they are not able to, they grow excessive fur.
When that happens, you may want to do the grooming yourself to prevent it from having all that extra fur. Chinchillas are typically not used to grooming because they are not groomed while in the wild.
Some Chinchillas enjoy being groomed. You must not, however, force your Chinchilla if it out rightly refuses to be groomed. Forcing your Chinchilla to be groomed will make it activate its fur slipping capability so it can get away from you.
If your Chinchilla does not like to be groomed, check if it is willing to have you brush its fur. This will allow you to get rid of excessive fur.
Good grooming will not only benefit the appearance of your Chinchilla. Grooming also reduces the amount of fur your Chinchilla will shed. Less shedding means less mess, dirt, dander, and matting.
• Give your Chinchilla Regular Dust Baths
Let your Chinchilla take regular dust baths. Through dust baths, your Chinchilla can remove oils and dust in its fur.
In dust baths, Chinchillas bathe themselves in fine dust instead of in soap and water. Dust baths will keep your Chinchilla’s silky soft.
It clears dirt and debris from your Chinchilla’s fur. Additionally, dust baths evenly distribute natural oils in your Chinchilla’s fur.
• Dust Bath Container
To dust bath, your Chinchilla, pour about 2 inches of fine dust in a container. Make sure it is deep enough for your Chinchilla to properly bathe. There are Chinchilla bathing containers you can buy in pet stores.
You can also use a heavy, deep, and tip-resistant bowl as a bathtub. Make sure it is large enough for your Chinchilla to roll.
Place the container inside the cage of your Chinchilla. After its bath, keep the dust bath. You can use it repeatedly until it starts having clumps and looks dirty.
• Dust Bath
To give itself a dust bath, your Chinchilla will roll in the dust. This will allow the dust to penetrate its skin and absorb all dirt and oil from its fur. This will keep its coat clean.
Allow your Chinchilla to have dust baths two to three times a week of about 10 to 15 minutes each time. Evenings are the best times for a dust bath because this is when your Chinchilla is most active. Dust baths make Chinchillas clean themselves.
Never leave your Chinchilla’s dust bath in its cage for long because it may mess it up with poop and urine. Besides, too much dust bathing will dry out the skin of your Chinchilla.
Place some wooden chew toys in the dust bath to entertain your Chinchilla to prevent it from chewing its fur.
If your Chinchilla still chews its own fur (barbering), you should take it to the vet. Barbering is a Chinchilla’s response to internal pain.
A dust bath can help reduce the excessive shedding of your Chinchilla.
Dangers Linked with Shedding
Shedding fur is a natural process for Chinchillas. The shedding does not cause them any harm, instead, it helps keep them healthy. There are some shedding issues, though, that you need to be wary of.
A Chinchilla shedding a lot of furs is typically tempted to lick the excess fur. If the Chinchilla consumes too much of its fur, it may develop intestinal blockage or digestive problems.
It is, therefore, important that you regularly clean your Chinchillachila’s cage of any excess fur.
There are also instances when your Chinchilla’s fur gets stuck in its coat and makes it mat. Matted fur can cause a lot of problems for your Chinchilla because it cannot remove oil that will develop in its skin.
Matted fur can also cause your Chinchilla to lose a huge amount of heat. Matted fur can also lead to skin irritation.
These issues associated with fur shedding should never be left unnoticed because they may lead to your Chinchilla having health problems.
Chinchillas do shed their fur – and now we know the reason why we know what to expect and how to deal with it.
If you were wearing a thick fur coat all year long, there’d be times when you also wanted to feel cooler!
Just be sure that cooling down is the only reason. Keep watching your little pet for any signs of stress.
They may seem hardy enough, but they suffer from stress and anxiety, meaning they need our special care and attention.