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Staff member
Jan 28, 2009
South Dakota
Small, hard, crumbly droppings that are thin and pointy; they may smell and be infrequent. A normal chin pretty much poops non-stop. 4 or 5 smooth, firm poops in a pile while sitting a moment or two is normal. Normal poop is not sticky and has rounded ends.
Straining or hunching of the back when trying to pass stool. Peeping or chirping while straining is also possible.

Lack of hydration; dehydration; improper diet; too many treats; not enough exercise; disruptive lifestyle; hairball

Lack of hydration or dehydration: Make sure the water bottle is working correctly AND the nozzle or tip is the right size for the animal. You do not want to use the smallest size tips. If a chin has to work too hard to get the water out, it will stop drinking sooner. Make sure the water is fresh and clean. Water bottles are nice, but they must be refilled daily. Keep them clean. Run your finger along the inside to make sure it isn’t building up slime. SNIFF the bottle. It should have no smell. Make sure the water is of good quality. Water with a strong mineral or chemical taste will put a chin off. If you are drinking filtered water, your chin should be, too. Mix in a bit of UNSWEETENED apple juice or cranberry juice to encourage drinking. If there are multiple chins in a cage, consider providing more than one bottle in case someone is being a bottle hog.

Improper diet: Feed meant for other species may not be the best choice for your chin. Make sure the pellets contain only chin healthy ingredients. Diets high in corn are not suitable for chinchillas. Make sure the food is fresh. It should smell good, it shouldn’t have bugs or worms or webbing. The bottom of the bag should not have more than a minimal amount of crushed food on it. Too much crushed food means it may be old. If there is any concern about outside contamination, replace it. It’s a lot cheaper than vet bills. Switch to a better quality pellet.

Too many treats: Giving a chin a Cheerio is fine. Giving a chin a handful of Cheerios is not fine. Grain-based treats can be difficult to digest and take longer to process through a chinchilla’s digestive tract. When it takes longer, it needs more water to move. Chins are dessert dwellers. They don’t process foods well that require a lot of water to digest.

Not enough exercise: This is pretty self explanatory. If you are not providing your chins with space to run, bounce and ricochet, it could cause constipation. All that running and bounding gets the blood flowing and massages the internal organs so they can do their job. Wheels are good, but so is time out of the cage in the bathroom or other chin-safe room. Or provide a bigger cage.

Disruptive lifestyle: Yours, not the chins. If you keep irregular hours and your chins are disturbed during the day while resting, if you cannot provide your chin with a quiet place away from parties or loud guests, your chin may pay the price. Chins are creatures of habit. They are VERY smart and quickly learn your routine. Now this isn’t to say that you have to punch a time clock, but take your lifestyle into consideration. If you are being a little casual about feeding and treat time, just getting back to a routine may fix the problem.
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