June 24, 2022 by Umair Shahid
Chinchillas are lovely pets. They look very cute and innocent because of their meager furball-like appearance. But is it safe to keep a chinchilla as a pet? Is chinchilla poop dangerous? According to veterinarians and researchers, having a chinchilla as a household pet is not a good idea. Chinchillas can cause many health risks for humans. However, one health risk they can cause is the transmission of giardiasis in humans. Chinchilla poop is dangerous because it can spread giardiasis in humans.
Giardiasis in humans:
Giardiasis in humans is a parasitic diarrheal disease caused by Giardia Duodenale, a zoonotic protozoon that infects humans through animals. This parasite is present in the fecal material of many animals, including chinchillas.
Humans can get this infection by using contaminated water, surfaces, and objects. There are many other sources of infection like washing or using common water bodies like lakes, rivers, etc. Having food containing contaminated water can also infect you with giardiasis.
Signs of giardiasis in humans:
In humans, the common signs are stomach aches, greasy watery stool, and nausea. With mild infection, there is no requirement for treatment. However, severe infection can cause death due to dehydration. The chinchillas also show similar signs. But they need early treatment.
Zoonotic potential of giardiasis:
After knowing that giardiasis is a zoonotic disease. The question still arises “is chinchilla poop dangerous?” I am here to tell you that chinchilla poop is very dangerous. Having chinchillas in-house can infect you with diseases like giardiasis. The chinchillas can have giardia infection by ingesting the oocyst through contaminated water. The giardia might not show signs in chinchillas because it takes two to three weeks after infection to show symptoms.
You can get a giardia infection while cleaning the cage of your pet chinchillas. The equipment and cage enrichments can also become a source of infection. Sometimes the animal is healthy, but it is a carrier. So, you cannot distinguish if your pet is a carrier of giardia or not.
What should we do?
Many other pets also spread other zoonotic diseases. It does not mean that we should not keep animals as pets. The best way is to be careful while handling your pet chinchilla. You can follow some prevention protocols to protect yourself from getting an infection.
Feed clean water and food to your chinchillas. If you like in areas near water bodies and the Rocky Mountains, it is better to use bottled water because water bodies often contain giardia cysts.
Many previously infected chinchillas keep shedding the parasite in feces even after recovery. Keep the cage clean and discard fecal material regularly.
Make sure you use gloves while cleaning the cage of the chinchilla. Discard the litter properly to avoid contact with other living organisms or water bodies.
Treatment of Giardia in chinchillas:
Is it possible to treat Giardia infection in chinchillas? Yes, it is. If your pet is suffering from any disease, take it to a vet asap. They might use antibiotics, antidiarrheals, and dewormers to treat the infection.
Give plenty of fluids to your chinchilla to avoid dehydration. Because of their small body mass, chinchillas can get dehydrated fast. Give minerals and electrolytes supplements as well. However, I suggest you follow the veterinarian’s prescription.
Other zoonotic diseases in chinchillas:
According to researchers, the central zoonotic disease transmissible by chinchillas is giardiasis. Chinchillas suffer from many digestive tract infections, but they do not transmit these diseases to humans. They are also susceptible to toxoplasmosis and herpes virus infection. However, there is no evidence of chinchillas transmitting these infections to humans.
Frequently Asked Questions
Is it dangerous to keep chinchillas as pets?
No, the veterinarians and experts do not prohibit keeping chinchillas at home. However, you must take care of their cleanliness.
How can I protect my chinchilla from giardiasis?
It is very important to protect chinchillas from giardiasis since it is a zoonotic disease. You must provide clean water and food to your chinchillas. Regularly clean and disinfect the cage premises. Use specific disinfectants that can destroy the parasitic oocysts. Perform regular deworming of your chinchillas.
So, if you ask me, is chinchilla poop dangerous? Yes, it is unsafe for humans. It can spread giardiasis in your house. It is better to use gloves and disinfectants while cleaning the cage of your chinchillas. Also, provide clean water and food to chinchillas to protect them from carrying this zoonotic infection.
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.