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Chinchilla With Possible Broken Tail

What can be done to help a chinchilla with a broken tail and what might be the outcome for the chinchilla overall?

By Karen Rosenthal, DVM, DABVP
Posted: April 27, 2011, 5 a.m. EDT

Q: I recently bought a new chinchilla, but she is still very afraid of everything. While I was petting her in my car she ran up the accelerator pedal, and all I could see was her tail. My immediate reaction was to grab her by the tail to keep her from getting lost inside my car’s engine. I believe I broke her tail; it has a small dent and she can’t move the other half. Please help me. I feel terrible about this!

A: It certainly is possible to cause damage to a chinchilla’s tail if you grab the tail as the chinchilla is trying to get away. The bones (vertebrae) of a chinchilla’s tail can fracture or dislocate. There can also be damage to the ligaments in the tail. The best advice is to take your chinchilla to a veterinarian. During the visit, he or she might be able to tell you what is wrong with your chinchilla’s tail just on physical examination. Radiographs of the tail may also be necessary.

What will your veterinarian be able to do if the tail is broken? Not very much, unfortunately. But your chinchilla definitely could benefit from pain medication, which your veterinarian can prescribe. And your veterinarian may help predict the outcome of this trauma for your chinchilla.

In the best case, you may not notice any problem or there may be a slight bend to the tail. In the worst situation, nerves and blood vessels may also have been damaged in the trauma. Therefore, your chinchilla may not have any feeling in the end of its tail, which could subject the tail to more damage. And if blood vessels that feed the end of the tail were permanently damaged, tissues at the end of the tail would start dying.

In both situations, lack of blood flow or lack of feeling, the best advice is to consider amputating the end of the tail to prevent further damage and pain to your chinchilla.

See all of Dr. Rosenthal's Critter Q&A articles>>

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Mike, Columbia, TN
Posted: 5/4/2011 2:39:04 PM
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