Q: We were away for a week and, although it was cared for by neighbors, our chinchilla was exposed to temperatures in the 50-degree Fahrenheit range. Now our chinchilla has a runny nose and is drooling. Could this be related? I thought chinchillas liked cold.
A: I agree with you about chinchillas being cold-adapted animals. Chinchillas do much better with cooler temperatures than warmer temperatures. It may be, though, that 50 degrees was too much of a change and the chinchilla was stressed by the sudden temperature swing. Or it could have been that the temperature got even lower than 50 degrees.
It’s also possible that the sudden temperature change may have stressed your chinchilla to the extent that it was not feeling well before but hiding the illness, and the stress of the temperature swing was enough for it to finally show its illness.
Or, perhaps it is just a coincidence that your chinchilla developed a runny nose and drooling after the exposure to cold temperatures.
I suggest that you visit your chinchilla’s veterinarian; the runny nose may not be a big problem but drooling could be a sign of something else.
The most common cause of drooling in chinchillas is dental disease. Dental disease in chinchillas is much like dental disease in rabbits and guinea pigs. The teeth continue to grow and, because of genetics, diet or other factors, malocclusion occurs. Without some intervention such as tooth grinding, the teeth continue to grow into the sides of the mouth, the tongue or even into the bone in which the teeth are anchored. This can lead to abscess and severe bony infection.
Other conditions can cause drooling in chinchillas. These include nonspecific pain and even metabolic diseases.
Your veterinarian will look in your chinchilla’s mouth when doing the complete physical examination. It is also likely your vet will recommend blood tests to check for liver disease, kidney disease and the blood-glucose level to determine if metabolic disease is present.