Chinchillas have one of the most amazing coats of fur out of animals worldwide. It’s a big reason that they are hunted and nearly reached a point of extinction at one point. They are now protected thankfully but I think you get the point. They have a rare dense fur with over 50 hairs pair follicle. When I brought my first chinchilla home I had so many questions that I could barely think straight. One of those questions was directly related to the fur coats with chinchillas. Should you brush a chinchilla. Now that I’ve learned many things and done my homework, here is what I can tell you.
So, should you brush a chinchilla? No, a chinchilla does not need to be brushed and in most circumstances, they will not enjoy this. Chinchillas only need a healthy diet, regular dust baths, and proper temperatures and health to maintain the beauty and softness of their fur.
I’m sure this still leaves you wondering many things and you have more questions. My goal here today in this post was to hopefully answer all these questions for you and bring you all the information necessary so that you can keep your chinchilla and his or her fur in top notch shape. Let’s dive into it.
More About Brushing Your Chinchilla
We mentioned how brushing your chinchilla is not necessary but how does this make any sense? Well, first chinchillas perform self-grooming on themselves and they do it often. In addition, the grease and oil produced on a chinchilla’s fur and body when they take their dust baths are adequate for keeping chinchilla fur in perfect order.
In additions, chinchillas are very friendly animals and social but they don’t necessarily like being manhandled. Gently handling a chinchilla is the way to go. Brushing is a little overboard for their liking or at least that’s how my 1-year old chinchilla is. A gentle chin scratch and head rub make her happy but I know that brushing her would be a no go for sure.
Climate and Control and Temperature Considerations
One thing to keep in mind with ensuring your chinchilla’s fur stays healthy and plentiful is to monitor the seasons and the climates. In the heat of a humid summer, you may want to step the dust bathes up a notch to make sure your chinchillas’ fur and skin is getting adequate nutrients and oils.
If however, it’s winter and the air is drier, you don’t need nearly as many dust baths for your chinchilla’s fur to be perfectly fine and your chinchilla to be perfectly healthy.
In Extreme Circumstances When A Brushing Is Required
In some cases, you may encounter where you do have to brush your chinchilla. This is going to be when the fur it bunched, matted or overly greasy. In these situations, you still want to refrain from using a brush. You would be much better suited using a long-handled and long toothed comb to get the job done.
This will reduce the stress on your chinchilla greatly and not spook him or her quite as much. We all know how shaky and timid they can get and if you go for the home run with a brush it’s only going to add to their fear and give your chinchilla some extreme anxiety.
Never Brush or Comb During the First Few Weeks Your Chinchilla is Home
Brushing and combing are 100% advised against during the first few weeks your chinchilla is home. During this time, your chinchilla really needs to be doing nothing but staying in the cage and learning smells, noises and your voice. They are going to be very scared and not know what’s going on early in the process.
Attempting to brush or comb a chinchilla in these first few weeks could lead to enough fear to cause your chinchilla to overheat or may even lead to your chinchilla biting you. If you have never been bitten by a chinchilla, trust me. It doesn’t feel good by any means. They can break the skin and leave you a little timid to go reaching into the cage freely the next time.
Other Common Chinchilla Fur Problems
Below, I wanted to list out some other problems that chinchillas can often have in relation to their fur. Just because it’s listed below does not mean that you should brush your chinchilla. Each variation of the problem means something completely different. Let’s dive into a few of these possible scenarios.
Chinchilla is Shedding Excessively Or More Than Usual
If this is the case, it’s most likely due to anxiety, fear, and stress. Sometimes when you first bring your chinchilla home is when you will notice this the most because of the new environment and to put it simply, your chinchilla is terrified during these first few days. This still does not mean to brush your comb your chinchilla.
Speak to your chinchilla softly and try not being making overly loud sounds that scare the chinchilla even more. This should help them get more used to the environment and begin to feel more comfortable. At this point, the shedding should slow down but if it doesn’t, Id recommend calling your vet.
Weak Or Matted Fur. Chinchilla Fur Looks Less Dense
This can also be caused by several factors and again stress and fear can be the cause. In addition, this can indicate a diet problem or indicate that your chinchilla is getting too much protein. If this is the case, you still do not need to brush your chinchilla but you do need to adjust the chinchilla’s diet and try to remove some of the protein form the mix to see if the problem continues.
Overly Greasy Fur With Your Chinchilla
If your chinchilla has overly greasy fur, you can usually fix the problem by allowing your chinchilla to take more dust baths. The dust baths are what remove the grease and oils from the fur. Get your chinchilla out for more dust baths or allow your chinchilla to take more dust baths inside the cage.
If you are just getting home with your chinchilla I recommend allowing the chinchilla to take the dust bath inside the cage until you have formed a bond and your chinchilla recognizes you as the owner. This can help greatly eliminate some fear and help your chinchilla to become more comfortable with the environment.
Bald Spots On Your Chinchilla
If your chinchilla has bald spots this is also most likely caused by fur slips and stress/fear. This can also be caused by having two chinchillas together in the same cage and they may be roughhousing more than you think when you aren’t watching.
Chinchillas like to play but they are known to take it to a new level in some situations, so you have to careful that one chinchilla isn’t becoming the victim of bites and purposely slipping the fur or losing too much out of fear or to escape the other chinchilla.
You see, this is natural behavior for chinchillas. Chinchillas will naturally slip fur on purpose to escape enemies in the wild and help to escape a grab by another animal’s mouth or to blind the predator that’s chasing closely behind them. I think this is an awesome defense mechanism, but you should never have this happening in your home with your chinchilla.
Chinchilla Fur That Is Clumped
This is another possibility and fur problem that chinchilla can have. This usually comes from very high humidity situations. In these situations, as we discussed previously, you can’t increase dust baths to solve the problem. Something such as a humidifier could help greatly but don’t overdo the dust baths and still avoid the temptation to brush your chinchilla. It’s not necessary and will most likely only cause more stress or more hair to fall out during the process.
Full Blown Fur Slip
I already mentioned what this usually means, and this is the most common problem with chinchilla fur but it’s also the problem that indicates the most fear in your chinchilla’s mind. Chinchillas will only do this if they feel they are in danger.
Whatever the environment is for your chinchilla that’s causing this, you need to change and make sure that you make them more comfortable to avoid more fur coming off or your chinchilla overheating due to stress, fear, and anxiety.
Will the Fur On my Chinchilla Grow Back?
Yes. It will. It only takes a few short months to come back and everything should look good as new. In general, a few fur problems usually don’t indicate anything major but it’s always important to keep tabs on what’s going with your chinchilla to make sure they are safe and continue to feel safe.
Putting it All Together. Throw Away the Brushes. You Don’t Need Them
At the end of the day, the point that I hope I emphasized is that chinchillas don’t need their fur brushed now should you do it. I have yet to see a chinchilla that enjoys this, and I know my chinchilla doesn’t enjoy it either.
Keeping your chinchilla calm, happy and feeling safe is priority number 1 and this is a sure-fire way to potentially dishonor that goal. Don’t worry about brushing your chinchilla and start with temperature control and dust baths first. If the problem continues you can always call your vet and see what they recommend.
What’re your experiences with brushing chinchillas? Do you have any stories you can share about how they reacted or what fur problems you have encountered as a chinchilla owner? Be sure to drop a comment below.