What milk to feed baby chinchillas

Lack of Milk in Chinchillas

What is Lack of Milk?

Agalactia is a fairly common condition in chinchillas, which may lead to the mother becoming stressed. If this does happen, she will become upset at her kits and vocalize her feelings.

A chinchilla unable to feed her kits because she has no milk coming in is in a serious situation. She needs to feed her babies so they can thrive and grow. Lack of milk is known as “agalactia.” While the direct cause isn’t always known, the underdevelopment of the mother chinchilla’s milk glands is one contributing factor. She may be underdeveloped or just too young to have been bred. Lack of milk may also develop as a result of genetics, or she may be undernourished and not fit enough for her body to respond to all of the tasks it will need to do to support the kits, both before and after they are born.

Symptoms of Lack of Milk in Chinchillas

The symptoms don’t always appear in the mother chinchilla. The kits’ behavior may tip you off to a problem:

  • Kits lose weight
  • The kits whine and fight among themselves because of their growing hunger
  • Kits will soon die if they don’t receive needed nutrition
  • Each kit becomes highly aggressive toward the other kits
  • Mother is nervous and irritable
  • She snaps at them and may injure one or more of the kits

If the mother’s litter is too large for her supply of milk, problems develop. This won’t become evident until three days after the kits are born. This is when the mother’s milk should normally begin to flow.


Causes of Lack of Milk in Chinchillas

The causes of agalactia are diverse:

  • Milk glands aren’t sufficiently developed
  • Mother chinchilla is too young or not developed/mature enough
  • Mother’s nutrition leaves her unfit and unable to meet the needs of her kits
  • Genetic issues
  • Mother has given birth to too many litters with inadequate rest between pregnancies


Diagnosis of Lack of Milk in Chinchillas

As soon as you realize there is a problem, take your chinchilla and her kits to the vet for an examination. Observing them as the kits try to feed from their mother will give him the biggest indicator that the mother doesn’t have any milk (or lacks sufficient milk) for her litter of kits.

The vet will also weigh each kit. At home, weighing each kit regularly and  tracking their weight can help you know if they are getting sufficient nutrition from their mother.


Treatment of Lack of Milk in Chinchillas

In order to overcome a lack of milk in a mother chinchilla is to provide hand-raising for the kits. You’ll have to feed them replacer milk every two hours so they can begin to gain weight and thrive. If you have another nursing mother, she can foster the kits temporarily until they are taking solid food.

Another technique is to rotate the kits, especially if there are three or more to the litter. Leave only one or two kits with their mother and remove the rest, placing them in another cage. Doing this enables the mother to feed the kits in her cage with what milk she creates while you hand-feed the kits in the other cage. Create a soft, warm environment, placing a heating pad on a low setting on one side of the cage. This way, if the babies get too warm, they can move to the unheated side of the cage. Remember to add a small dish of chinchilla pellets, because the kits will soon begin eating solids.

Switch the kits that have fed from mom to the warming cage and replace them with the kits that have been in the warming cage. Soon (within two weeks), you’ll be able to stretch out the time that the kits spend in the warming cage. You’ll only have to do this if it’s still necessary to rotate kits because of mom’s low milk supply. After they have been on the four-hour rotation schedule, try to reunite all of the kits with the mother and see if she has enough milk for them now that they are transitioning over to solid food.


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Recovery of Lack of Milk in Chinchillas

Provided that you have been able to spot the lack of milk issue developing early, the kits should be able to make it through this early time. Your vet will direct you to begin hand-rearing the babies as well as rotating them from the home cage to a warming cage. If one or more kits has become so weak that suckling is too strenuous for them, you’ll need to help them by feeding them replacer milk until they are strong enough to nurse from their mother.

If you weren’t able to spot the situation developing, the kits will lose weight, weaken and decline, especially if their mother doesn’t interact with them. To prevent this situation from happening with future litters, try to delay a future mating until mother has regained her strength. Provide high-nutrition timothy hay and grass hay for her so that, when she does mate and become pregnant, she will be in the best possible position to nourish and care for her newest litter of kits.


Care of Kits


At Birth
When to Step In
Hand Feeding

Normally, the mother chinchilla takes care of all of the kits’ needs. This gives the owner time to handle and play with them. Handling kits helps to socialize the kits thus taming them. However, kits should not be taken out and carried around the house for long periods of time. Keep handling to just a few minutes at a time so that the kits can have ample time to nurse. Even with a good mother and healthy kits, there are a few things that need watching or doing.

At Birth
An additional water bottle filled with ½ unsweetened cranberry or apple juice and ½ water can help the mother with milk production by getting her to drink more. Make sure that she still has a bottle of plain water available at all times and change out the juice at least 3 or 4 times a day. The juice should only be given in the first day or two.

Once mom has finished cleaning the kits they should feel dry and their eyes should be open. Any eyes that appear stuck shut can be gently cleaned with a cotton swab and warm water. Do this until the eye opens. If the mother fails to clean a kit, gently rub the kit dry with a clean washcloth or hand towel and then give it back to the mother.

Kits should stay active. You should be able to see them nursing from time to time. One sign that they are full is that their tummies feel fully rounded and warm. The tail will also curl when the kit has a full tummy.


A mother chinchilla with her 3 day old twins.

Kits should be weighed once a day for several weeks to be sure that they are gaining weight steadily. Be sure to use a scale that measures in grams. Make sure to weigh the kits at the same time each day. A kit’s weight will naturally fluctuate throughout the day. They could possibly loose or gain a couple of grams just by nursing or urinating. It is normal for kits to lose between two to four grams during the first day or two after birth as this is how long it may take the mother’s milk to come in. Once the mother’s milk is in, they should gain approximately 2 grams a day. This amount will increase as the kits get older.

Kits are normally weaned at about 8 weeks of age. Prior to this they are left with their mother round the clock. The kits may begin to eat pellets and hay while still too young to leave their mother. This is normal. Do not take them away from her until they are 8 weeks old and a minimum of 200 grams in weight as they still need nourishment from her. If they have not reached 200 grams, they will need to stay with their mother until they are big enough.

At 8 weeks, it is time to start weaning the kits that are big enough. Males and females need to be kept in separate cages. If this is not done, the males can get their mothers and even their sisters pregnant. The father can also get the female kits pregnant. None of these scenarios are acceptable.

When to Step In
Watch for any problems that may occur. If any of the following happen, PLEASE step in and help the mother.

Make sure mom is not ignoring any of the kits. If this happens, make sure the kit is warm and stays that way. If the kit is being ignored in spite of your efforts to get mom to take it, it may become necessary to hand feed the kit or find a foster mother for it.

In larger litters, kits may begin to fight with each other. In this case you will need to begin rotating the kits. To rotate kits, begin by separating them into two groups. Place one group with the mother and the others are placed in another cage or carrier. This carrier or cage should have wire spacing no larger than ½ inch by ½ inch, a small blanket or towel in the bottom and a heating pad underneath ½ of it. This will keep the kits from escaping and allow the kits to stay warmbut move to the other side of the cage if they get too hot. Make sure the heating pad is set to low. After 2 hours, swap the two sets of kits around. This should be done every two hours, around the clock. When the kits are all about the same size or get big enough, the rotation will no longer be needed. Keep in mind that it may be needed for the entire eight week period prior to weaning. Continue to weigh the kits and remember to hand feed the ones that are away from mom. Always have hay, pellets and water available to both cages. It can be surprising how young the kits will start to use them. Rotating can also be done by leaving the smallest kit(s) in with mom at all times and taking the larger ones out for two hours and then putting them back in for two hours. Hand feeding the bigger kits before putting them back in the cage can help with any fighting that may occur.

Hand Feeding

Hand feeding a young kit

If the litter is large, the mother dies or not have enough milk for all of her kits, or no milk at all, it will be necessary to hand feed some or all of the kits. The way to determine if it is necessary is if one or more of the kits either does not gain weight or loses weight after 3 days. This length of time is how long it can take the mother’s milk to come in. If kits are losing or not gaining after this time has passed, the mother needs help feeding her babies.

Currently, there is no commercially made formula for chinchilla kits. To create your own, the most commonly used formula is as follows.

  • Canned goat’s milk
  • Water
  • Karo syrup.
  • Baby rice cereal

Fresh goat’s milk can be used. If this is the case, omit the water. Mix the water with the goat’s milk (1/2 goat’s milk, 1/2 water). Add a few drops of Karo Syrup and a small amount of the rice cereal. Mix well. The formula should be warm and not hot when given to the kits. Use a small syringe (1 ml) or eye dropper to feed the formula to the kits. Any formula that is not used and has come in to contact with the dropper should be discarded if not used. Unused formula that has not been in contact with the dropper can be refrigerated for up to 48 hours or frozen. Never microwave the formula to heat it. Instead, warm it slowly in a warm water bath.

When feeding, do not put the formula directly into the kits mouth since they could aspirate (inhale) it and this could kill them. Instead, hold the kit upright and place a drop on its lips. The kit will lick it off. Repeat this until the kit stops eating.

This should be repeated every two hours, around the clock, if the mother has no milk or the mother dies. Depending on the kit, this will need to be done for at least 4 to 6 weeks before lengthening the time between feedings to three, and then four hours.

If the mother has milk but does not have enough, the kits can be supplemented. Supplementing involves hand feeding some or all of the kits part of the time, usually during the day and letting the mother feed them at night and when you are not feeding them. Normally, the smallest kit or two are the ones that get supplemental feedings.

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How to feed a baby chinchilla? - Sprouts of Life

Parent category: Rodents
Category: Chinchillas
Posted on 15.08.2015 15:10
Views: 8318

It's always nice when your pet has offspring. But what if, after giving birth, you have to take on the functions of a foster mother?

The reason for this may be the death of the mother during childbirth, her refusal of her own child, lack of milk, or multiple pregnancy, in which the chinchilla mother is physically unable to feed her numerous offspring. nine0015

In this article we will tell you how to care for a newborn chinchilla.

The first step is to firmly realize that now you are responsible for the future of one or more babies. The main thing in caring for a newborn chinchilla is nutrition.

What and how should a chinchilla be fed?

On specialized chinchilla farms, babies are fed 10% cream. However, most breeders oppose this method. They feed them with Kitty Milk, which is closest in composition to chinchilla milk and is available at any pet store. The mixture is diluted with boiled water. In terms of density, it should be a little thicker than indicated in the instructions. When the babies are 10 days old, ground oatmeal can be added to the mixture. If you can't get the formula above, try any lactose-free formula for newborn babies. nine0015

Newborn chinchillas under the age of two weeks are usually fed every two hours. After a couple of weeks, the interval between feedings can be increased to 4 hours, and from a month old babies are fed every 6 hours.

Very tiny babies in the first week of their life are fed with an insulin syringe, squeezing 4-5 drops of the mixture alternately onto the edge of the pet's mouth. As the animal grows and, accordingly, its appetite, the portion, as well as the volume of the syringe, should be increased.

In addition to feeding, care should be taken to ensure that the baby can have the opportunity to defecate. When breastfed, mother chinchilla licks her babies, helping the digestive process. After each meal, you will have to massage his tummy with a chinchilla, and also wipe it with a cotton pad moistened with warm water around the genitals, slightly touching them.

To know how correct your actions are, it is necessary to weigh newborns every day. However, it must be remembered that artificially fed chinchillas, as a rule, gain weight worse than their peers fed by a chinchilla mother. In the initial week, the weight will stand in one place, and only by the beginning of the second week will a stable increase begin. At this time, the main thing is not to get confused and prevent the occurrence of negative dynamics. nine0015

Becoming a foster mother for a tiny fluffy ball is not an easy task, the main thing is not to lose patience and perseverance.

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Newborn Chinchilla Care | Cattery Happy Chinchilla Yekaterinburg

Information / Caring for a newborn chinchilla. Artificial feeding. nine0015


How do the first days of a chinchilla's life usually go?

Problems sometimes occurring after childbirth >

How to artificially feed baby chinchillas >

Newborn Chinchilla Hygiene >

How to get rejected babies to another lactating chinchilla >

We have described the provision of assistance to baby chinchillas at the time of birth in article "Chinchilla birth" >>> . And now consider the care of newborn animals in the postpartum period. What difficulties arise when it becomes necessary to artificially feed a baby and how to do it.

The usual weight of a newborn chinchilla is from 40 to 60 grams. Weigh your chinchillas at least in the morning and evening to track progress. The babies are active but losing weight because the female has not yet produced milk. Milk flows on the 2nd - 5th day after birth. In primiparous chinchillas, the onset of lactation may occur later than in females giving birth again. Signs of an influx of milk are reddening of the female's ears and weight gain of chinchillas, which have begun to suck milk rather than colostrum. nine0015

To improve lactation, give the female chinchilla dried nettle leaves, multivitamins and calcium tablets . Crush the tablets into powder and add to the feed. Feed the female before and after birth with quality imported food Versele-Laga or Beaphar. Experienced chinchilla breeders give the female injections of calcium gluconate before and after childbirth to prevent milk fever and accelerate lactation. In our experience, this is the most effective remedy. For an injection, take a 1 ml insulin syringe, calcium gluconate in ampoules and saline solution - sodium chloride. Draw up 0.2 ml into the syringe. calcium gluconate and 0.8 ml. saline. Give an injection on the first day after childbirth, do it subcutaneously at the withers. nine0015

The first five days are very important for baby chinchillas. It sometimes happens that outwardly healthy and active chinchilla does not survive until the five-day period. This is explained by the fact that the newborn "lungs did not open." We do not undertake to judge the correctness of establishing the causes of death of a chinchilla. After a five day period, the baby chinchilla usually develops successfully. Chinchillas feed on mother's milk up to 2 months of age. By this time, they reach a weight of 250 - 300 grams and become completely independent. They eat solid food and drink water from a drinking bowl. Do not forget to lower the drinker lower to a height convenient for the cubs. nine0015

However, the life of chinchillas does not always start carefree.

  1. Three or four chinchillas fight among themselves for their mother's nipples.
  2. The female never appears (disappears) milk
  3. Female chinchilla behaves aggressively towards offspring

Let's consider the cases in more detail.

Chinchillas fighting for the nipples of the female

The female has four working teats out of six. They are located on the abdomen on the sides closer to the armpits and hind legs of the animal. If the female previously had only one baby, then the next litter will get only one "developed" nipple. When three or four babies are born, there is competition for nipples. Chinchillas fight with each other for a place under the female. Cute fluffies are fierce in the fight for food, bite and hurt each other. The weakest of them suffer the most. Check babies for injuries. The solution to the problem is to plant chinchillas to the female in turn. And in the early days, you still need to feed them artificially. nine0015

The female lost her milk

Five or more days pass and still no milk comes. If the female does not have milk for more than 10 days, most likely there will be none. You will have to supplement the chinchilla artificially or plant it with another lactating female.

Chinchilla mother is aggressive towards babies

Sometimes a mother chinchilla will attack her newly born babies. The causes of aggression are not completely clear to us, they are psychological or physiological properties. Perhaps the psyche of the female who has given birth is affected by the stress of a difficult birth, the smell of an outside female accidentally sticking to the newborn, or an acute reaction of the body to a lack of nutrients. Without going into details, only one thing is clear - immediately plant chinchillas and decide what to do next. There is advice that the female should be given warm beer and this will relieve stress. Or that the female needs to be planted again with the male to soften her temper. We tried, but these methods did not work. At best, the female remained indifferent to the children, and at worst, she rushed at them again. An aggressive female bites and inflicts wounds on chinchillas up to fatal. It is not worth risking the lives of babies and wasting time on “correcting” the female. You should feed the cubs artificially or plant with another nursing female. nine0015

We have encountered similar cases in our kennel. One female attacked two of her babies immediately after giving birth. We deposited chinchillas in temporary housing. An electric heating pad was placed in a cardboard box, covered with a towel so that it would not be too hot. The heating pad worked around the clock. The babies lived in the box for 2 weeks on artificial feeding. Then we were lucky, another female gave birth to one baby. We have successfully introduced refusing chinchillas to a female who has given birth. For some time, all three babies had to be artificially fed. All three animals survived and grew up safely. nine0015

So, the problems that arise are solved in two ways:

  1. Artificial feeding of baby chinchilla
  2. Placement of chinchillas with another lactating female

How to feed a chinchilla - buy Beaphar Kitty Milk powder from a pet store, a 200 gram can is enough. Powdered milk is intended for feeding kittens, but it is also suitable for chinchillas. We warn you right away: you can’t feed chinchillas with cow’s milk, it contains lactose, which the animals do not digest. We also need insulin syringe 1 ml. no needle and carminative SAB Simplex from human pharmacy.

Kitty Milk jar comes with measuring spoon. Take one scoop of powdered milk formula and stir into 30 grams of warm water. Measuring spoon has a flat bottom, do not pour powdered milk mixture with a large "slide". The resulting amount of artificial milk is enough to feed one to three chinchillas during the day. If there are three or four babies, increase the amount of mixture and water in proportion. Be sure to keep the proportion. To measure water, use an accurate electronic scale or measuring cup. A watery mixture will not saturate the babies, and too concentrated will be greasy. Excess fat babies do not digest well, there is a risk of bloating. nine0015

In the photo: Baby Chinchilla Feeding Kit

Use the insulin syringe to draw the warm formula from the cup. Hold the chinchilla upright with one hand. To prevent the baby from kicking, wrap it in a towel. Use your other hand to push the mixture out of the syringe. Squeeze one drop into the baby's mouth the first time to get a taste, and then things will go easier. The baby usually willingly drinks artificial milk, deftly moving the pink tongue. For better digestion, put one drop of SAB Simplex into your baby's mouth after taking milk. nine0015

In the photo: Chinchilla is artificially fed from a syringe

Refrigerate any leftover milk and reheat it in a water bath or microwave before the next feeding. To make sure the milk is neither too cold nor too hot, put a syringe on your wrist. Milk should not be stored for more than a day, make a new portion every day.

Formula feeding schedule

Chinchilla age

Intervals between milk intakes (*)

Milk quantity (*)

Up to 3 weeks

2 – 2.5 hours around the clock

0.5 ml - 1 ml complementary (until the female has milk)

1 - 1.5 ml. in the mode of constant feeding (in case of refusal of the female from children)

3 - 4 weeks

3.5 - 4 hours

1.5 - 2 ml. in constant feeding mode

4 - 6 weeks

4 hours, you can not feed at night

2 ml. in the constant feeding mode, add ground oatmeal-hercules

to the mixture

(*) Note: Watch the baby's appetite and weight dynamics, and choose time intervals and amounts of food accordingly. If the female has milk, reduce the frequency and amount of complementary foods. Do not feed your baby to the full with artificial milk, he must suck the nipples of the female and drink natural chinchilla milk.

Yes, you are guaranteed sleepless nights, but this way you will save wonderful and such touching chinchillas.

Weight gain for normally developing breastfed babies is 2 to 4 grams daily. Artificers develop more slowly. Weigh your baby every time before feeding. With artificial feeding, chinchillas gain weight unevenly. It will add 1 gram, then after 2 hours it will drop. If the baby is active and constantly eats with appetite, he will begin to steadily increase weight in a week. nine0015

At the end of the feeding, after giving the baby a drop of SAB Simplex, give the baby a tummy massage. Massage the abdomen, making circular movements with your fingers from top to bottom. Next, wash the anus of the baby chinchilla with a cotton swab dipped in warm water. When the baby sits with the mother, the female licks him herself. If the baby is left alone, you will have to do the procedure. Monitor baby's boluses, in case of diarrhea, drink additional SAB Simplex.

The female refused children or the milk was gone. And you have another lactating female with a cub of about the same age. Let's try to get a chinchilla objector to a new mother. nine0015

We warn you right away, you can’t take and immediately put a baby to someone else’s female! We propose the following method below:

Chinchillas have an excellent sense of smell. The smell of each chinchilla is unique, it is like a passport, according to which there is an identification of “friend or foe”. A nursing chinchilla with children will not tolerate strangers in her cage, even small ones. It is required that "foreign" chinchillas smell the same as their own children. We do the following: we transfer the smell of our own children to "foreign" babies. We temporarily take away our own children from the female and put them in the same box with "strangers". The babies will rub against each other and the smells will mix. For fidelity, we will rub the "strangers" with sawdust from the toilet of the adoptive mother. We will transfer the female from the cage to the carrier, we will move relatives and "foreign" babies into the cage. Let the "strangers" in the cage better soak in the local smells. The procedure will take one to two hours. After that, release the female into a cage with your own and other babies. Observe that there is no aggression, otherwise repeat the procedure for mixing smells. nine0015

Chinchillas can't count, female accepts all puppies. However, the female's milk resource is limited, and partial artificial supplementary feeding may be required. However, replanting refusers with another lactating female is preferable to full artificial feeding. In the practice of our nursery, replanting was done repeatedly. Rejection of adopted children was rare.

Watch the baby chinchilla care video