Why Is My Chinchilla Chewing Its Fur? [A Pet Owner’s Guide]


Welcome, fellow chinchilla lovers and pet enthusiasts!

Today, we’re diving into the fluffy world of chinchillas, mainly focusing on behavior that might have you scratching your head – fur chewing.

In this comprehensive blog post, we’ll explore what fur chewing is, why chinchillas do it, and how to get them to stop if it’s harmful.

Understanding Chinchilla Fur Chewing: What Is It?

Fur chewing in chinchillas is a behavior where they chew, gnaw, or barber their fur. It often results in uneven patches of fur, usually starting on their sides or flanks.

Chinchillas might be spotted holding a mouthful of their fur and looking a bit guilty! It’s crucial to note that fur chewing differs from fur slip, a defense mechanism where chinchillas shed patches of fur when frightened or stressed.

You might be wondering if fur chewing is a natural or abnormal behavior. Well, it’s a bit of both. Mild fur chewing can be considered a part of their grooming habit, like how cats lick their fur.

However, if your chinchilla chews its fur excessively to create noticeable patches or seems stressed, it might indicate an underlying problem.

Why Do Chinchillas Chew Their Fur?

Like humans, chinchillas may exhibit behavior changes due to various factors. In the case of fur chewing, several reasons could be at play:

  • Boredom: Chinchillas are energetic, curious creatures. They might resort to fur chewing without enough stimulation to keep themselves occupied.
  • Stress: Environmental changes, loud noises, or too much handling can stress your chinchilla, leading to fur chewing.
  • Poor Diet: A diet lacking essential nutrients can lead to fur chewing. It’s crucial to provide a balanced diet to keep their health in check.
  • Health Issues: Sometimes, fur chewing indicates underlying health problems. It could be dental issues, skin parasites, or fungal infections.
  • Genetics: Some chinchillas may be predisposed to fur chewing due to their genetic makeup.

Identifying the exact cause may require some detective work. Observing your chinchilla’s daily routines, habits, diet, and overall demeanor can provide valuable clues.

It may be time to consult a vet if you’re unsure what’s causing this behavior.

Health Implications of Fur Chewing

While fur chewing might not seem like a big deal at first glance, it can have health implications if it goes unchecked:

  • Skin Infections: If your chinchilla chews its fur down to the skin, it could result in open sores. These can potentially become infected, leading to more serious health problems.
  • Digestive Issues: Consuming large quantities of fur can lead to blockages in the digestive system.
  • Stress Indicators: Fur chewing is often an indication of stress or discomfort, which, if unaddressed, can lead to a decline in your chinchilla’s overall health.
  • Unhealthy Coat: Chinchillas are known for their thick, plush coats. Fur chewing can lead to patchy, uneven fur that may take months to regrow fully.

How to Recognize Fur Chewing in Chinchillas

Identifying fur chewing in chinchillas is usually straightforward, thanks to the visual cues it leaves behind. Here’s what to look out for:

  • Uneven Fur: The most apparent sign of fur chewing is uneven, patchy fur. If your chinchilla has been chewing its fur, you might notice shorter patches, typically starting from the sides or flanks.
  • Fur in Mouth: You might catch your chinchilla in the act, holding a mouthful of its own fur.
  • Fur Clumps: Check for clumps of fur around your chinchilla’s cage. If they’re chewing their fur, evidence will likely be left behind.
  • Behavioral Changes: In addition to physical signs, keep an eye out for changes in behavior. If your ordinarily energetic chinchilla becomes lethargic or seems more anxious than usual, it could indicate stress-related fur chewing.

Preventing Fur Chewing: Changes in Environment

If your chinchilla’s fur chewing behavior is due to stress or boredom, altering their environment can make a difference. Here’s how:

  • Add More Toys: Chinchillas love to play! Provide a variety of toys that cater to their chewing instinct – wood blocks, pumice stones, and hay cubes are great options. Rotate the toys regularly to keep things interesting.
  • Larger Cage: Your chinchilla needs ample space to jump, run, and explore. If their cage is too small, it could lead to stress and subsequent fur chewing.
  • Peaceful Environment: Chinchillas are sensitive to loud noises and chaos. Maintain a calm and quiet environment around their cage to minimize stress.
  • Proper Bedding: Opt for soft, absorbent, and dust-free bedding to keep your chinchilla comfortable and reduce irritation that could lead to fur chewing.
  • Regular Exercise: Allow your chinchilla supervised time outside their cage to explore and burn off energy.
  • Companionship: If your chinchilla is alone, consider getting a companion chinchilla. Having a partner can significantly reduce stress and boredom.

Preventing Fur Chewing: Diet Adjustments

A well-balanced diet is essential for your chinchilla’s overall health and can also significantly prevent fur chewing. Here’s how you can adjust your chinchilla’s diet:

  • High-Quality Hay: Fresh, high-quality hay should be the main component of your chinchilla’s diet. It provides the necessary fiber and roughage, and chewing hay can help deter them from chewing their fur.
  • Chinchilla Pellets: Supplement their diet with a small amount of chinchilla-specific pellets. They’re packed with nutrients that your chinchilla needs.
  • Limit Treats: Treats should comprise a tiny portion of your chinchilla’s diet. Overfeeding treats, particularly those high in sugar and fat, can lead to nutritional imbalances and potentially trigger fur chewing.
  • Chew Toys: Chew toys made from safe woods can help satisfy your chinchilla’s urge to chew, reducing the likelihood of them resorting to their fur.
  • Clean Water: Always provide your chinchilla with fresh water to keep them well-hydrated.

Consulting a Vet: When and Why

While environmental and dietary changes can often help reduce fur chewing, there are times when it’s necessary to consult a vet:

  • Persistent Fur Chewing: If your chinchilla continues to chew its fur despite your best efforts to address potential causes, it’s time to visit a vet. They can help identify any underlying health issues contributing to the behavior.
  • Signs of Illness: Fur chewing accompanied by other signs of illness, like loss of appetite, lethargy, or changes in stool, warrants a vet visit.
  • Open Sores or Wounds: If your chinchilla has chewed its fur to create open sores or wounds, get them to a vet as soon as possible to prevent infections.
  • Digestive Issues: If you suspect your chinchilla has ingested large quantities of fur, a vet can check for potential blockages in their digestive system.

A vet familiar with chinchillas can provide a thorough examination and recommend appropriate treatments or interventions.

They can also provide advice tailored specifically to your chinchilla’s needs, which can be invaluable in managing and preventing fur chewing.


Fur chewing in chinchillas can be a concerning sight for any pet owner. However, with the right understanding and proactive measures, it’s a behavior that can be effectively managed.

Whether providing an engaging environment, ensuring a balanced diet, or seeking professional veterinary help, remember your actions can significantly impact your chinchilla’s life.

Chinchillas are remarkable creatures with unique traits and behaviors that make them special pets. As we’ve seen with fur chewing, even a seemingly peculiar habit can indicate their health and well-being.

We can learn about, understand, and cater to these special needs as pet owners.

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