Q: My chinchilla seemed OK yesterday, until evening when she refused to eat her bedtime dandelion yogurt treat. She loves that treat. She is now lethargic and seems to be shaking at times. Is there anything I can do to help her?
A: What you are describing is called “nonspecific illness.” What this means is that the signs your chinchilla is showing are typical of a chinchilla that feels very sick, but just about any disease can cause those signs.
A few of the ailments that can cause the signs of illness you are seeing are liver disease, dental disease, heart disease, kidney disease, insulinoma, sepsis, intestinal disease, muscular disease and neurologic disease. And there are more. This is true with almost all of our exotic pets. They have nonspecific signs of illness, and a veterinarian cannot tell you what is wrong just by a verbal or written description.
Until you can get to the veterinarian, keep your chinchilla from getting too warm or too cold. You need to encourage your chinchilla to eat and drink. And you need to protect her from other animals in the house, because right now she is too sick to get away from them, and she should conserve her energy until you can take her to her veterinarian.