June 24, 2022 by Umair Shahid
If you think about chinchillas, you’ll admire the cuteness of these social animals. Native to the Andes Mountains, they are adapted to live in colder environments. A major means of thermoregulation for them is through the ears, by increased blood flow to them. If you observe the redness of your chinchilla’s ears, it might be due to excessive heat stress.
Chinchillas have long ears that may look cute when turning red but it is a sign of inadequate body heat regulation. The large ears have a very important function of removing body heat through tiny capillaries running close to the skin. Chinchillas don’t have a natural mechanism of panting or sweating and excessive redness is an indication of serious heat stress under hot environmental conditions.
Why Do Chinchilla’s Ears Turn Red
The natural color of their ears ranges from light pink to slightly reddish. In the circumstances of severe redness on a chinchilla’s ears, cooling down your chinchilla must be your top priority. The ear cartilage is pretty delicate and you can easily see the blood vessels with a closer look.
Exotic animal experts always recommend paying special attention to chinchilla’s ears as they can tell much more about general health.
The Secret Behind Chinchilla’s Red Ears
Naturally, your chinchilla has a reddish to pinkish tinge on the ears due to no hair and exposed skin. The flat and broad ears have an extensive blood supply running through them. The circulating ears carry the body heat and exchange it with the environment of the ears. The blood vessels are slightly visible in the cases of a normal body and outside temperatures.
As a veterinarian, I’ve seen the problem arise when these blood vessels dilate and bulge out. When the environmental temperature exceeds the thermoneutral zone of the chinchilla, more blood starts to flow towards the ears. This is an efficient and easy way of removing the excess heat through close contact of blood with the skin.
The swollen blood vessels allow more surface area for the heat exchange and keep the chinchilla cool and active. Too much redness is a clear indication of high environmental temperature and poor heat exchange. Your chinchilla has to do more effort in heat regulation and this puts him or her in life-threatening heat stress.
Chinchilla’s Thermoregulation & Overheating
Living at a height of 2500 to 3000 feet in Andes Mountains, wild chinchillas prefer to stay in a colder environment. The low temperature of high mountains is very ideal for them and that’s why they have very dense fur. The thick coat protects them from the winters and acts as a blanket on extremely cold nights.
If I talk about domestic chinchillas, they are no doubt adapted to live at room temperatures. As a veterinarian, owners frequently observe the extreme redness and came in for a thorough examination. As chinchillas don’t have any other means of heat loss, the ears can say about the current environmental conditions and how they are affecting your beloved pet.
Another reason for overheating is the uncontrolled outdoor conditions. They naturally live in colder environments, but that’s not the case with domesticated chinchillas. There is no means to manage the extra heating in the cage, and this puts your pet at a greater risk of overheating. The unsuitable conditions predispose the chinchillas to heat stress and health issues.
Signs of Overheating in Chinchillas
Apart from the ears turning red, there are other signs you should observe for a better understanding and identification of chinchillas. Chinchillas with excessive body and outside temperature will stay dull and inactive. They prefer to lie flat on the floor trying to get the cooling from the floor and soil.
In addition to that, your chinchilla will not show any movements in response to stimuli. You must be able to locate and notice these signs to determine the exact cause of your pet’s inactive behavior. Turning the ears to red color is a clear indication that your chinchilla is living in a hotter environment than he should.
Cooling Down Your Chinchilla
Limit the Activity
Whenever you feel your chinchilla getting overheated and ears turning more reddish in appearance, always try to stop exaggerating the condition. The foremost thing you must do is to limit the movement of your beloved pet. Avoid giving your chinchilla the exercising tools and toys that encourage the running and jumping behavior.
Limiting the activity will automatically lower the body temperature and prevent your chinchilla from getting warm.
Use a Chinchilla Chiller
The chin chillers are very ideal and help to lower your chinchilla’s body temperature. The chiller doesn’t use any special requirements and you can make it using a cooling gel. Simply place the chiller in the freezer for some time and place it in the cage. Your chinchilla will get comfortable lying over it and feel cooler and more relaxed.
Change the Place
In my opinion, it is a good option to change the location of your chinchilla into another cooler room. Your chinchilla is likely staying in the wrong place in terms of temperature regulation. Veterinary experts recommend placing your chinchilla on top of a place that mostly stays cooler such as in the basement.
Make Use of Fridge
Whenever you see your chinchilla getting severely hot and there is no other resort than cooling him down, make your fridge the mighty rescuer. You can immediately place your beloved pet in the fridge to efficiently cool him down. Make sure not to close the door when your pet is inside and use a towel for a more comfortable base to sit and lay on.
Water is an excellent absorbent of heat and can be used as a last resort in correcting the chinchilla’s body temperature. Contrary to the popular belief about water being a mess for your chinchilla’s skin, you can give your chinchilla a bath in water having 15 degrees Celsius temperature.
Whatever method you use for cooling down your chinchilla, use it wisely and quickly. The overheating and too much heat stress can be life-threatening and may kill your chinchilla in no time.
The turning of a chinchilla’s ears to a red color can be a serious issue of prolonged overheating and poor ambient temperature management. If you find your chinchilla showing signs of heat stress, immediately follow the protocols for lowering him or her body temperature.
I’ve mentioned some of the effective ways to cool down your pet. This can relieve so much stress and make your pet a little more comfortable and stable. However, always pay attention and don’t get late in consulting an exotic animal veterinarian in case of observing unresponsiveness signs in your chinchilla.
How to lower the redness of a chinchilla’s ears?
Overheating and prolonged staying in a hotter environment is the main cause of reddish ears in chinchillas. Correcting the cause of overheating will ultimately lower the body temperature and redness of the chinchilla’s ears.
Should I bathe my Chinchilla in water in case of red ears?
It is always better to use other methods such as shifting chinchilla to a cooler room or using a chin chiller. A water bath should be used as a last resort as it also causes entrapped moisture and skin issues in chinchillas.
What should be the ideal room temperature for my chinchilla to avoid red ears?
Chinchillas have a very dense hair coat and very little tolerance to high temperature and humidity levels. You should place your chinchilla at room temperature between 60-to-75-degree Fahrenheit. Maintain the proper ventilation of the room and humidity levels must be below 60%.
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.