Bumblefoot progressed to limb chewing

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Jul 4, 2017
Cincinnati, OH
My 3.5 year old male long-tailed chinchilla has been battling diagnosed bumblefoot for the past 1.5 years. Every time I go in to the vet they prescribe antibiotics and it gets better for a month or two then starts right back up. The vets don't seem to have a fix other than antibiotics then sending us on our way.

They have brought up taking an xray to see if infection has spread to the bone, but when asked what they recommend doing if it's found at the bone they bring up no other action. So, my significant other and I decided against this option.

We transferred him to a smaller cage while he heals with fewer ledges and not as much running room. His cage consists of kiln-dried pine on 2/3 of the floor and fleece on the other 1/3, Well sanded shelves purchased specifically for chinchillas, and a smooth pumice stone shelf.

I woke up this morning to see his cage look like a chin-sized slasher horror film. Blood everywhere and noticed that my chin is finally taking it upon himself to now chew the top of his foot in a means to off the limb.

Is there solutions out there? We seem to be fighting a losing battle and searching the internet yields very little information.

Side note: he does have a "step-brother" and they have seperate cages ever since this started. Also their room is a constant 25-35% humidity and 65-70° Fahrenheit year round

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Super Moderator
Staff member
May 7, 2012
It sounds like you need to find a new vet, it doesn't sound like this one is doing a very good job. Unfortunately if the infection has progressed into the bone the most likely course is going to be amputation. If it's just one foot chins can live perfectly fine with 3 legs. By the time they are actually trying to chew it off that means he is in quite a lot of pain and is trying to get rid of it by removing the foot. At the very least he needs painkillers right now.

Some suggestions on keeping bumble foot from coming back again, first is no mesh floors or shelves in the cage, they cause damage to the feet and are hard to clean so bacteria builds up. Also make sure you keep the cage clean, not just changing the shavings and fleece but also washing down the shelves and ledges.

Another thing that can help is adding perches, like thick bird perches, into the cage. It forces the chin to have to balance which helps increase blood flow in their feet, like one of those foot massager things. You can even add rocks to the bottom of the cage for the same purpose, flat ground is unnatural and causes them to sit back on their heels all the time, which puts pressure on them that can cause them to split, bleed, and allows infection in.

If the skin on the feet is drying out you may also need to offer dust baths less often, depending on how often you give them a bath, maybe only 5-10 minutes a couple times a week. With the humidity that low you could probably just do one bath a week. Make sure, especially if the chin has cracked feet, that you offer clean dust each bath (toss if peed in and pick out poops) to prevent infection. You can even try bathing him outside the cage to prevent as much dust being in the cage.

My last suggestion is keep an eye on his feet and apply bag balm to his feet when you notice they are getting a bit too dried out and crack. It'll help heal the feet and has antiseptic in it which will help prevent an infection.

Just so you know, 25% humidity is a bit low and can cause dry skin, around 40% is better. Between 30-50% humidity is an ok range. Most people are now suggesting 40-50% humidity for chins.