June 24, 2022 by Umair Shahid
Worms are a nightmare, whether you are a chinchilla or another pet owner. These stubborn creatures are hard to kill and they put a negative impact on animals’ well-being. Chinchillas can get worms but the chances are quite rare. Nevertheless, roundworms and tapeworms can infest your chinchilla occasionally.
Chinchillas are sensitive animals, and their excellent health can only be made sure of by proper management. Either roundworms or tapeworms or other intestinal parasites, your chinchilla can get infested if his or her living conditions are not optimal. But you don’t need to be too worrisome as following a deworming schedule can save your chinchilla from worms effectively.
Can Chinchillas Get Worms
These worms are continuing to exist and infest almost all types of animals. Besides, human beings are also affected by them in unsanitary conditions. Sit back and relax as I guide you through why and how to tackle your chinchilla’s worm problem.
Chinchilla’s Worms Susceptibility
It’s unusual for your furry friend to get worms, but it is possible. Most probably, the chinchillas living on ranches are highly susceptible to intestinal worms because of poor cleanliness. Besides, chinchilla breeding centers have greater chances of carrying these worm diseases because of no proper health management.
Many types of intestinal worms can affect your chinchilla. They are not only devoid of the chinchilla from nutritional content but also suck blood. Although uncommon, the susceptibility can be increased if your pet is living in the worst husbandry practices. These worms not only make your pet weaker but also adhere to the intestinal walls and cause discomfort.
High Worm Load in Ranch Chinchillas
Pet chinchilla and ranch chinchilla are different from each other. Domesticated pet chinchillas spend most of their alone and don’t have any exposure to outside members. This gives them an edge to be healthier and disease-free. They live a contactless life with proper care and management routine.
On the contrary, chinchillas living on ranches are usually in the form of colonies or small groups. There is no proper monitoring of these chinchillas which ultimately increases the chances of worm infestation. The major cause of infestation is the introduction of already infected chinchillas into the herd and consequently infesting the rest.
When taking a chinchilla from a breeder or ranches, you should always quarantine your new pet if you’re planning to make a pair. This can save you a lot of trouble in tackling with health issues of these furry animals. Quarantining chinchilla also helps you to identify possible worm issues he’s having so you can solve them easily.
Roundworms vs Tapeworms
It is important to know the type of worms your chinchilla may get infested with. As a veterinarian, I’ve encountered cases of the two most common types of worms. One of the most abundant ones is the roundworms, also known as nematodes. Resembling the shape of an earthworm, they are smaller but have many species, such as Trichostrogylus & Trichuris.
Roundworms commonly live in the intestine and feed on the food consumed by your pet. Yes, that’s true! They live like that and have exponential growth in terms of high workload. Some studies suggest roundworms can kill your chinchilla if present in large amounts and thus affecting the growth of your beloved pet.
Tapeworms come at second place in causing worm issues in chinchillas. They have a very distinctive ribbon-like shape and are far more dangerous for your chinchilla’s health. They normally affect pets other than chinchillas and your furry friend has a little chance of infesting by this deadly worm.
How do Chinchillas Catch Worms?
No matter what the worm specie is, the major route of infection is the ingestion of the eggs laid by the parasitic worms. Talking about the roundworm, these worms lay their eggs in the intestines while staying and feeding there. The eggs are thus released out of the body via fecal droppings. This is where things get out of hand in case of your chinchilla’s health.
Just like rabbits, chinchillas can eat their fecal droppings which might seem disgusting to you but are a healthy activity for them. The infested fecal droppings by already affected chinchillas will lead to the infestation in the rest of them. Similarly, these eggs may lodge onto the hay your chinchilla loves to eat.
The infected hay is a potential and leading source of worm infestation in chinchillas. Keeping the infected sources out of reach o your pet is the only way you should do it. This is the reason veterinary experts always recommend taking your newly adopt chinchilla to an exotic animal expert for proper examination and stool tests.
Signs of Worm Infestation in Chinchillas
I know you’re thinking of how to know if your chinchilla has worms in his or her tummy. Most owners take their chinchilla to a veterinarian when they observe something wrong with their pet. As a veterinarian, I’ve seen cases of worm infestation with some of the common signs and symptoms that chinchillas present.
The foremost thing you’ll notice is the activity pattern and behavioral change in these furry animals. The major cause of this change is the effect of worm infestation on the central nervous system. Your pet will lose muscle coordination and has head tilting and tumbling signs. Chinchillas may show digestive signs such as diarrhea with a severe infestation, leading to paralysis and death.
You’ll observe a chronic weight loss and a weaker immune system as the situation gets worse. The nutrient deficiency and digestive issues may lead to dullness, depression, anorexia, and ultimately induction of a coma-like state.
How to Diagnose Chinchillas’ Worms Infestation
Most qualified exotic animal veterinarians do special testing apart from regular physical examination to assess signs of worms. In that respect, a thorough stool examination has a crucial rule in the judgment of the current situation.
Fecal tests are regularly performed under the microscope. Your vet requires only a minute quantity of freshly passed droppings to examine them microscopically on a glass slide. Through fecal testing, a complete picture of the type and specie of the present worms can be identified.
Possible Treatment Options for Chinchilla’s Worms
If by chance, your chinchilla caught worms and the reports are confirmed after lab diagnosis, there is no need to panic. The treatment of worm infestation in chinchillas is easy and doesn’t pose any health risk to them.
If you happen to have a pair of chinchillas, immediately separate them and keep the infected one in a new clean cage. This will assist in preventing the further spread to his or her cage mate. You should keep monitoring and look for severity signs in the infested chinchilla before it’s too late. If you suspect any worm infestation, contact your veterinarian and treat it on an urgent basis.
The next thing is to clean the cage thoroughly with an anti-worm solution and change all the chinchilla bedding. Make sure to completely remove every bit of poop from the cage and litter tray. Use bleach to wipe all the interior and bottom of the cage.
Your vet may prescribe your chinchilla anthelminthic tablets. Although, they are not commonly used and their use is quite controversial. The reason behind this is the improper dosage administration and life-threatening reactions to these deworming drugs. I recommend you be on the safe side and do preventative measures to ensure your chinchilla stays worm-free.
Research has shown the efficacy of anthelmintic drugs, such as niclosamide, at a specific dose rate for the treatment and killing of intestinal worms in chinchillas. Always take notes on the fact that these drugs must be used carefully and carry some adverse reactions when used in overdosage.
Keep monitoring the proper diet and activity of your chinchilla and don’t let him or her play outside for too long. They may get worm infestation from the neighborhood animals, so you must take care of how your pet interacts with others.
Can my chinchilla get worms from a house cat?
If your cat is currently suffering or has had a worm problem in the past, your chinchilla may get infected from it. Most of the time, chinchillas roam around freely and do try to play in cat litter trays. Make sure to maintain cleanliness and limit exposure.
Can I use deworming tablets to treat my chinchilla?
Deworming tablets are effective but must be used in the case of chinchillas. Veterinary experts recommend administering them under senior vet supervision and not by yourself.
Your chinchilla won’t get warm infestation too easily in contrast to the other pet animals. But, if he or she happens to have it, you have plenty of time to get this condition diagnosed and treated. By following animal experts’ advice, you can have a worm-free and healthy pet chinchilla throughout your life.
Don’t hesitate to contact your nearby veterinarian in case of possible doubts and don’t try to administer any medicine without an exotic animal expert’s consultation.
I am a Doctor of Veterinary Medicine and have a keen interest in animal health care. Working as a veterinary content writer, I intend to stay with professional approach in producing quality content. I like research-based reading and currently seeking my veterinary profession. My hobbies are travelling to exotic places and observing nature to the fullest.