Posted: June 27, 2008, 10 a.m. EDT
Q: I have had a chinchilla for four months and the pet shop owner informed me that the animal is about 6 to 8 months old. Sometimes something happens to him like he's having an epileptic fit. He crouches on one side and his mouth is crooked on the same side. He is conscious and sometimes his legs are stretched. When I hug him and he gets better he starts shaking. Sometimes his ears and legs are warm. When I use an electric fan to cool him, he gets better after a while. He does not have a loss of saliva, urine or feces. Considering that here in Greece there are not any chinchilla experts, what should I do?
A: Sorry to hear about your chinchilla. Seizures and convulsions can occur in chinchillas. Sometimes, even with all of the best testing, we do not find the cause for this. But it is important that you make sure the internal organs such as kidneys, heart, liver and pancreas are functioning properly, and that no toxins are present. This can be difficult to do without a veterinarian in your area with knowledge of chinchillas.
Unfortunately, with a problem like your chinchilla is experiencing, you cannot guess on what is wrong. Using over-the-counter products from a pet store or the Internet without a diagnosis or consulting a veterinarian knowledgeable about chinchilla care will probably make things worse. But there is something that we can do to help you. Please find a veterinarian that will see you and your chinchilla and have him or her use one of the online services that veterinarians use to consult with each other. Since these are over the Internet, it does not matter which country you are in, your doctor can get an online consultation and help for your chinchilla.