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Mother Chinchilla Attacks Her Baby

Why would a mother chinchilla attack her male offspring?

Marty Hull
Posted: September 20, 2013, 3 p.m. EDT

baby chinchilla on hand
© Gina Cioli/Ii-5 Publishing
Male chinchillas typically become sexually active at 7 or 8 months of age, but maturity can occur as early as 4 months of age.

Q: I have a female chinchilla and her baby is a male. He is about 6 months old. We had two other chinchillas but gave them away about a week ago. For the last two days the mother has started to attack the baby. We have separated them. When I put them back together, she smells him for a minute or two and then attacks him. What is up with this?

A: While the average age of sexual maturity in male chinchillas is 7 to 8 months, young males may become sexually active and reproductively mature as early as 4 months old. In this case, the male, being 6 months old, may be trying to mate with the female (his mother). He may also be trying to nurse.

Females that are not receptive may attack a male to discourage mating or nursing activity. An attack can be sudden, violent and may last only a couple of seconds. Sometimes it can result in serious injury or even death for the male.

It is best to separate any males from birth mothers by the age of 3.5 to 4 months. This avoids such a problem. It is not sound breeding practice to allow closely related chinchillas to breed, as genetic defects may surface.

It is possible to pair a mother/son if one of the pair is spayed/neutered.

Spaying/neutering should not be done until the chinchilla is fully mature (generally at 1 to 1.5 years old), but there have been cases where it has been done as early as 8 months. To give your chinchilla the best chance of a successful recovery from surgery, find a veterinarian with considerable interest in and experience with exotic animals like chinchillas.

If you do plan to re-pair the mother and son at a later date, then set up separate cages side by side so they can stay close. There is no guarantee that re-pairing will be successful, but keeping them close to each other offers the best chance.

See all of Marty Hull's chinchilla Q&A, click here>>
See Marty Hull's author bio, click here>>

Posted: September 20, 2013, 3 p.m. EDT


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