Caring for your kit(s)

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Staff member
Jan 28, 2009
South Dakota
Information compiled by Tunes

Most of the time, the chinchilla mom will take care of everything and you can just have fun with the kits. The more you handle, play, and socialize with the kits, the tamer they will become. However, there are several things to watch for and do, for even healthy, thriving kits and mom.

1. To help with the milk production you can give mom an additional water bottle with 1/2 cranberry or apple juice (non sweetened) and 1/2 water. Make sure she still has her bottle of plain water also.
2. Check for activity in the kits and to be sure they are actually nursing from mom. Their tummies should feel fully rounded and warm.
3. Check that mom has cleaned the kits well, the eyes are open, and they are dried. If the eyes are not open, give them time. Most kits eyes open on their own, provided there is no infectious process going on.
4. Every kit needs to be weighed once a day for the first 3-4 days or until you know they are gaining weight steadily. After that, you can weigh them a bit less diligently, but regularly, for several weeks to keep track of their weight and growth. It is very normal for kits to lose up to 2 to 3 grams the first day of birth, but then they should start gaining roughly 2 grams a day. A gram scale is necessary for weighing kits, and can generally be found fairly reasonably at a discount store.
5. Kits will be left with mom until they are weaned at 6-8 weeks of age. You may notice your little one eating hay the very first day, but they still need all the nutrition they can get from mom. Many people say wean at 200 gm, but if your kit is a month old and 200 gm, it doesn't mean you have to wean them that soon.
6. An 8-week-old male kit should be removed from their mother and from any female siblings. The female kits can stay with mom, as long as dad is in a separate cage.
7. A kit safe cage should have openings of no more than 1/2 x 1 inch. Anything larger and the kit can/will squeeze through. Be sure the cage is out of drafty areas.

Keep an eye out for any of the following to happen, if you do notice any problems, PLEASE step in and help mom out.

1. If you do see one or more kits being ignored by Mom and it is very young make sure it is warm and stays warm.
2. Watch for kits that are losing weight even after the first day and not gaining any at all for several days. You may need to give a supplemental hand feeding. This may vary by kit. A kit that is 70 gm can afford to lose a bit more than a kit who is 32 gm.
3. Keep an eye out for kits that are fighting with the other kits, as can sometimes happen in large litters. The kits may have to be rotated. Rotating means leaving several kits with mom and you taking the others to keep warm in a different cage. You can use a baby safe cat carrier with 1/2 x 1 inch openings or a chin specific carrier (which can be purchased at Place a heating pad under only HALF of the carrier, set at the lowest setting, so the kit can move away from the heat if he/she needs too.
Newborn kits should be rotated every two hours. If you have two kits, try to keep the smallest in with mom at all times, and the largest one will rotate in and out. If you have triplets or more, again, try to keep the smallest in with mom as much as possible. This rotation MUST be done 24/7. Many times, once the kits are of comparable weights, you can try and introduce all of them back with mom at the same time; however, you cannot always count on this and need to make arrangements for continued rotation. Be sure that there is always fresh hay and food available for them, as well as plenty of fresh water, as kits do start eating solid foods and drinking from a water bottle surprisingly early in their lives.

Hand Feeding

If it does become necessary to hand feed the kits, there are no commercial formulas available. One possible supplement is

One can of goats milk
One can of water
One tablespoon baby rice cereal

As a handy tip, since the formula makes such a great amount, and you only use a small amount at a time, use ice cube trays to freeze your formula. Pour it into the trays, cover them with saran wrap, then once frozen put them in a Ziplock freezer bag. When you need them, simply remove one ice cube at a time, let it thaw, and throw away the unused formula. The formula should not be kept more than 48-hours at a time. Once the 48-hour mark is reached, it's time to throw away that formula, and bring out a new ice cube.

The formula should be room temperature or slightly warmer when used, never hot. Test it as you would baby formula, against the underside of your wrist. An insulin syringe works wonderfully for supplementing kits and is easy to control, though some people have good luck with glass eye droppers. When you feed the kits, DO NOT put the food directly into the kits mouth. If you do, you could cause them to aspirate and result in their deaths. Instead, place a drop of formula at a time on their lower lip, allowing them to lick the formula off. They may struggle and hate it at first, but once they get the hang of it, they'll do great. If you need a bit of help, place the chin in a washcloth, burrito style, to help gently restrain them for feeding. You will need to feed the kits a minimum of every two (2) hours. Once they are taking 2-3 syringes full at a feeding, you will be well on your way to having healthy growing kits. As they start to get older the formula intake may increase but then once they start to eat pellets and hay the formula intake will decrease.

You need to stimulate their urethra and anus so that they eliminate. Take a cotton ball and dip it in warm water and wring it out so that it is damp (just barely dripping). Gently rub the cotton ball on their lower abdomen towards their tail. You will need to use a little bit of pressure, think mother's licking with their tongues, because that's how they do it. After going over the area a few times, you should see droplets of urine and tiny poop. There is a possibility that you won't get poop every time you stimulate them, but you should be getting some poop during a 24 hour period.

As an added nutritional boost, you can place the following formula that the JAGS developed in the cage with mom and the babies. Moms seem to enjoy it just as much as the kits. Be sure to provide hay, pellets, and fresh water along with this formula.

1 part calf or goat milk replacer (a dry formula-purchase at a feed store)
1 part crushed pellets
1 part 50/50 mixture of dry rice and oatmeal baby cereal

(Tip - A coffee grinder makes quick work of the pellets.)


Usually mothers begin the weaning process when the kits are about six weeks old, and by 8 weeks most all kits are fully weaned. When weaned and taken from their mother, litters can be housed together to ease the stress weaning sometimes causes. The males, though, should not be left with the females for very long- a maximum of 10 weeks of age. Because chins sometimes need special care after weaning, kits should not be sold or given away to new owners until they have been away from mom for one or two full weeks and you know they are eating and thriving on their own
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