Having evolved in the frigid Andes of South America, the well-insulated chinchilla is a master at keeping the heat in and the cold out. Because of this, a chinchilla’s body cannot cope with the extreme physical stress of elevated environmental temperatures or high humidity.
To recover from the grave condition of heatstroke, a chinchilla must be discovered early and immediately removed from the heated environment. Richard S. Funk, MA, DMV, of Mesa Veterinary Hospital in Arizona, advises offering cold drinking water and a cool water bath to any chinchilla suffering from heatstroke. Immediate transportation (in a cool vehicle) to a veterinary hospital is required for further stabilization.
In order for a chinchilla to escape the deadly heat of summer, house it in an air-conditioned environment. Once the ambient temperature starts to creep above 80 degrees Fahrenheit (26.7 degrees Celsius), the chances of heatstroke dramatically increase. Aim to keep the animal’s surrounding temperature between 60 and 70 degrees Fahrenheit (15.5 to 21 degrees Celsius). Take care not to situate the cage in direct sunlight or by air vents.
A chinchilla in the throes of heatstroke is headed for certain death if it is not rapidly discovered and stabilized. According to Richard S. Funk, MA, DVM of Mesa Veterinary Hospital in Arizona, a chinchilla suffering from heatstroke is usually:
- Visibly nervous
- Recumbent (lying down)
- Exhibiting cyanosis (bluish oral membranes)