Hair matting

Chichimom

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My chichilla is a rescue from an animal shelter. He is 4 to 5 years old and used to chew his fur quite a bit until I changed his diet from a harvest blend type food, to mainly Mazuri pellets and timothy hay. However, it now seems that he's developed several hair mats on his right haunch. He hates to be picked up and vibrates in fear when held. He will let me scratch all around his head, ears and chest, and down the middle of his back. I am wondering how I will be able to remove these mats without totally stressing him out. Also, I am somewhat nervous about using scissors to cut them off. Any suggestions would be appreciated.
 

Unicorn777111

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I have had the same issues. You describe "SWEE SWEE" to a T.... I have always fed her Mazuri Chinchilla Diet and Oxbow Timothy Hay. She get bottled water purified by osmosis. Her fur is matted and dull. I let her take dust baths 2x a day. I'm thinking of getting her professionally groomed and learn how to care for her fur from the groomer. If I try to pick the Matt's off quickly she runs and hides. If I try to hold and comb her she throws a def-con 12 tantrum and hates me until she wants to eat. She will also tremble when pick her up and hold her...... Any one have suggestions??
I want her to be healthy and happy.
 

Amethyst

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My chichilla is a rescue from an animal shelter. He is 4 to 5 years old and used to chew his fur quite a bit until I changed his diet from a harvest blend type food, to mainly Mazuri pellets and timothy hay. However, it now seems that he's developed several hair mats on his right haunch. He hates to be picked up and vibrates in fear when held. He will let me scratch all around his head, ears and chest, and down the middle of his back. I am wondering how I will be able to remove these mats without totally stressing him out. Also, I am somewhat nervous about using scissors to cut them off. Any suggestions would be appreciated.
The best way is to try to slowly pick them out with a fine toothed comb and your fingers. I find that the normal and fine toothed comb combo comb works well, you can use the normal width at first then the fine toothed side once you get most of the bigger mats out. If you gently tug they fur should fur slip and come out, it doesn't actually hurt they just don't like it. It's actually best to just get it done and over with and then work on repairing the bond afterwards. He will likely feel better after the mats are gone and with any luck will be more willing to be touched later since matted fur is no longer pulling at his skin every time you touch him.

I have had the same issues. You describe "SWEE SWEE" to a T.... I have always fed her Mazuri Chinchilla Diet and Oxbow Timothy Hay. She get bottled water purified by osmosis. Her fur is matted and dull. I let her take dust baths 2x a day. I'm thinking of getting her professionally groomed and learn how to care for her fur from the groomer. If I try to pick the Matt's off quickly she runs and hides. If I try to hold and comb her she throws a def-con 12 tantrum and hates me until she wants to eat. She will also tremble when pick her up and hold her...... Any one have suggestions??
I want her to be healthy and happy.
Chins should only be bathed a couple times a week not twice a day, at most once a day if you live in a very humid place and handle (holding, petting, cuddling) your chin a lot. You are probably over bathing her causing the fur to get very dried out since every bath strips the fur of oils, just like humans the hair does need oils to keep it healthy. I'm not sure there are any places that professionally groom a chinchilla like there is for a dog, unless you mean you know a breeder that shows their chins and can show you how to groom them. Normally pet chins don't need grooming at all, though some people like to comb them when they are shedding to help reduce the amount of fur flying around or if they end up with something in their fur. Matting normally happens for a reason, poor care, poor diet, over or under bathing, or the chin is sick or injured and not able to properly groom themselves.
 

Unicorn777111

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The best way is to try to slowly pick them out with a fine toothed comb and your fingers. I find that the normal and fine toothed comb combo comb works well, you can use the normal width at first then the fine toothed side once you get most of the bigger mats out. If you gently tug they fur should fur slip and come out, it doesn't actually hurt they just don't like it. It's actually best to just get it done and over with and then work on repairing the bond afterwards. He will likely feel better after the mats are gone and with any luck will be more willing to be touched later since matted fur is no longer pulling at his skin every time you touch him.


Chins should only be bathed a couple times a week not twice a day, at most once a day if you live in a very humid place and handle (holding, petting, cuddling) your chin a lot. You are probably over bathing her causing the fur to get very dried out since every bath strips the fur of oils, just like humans the hair does need oils to keep it healthy. I'm not sure there are any places that professionally groom a chinchilla like there is for a dog, unless you mean you know a breeder that shows their chins and can show you how to groom them. Normally pet chins don't need grooming at all, though some people like to comb them when they are shedding to help reduce the amount of fur flying around or if they end up with something in their fur. Matting normally happens for a reason, poor care, poor diet, over or under bathing, or the chin is sick or injured and not able to properly groom themselves.
Thank you for your quick response 😊I will hold off on the dust baths for a few days and try to de Matt with a comb. I don't believe it is diet as Mazui is up there with Oxbow Essentials. Although I do give her plain Cheerios as a treat when training. When I pat my shoulder she will jump up and sit there. When I fold my arms she will walk down and sit on my crossed arms. She'll come when I call her if she's in her home. If she's out and about... forget it. She way too busy investigating.
💕🐁💕👩💕
 

Chichimom

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It's a bit upsetting to be accused of "poor care, poor diet, over or under bathing, or the chin is sick or injured and not able to properly groom themselves". My chin is healthy and being given a healthy diet. I regulate his dust baths to certain nights of the week. I will try using a fine toothed comb, but he does not even like being brushed, and like Unicorn, my chin squawks and runs and hides if I try to tug any bits of fur that are sticking out.
 

Spoof

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Matting is not from poor care some chins are just prone to it. I breed for a fur type that does not have this problem but I tell you every Shoots animal I bought would get a skirt of mats all over and have to be completely brushed out 3-4 times per year. Breeding these into my lines was a horrible mistake I didn't realize until several generations down. I re-homed all of them, their offspring and grand-offspring. This is a video of me removing mats from one of the grand-offspring from a few years ago.

Here is a Reyerson chin that I have to groom out multiple times a year -
her babies thankfully haven't shown this problem.

What I like to impress upon people is that chinchillas *need* to be socialized. You need to handle them wether they like it or not. The more you do the less stressed they will be when it is time to go to the vet, treat injuries or just day-to-day maintenance like grooming.

When we have fearful horses we don't let them cower in the corner, run through fences or attack people. We gentle them, socialize them and make them safe for everyone to work with. :)
 

Amethyst

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It's a bit upsetting to be accused of "poor care, poor diet, over or under bathing, or the chin is sick or injured and not able to properly groom themselves". My chin is healthy and being given a healthy diet. I regulate his dust baths to certain nights of the week. I will try using a fine toothed comb, but he does not even like being brushed, and like Unicorn, my chin squawks and runs and hides if I try to tug any bits of fur that are sticking out.
I never accused you of any of that, I said NORMALLY not "the only possible reasons". I was also referring to the other post who said they bath their chin twice a day, do you also bathe you chin twice a day? of so then yes you are PROBABLY over bathing your chin. I don't know what is in the harvest blend food but most blends are not good, I'm sorry I assumed wrong and that was not the cause of any of your chin's fur issues.
 

Spoof

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I never accused you of any of that, I said NORMALLY not "the only possible reasons". I was also referring to the other post who said they bath their chin twice a day, do you also bathe you chin twice a day? of so then yes you are PROBABLY over bathing your chin. I don't know what is in the harvest blend food but most blends are not good, I'm sorry I assumed wrong and that was not the cause of your chin's fur issues.

Clearly according to spoof the only possibility of any issues with chins is genetic... care and diet have nothing to do with anything. :rolleyes: You can feed your chin whatever you want (just make sure you never feed them hay because they claimed in another post that hay is bad for chins) and keep them in in horrible conditions and it wont mat unless it's genetically prone to it.
Look, I appreciate your willingness to help people and keep on top of this forum (seriously, few have the time these days and you do a great job helping people) but statements like you made here just make you look like an ass.

Me? Why do I bother? Because I *always* end up with the chins. And people right now are spreading some terrible stupid notions. You know what happened last month? Someone told somebody that it was OK to only feed hay for a week. IT KILLED THEIR BABY. You can NOT only feed hay to a 10 week old, they will die. Hay does not have enough nutrients in it. She died a horrible death after seizing for an entire day.

So I told myself I would become more active in the forums again because this is the information they find on google. We need to help these chins, not kill them. I'm tired of taking in chins in late stage organ failure or with deformities from hay-rich, starch rich and sugar rich diets. These are young chins and getting younger, many under five years old suffering gross health issues. :(

I've taken in hundreds of surrenders and been involved in a few legit forced-seizure rescues. I have touched tens of thousands of chins moving, selling and buying herds. I have seen some weird-ass crap and just when I think I've seen the worst it can get someone one ups that.

So, after 21 years I can tell you;

Hay does not contribute to tooth wear, using the teeth does. Wether they are used on wood, pellets, roughage or cat food, the action of chewing wears the teeth. That old pair I got in that had been fed cat food all their lives had great teeth.

Genetics determine fur strength which determines matting. The grease ball cat food eaters above had never seen a dust bath and had no mats. 80% of the chins I take in have no mats, more than half of those haven't seen a dust bath in months and some never due to the owner's allergies or lack of knowledge. It is actually pretty shocking how many people just don't dust their chins. That said, I get some in where the owner dusts near daily and they have mats. It's genetic. Heck, I bred the violet in the video above that got mats - and that is why I sold him and quit breeding that line.

Bathing - Depending on the type of fur your chins have you may need to dust daily or only weekly. Tiffany's Chinchillas runs Shoots lines and has to dust daily. Mine only get it weekly unless I am a few weeks before a show. Mine look great, you can walk into my barn and even though I grab them and snuggle quite a few times during the day they still look soft and plush. It is a stronger, shorter, plusher coat type.

If you are dusting daily keep an eye on their ears, it can dry out the ears and feet. If those feel fine you are not dusting too much. You might have better mileage using a higher quality dust like chilldust - you don't need to use as much, it isn't as dusty and it does a great job. It is the go-to for shows now. I can't stand the feel of the blue beauty (blue sparkle) but the chill dust leaves them feeling very soft and is not as dusty.

Hopefully this helps someone. If anyone has questions on diet, or would like to see research on diet there are some great articles I posted on this forum back in 2003? And I can also send you some newer ones. Just email me at my website below or message me. Heck, if you are desperate, call. My website has my phone number on it.
 

Amethyst

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Look, I appreciate your willingness to help people and keep on top of this forum (seriously, few have the time these days and you do a great job helping people) but statements like you made here just make you look like an ass.

Me? Why do I bother? Because I *always* end up with the chins. And people right now are spreading some terrible stupid notions. You know what happened last month? Someone told somebody that it was OK to only feed hay for a week. IT KILLED THEIR BABY. You can NOT only feed hay to a 10 week old, they will die. Hay does not have enough nutrients in it. She died a horrible death after seizing for an entire day.

So I told myself I would become more active in the forums again because this is the information they find on google. We need to help these chins, not kill them. I'm tired of taking in chins in late stage organ failure or with deformities from hay-rich, starch rich and sugar rich diets. These are young chins and getting younger, many under five years old suffering gross health issues. :(

I've taken in hundreds of surrenders and been involved in a few legit forced-seizure rescues. I have touched tens of thousands of chins moving, selling and buying herds. I have seen some weird-ass crap and just when I think I've seen the worst it can get someone one ups that.

So, after 21 years I can tell you;

Hay does not contribute to tooth wear, using the teeth does. Wether they are used on wood, pellets, roughage or cat food, the action of chewing wears the teeth. That old pair I got in that had been fed cat food all their lives had great teeth.

Genetics determine fur strength which determines matting. The grease ball cat food eaters above had never seen a dust bath and had no mats. 80% of the chins I take in have no mats, more than half of those haven't seen a dust bath in months and some never due to the owner's allergies or lack of knowledge. It is actually pretty shocking how many people just don't dust their chins. That said, I get some in where the owner dusts near daily and they have mats. It's genetic. Heck, I bred the violet in the video above that got mats - and that is why I sold him and quit breeding that line.

Bathing - Depending on the type of fur your chins have you may need to dust daily or only weekly. Tiffany's Chinchillas runs Shoots lines and has to dust daily. Mine only get it weekly unless I am a few weeks before a show. Mine look great, you can walk into my barn and even though I grab them and snuggle quite a few times during the day they still look soft and plush. It is a stronger, shorter, plusher coat type.

If you are dusting daily keep an eye on their ears, it can dry out the ears and feet. If those feel fine you are not dusting too much. You might have better mileage using a higher quality dust like chilldust - you don't need to use as much, it isn't as dusty and it does a great job. It is the go-to for shows now. I can't stand the feel of the blue beauty (blue sparkle) but the chill dust leaves them feeling very soft and is not as dusty.

Hopefully this helps someone. If anyone has questions on diet, or would like to see research on diet there are some great articles I posted on this forum back in 2003? And I can also send you some newer ones. Just email me at my website below or message me. Heck, if you are desperate, call. My website has my phone number on it.
Ok I agree feeding a kit only hay is not good, but that doesn't mean that chins should not have any hay. I never said a hay only diet was safe or even advised for a young kit, so I don't know where you are getting that from. You said on a different thread that hay is bad for chins, when I suggested different hays for tooth wear due to a spur, and that person has an adult chin not a 10 week old kit. So I guess the tooth spurs just magically disappeared when the person got the chin to eat hay? Can you please show me where it says hay doesn't wear down teeth, because you are the only one I have ever heard claimed this. Even vet books say that hay is required for proper tooth wear, or are saying vet books are just made up by google? Also where does it say that any food even soft food like pellets wear down teeth? I've read that pellets, due to the fact that they do contain all the nutrients can actually make teeth grow, but not that they wear them down, unless you are using rock hard pellets that require a lot of chewing. I do also know that due to genetics some chins teeth grow slower or faster then others, so I agree genetics play a part, but that doesn't mean hay doesn't help wear down molars. I didn't know that domestic chins are so far removed from their wild ancestors that they no longer need to eat hay, which require a lot more chewing, to wear down their teeth, I guess almost all chinchillas in the world have bad genetics since most need to chew things and most breeders I've talk to, vets I've talk to, as well as other owners all advice making sure your chin has things to chew including unlimited hay, I guess that is just made up by google too. I have never heard of a chin having organ failure from eating hay, so please show me where you are getting this info because apparently vets don't even know about this. I've heard that chins can survive but not thrive on hay alone, but not that giving chins hay causes organ failure or that if they only eat hay they die within a week. Makes me wonder how wild chins survive on mostly grasses if hay causes organ failure.

Ok apparently according to you I was wrong and the only thing that can ever possibly effect the chin's coat is genetics nothing else. I assumed chins were like every other animal on earth and diet can have an effect on coat too but I guess not according to you. Also dust baths absorb oils, so just a human washing their hair too much it can get dried out and weak, but I guess according to you that isn't how it works with any chins. Similarly not giving enough baths can cause the fur to be oily and stick together, causing mats, but once again I guess it never happens with chins according to you.

Am I getting it right according to you now? I'm sorry but I am not spreading that, it contradicts everything I've personally seen, been told, read, and researched about chins.
 

Bluestreak48

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This may not relate to the above thread, but i have a 5 year old chin. Shes fed, watered, and dust bath on a regular schedule. However, i noticed last night on one side she has a patch that looks like a sheep thats been de-shedded. On the other side all her fur is intact and she's fluffy. Is this diet, stress, or just her rubbing against her wood hide away?
 

Amethyst

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This may not relate to the above thread, but i have a 5 year old chin. Shes fed, watered, and dust bath on a regular schedule. However, i noticed last night on one side she has a patch that looks like a sheep thats been de-shedded. On the other side all her fur is intact and she's fluffy. Is this diet, stress, or just her rubbing against her wood hide away?
Sounds like possible fur chewing. That is most commonly caused be things like stress, pain, or boredom. If it goes on for long enough it can become habit though, so even if the original issue is resolved it sometimes continues.
 

Bluestreak48

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Thanks for the quick response. How would I know if she is in pain? The reason I ask is she rarely lets me near her (she's been like this since I've had her. I will admit that one is on me not properly socializing her). She'll come to me on her terms, but I cry every time I have to remove her from the cage to give it a deep clean because she barks at me and her hair starts coming out. I worry that I'm traumatizing her every time I go near the cage. She'll come up to my hands and sniff as long as I don't act like I'm trying to grab her. Any ideas? All are welcome.
 

Bluestreak48

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She is somewhat socialized with my lab, because the dog goes and checks on sasha when she's barking and then she'll calm down or when my husband goes in there, she stands up at the cage and he talks to her. She sees me and she hides for a few minutes. I'm almost offended by the behavior because I'm the one that feeds and cleans her cage.
 

Amethyst

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Thanks for the quick response. How would I know if she is in pain? The reason I ask is she rarely lets me near her (she's been like this since I've had her. I will admit that one is on me not properly socializing her). She'll come to me on her terms, but I cry every time I have to remove her from the cage to give it a deep clean because she barks at me and her hair starts coming out. I worry that I'm traumatizing her every time I go near the cage. She'll come up to my hands and sniff as long as I don't act like I'm trying to grab her. Any ideas? All are welcome.
If you suspect pain the best bet would be a vet visit, they are good at hiding pain and illness so you have to look for even minor signs. Aside from the fur chewing is she moving around ok? Hopping around the levels as well as shelves, perches, and ledges in the cage ok?

If you are acting upset around her she is going to pick up on that and think something is wrong. Try to stay around her, They are pretty defenseless prey animals so they don't trust without you earning it. Most don't like being held, but they do learn to tolerate it, how long have you had her? It can take time, like months or even years if she came from a bad place before you got her. It also take most chins at least a week to settle in to a new home, but up to a month or more is not uncommon. If she came from a bad place before you got her and are giving her a good life now, lots of toys to play with and chew, good quality pellets, and daily interaction (chins are social animals and need at least an hour or two of social interaction everyday or they can get depressed) the fur chewing could have become a habit. Since you don't handle her much does she ever get out of cage playtime? If not do you have a chin safe wheel (at least 14-16" diameter solid metal) for her to run on? Also do you rotate the toys in the cage? Having the same toys to chew on all the time can become boring, so it's best if you can rotate them out every month or so like you would a dog. Also a variety, hanging toys, toss toys, as well as different materials to chew and shred, like various types of chin safe wood, as well as loofah, coconut shell, palm leaf, bamboo shredders, lava chews, willow/vine shapes, and stuff like that.

I would work on making you coming to the cage be a good thing, try offering a treat, chew stick, bit of hay or a pellet, or even a small toy every time you come to the cage. Over time she will learn to look forward to you coming to the cage. You can also just sit by the cage and talk to her, read aloud, or even sing or play music if you can.
 

Bluestreak48

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She is somewhat socialized with my lab, because the dog goes and checks on sasha when she's barking and then she'll calm down or when my husband goes in there, she stands up at the cage and he talks to her. She sees me and she hides for a few minutes. I'm almost offended by the behavior because I'm the one that feeds and cleans her cage.
If you suspect pain the best bet would be a vet visit, they are good at hiding pain and illness so you have to look for even minor signs. Aside from the fur chewing is she moving around ok? Hopping around the levels as well as shelves, perches, and ledges in the cage ok?

If you are acting upset around her she is going to pick up on that and think something is wrong. Try to stay around her, They are pretty defenseless prey animals so they don't trust without you earning it. Most don't like being held, but they do learn to tolerate it, how long have you had her? It can take time, like months or even years if she came from a bad place before you got her. It also take most chins at least a week to settle in to a new home, but up to a month or more is not uncommon. If she came from a bad place before you got her and are giving her a good life now, lots of toys to play with and chew, good quality pellets, and daily interaction (chins are social animals and need at least an hour or two of social interaction everyday or they can get depressed) the fur chewing could have become a habit. Since you don't handle her much does she ever get out of cage playtime? If not do you have a chin safe wheel (at least 14-16" diameter solid metal) for her to run on? Also do you rotate the toys in the cage? Having the same toys to chew on all the time can become boring, so it's best if you can rotate them out every month or so like you would a dog. Also a variety, hanging toys, toss toys, as well as different materials to chew and shred, like various types of chin safe wood, as well as loofah, coconut shell, palm leaf, bamboo shredders, lava chews, willow/vine shapes, and stuff like that.

I would work on making you coming to the cage be a good thing, try offering a treat, chew stick, bit of hay or a pellet, or even a small toy every time you come to the cage. Over time she will learn to look forward to you coming to the cage. You can also just sit by the cage and talk to her, read aloud, or even sing or play music if you can.
 
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