How Can You Tell If A Chinchilla Is Dehydrated?[7 Useful Tips]

So, you just adopted a chinchilla or maybe have been a chinchilla owner for quite some time and may have some concerns about your chinchilla’s well-being and if your chinchilla is remaining hydrated.

I was the exact same way.

How can you tell if a chinchilla is dehydrated?

I have now been raising a chinchilla for the past 5 years and here is what I can tell you.

Chinchillas can become dehydrated without showing signs or symptoms. To check if your chinchilla may be dehydrated, you can monitor their water intake, check how quickly their neck skin returns to its original position after a slight pull. Diarrhea is also an indicator of dehydration with chinchillas.

I’m entirely aware that you may not understand a few of these methods to test for dehydration with your chinchilla outside of monitoring the water bottle levels and how much water your chinchilla is consuming.

In this post, I intend on breaking down each of these methods for you.

My goal in mind is to ensure that your chinchilla is always healthy, happy, and well taken care of.

After all, that’s all our goals, right?

Chinchillas can make great pets for 2 decades if well cared for so let’s ensure that we get those 20 years of joy and stay diligent and prepared about being an ethical chinchilla owner.

Let’s start diving into the details now and keep your chinchilla well hydrated.


😕Adopting and caring for a new chinchilla can be intimidating and confusing. It does not have to be so do not let it be.

Be sure to check out my full digital eBook “Avoiding Critical Mistakes Ultimate Chinchilla Care eBook” to have the best advice, tips, and tricks and supply recommendations to make adopting and caring for a chinchilla much more comfortable and easier to understand.

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Learn more here:👉 Avoiding Critical Mistakes Ultimate Chinchilla Care eBook Offer

How Can You Tell If A Chinchilla Is Dehydrated?

As mentioned before, it is possible that your chinchilla could become dehydrated and it is relatively difficult for you to tell an issue is even taking place.

One of the most telling ways to recognize dehydration with chinchillas is if you spot diarrhea instead of hard poop nuggets.

This is almost always caused by decreased water intake or by offering your chinchilla the wrong food or treats.

It is also possible that your chinchilla is dehydrated or potentially getting too hot if you notice the inner ear turning red or showing blood vessels on your chinchilla.

And lastly, one more test you can complete is a simple skin pull test on your chinchilla’s neck.

I personally hate this method for checking a chinchillas dehydration because it is not the most comfortable position to put your chinchilla in and I will be completely honest…

I am not very good at recognizing the speed that the skin should return to the normal position anyways.

This is why I result to the easiest method of them all.

Monitor how much water your chinchilla is taking in, ensure they do not get too hot and that their poop is not diarrhea and you are in good shape.

If the above criteria are being met, dehydration is not something I think you need to worry about.

Now that we know some of the basics, I want to begin diving into my 7 tips you can always use to recognize and help with dehydration with your chinchilla.

7 Tips For Spotting Dehydration With Your Chinchilla

Tip #1-Understanding Normal Chinchilla Fluid Intake to Recognize Dehydration

You Should Be Monitoring How Much Fluid Your Chinchilla is Drinking. “Chili” Consumes About 1 Water Bottle a Week Or So.

Picture yourself as a concerned parent for your own children.

For you to recognize something is off with your children, you must be aware of what’s normal and typical behavior.

The same applies to owning a chinchilla.

This all begins with understanding how much water your chinchilla consumes typically.

For my chinchilla, she will drink one full glass water bottle with a nozzle dripper roughly once per week.

However, be aware that water bottles come in different sizes so this may not apply to you.

I know this down to a science because, during my regular cage cleanings, I wash and rinse her water bottle.

It’s like clockwork.

Almost every Sunday when I clean her cage, her water bottle is getting close to running on empty.

This helps you to begin understanding the healthy behaviors your chinchilla will typically display.

Don’t worry too much about this.

A lot of this learning curve just happens as you go through the process like anything in life.

Sure, I was on Google nearly every day asking questions learning about my chinchilla in the beginning but now I’m hoping to help all of you.

It’s easy in all honesty and only gets easier as you go.

However, at the end of the day, it was owning a chinchilla and learning the hard way that’s really made me the owner I am today.

Now, assuming you do understand your chinchilla’s normal behavior, it’s time to move onto the next methods you can use to help determine if your chinchilla may be dehydrated.

This is going to transition into more visual inspections you can perform to check your chinchilla for dehydration.

Tip #2- Take A Good Look at The Inside and Outside of Your Chinchillas Ears

Learning this tip is essential for more reasons than checking your chinchilla’s fluid intakes.

Checking your chinchillas’ ears is not a direct connection to dehydration but certainly can indicate trouble that requires cold fluids to help remedy.

Chinchillas overheat very easily.

Overheating can cause heatstroke if it goes unnoticed.

This is due to their dense fur and their inability to sweat or release heat like other animals are capable of.

Instead, your chinchilla releases heat through their ears.

When your chinchilla is near overheating or getting too hot, you will notice the veins in your chinchilla’s ear beginning to dilate and become visible.

Depending on the color of your chinchilla, you can notice this on the inside and outside of your chinchillas’ ears.

Dark-colored or ebony chinchillas will likely require brushing the fur out of the way or checking the inner ears.

Light-colored chinchillas will be much easier.

If your chinchilla is a light color, you should be able to notice your chinchillas’ ears turning red on the exterior and interior of their ear.

Again, this indicates overheating.

To fix this problem, you need to get your chinchilla cooling down.

To do this, you need to get to a room that has colder temperatures.

If you haven’t read my post about proper chinchilla temperatures, you need to.

I have a post that discussed the ideal temperatures that chinchillas need to remain at all times that you can read here.

Additionally, your chinchilla needs to drink water, begin hydrating and you can also use a cold rag and dab their ears to help cool them down.

Like I stated before, red ears don’t directly relate to dehydration.

However, dehydration is directly related to the need for more water and fluids.

If you notice your chinchilla potentially on the verge of overheating, fluids need to be offered, and dehydration could occur ultimately causing death.

Simply remember, keep your chinchilla in proper temperature rooms, always have water available, and don’t make them overexert themselves during playtime.

Following these steps should make you a pro at tip #2 and have you one step closer to avoiding dehydration and potential overheating.

Tip #3- Use the Old Skin Pull Test to Check for Dehydration with Your Chinchilla

This tip you may be familiar with because this is often even performed on ourselves.

It’s the skin return pull and returning to its original state.

To do this, comb or pull back the hair on your chinchillas’ neck.

You will want to use your thumb and index finger to perform this test.

In addition, you will want to do so calmly and gently to avoid startling your chinchilla or causing a fur slip.

Especially if there is the chance that your chinchilla is not feeling up to par or could potentially be coming down with an illness.

After pulling the skin on the neck gently in a vertically upward direction, release your chinchilla’s neck skin.

If it’s prolonged to return to its normal resting position, your chinchilla is dehydrated and needs to be offered fluids, and you may need to consider calling your chinchilla vet.

However, if your chinchilla’s skin returns to its normal position quickly and in a typical fashion, your chinchilla is likely not dehydrated, and you can wipe this off your worry list.

However, as always continue to monitor and care for your chinchilla the same way you would for anyone in your family.

Tip #4- Check to See If Your Chin is Slow, Sleeping Too Much or Lethargic

Another telling sign that your chinchilla may be dehydrated is the behavior they are displaying.

We all know how chinchillas usually act by climbing and jumping on nearly everything they can.

For a better understanding of these topics, start with reading my post about if chinchillas climb here.

You can also read my post about if chinchillas jump here.

It will help explain what to beware of, how to keep your chin safe, and what to expect.

If your chinchilla is suddenly not acting like themselves, this could indicate dehydration or another illness.

Lethargic behavior and abnormal amounts of sleep can typically indicate your chinchilla is dehydrated or coming down with another illness.

If your chinchilla is in this state of mind and frame of body, I highly recommend attempting to get your chinchilla to drink water and seeing a vet as soon as possible.

With small pets like chinchillas, when they do fall ill, it can progress and get worse quickly.

It’s always important to remain proactive with your care and active monitoring to ensure your chinchilla is happy and healthy.

Nonetheless, sluggish or low energy behavior can indicate dehydration or other illness with your chinchilla.

Call your vet as soon as possible.

Tip #5- Check Your Chinchillas Poop

Chinchilla poop all the time if you were not yet aware.

Additionally, chinchilla poop is always about the same size, shape, and color.

To make things easy on you, I have a post that details how often chinchillas poop that you can read here.

This makes spotting an illness or something out of the ordinarily easy to do.

If your chinchillas’ poop is getting smaller, less frequent, or potentially even soft, it can be a sure-fire sign that your chinchilla is dehydrated.

This is also another example of when it may be a good time to call your vet.

You simply need to ensure your chinchilla doesn’t have something worse than dehydration.

It’s better to be safe than sorry in these circumstances.

I always recommend double-checking your chinchilla doesn’t have something more severe than dehydration.

Tip #6- Monitor How Much Your Chinchilla is Urinating

Up next on our to-do list is keeping diligent tracking of your chinchilla’s urine.

If you are currently using bedding in your chinchilla’s cage, this is going to be very tough to do.

It’s still doable if you know the corner of the cage where your chinchilla typically urinates.

This is one of my favorite reasons for recommending using custom fleece liners (Link to Amazon).

They are specifically designed for the Critter Nation 2 cage (Link to Amazon).

For starters, it’s better on your chinchillas’ feet, but it’s also easy to clean and makes noticing and tracking your chinchilla’s urine easy.

You see, the fleece needs to be washed in cold water at least once a week.

Before washing it, it’s obvious where your chinchilla has urinated.

If you are hesitant about purchasing these fleece liners, I highly recommend reading another blog post I have.

It will detail if the fleece is safe for chinchillas and detail why I’m so in love with these cut to fit liners opposed to chinchilla bedding.

It’s Easy For Me To See How Often My Chinchilla Is Urinating By The Wet Litter In Her Pan or Soaked Areas of Fleece Around Her Pan

For my chinchilla, I’m currently actively trying to litter pan train her.

Nonetheless, when she doesn’t use the pan, I can easily see the wet spots where she has urinated.

If your chinchilla is suddenly not urinating at the same frequency that they usually do, this can be a fast and sure indicator that they are dehydrated.

Attempt to get your chinchilla drinking cold water and call your vet if the problem continues.

Tip #7- Check to See If Your Chinchillas Cheek Bones Are More Prominent

The last and final tip I have for you is to know your chinchilla well enough to recognize their physical appearance.

It’s been shown and common for a chinchilla’s cheekbones to become more prominent if they are currently dehydrated.

If you do notice this taking place, use the same solution we have been discussing this entire post.

Attempt to get your chinchilla consuming fluids.

Clean the water bottle and check for plugs, adjust the temperature of the room if need be, and make a call and visit to your vet.

Dehydration can be dangerous.

Remember, it’s always better to be safe than sorry to remain an ethical chinchilla owner.

Bonding and Understanding Your Chinchilla is The Best Way to Spot Dehydration

While owning a chinchilla is easy in my opinion, it’s not without love and dedication that furthers your understanding, bonding, and learning of your chinchilla’s behaviors as much as possible that will help you the most.

Some of this will come naturally, and some of it will require research and checking on Google just like you are now.

How you learn these critical tips about your chinchilla’s health, happiness and lifestyle are not essential.

Taking the time to bond and wanting to learn what’s best for your chinchilla is the most important lesson and takeaway I hope you gain from this post.

So, to re-emphasize, how can you tell if your chinchilla is dehydrated?

It’s easy.

Check urine, poop, water bottle levels, skin and ears, and watch for abnormal behaviors.

That’s the fastest and most straightforward way to explain it.

Chili and I wish you the best of luck with your new chinchilla and the journey you have ahead of you.

Has your chinchilla been dehydrated in the past?

How did you recognize dehydration and what did you do to solve the issue?

Be sure to share those stories, thoughts, 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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