Causes of Chinchilla Hair Loss

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Energetic, friendly, and clean, pet chinchillas are best known for their extremely soft coats, which can be black, gray, beige, or even silver. Unfortunately, certain conditions can cause this trademark fur to fall out, leaving a chinchilla's coat looking rough and patchy. A bald chinchilla is likely an unhealthy chinchilla. Being able to identify the cause of your chinchilla losing fur can help you determine the appropriate steps necessary for treating it.

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Chinchillas shed fur naturally every three months
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Chinchilla ringworm infection

Chinchillas easily contract ringworm. The fungal infection called ringworm (a fungus not a worm) can cause a chinchilla to lose his fur around the eyes, nose, ears, and feet. Areas infected with ringworm will appear crusty and red. Infected skin can become yellowish and flaky. Without intervention, ringworm gets worse quickly.

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Because ringworm is highly contagious, both to other animals and to humans, chinchilla owners treating ringworm should thoroughly clean everything in their chinchilla's cage, discard all used bedding, and isolate an infected chinchilla from any other pets. Ringworm spreads through direct contact so always wash your hands after handling a chinchilla.

Like any fungus, ringworm requires medical intervention. Your veterinarian can prescribe oral antibiotics or topical antifungal creams to treat ringworm infections, which typically clear up in a few weeks. However, stress can aggravate the condition.

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Chinchilla fur chewing

Some chinchillas will excessively chew their own fur.
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Some chinchillas will excessively chew their own fur, causing patches of fur to fall out. A variety of conditions might cause this behavior including stress, boredom, dietary imbalances, hormones, or an overly warm environment. If your chinchilla is chewing his own fur, try introducing new chew toys, lowering the room temperature where your chinchilla lives, or adjusting your chinchilla's diet.

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Hair loss caused by fur slip

Chinchillas possess a unique defense mechanism known as a "fur slip," where the fur on the back of their necks easily falls out when pulled, allowing them to escape from predators. Pet chinchillas who have a physical encounter with other animals or are roughly handled by people may experience a fur slip. For instance, startling a chinchilla when trying to pick him up an activate a fur slip. It's an instinctive response often confused with shedding.

Knowing how to properly hold and handle your chinchilla decreases the chances he will experience this unnecessary hair loss. Although harmless to chinchillas, fur slip hair loss can take up to six months to grow back and might grow back a different color. The more frequently they are startled, stressed, or grabbed, the more fur patches will appear. Fur slips can also occur if two chinchillas collide with each other.

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Natural chinchilla shedding

Chinchillas naturally shed their fur every three months, losing approximately eight strands of hair per follicle, significantly more than people who lose only three strands of hair per follicle. The shedding process, which last about two weeks, can create dramatic visible lines between new fur and old fur and may cause large quantities of fur to fall out at once, making the coat appear uneven and patchy.

Chinchillas can noticeably shed.
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Fur grows back from the head to the sides then down to the tail, creating a line in the fur called a priming line. Some chinchillas will have an obvious line thanks to new hair growth, while others will be less obvious. Either way, the shedding process is completely harmless, though the excess hair can cause health problems if ingested. Keep your chinchilla's cage clean during the shedding period.

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