It can be extremely concerning when one of your pets stops eating or drinking. This is especially true if your pet has been refusing to drink for a few days.
While chinchillas can go quite some time without water, this does not mean that it shouldn’t cause for alarm as a chinchilla may quickly become dehydrated depending on the temperature they are in. Dehydration can take up to 48-hours to occur and in cases like these, it is extremely important that you contact a vet and get a check-up immediately.
That being said, a chinchilla who doesn’t drink isn’t always a sick chinchilla. Sometimes chinchillas have personal preferences that you have to discover as an owner. Your chinchilla may also refuse to drink because they are afraid or because there is a change in their environment.
This is why it is very important that you start learning your chinchilla’s behaviours to ensure that your chinchilla is kept safe and healthy at all times.
So, let’s get started and discuss how you can check if your chinchilla is dehydrated and what non-health related reason may cause a chinchilla not to drink.
HOW MUCH DOES A CHINCHILLA NEED TO DRINK?
A healthy adult chinchilla will drink about 2 oz of water a day. This amount may vary based on age, health and whether or not the chinchilla is pregnant.
A chinchilla will also do the majority of their drinking at night, so don’t be too surprised if you don’t see them drinking at all during the day.
HOW TO CHECK YOUR CHINCHILLA FOR DEHYDRATION
Checking if your chinchilla has dehydration may actually prove to be more difficult than you’d expect. The best way to confirm whether or not your chinchilla is drinking is by marking their water bottle either with a rubber band or a sharpie. If the water level does not drop within 24-hour, chances are your chinchilla is not drinking.
THE SKIN TEST
Similar to cats, you can also pull on the skin of your chinchilla to see whether or not there is any elasticity. Hydrated skin will return to normal within a second, while dehydrated skin will take a few seconds to return back to normal. In cases like this IV-therapy is extremely important.’
YOUR CHINCHILLA’S EARS
The last way to tell if your chinchilla is dehydrated is by checking them for overheating. An overheated chinchilla will have bright red ears. That being said, not every overheated chinchilla will be experiencing dehydration, however, they are usually closely related.
YOUR CHINCHILLA’S POOPS
Chinchillas produce odourless poops that are consistent in size and colour. If your chinchilla is not pooping regularly or there is a change in colour or texture, there is a chance that your chinchilla is dehydrated.
Poops should always be solid and black, if they ever turn light brown or become wet, make sure to take your chinchilla to the vet immediately.
YOUR CHINCHILLA’S PEE
It’s a good idea to keep a litterbox inside of your chinchilla’s cage to be able to monitor their pee. Unfortunately, bedding doesn’t do you any good when you’re trying to analyze whether or not your chinchilla is urinating enough and you may want to grab yourself some paper cat litter.
Ensure that your chinchilla is peeing regularly and if their peeing habits change, there is a chance that your chinchilla is either dehydrated or ill.
I would suggest against giving your chinchilla a syringe of water as they do not actually need much water to stay hydrated. The concern with syringe feeding your chinchilla water is giving them too much. If a chinchilla gets too much water too fast, their lungs will fill up with water and may choke or die. That being said, please take your vet to immediately if you suspect that they are dehydrated.
REASONS YOUR CHINCHILLA MAY NOT BE DRINKING
The following are the most common reasons why a chinchilla may not drink. If you have ruled out preferences as being the reason your chinchilla is not drinking, I highly recommend taking your chinchilla to the vet for a check-up.
A chinchilla who doesn’t drink doesn’t usually eat, so if you notice that your chinchilla is doing neither this is an emergency and you should definitely take your chinchilla to the vet.
YOUR CHINCHILLA MAY NOT LIKE THE TASTE OF YOUR WATER
Ever travel and notice that there’s a difference in the taste of the water? Well, your chinchilla can be sensitive to the difference in water taste as well.
We’ve recently moved 3 times over the past few years and we’ve noticed that water tastes different based on where we are in the city. Actually, the water tasted different enough that one of our cats stopped drinking (or eating any food with water mixed into it) altogether.
Due to the fact that chinchillas have sharper senses than we do, they may notice the difference and may not trust the water. That being said, a chinchilla may begin disliking your tap water after some time seemingly out of nowhere. In cases like this, I highly recommend that you try giving your chinchilla bottled water.
Due to the fact that many types of bottled water are filtered differently than tap water, this may entice your chinchilla to begin drinking again. The important thing to keep in mind is to ensure that the bottled water you choose does not have any additives or extra flavouring.
The most recommended type of bottled water for chinchillas is reversed osmosis bottled water. Dependant on how much you’re interested in investing you can also purchase a reverse osmosis filtration system for your kitchen sink to reduce the amount of plastic waste caused by using water bottles.
THEY MAY NOT LIKE THE CONTAINER THAT HOLDS WATER
The first week we had Gary we bought him a chinchilla water bottle. Although we left his water bowl that his previous owner gave us, we wanted to see if he would drink from a bottle. The main reason for replacing the water bowl with a water bottle was because Gary kept getting poop in his water bowl and we wanted to make sure he didn’t get sick from it.
Well, we noticed that Gary never actually drank from the water bottle and that he actually preferred drinking from the bowl. So, we removed the water bottle and instead made sure to clean the water bowl at least once a day, if not twice.
That being said, you may want to grab a couple of different styles of drinking apparatus to try with your chinchilla. If you are going to get your chinchilla a bowl make sure that it is not made from plastic.
There are a few reasons you’re going to want to avoid plastic bowls. The first being that plastic bowls are far too light and would be easy for your chinchilla to flip over. The second being that plastic can be chewed through and in-turn may be eaten by your chinchilla. Plastic that is eaten may become lodged in your chinchilla’s digestive tract and may cause severe complications which may require surgery.
YOUR WATER BOTTLE IS PLUGGED
Honestly, small mammal water bottles are the most frustrating small mammal products you’ll ever buy. Some of them drip, some of them break easily, some of them are easy to chew through and some of them get clogged easily.
It’s a good idea to keep an eye on the water levels if you are going to use a water bottle with your chinchilla, especially if you recently bought a new one. Some water bottles come with defects such as plastic lodged inside of the cap. These defects will cause water not to come down the tubing making it impossible for your chinchilla to drink.
In cases like this, it is recommended that you either check the water bottle while in the store for lodged plastic or try to carefully remove if after purchase.
YOUR CHINCHILLA MAY NEED ENCOURAGEMENT
Similar to cats needing a helping hand learning where a new litterbox is, chinchillas may need a helping hand finding their water bottles. You can help your chinchilla find a water bottle by smearing a bit of raisin juice onto it.
As your chinchilla begins licking off the raisin juice, they will realize water is coming from the bottle and will begin relating this area as a place for hydration.
At the end of the day, the best thing to do when you suspect that your chinchilla is not drinking is to monitor their habits and provide them with alternative drinking methods.
Always start off by giving your chinchilla a quick physical exam, ensuring that they are not experiencing heat stroke or dehydration. Then make sure to mark their water bottle (if applicable) and change their water regularly.
It would also be a good idea to keep some extra water bottles on hand, just in case, your chinchilla decides that tap water is no longer for them! You’d be surprised how picky some little ones can get!
If you’re ever worried or concerned about your chinchilla’s wellbeing, I highly recommend contacting your vet. They will be able to fully examine your chinchilla and rule out any longterm conditions your chinchilla may have.
So, pet parents, I’m curious, what are some of the things your chinchilla is picky about? What kind of water bottle do you have and/or recommend? Let me know in the comments below!