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Can Chinchillas Get Fleas?

Last Updated: 03.04.20


Before looking online for some new toys for chinchilla, you need to make sure that your pet is in good health. You may have heard that this small rodent’s fur is too thick for a flea to penetrate, but that might not be true. Chinchillas are very tough but they aren’t immune.


Can they have fleas?

Nobody wants their beloved pets to suffer from any disease or from other causes. Chinchillas, unfortunately, aren’t immune to fleas and although they have thick fur, these pets can still get fleas. The thick fur is difficult to get through, but the pesky insects can still find a way. That makes an infestation unlikely but still possible.

That means you will need to pay attention to symptoms such as hair loss and itching. And you shouldn’t rule an infestation out just because you know it’s unlikely. Better safe than sorry. If you see any unusual behavior, contact your veterinarian.




Now that we know chinchillas can get fleas, let’s see how we discover the symptoms. Because the pet’s fur is so dense, the chances of you seeing fleas are extremely small. The most probable situation is to see one on the outer fur, but you can rarely do that. It’s best if you look for signs of fleas instead.

One such sign is flea dirt. That is the excrement produced by the insect and it’s mainly dried blood. So it looks like dirt or small black flecks on your pet’s fur. If you think you see some kind of dirt on your chinchilla, look closer to make sure it isn’t flea dirt.

There are other signs that come directly from the chinchilla. These include irritation and this is most often showcased when the pet is scratching or biting a lot. Hair loss can be another sign that your chinchilla has fleas.

Whenever you think you see some of these signs, it’s best to contact a veterinarian. Even if you’re not sure, just go and get your chinchilla checked before it’s too late. The veterinarian will be able to give you an accurate diagnosis and will tell you what to do. You will need the expert’s help when treating fleas.


False signs

Most of the times, the symptoms that can mean your chinchilla has fleas may have other causes that start them. If you see your pet suffers from itchiness, this could be caused by dust baths. Having your pet take too frequent, or infrequent (depending on the pet’s preferences) dust baths, may cause some small irritations.

Experienced veterinarians recommend giving your beloved chinchilla a bath of commercial mixtures every day for about ten minutes. But you have to remove the bath from your pet’s cage, as it will become humid and your pet won’t be able to enjoy it. Furthermore, it won’t be clean anymore.

Speaking about humidity, make sure your pet’s water is not leaking. If your pet’s cage has some sitting water in it this will cause mildew and dampness. That is why it’s important to clean the chinchilla’s cage regularly.

Itchiness and intense scratching may also be caused by poor ventilation in your pet’s cage. Or, if you don’t clean it often enough, the cage will get too dirty and that will affect the skin. Also, be sure to use a good bedding material. Kiln-dried pine shavings are a great option, but you can also make use of recycled paper. Stay away from cedar or cherry wood products, however, as chinchillas don’t like those.


Treatments against fleas

Unlike cats, dogs, or other similar animals that have issues with fleas on a regular basis, chinchillas don’t get prescribed flea preventatives. Because of that, many pet owners are tempted to treat their animals with leftover preventatives that they get from other pets. Or, they put a flea collar on their chinchilla.

As you might expect, these aren’t the best solutions. There are more reasons for not doing that, the main one being the fact that flea collars haven’t been tested on chinchillas. This will mean that there can be some side effects that veterinarians aren’t sure about, so it’s better to avoid a risky situation.

Using a preventative or something similar is considered off-label by pharmaceutical companies and veterinarians shouldn’t use them either. You may be wondering thus, what can the veterinarian do if your chinchilla has fleas?

Fortunately, he or she can prescribe your pet with a dosage of selamectin or ivermectin. These are medicines used for treating many kinds of parasite infestations and usually work on fleas too. Furthermore, they cause no side effects to your pet. Based on the level of infestation and the health of your pet, your veterinarian will have to decide.

In the case of minor infestations, the veterinarian might suggest the use of a flea shampoo destined for kittens. These types of shampoos are good because they contain no pyrethrins or permethrins that can cause damage to the fur and skin and they can still be quite effective.

Whatever you do, make sure the decision is taken by the veterinarian. Don’t decide yourself, as you don’t know the degree of infestation and you might be putting your animal through more distress when trying to treat it incorrectly.

Ask your veterinarian if there are any complications or side effects that might appear after using certain products and see if you are willing to accept those. Be sure to follow the instructions provided when administering any of the products the veterinarian gives you. Remember that fleas can be a problem for you as well and you need to keep yourself safe too.



What happens when the infestation spreads?

If you see that your chinchilla has fleas, chances are that they got it from some of your other pets that go outside more often. So if that’s the case, you will need to disinfect your whole house and check your other pets too, looking if they have fleas.

There is also the possibility that you just adopted your chinchilla and it may be the case that it already had fleas from the place you got it from. If you suspect that, take it to your veterinarian before bringing it in your home. That’s how you avoid your whole house getting infested.

Another way to prevent unwanted infestations, when you get a new pet, is to make sure to keep it away from your other pets for a day or two until you’re sure it’s got no fleas. This will help with avoiding the spread of disease.

Although fleas very rarely get through the fur of chinchillas, the pesky insects love cats and dogs. That’s why it’s important to keep your pets in check and on effective preventatives. From time to time, check with your veterinarian to see if the preventatives you use for the pets are still effective in your area.

Your veterinarian will also be able to offer indications on how to eradicate infestations in your home. You will most often need to take additional steps in decontaminating your house and that includes vacuuming often, cleaning, and using insecticides from time to time. In case the situation worsens, you might have to call in the experts and let them handle the insects.

Hopefully, you will never need that and your pets will have a long and happy life, free of any insects.




1) Systemic insecticides efficiency for fleas

2) How to Inspect Your Home for Fleas

3) Flea Control and Prevention

4) Study of flea products used on vertebrate wildlife

5) Efficacy against ticks and fleas 



Irina Ionescu

As a long-term learner and animal lover, Irina helps her readers find the best products and accessories for their pets, as well as the latest training techniques, tips & tricks on how to handle animals.

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