What are baby chinchillas like? How do I take care of them? What do they need?
I am quite sure that you have encountered these questions once, or maybe many times, especially when your chinchillas have mated and you’re expecting a cute little ball of fur. Otherwise, these can just be thoughts that have crossed your mind after deciding that you want a newborn chinchilla to grow with you.
Allow me to help you with your concerns by providing you with all the essential details you need to know about baby chinchillas. By the end of this post, you will certainly be convinced that you deserve to have one or more little rodents to be a part of your home.
What Do Baby Chinchillas Look Like
Baby chinchillas are called “kits”, having a full coat of fur and opening their eyes within minutes of birth. Typically, kits weigh 25 to 80 grams at birth. Over time, they grow up and reach a normal range of 35 to 60 grams.
At first, newborns are wobbly, and they would snuggle under their mothers for food and warmth. After a few hours, or by the end of their first day, they may already be agile to move around.
Weaning is a natural process between the mother and kits that usually starts around the 8th week. Depending on the mother chinchilla’s care and protection, a kit is typically left with her for around 8 to 12 weeks or after they weigh around 200 grams. Baby chinchillas learn their social skills and behavior from their mothers.
Also, compared to other rodents, chinchillas have a lesser number of kits averaging to 2 litters only, while any number from 4 to 7 is uncommon.
What Do Baby Chinchillas Eat
Generally, chinchillas’ digestive system is sensitive, but their babies have more delicate ones. Kits begin feeding on their mother’s milk before they get slowly introduced to other food. When their mother refuses to give her kits milk or when they are orphaned, they will need to be hand-fed with either formula or goat’s milk using an eyedropper or plastic syringe.
Around 2 to 3 weeks after, pellets and timothy hay can be offered to the kits but it has to be supplemented with their mother’s milk to sustain their nutrition in their early stages of development.
Over time, a few safe food choices and wood may be gradually offered to them in little amounts such as apple twigs. The rest of the options that are typically given to older chinchillas have to be introduced only after they have reached 6 months.
How to Take Care of a Baby Chinchilla
Generally, the mother chinchilla does most of the work for their newborns. However, certain instances need the intervention of owners.
Firstly, you have to follow the proper way of housing the kits before the mother chinchilla gives birth, or before you adopt a newborn chinchilla. An enclosed and relatively small cage should be provided for them. For a much more secure environment, make sure the cage is one level, but you may add some ledges so they can practice jumping and perching. You may also add a hiding place in case your little furball needs extra security. Also, playtime with your pet outside the cage is only encouraged when you strictly follow precautions and only for a short while each day. Always treat them with extra care for they are more prone to sickness and injuries.
Another important tip when taking care of kits is by monitoring their development. Weigh them at the same time every day, or at least, a couple of times weekly. Remember that kits should be consistently gaining weight. So, through tracking their daily weight, you might be able to see significant changes that may indicate a health concern. Jotting down minute details about their habits and behaviors can also be helpful in case you have to bring your little pet to the vet for checkups and treatments. Monitoring them also applies to making sure they get enough milk from their mother, get proper food, and are handled carefully.
After around 3-4 weeks, kits may try chinchilla’s staple food other than milk. On the kits’ weaning stage where they most likely separate from their mothers, supply them with enough pellets and hay as a replacement for milk. Such food options and other treats can also be used to entice the kits and encourage them to wean from their mothers when they are around 8-12 weeks old.
When your kits are the age of 12 weeks old, and in cases of multiple kits, make sure that you separate the males from the females. The father can be caged with the male offspring and the same thing with the mother and female offspring. Different cages should be provided for different sexes to avoid inbreeding.
In addition to all the important notes on how to take care of baby chinchillas, although typically they don’t like being held, you may start getting them used to human contact while they are young. Make sure you do it the proper way by picking them up from the bases of their tails, having your hands form a platform for the kit to sit on, and most importantly, never restricting them to move. Negative initial reactions are expected but this may change over time with careful attempts.
Before any pet becomes a great adult, they surely have to undergo different development stages.
Baby chinchillas or known as kits certainly need more attention and careful handling for them to grow healthy and active. So, treat them gently and provide them with all their needs so they will reward you by becoming the best pets for you and your family.