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Chinchilla Chews Wire

Is a chinchilla in danger if it chews on wire?

By Karen Rosenthal, DVM, MS
Posted: August 25, 2012, 4 a.m. EDT

chinchilla sniffing a potato chip bag
Chinchilla Snuggles/Courtesy Krystal Minna
A chinchilla's curiosity can lead it to investigate or eat items that it shouldn't.

Q: My chinchilla managed to chew a wire outside his cage. He chewed through the plastic and some of the metal wire. Luckily the wire was not plugged in, so no electric shocks. I was worried about my chinchilla and kept a close eye on him for the next couple of hours. He ate, and so I guessed that was a good sign. I let him out for his usual play time and he was a lot more hyper than usual, bouncing off the walls ... literally! When I put him back in his cage, he lay flat on his belly in his box. I have never seen him do this before. Then he lay on his side. Is this a sign of pain through the wire, or is it normal? He is eating, drinking and pooing. I am very worried. I have only had him a few weeks, and he is only 3.
 
A: There are two issues that you need to be concerned about. First, it is impossible to know what materials were in the outside of the wire and then inside the wire. Toxins can be included in the housing around the wire. The usual worry for that is heavy-metal toxins. Your veterinarian will be able to test for these toxins and even treat your chinchilla for them if they are present. Signs of heavy metal ingestion vary from gastrointestinal stasis to neurologic signs to a fatal anemia.

The other issue you may need to be concerned about is ingestion of a long piece of the wire. Such a piece could become lodged somewhere in your chinchilla’s gastrointestinal tract. Again, your veterinarian can determine if this is present in your chinchilla by physical examination and also radiographs.

Any disturbance of a chinchilla’s gastrointestinal tract can be serious, so the best option is to take your chinchilla to the veterinarian as soon as you see signs of a problem. 

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

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