Last Modified

June 24, 2022 by Umair Shahid

Bringing a pet chinchilla to your home demands utmost care and health management. Due to their small size and fast metabolism, chinchillas have a higher chance of catching illnesses and dehydration. The dehydration status of your beloved pet can go from bad to worse. You can tell it by slightly pulling the neck skin and noting the time of return to the original position.

It is quite important to make a keen observation of the hydration status of your chinchilla. Without the proper knowledge, it is difficult to look for dehydration indication signs. Certain signs, such as prolonged skin tent test, low water intake, and digestive conditions such as diarrhea, can talk much about dehydration status. 

As a veterinarian, I’ve seen concerning cases when chinchillas stop drinking water for a number of days. Apart from personal preferences, they may refuse to drink the water due to a number of different reasons. It could be linked to the quality of water or environmental conditions. 

No matter what’s the cause of less water intake, dehydration is a serious condition that needs immediate attention.

How Can You Tell If a Chinchilla Is Dehydrated?

Dehydration & Chinchilla’s Health

Dehydration has a significant effect on the health of your chinchilla. When your beloved pet is dehydrated, you may see some of the visible signs right away. However, not enough water intake can lead to a more serious condition called heatstroke. The body water is distributed in all the tissues and helps to regulate the natural body heat regulation mechanisms.

Excessive dehydration in your chinchilla will result in lethargy and increased heart rate. Your pet will get inactive and have a difficult and irregular breathing pattern. Unfortunately, chinchillas don’t have a natural mechanism of panting to remove body heat. The prolonged dehydration will make your chinchilla stagger during the walk and result in unconsciousness and seizures.

Normal Water Intake of Chinchilla

After acknowledging the possible negative effects of chinchilla dehydration, it is ideal to check the hydration using qualitative techniques. But first, you need to understand the normal water intake of your furry friend. The consumption is highly variable and largely depends upon the outside temperature and physical activity of your pet.

In my opinion, an adult chinchilla ideally consumes about 60 to 80 ml of water per day. The fluid intake volume is largely dependent on the age and general health of your pet. A pregnant chinchilla or the one with a higher body weight typically consumes more water than others. Being crepuscular animals, they mostly prefer to drink at night and you may not see them drinking in the daytime.

Chinchilla’s Dehydration – How to Tell?

Checking if your chinchilla is drinking adequate water per day is quite difficult if you don’t pay attention regularly. A good way is to use a water bottle with a nozzle or sharpie hanging in your chinchilla’s cage. The routine drops in water level every day give a clear indication of whether your chinchilla is properly drinking water or not.

There are certain techniques you can imply and correlate with the signs to know if your chinchilla is dehydrated.

Check the Skin

A great way to check the dehydration levels is using a skin tent test. This test relies on the elasticity of the skin to determine body water levels. You can perform this test by gently grabbing the skin at the back of the chinchilla’s neck. If your chinchilla is drinking adequate water, his skin will return to its original shape within seconds.

On the other hand, the dehydrated skin will take considerable time to return. Sometimes in severe dehydration conditions, the neck skin will not return to its original shape at all.

Look At Chinchilla’s Ears

The red ears of your chinchilla you see on the hot days may indicate an underlying overheating and dehydration issue. The bright red color is due to vasodilation in the blood vessels running in close proximity to the skin. 

If the ears of your chinchilla are constantly staying reddish, it is a firm indication that he is drinking less water than he should.

Notice Chinchilla’s Poop

A normal digestive tract of your chinchilla produces regular and consistently sized fecal droppings. The state of dehydration will change the volume and frequency of pooping with irregular textures. A dehydrated chinchilla starts producing black-colored solid poop.

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If you notice there is a considerable irregularity in fecal texture and frequency, I recommend you to take him or her to a veterinarian immediately.

Chinchillas & Water Drinking Issues

Disease and illness are not the only things that reduce the water consumption in chinchillas. There are other reasons to rule out before you make a judgment about the main cause of dehydration in chinchillas.

Water quality is the main parameter you must focus on when managing the hydration levels of your furry friend. Chinchillas are sensitive to the taste of water and they might not even try to drink it. The main factor is the movement of the chinchilla and placement in a new area. The water taste difference between the two areas is crucial in determining his water intake.

The water container or bottle you used for your chinchilla also affects his or her fluid intake. To put this into perspective, replacing the water bottle with a water bowl is not recommended at all. There are chances your chinchilla never drinks from the bowl as he is habitual to drinking water from the bottle.

Errors in water dispensers and blockage in bottle openings can cause no water to be ejected. Your chinchilla will stop drinking once he knows there is no water available. Keeping a regular cleaning routine of his feeding & drinking equipment can save you from a lot of troubles and chinchilla’s health issues.

What Can You Do?

If your chinchilla is not drinking enough water and you notice the signs of dehydration, make his or her comfort your first priority. The provision of a cool and quiet place can be of great benefit as it will help them to stay cool and relaxed.

Ensure the cleanliness of the water bottle or bowl and regularly change the water. Provide fresh and good quality water to your chinchilla in sterilized equipment to save them from getting sick. Also, make sure the water bottle’s dispensing system is working properly. 

If your chinchilla is expressing signs of severe dehydration and is recumbent, you need to make him drink water from a syringe. Make sure you don’t force or push the plunger too hard and quick as it will cause aspiration pneumonia. Consult your nearest exotic animal veterinarian immediately to execute the proper treatment protocols in professional hands.


What are the major signs of dehydration in chinchillas?

As the water intake level drops and the dehydration level starts increasing, your chinchilla starts feeling lethargic and sleepy. Severe dehydration can lead to sudden recumbency and unconsciousness with unresponsive to external stimuli.

What should I do if my chinchilla stops drinking water?

The first and foremost thing to do is to look for the possible causes, whether it’s the water quality or the drinking bottle that is bothering chinchilla. Pay close attention and change the water source or drinking system to rule out the reason behind low water intake.

How should I check the dehydration level of my chinchilla?

You can check the level of dehydration by gently pulling and twisting the skin at the back of the chinchilla’s neck. The duration of skin getting back to its original state will tell you the hydration levels. Other factors to measure dehydration in chinchillas are feces or urinalysis and redness on the chinchilla’s ears.


Dehydration is the culprit of many life-threatening health issues in chinchillas. You always need to monitor their feeding and drinking habits and note their daily water consumption. Provision of alternative drinking methods must also be implied if your chinchilla isn’t drinking enough water. 

As a veterinarian, I recommend you start off with a thorough physical exam of your chinchilla to see the possibility of dehydration and heatstroke. It is a good thing to keep a separate water bottle in hand, as these social cuties are quite picky in choosing the quality of water. Contact your veterinarian in case of critical emergencies regarding the health of your chinchilla.

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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.

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