Posts tagged fungus
Happy December!

Happy December everyone!

For the month of November, one  (1) chinchilla was surrendered and three (3) chinchillas were adopted. We had one person bring in a chinchilla for pairbonding and never returned to claim them. The legal requirements for going through abandonment procedure is both time consuming and frustrating. In this case, the false hope of an adoption with pairbonding was simply deceitful. I laugh when people tell me they wish they could do what I do. Rescue work is not all about taking in cute, sad animals. More often than not we receive elderly, ill-tempered or sickly chins with grossly unclean, completely inadequate cages. We are met with a variety of illnesses and medical issues that have given us hands-on experience.


Animal rescue nearly killed me…literally. I almost died this year from zoonosis when a certain bacteria from a pair of rescue chins made its way into my lungs. As an asthmatic, pasteurellosis of the lungs is particularly life threatening. Today I would like to talk about cross-species disease transmission.


Pathogens can and do cross between species. A chinchilla can catch a cold from their people, contract fungus from someone who has athlete’s foot, acquire Pasteurella from the house rabbit and more. On the flip side, humans can contract certain diseases from their pets. These can translate as eye infections, skin infections, parasitic infestations, respiratory issues of a bacterial nature, etc.


Handwashing before and after handling your pet seems like a common sense procedure, no? But seriously, how many people really do that? How easy is it to walk by a cage, give a quick scritch or treat and move on to other tasks or pets? At home we generally have a good feel for the health of our pets and environment. In a shelter or rescue situation, there is more opportunity for disease transmission. One time we had a wildlife rehabber come visit who had ringworm patches exposed on her arms. Yup. For the next few months we struggled to contain and eradicate ringworm from the herd.

At home, letting your interspecies pets “play” together can be a deadly combination. Many rabbits carry the Pasteurella bacteria and show no signs or symptoms. In chinchillas that same bacteria is deadly. Unvaccinated horses can pass on strangles, which is also deadly to chins. Rodents can leave behind droppings full of listeria which can be found in hay and hay based products. It is this very reason why we advise against purchasing hay from your local farmer as most are stored where wild rodents can freely roam. So even the cleanest of homes with the most reliable quality supplies is still subject to contamination.

With this in mind, one of the ways you can keep your pet healthy is to watch for signs and symptoms of anything that may be “off”. As pet guardians, we generally have a good idea what normal behavior is for our individual animals. Pet forums are a great place to compare notes and learn from those who have experienced and treated specific issues. Armed with information we can be better advocates when it comes to partnering with our veterinarians. The hard part is being bold enough to resist deferring to someone based on education rather than experience.

It is our sincerest wish that yours and our chinchillas remain healthy and happy.

Merry Christmas and Happy New year to all.

The Confusion about water and getting your chinchilla wet.

Happy July everyone!

For the month of June, three (3) chinchillas were surrendered and three (3) chinchillas were adopted. The large group of females are now officially off of maternity watch, so they are ready to move on. This group has been a financial drain, and summers are typically slow with regards to orders, so if you have considered placing an order with our online support store, now would be greatly appreciated. A special hug to those who have sponsored a chin or who are regular or repeat customers. Please spread the word.

Today I'd like to dispel some confusion regarding getting chinchillas wet. It's an often quoted blanket statement that one should NEVER get a chinchilla wet. The rationale being that their fur is so dense that they could acquire fungus, or contract a respiratory infection. Well.....yes, but...

This generality doesn't apply to sloppy drinkers or a chin that brushes up against a leaky water bottle. It doesn't apply to moisture from a freshly wiped cage. It doesn't apply to therapeutic soaks. It doesn't apply to a urine sprayed cagemate (or behavioral interventions using a spray bottle). It doesn't apply to high humidity in the air. It doesn't apply to letting your chin play with ice cubes or snowballs. I could go on and on.

The advice against getting a chinchilla wet refers to the fact that chinchillas do not take water baths. They take dust baths. A wet, moist or even soaking wet chinchilla will not turn them into a gremlin at midnight.

There are occasions where it is necessary to water bath a chinchilla. It should, however, be a LAST RESORT. We once had a chin surrendered who was so caked in urine, feces and snot that we had no choice but to gently wash him off. Another time was when a local customer's chin jumped into a lit oil candle. And we did have a chin with a case of bumblefoot so bad that she required daily foot soaks. Chins have been known to jump into a dirty toilet. (eww!) In each situation the benefits of soaking the chin outweighed the risks. Keep in mind that fur fungus is easy to treat and a respiratory infection is more likely to spread only if drafty or infectious conditions are present.

So relax. Enjoy your pet. Clean the cage thorougly with a damp cloth and come buy some chew toys and fresh, new ledges.  ;)