Sometimes your chinchilla loses large clumps of hair when he jumps out of your hands, but it's not because he is getting old and his hair is just falling out. It's called fur slip and there is a reason for it.
Why Does Fur Slip Happen?
Fur slip can occur if your chinchilla is being held tightly and trying to escape, if he is stressed out, or if he gets his fur caught on something.
Typically fur slip is done to "escape" the situation your chinchilla is in. Much like a gecko will drop their tail if caught be a predator (or accidentally picked up by the owner by the tail), chinchillas will release tufts of hair to get away from whatever is trying to capture them.
How To Prevent Fur Slip
When handling your chinchilla it is safe to grasp him at the base of the tail where it meets the body. This will give you a "handle" on your chinchilla. He can then sit on your hand or arm while you hold the base of his tail instead of you trying to squeeze his delicate body.
When you try to restrain your chinchilla by holding him around the chest or abdomen, he may try to wiggle away and then fur slip may occur. Your chinchilla needs to be tame and relaxed in order to gently hold him by the chest or abdomen.
When taking your chinchilla to the exotics vet, he may become nervous or scared, and fur slip is common in these types of situations. There is no need to panic, your chinchilla will be just fine. Reassure your chinchilla with treats, gentle petting, and speak to him in a quiet tone. Don't make matters worse by getting yourself all worked up over a bit of hair loss.
Keep Your Chinchilla's Fur Healthy
To help keep your chinchilla's fur healthy and attached to his body, make sure he gets plenty of dust baths. You can either keep the chinchilla's bathhouse in the cage or put the bathhouse into the cage a few times a week. If you keep the bathhouse in the cage, add more dust a few times a week. If you decide to put the house into the cage regularly (instead of leaving it in the cage), just add fresh dust each time the bathhouse goes in. Regular dust baths will help your chinchilla's fur stay dry and fluffy, and they love it!
Maintaining dry fur will prevent the chinchilla's skin from becoming infected or getting a fungal infection. Because the fur is so fine, moisture easily gets stuck between the hairs which can encourage bacteria and fungus to grow. A healthy coat will decrease the likelihood of your chinchilla's fur from falling out during handling.
With proper handling and a healthy chinchilla coat, fur slip can be avoided most of the time. And if it does happen, don't worry. Fur slip is a regular occurrence with chinchillas and the fur will grow back quickly.