Anytime you house a male and female chinchilla together, you should be prepared for babies. Chinchilla babies are called kits. Average litter size is 2, however litters can range in size from 1-7, with litters over 4 being rare.
Separate your male and female
The first thing you should do in preparation for chinchilla kits is to remove the male from the cage. This is because the female can get pregnant again right away and even a day before the kits are born. Having back to back pregnancies is hard on the female’s body. You can reintroduce your male to the female after the kits are weaned.
You will need a cage that the kits cannot escape. The wire spacing should be no wider than 1/2″, usually 1/2″ x 1″ is recommended. The cage should not have levels or be too tall. Kits are active at birth and will climb walls so you don’t want them to fall or get accidentally landed on my their mom jumping down from levels.
Gestation ranges between 106-118 days with the average being 111 days. Chinchillas are born fully furred and with eyes open. Delivery can last from a few minutes to a few hours. Wait 10-14 days after birth to dust the female and kits; any sooner can cause infection.
Chinchilla delivering 2 kits (please note, ramps and multi-level cages are inappropriate for kits):
Chinchilla delivering placenta – most of the time they eat it and there should be 1 placenta per kit, though sometimes not all is eaten:
Sometimes, especially with larger litters, kits will fight over milk or a place to nurse so rotating will become necessary. You can switch kits out every few hours, and supplement with hand feeding if necessary. If you have another female that has recently given birth, you may be able to foster a kit out to her. Often, females will care and nurse other kits as if they were their own. Even if you have another female that is not producing milk, she still may help keep a kit warm during rotating.
While most females will take care of their kits on their own, you should be prepared to hand feed if necessary. Sometimes this is needed if the female does not produce enough milk, if the female rejects the kits, or if your female dies. Kits need to be hand fed often, every couple hours (2-3).
Baby chinchillas must be kept warm. Usually they will stay warm under their mom, but if needed, a warm heating pad can be placed under part of the cage or as mentioned perhaps the kit can be fostered out to another female.
C-sections, miscarriages, still-borns
Unfortunately things do not always go well with chinchilla pregnancy and delivery. Females may miscarry, or deliver still-born or mummified kits. If your female is having a difficult time delivering, you need to go to the Emergency Vet Immediately for assistance delivering the kits or a c-section. If your female has finished delivering kits but is bleeding a lot (delivery should not be very bloody-see above movie), go to the vet!
Kits will start to eat pellets at a few weeks old and hay even sooner however they need to stay with their mom until a minimum of 6 weeks, most breeders wait until 8 weeks to wean. Females of course, can be housed with their mom indefinitely however males must be removed by 10 weeks to prevent inbreeding.
- Kit survival is about 70-80%.
- It is a good idea to purchase a gram scale (postal or kitchen scale) to weigh the kits daily and make sure they are gaining. Kits generally weigh between 30-60g at birth and gain 1-2g per day
- It may take a few days for the female’s milk to come in.
- Hand feeding kits is not easy and should be prevented if possible. Fostering out is a better option if available.
- Do not continue to breed females that cannot produce enough milk to support their litter as milk production is genetic
- If you intend on breeding chinchillas, look for a good breeder to purchase quality pedigreed chinchillas from. Breeding pet store, rescue, or other chinchillas, whose linage is unknown is risky because you do not know if they could be related or have any history of health issues.