Chinchillas are some of the most active pocket pets and with all of this regular activity it isn't uncommon for them to break a bone or two. Knowing how to prevent broken bones and what to do if you suspect your chinchilla has one can help avoid the pain and cost of a fracture repair.
What Types of Broken Bones Do Chinchillas Get?
There are different kinds of fractures that chinchillas can get and these fractures are more likely to occur on a leg than other parts of a chinchilla's body.
- Simple fractures - Simple fractures are just a broken bone with no skin wounds. These are usually able to be fixed depending on where the break is located and how long the bone has been broken.
- Compound fractures - Compound fractures can be more severe than a simple facture since they are more than just a broken bone. Compound fractures also have a skin wound, such as a hematoma, or the bone may even be protruding through the skin. Compound fractures are at a higher risk of getting infected than simple fractures.
- Other fractures - Fractures can also be broken down into more specific types of simple or compound fractures such as oblique, complete, compression, and more. Your veterinarian can explain what type of fracture your chinchilla has if you are interested in learning more about them.
How Does a Chinchilla Break a Leg?
Tiny legs tend to fall between the wire spacing of cage ramps when chinchillas are hopping around. When a leg gets stuck, a chinchilla starts to pull away to free its leg or sometimes even falls off the ramp causing the leg to break.
Other reasons why a chinchilla might break its leg include being dropped, being stepped on, jumping from a high elevation, getting stuck elsewhere in the cage or hay hamper, or from being malnourished. If a chinchilla does not receive an appropriate diet his bones will become weak, brittle, and prone to fracturing since they are not healthy.
Diagnosing a Broken Chinchilla Leg
If you suspect your chinchilla broke its leg you should get him to a veterinarian as soon as possible. Your chinchilla will be in a lot of pain if it does have a broken leg and the stress its little body goes through from the accident alongside the pain is enough to kill it. Even if the first vet you take your chinchilla to is not equipped to repair a broken chinchilla leg, request pain medications and anti-inflammatories to keep it comfortable while you can find a vet that is able and willing to treat chinchillas.
Your vet may be able to tell if the leg is broken without X-rays but an X-ray is the best way to see what and where the bone is exactly broken. This will help your veterinarian create the best treatment plan for the leg to heal properly.
Treating a Broken Chinchilla Leg
A broken chinchilla leg may need to be splinted or have surgery to place pins in it to hold it together until it heals. If surgery to repair the fracture is not an option due to your financial situation, the type or location of the fracture, or because the fracture occurred too long ago then the leg may need to be surgically amputated.
Medications to manage any pain, inflammation, and infection will be recommended and syringe feeding may need to be performed. If a chinchilla stops eating then ileus can occur and your chinchilla can have a fatal outcome. Activity restriction will also be necessary to allow the bone to heal and X-rays may need to be repeated to monitor the healing process.
Preventing Broken Bones in Chinchillas
There are a few things you can do to help prevent your chinchilla from breaking a bone. First, make sure you are providing the proper chinchilla diet to keep the bones strong and remove anything that you could see your chinchilla getting stuck in in its cage. This includes things like wire wheels, hay hampers or hay balls, and wire ramps.
Next, ensure any children that are handling your chinchilla are sitting on the ground when doing so. You should also make sure everyone in the house knows when your chinchilla is out of his cage so that they can pay extra attention to where they are stepping.
Accidents happen and when they do you should not blame yourself. Plenty of chinchillas do well while they have a splint or bandage on their leg and they will be back to jumping around before you know it.