Chinchillas, also known as “chins” are sociable, fun-loving, and enjoyable companions. Only on rare occasions would you encounter an overweight chinchilla. A lot of owners are still uncertain about what fat chinchillas should look like or how much they should weigh. So, how can you tell if your chinchilla is overweight or obese?
Although you can measure the weight of a chinchilla instantly by the use of a scale, the most precise way to tell whether your chinchilla is overweight is by evaluating the relative differences in weight through the growth stages of your pet. This will serve as a guideline to help you know when your chin suddenly puts on excess weight.
Obesity can also be visible by simple observation but this does not provide enough proof and often leads to an erroneous conclusion due to individual variations.
Naturally, chinchillas have a rounded and puffed body with thick furs which can give a false sense of excessive weight.
If you notice that your chinchillas are becoming too fat, it is important that you contact your vet for medical assistance.
Notwithstanding, we’ll be covering everything you need to know about obesity in chinchillas, ranging from the causes, symptoms, and signs, to exercise and weight loss for overweight chinchillas.
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What is a healthy weight for a chinchilla?
The weight of a healthy adult Chinchilla can range anywhere from 400g to 1000g or a little above. The main reason for the wide range in chinchilla’s weight is the differences that could arise from one individual to another.
Various factors that influence the weight of a chinchilla include breed, activity level, age, genetics, and gender.
The two most prevalent breeds of chinchilla are the long-tailed chinchilla (Chilean) and the short-tailed (Peruvian) chinchilla. The long-tailed chinchilla is heavier and the differences seen between these two breeds is due to the genetic factor.
On average, the former weighs between 370 – 490g while the latter weighs between 1.1kg to 1.4kg and are usually thicker in the neck and shoulder.
Gender is another important factor that affects a chinchilla’s weight. Females are the larger and more dominant sex in chins.
Chinchillas also get bigger as they grow but their increase in size and weight comes to halt when they are fully mature.
It is very necessary to provide your chinchillas with the opportunity to exercise. This does not just help them maintain a healthy weight but also improves the overall well-being of the chinchilla.
Can Chinchillas be Overweight?
Whilst it is a very rare occurrence, chinchillas can become overweight when fed the wrong diets, particularly treats which contain excess sugar and fat than their body can deal with.
Excess consumption of sugar is the most common reason for obesity in chinchillas. It is advised to place a limit on the number of treats they consume and treats should never be taken as a staple diet.
Pet parents can ensure their chinchilla eats healthily by offering them fiber-rich diets that contain low calories such as Timothy hay and pellets. Hay does not only prevent overgrown teeth but also improves the overall gut microflora.
Ways To Tell If Your Chinchilla is Overweight
Are you having difficulty telling whether your chinchilla is overweight or not? I’ve rounded up 4 steps that will guide you.
Perhaps, what prompted you to come here in the first place is that you observed that your chinchilla is getting fatter or heavier. It shows you care for your little buddy.
Well, telling if your guinea pig is overweight by observation can be quite tricky as their dense furs and puffed appearance can make them look falsely larger. When there is bloating in chinchillas, their swollen stomach may be mistaken for weight gain.
You may observe signs of lethargy in your chinchilla’s behavior such that it shows a lack of interest in playing or does not use the exercise wheel. Lethargy can be a good indication, especially if other factors have been established.
Weighing your chinchilla regularly is very important, but unfortunately, many owners often neglect this part of their chin’s care.
It is not only employed in determining whether chinchillas are overweight. Situations could arise where some illnesses cause weight loss and owners may fail to find out early because they have not been consistent or have not appropriated weighing their pets into their routine.
Luckily, weighing your pet is very simple as you can achieve that by the use of a kitchen precision scale. It is wise to check your chinchilla’s weight every 1 or 2 weeks so you can easily tell when your chin’s weight gets overboard.
Little variations in chinchilla’s weight that from time to time could be as a result of their food consumption, changes in their routine, and so on.
Check To Find Rolls of Fat
To find out whether your chinchilla is overweight you can also check for the presence of rolls of fat in their body.
First, you would place your chinchilla on a flat surface and then raise its armpit with your index finger.
If there rolls of fat lie over your finger then it very likely that your chinchilla is overweight or obese. Do you have fat chinchillas. So what do you do now?
For the well-being of your chin, put limits on the treats you feed him and it is highly important that you consult your vet for medical assistance.
Causes of Excessive Weight in Chinchillas
If you have ever asked—why is my chinchilla getting too fat or heavy? You are not alone. Here are the most common causes of the excess weight your chinchilla just put on.
1) Chinchilla is Eating Too Much Sugar and Fat
This is the most common cause of excess weight gain in chinchillas.
As a chinchilla parent, I can admit that giving treats to your little buddy is a tempting idea. Seemingly easy but very challenging.
Treats should only make a small percentage of your chinchilla’s diet. There is a need to moderate how many treats your chin consumes.
Fruits and veggies are a generous amount of nutrients but their excess sugar content makes them quite unhealthy for your chinchilla.
Ensure you get quality pet food for your chinchilla. Timothy Hay and pellets are highly recommended.
Avoid pellets that contain nuts and seeds because they contain too much fat. While these can cause your chinchilla to become overweight, it can also increase its susceptibility to conditions like fatty liver disease.
2) Lack of Exercise or Low Physical Activity
Exercise is a major part of our life as humans and pets likewise need exercise to stay healthy and strong.
Chinchillas are physically active creatures. You are likely to find them playing, bouncing and climbing. If their cage is too small, they might have a hard time being themselves. If you don’t yet have a spacious cage for your chin, I’d recommend you get one here.
While inside the cage, it is also important that your chinchilla still gets the opportunity to exercise. An exercise wheel is a must-have inside your chinchilla’s cage.
No one wants to be a prisoner including pets. Letting your chinchilla experience a bit of floor time outside the cage, run around the house, and burn off some fat at least once each day is essential.
If you notice that your chin is lethargic or does not participate in physical activity or barely hops onto the exercise wheel, it could be a result of excess weight.
3) Weight Gain During Pregnancy
If you have a female chinchilla who is overweight then you should not panic if it is due to pregnancy. There is usually a sudden increase in weight around the 48th day of gestation.
Apart, from pregnancy, seasonal changes can also influence weight gain. During winter, your chinchilla is more prone to weight gain compared to summer.
4) Gastrointestinal Stasis
Chinchillas need to consume appropriate diets to be healthy. Their gut is built to process a high amount of dietary fibers at a fast rate but not highly calorific diets. When owners pay little attention to their pet diet, gut diseases are likely to occur.
Gastrointestinal Stasis is very common amongst chinchillas. It is a condition where the passage of food in the stomach through the intestinal is slower than normal due to blockage of the gut.
Often accompanied with GI stasis is distension of the gut which causes accumulation of undigested food disrupting the normal microbiome. This opens the door for dangerous organisms to colonize the gut. Gases are built up in the intestine delaying food passage.
Symptoms and signs to look out for include loss of appetite, bloating, lethargy, diarrhea, obstructed defecation, and passing out of smaller pellets of feces.
This does not cause an actual weight gain because your chinchilla fat stores are not affected but when you weigh your chinchilla you may find out that they have put on some extra pounds.
How Can a Fat Chinchilla Lose Weight?
If you love and care for your chinchilla, his well-being should be at the forefront of your mind.
Now you have to find out what you are doing wrongly. If you give your chinchilla a lot of treats it’s time to replace them with such calorie-rich foods with plenty of Timothy hay and pellets.
Exercise is one key aspect of chinchilla care that is often ignored by owners. If you have fat chinchillas or just want your chinchillas to stay happy and healthy, regular exercising should not be neglected.
Try to consult your vet once you notice your chinchilla is overweight, because there may be other underlying causes you may be unaware of. You cannot go wrong by taking your pet to an experienced vet.
Ideally, paying attention to little changes in the physical appearance and behavioral patterns of your chinchilla could help find out whether your pet is overweight but ultimately, weighing them regularly gives you more useful data to work with.
Pets need foods that are not just nutritious but also one they can process. Correct diets, great living conditions, and great care should lead to a good weight, and sound health in the life of your chinchilla.