Chinchilla Dying Signs [+Recognizing 7 Chinchilla Illnesses]

Chinchillas make for excellent pets and can bring a loving bond to their owners for more than a decade.

However, as unfortunate it is to discuss, sometimes things happen that are out of our control, and our chinchilla falls ill or experience death before it may have been their time.

Naturally, chinchilla’s have long life expectancies ranging from 15 years or more.

Still, in some situations, death occurs prematurely, and it is essential as a chinchilla owner to understand how to take care of your chinchilla in the best fashion possible.

As much as I wanted to avoid writing a post like this as a chinchilla owner myself, I decided it was important to enough to relay the information I understand on the topic of chinchilla’s dying and what dying symptoms if any, they may present.

This post is designed to help you understand how to recognize illness with your chinchilla in addition to having the ability to identify some common signs that your chinchilla may be in bad shape and not healthy/potentially dying.

The first disclaimer to get out of the way is that I am not a vet.

If you think you need a vet, consult one as soon as possible.

This information is coming from a chinchilla owner who has been raising a chinchilla for the past 4 years and done a plethora of research on this topic for the reason of relaying to this community and of course, to help myself become a better chinchilla owner as well.


Overall, if we can all learn how to care for our chinchilla’s even better, I would say that it is a significant victory.

Here is how I intend on breaking down the topic of chinchilla illness, death, and common illness/death symptoms:

If you are limited on time, feel free to use any of the links above to navigate around this post quickly.

Otherwise, if you have about 3-4 minutes, stick around, and I will explain everything I believe you need to know to recognize illness with your chinchilla and potentially even death.

Here are the critical details to understand.

Chinchilla Dying Signs and Symptoms

To get started, I think it is important to note that as we discuss chinchilla dying signs or symptoms that you are more than likely just spotting and recognizing an illness.

Hopefully, in the early stages.

None of the items we discuss in this post are sure signs that a chinchilla is going to die but are signs that your chinchilla may or may not have an illness that could ultimately lead to death.

The reason I am saying this before diving too deep is simple.

If you recognize any of the issues, you still can consult a vet or intervene to get your chinchilla the care they need.

If it turns out that it was a sign of dying than I deeply feel for your situation but it is more of my hope that the signs of chinchilla illness we discuss can help you recognize an illness with your chinchilla even faster allowing you to get the help necessary or provide the care needed to nurse your chinchilla back to good health.

Common Signs of Illness with Chinchillas

As we move into the primary information, let’s begin by breaking down common signs of illness with chinchillas.

If any of the following begin to occur or have already occurred, I highly recommend consulting a vet as soon as possible.

#1-Dental Issues and Teeth Issues

Dental issues with chinchillas are one of the most common occurrences you will encounter and can escalate into death if not treated when an issue does arise.

Chinchilla’s teeth continue to grow at rapid paces like many rodents.

If a tooth becomes overgrown, it can become infected.

It is essential to make sure that your chinchilla’s teeth remain a healthy orange/yellow color and the teeth do not have any chips or curls.

If a tooth problem is occurring, you will likely be able to spot the issue if your chinchilla is not eating as frequently, drooling, or showing bald patches around the mouth or eyes.

Once you notice an issue with your chinchilla’s teeth taking place, be sure to consult a vet to get the situation taken care of.

#2-Respiratory Infections

Respiratory infections would likely be the second most common illness with a chinchilla and can be caused by several different situations.

When it occurs, it can be due to the temperatures or environment where you are keeping your chinchilla and can most easily be recognized by discharge from the nose or more intense breathing.

If a respiratory infection continues without treatment, it can lead to death and cause other problems beforehand, such as anorexia and loss of appetite.

The best way to ensure your chinchilla is remaining healthy and not developing an issue that falls into this category is to weigh your chinchilla from time to time to ensure they are maintaining weight and continuing to eat the proper amount of food.

#3-Lack of Appetite

Keep in mind that other illnesses may be causing some of these other signs to display, such as tooth problems being the cause of a lack of appetite.

Nonetheless, the rest of this list we are going to discuss is still signs that something is wrong with your chinchilla.

A lack of appetite is no exception, and it is honestly one of the easier signs of chinchilla illness to recognize.

For me, I know how quickly, at this point, my chinchilla will go through her hay feeders of timothy hay and her bowl of pellets in her cage.

If this were too dramatically slow down, I would know without a doubt that something is wrong.

If this happens to you, make sure you seek the opinion of a vet to diagnose the issue.

Going too long without consuming the proper nutrition will ultimately cause a chinchilla to die.

#4-Consuming Less Water Than Usual

Another sign that your chinchilla may be falling ill that could potentially prove deadly is water consumption.

Chinchillas always need to have access to freshwater.

If you notice that the water bottles attached to the cage are not needing to be filled as often or your chinchilla does not seem interested in consuming fluids, it could be an indication that something is seriously wrong with your chin.

#5-Skin and Fur Problems

While chinchillas have one of the softest and most appealing fur coats out of any animal, you can still run into problems.

Illnesses such as ringworm, fungal infections, and bacterial infections can occur, which can cause issues if left untreated.

Typically, you will be able to spot these issues by recognizing bald batches or irritated skin.

A good way to ensure your chinchilla does not fall victim to any of these fur problems is to ensure you provide a clean chinchilla cage in proper temperatures.

It is also a good idea to spot check your chinchilla’s fur every few weeks when you have them out of the cage.

#6-Heat Stroke

Heatstroke and temperatures that exceed the recommended guidelines for a chinchilla’s environment is another area to be incredibly careful as a new chinchilla parent.

If you need to get up to speed about how to provide an ideal climate and environment for your chinchilla, you can refer to my post here.

The main takeaway here is simple.

Chinchillas must remain in cool temperatures with relatively low humidity.

Not doing so can easily cause heat exhaustion, heatstroke, and other health complications.

The primary reason for this issue is the fact that chinchillas have such dense fur, which makes it tough for a chinchilla to cool down, and they also have no ability to sweat.

It is also a primary reason why chinchilla can never be kept outside.

Be sure that if you plan to adopt a chinchilla, you have a climate-controlled and safe area for your chinchilla to be housed.

This is typically going to be a spare room, a mudroom, or even a basement that still gets some form of natural light, keeping your chinchilla in their normal sleeping rhythms.

You can also invest in chiller granite stones (Link to Amazon) to place inside your chinchilla’s cage.

These help your chinchilla to have a cool spot inside of their cage to cool down.

Nonetheless, when it comes to potential illness or something that can cause death with a chinchilla, overheating, and high temperatures are one of the leading causes.

#7-Lack of Feces Production

Poop production is an easy thing to notice owning a chinchilla.

It is basically nonstop, and if the production slows down, it is not going to be hard to notice.

Ensuring that your chinchilla continues to poop at the normal frequency and that the poop continues to look normal is another way to stay ahead of any potential illnesses.

If your chinchilla stops poop production, it could indicate some form of intestinal blockage or other illnesses.

It could also mean that your chinchilla is not eating as much as standard and indicating other illnesses.

Nonetheless, if you notice a lack of feces production, it is an excellent time to contact a vet and let professionals advise you of the next best steps to take.


How to Handle, Treat and Care for Common Illnesses with Chinchillas

Now that we have an idea of some of the signs of illnesses or indicators of a deathly ill chinchilla, it is good to understand what you can do to help your pet in these situations.

Again, do not forget what I stated at the beginning of this post.

I am not a vet, and if you notice any of the illness indicators we have discussed thus far into this post, it is best to consult a vet.

However, some of your next steps and best courses of action are going to be relatively universal when it comes to a sick chinchilla.

Let me explain by breaking down the most common and most ethical things you can do as a chinchilla parent.

Examine Your Chinchilla Regularly to Detect Issues Early

This is likely the best advice I can give any chinchilla owner.

It is also the easiest thing you can do to ensure your chinchilla remains healthy and that you have a strong chance to detect illness and issues early, helping prevent death.

This includes examining your chinchilla’s teeth, as we mentioned previously.

It is also best to always check your chinchillas’ fur for any abnormalities.

Checking your chinchilla’s genitals at least once a month can help prevent illnesses and infections such as hair ring as well, which can be deadly if it prevents urination or reduces any blood flow.

Treat Illnesses Based on Vet’s Recommendations Only

The second-best thing you can do is get the advice of a professional once you have detected an illness with your chinchilla.

Often, a vet can quickly help you trim your chinchilla’s teeth or improve other tooth-related issues.

Vet’s can also help you by providing antibiotics to treat other common bacteria of fungal infections that can arise.

If you believe it is more related to overheating, you can wrap your chinchilla in ice packs and take your chinchilla to the vet for further treatment.

Nonetheless, it is best that if it gets to where you believe an illness or emergency is becoming life-threatening, that you take your chinchilla to a vet as soon as possible after rendering what immediate care you can.

Do not Forget About the Potential for Depression with Chinchillas

Depression is something that is often not discussed when it comes to owning a chinchilla, but it can be a real issue.

While it is not technically considered an illness and is not treated with medication, it is still something to take seriously.

Chinchilla needs the ability to be provided social interaction and to have a loving home.

If it is not possible for you to interact with them often, it may be best to consider bonding your chinchilla with a second chinchilla or not adopting a chinchilla in the first place.

While depression won’t become an immediate threat to your chinchilla’s health, it could eventually lead to issues such as more anti-social behavior, lack of appetite, and yes, even death if any of the other illnesses or lack of eating become a more significant or prolonged issue.

Simply put, a chinchilla needs a little love and a little attention to thrive and remain healthy.

Providing Adequate Care to Avoid Illness and Death with Chinchillas

We all set out to provide excellent care for our chinchillas when we ultimately decide to adopt.

No one is questioning that.

However, providing the best care possible out of the gates can help negate some of the potentials for illness and death if you are educated from the beginning and stick to some basic principles.

As mentioned previously, it all starts with providing an adequate environment that is climate controlled and safe for your chinchilla.

Next, I would vote that it is imperative that your chinchilla is provided a large enough cage to allow them to move around freely and safely.

I always recommend the Critter Nation 2 Dual Level Cage (Link to Amazon).

It certainly has the size and plenty of options for providing other excellent accessories that help your chinchilla thrive.

This can include the ease of adding comfortable fleece liners (Link to Amazon).

It also includes the ability to add the best chinchilla toys to your chinchilla’s cage to allow them to play and chew as much as they need to keep their teeth healthy.

You can always read my review of the Critter Nation 2 cage here if you need additional information.

After you have a safe environment and one of the best chinchilla cages provided, the next best thing you can do is provide some form of social interaction for your chinchilla as often as possible.

This can be time out of the cage playing and interacting with you or the potential of another chinchilla in the future after taking the time to bond the two chinchillas properly.

Lastly, always provide the best diet you can for your chinchilla.

This includes providing the best chinchilla hay and chinchilla formulated pellets.

This combination of food for your chinchilla is going to provide the necessary fiber and protein your chinchilla needs to remain healthy in addition to many other benefits.

If you can get these essential tasks completed, you will be in much better shape to ensure your chinchilla is going to live a long and healthy life.

Plain and simple.

How Do You Know When A Chinchilla Is Dying?


Unfortunately, you will not ever precisely know when your chinchilla is dying.

It does not typically happen in this fashion with chinchillas.

While some owners will report lethargic behavior and lack of appetite in the days leading up a death, others will report that a death was more sudden and completely unexpected.

The best thing you can do is simply monitor your chinchilla and understand when illness does strike so you can intervene as quickly as possible.

What Can Cause A Chinchilla to Die?

We have basically touched on this topic in full depth already.

Many things can cause a chinchilla to die, but most frequently, a chinchilla will die from heatstroke, respiratory infection, or another illness that causes a lack of eating.

While these aren’t the only causes of death for a chinchilla, they make up a good majority of the deaths that chinchilla owners report and it’s imperative to follow the guidelines we have laid out thus far into this post to help recognize and treat illness as quickly as possible to ensure our chinchillas live long and healthy lives.

An Unfortunate Sudden Death

Unfortunately, I do not know the circumstances of everyone who is reading this post.

I am not sure if you are doing preliminary research before adopting a chinchilla, believe your chinchilla is ill right now or possibly your chinchilla already died, and you just have to know why.

Therefore, I want to make sure that I give you a bit of peace of mind about the situation.

Pet’s die, unfortunately.

Even when we do everything by the book and provide the best care possible.

As much as I hate to say it and think of any of my pets falling into this group, I do know it happens, and it will happen to many of us.

If it has happened to you with your chinchilla, myself and the Planet Chinchilla community certainly feel for you and wish you the best and hope you decide to get another chinchilla in the future.

The point I am trying to make is simple but a bit sad.

Sometimes, sudden death or something that can’t always be prevented will happen, and it’s part of owning a chinchilla.

These are relatively fragile rodents.

They bring us tons of joy while we have them, and more than likely, you can have a bond that lasts more than 15 years.

Sometimes, it does not happen like this.

Old Age Happens with Chinchillas

I think most of us are familiar enough with pets to understand that death with a chinchilla may have nothing going on illness wise and simply come down to old age.

Typically, chinchillas will live around 14-17 years, but not always and all chinchillas are different.

Nonetheless, old age does happen with chinchilla’s, and it is not uncommon for a chinchilla to die once they have lived this long.

My Chinchilla is Lying on Their Side…Are They Dying?

If your chinchilla is lying on their side, it does not necessarily mean they are dying, but it likely means trouble.

This could be a sign of heatstroke or another illness.

If this is your chinchilla and it is a behavior that you typically have never noticed in the past, you need to be getting ahold of your vet as quickly as possible.

A chinchilla laying not here side is an indicator of illness or potential death with a chinchilla so get your chinchilla the attention and care they need as quickly as possible.

Final Thoughts

This has not been the most enjoyable posts to write for the Planet Chinchilla Community.

It is not fun to think about this side of chinchilla ownership and parenting, but unfortunately, it is part of the package and part of your responsibility to understand if you plan to adopt a chinchilla in the near future.

Chinchilla’s becoming ill or dying is part of the deal you are enrolling in when you decide to adopt, and the more knowledge you have right out of the gates, the better.

Chinchilla’s make for excellent family pets, and with the right care, they can live exceptionally long, happy, and healthy lives.

Chili and I certainly wish you the best of luck with your chinchillas and hope illness and death is not something you have to deal with.

At least, not for a long time.


Share Your Thoughts

Do you have any further recommendations that can help the community to recognize an illness or potential death warning sign with our chinchilla’s?

Do you believe any further information about chinchilla illness and death needs to be added to this post?

Be sure to share those thoughts, stories, and concerns by dropping a comment below.

As always, Chili and I appreciate you stopping by and reading today, and we will see you again next time.

Josh Martin

My Name is Josh and this is my 4 year-old female chinchilla "Chili". We created Planet Chinchilla to share all the stories about owning a chinchilla that you need to know. I'm the Author of the eBook "The Ultimate Chinchilla Care Guide, From Adoption and On"

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