Breeding chinchillas can be tricky business, but knowing how to tell if your female is pregnant can help you better prepare for the arrival of her kits. Chinchillas are pregnant for around 111 days,1 but it can be tricky to know if your chinchilla is pregnant, especially during the early days of the pregnancy.
If you suspect your chinchilla may be pregnant, checking in with an exotic veterinarian is a good way to confirm the pregnancy, especially if she is at least a few weeks along.
The 8 Signs That Tell You a Chinchilla is Pregnant
1. Exposure to a Male
If your female chinchilla has reached sexual maturity and has been around a male that has also reached sexual maturity, then there’s a very good chance she could be pregnant. Female chinchillas have an estrus cycle of about 28 days, but they are only able to become pregnant for two of those days.
It’s important to use caution when allowing males and females around each other because females can become quite aggressive during breeding due to their picky nature when it comes to their mates. Ideally, intact and sexually mature male and female chinchillas should not be allowed to permanently cohabitate, but accidents do happen, especially if your chinchillas reach sexual maturity earlier than expected.
2. Production of a Mating Plug
Mating plugs are not exclusive to chinchillas, but they can be a good sign of successful breeding. During breeding, male chinchillas will excrete a gelatinous substance into the reproductive tract of the female, which will become the mating plug.
This excretion serves to make it more difficult for other males to breed with the female. It will solidify shortly after breeding, essentially closing the reproductive tract and eliminating the possibility of the female being bred by another male.
After the mating plug has served its purpose, it will be excreted from the female’s body. You may find the mating plug in her enclosure. It is typically white, hard, and approximately an inch in length.
3. Weight Gain
Weight gain isn’t a reliable indicator of pregnancy in female chinchillas because it can be extremely difficult to tell if your chinchilla has gotten larger. Due to their stout, round bodies and fluffy coats, chinchillas can hide the abdominal enlargement of pregnancy quite easily.
Typically, weight gain won’t be an indicator of pregnancy until near the end of the pregnancy.
Some chinchillas may gain noticeable weight throughout their pregnancy, but there are also a number of medical conditions that can lead to weight gain. If your chinchilla has begun to noticeably gain weight, a vet visit is in order unless you already know that she absolutely is pregnant.
4. Fetal Movement
Along with weight gain near the end of your chinchilla’s pregnancy, you may begin to see some fetal movement in the abdomen. Like weight gain, fetal movement will likely be difficult to detect, but you may be able to see small movements you haven’t seen before.
Fetal movement won’t be visible until very late in the pregnancy, so this isn’t a reliable way to determine if your chinchilla is pregnant. However, if you don’t know that she is pregnant, this can be an indication that you need to get ready for kits.
Near the end of the pregnancy, your female chinchilla may become more aggressive near the end of her pregnancy. This aggression isn’t likely to be directed at you, but it might be if you are handling her more than she’d like. Aggression in pregnancy is usually directed toward cage mates.
It’s a good idea to allow your female to have her pregnancy without the presence of cage mates, but if you have a female that has developed sudden and unexpected aggression towards a cage mate, then pregnancy should be ruled out if there is any possibility that she’s had access to a male.
6. Decrease in Activity Level
Pregnancy can take a lot of energy for a delicate chinchilla, so it should come as no surprise that your female may become less active while pregnant, especially near the end of her pregnancy. The decrease in activity is associated with the amount of energy her body is expending to support the pregnancy, and she may have an activity level that slowly decreases throughout the pregnancy instead of developing suddenly.
She also may be uncomfortable due to the pregnancy, leading to her wanting to spend more time resting and attempting to find comfortable positions.
7. Decrease in Appetite
During the early stages of pregnancy, your chinchilla is not likely to experience a decrease in appetite. In fact, she will likely need to be offered more food than normal to provide her body with the energy necessary to carry the pregnancy to term and develop healthy kits.
Near the end of pregnancy, though, it’s not uncommon for chinchillas to have a decrease in appetite. This is likely due to discomfort and low energy levels. If your chinchilla develops a decrease in her appetite and you aren’t certain if she’s pregnant, then a visit or call to the vet is needed.
8. Ultrasound Verification
Just like in people, chinchilla pregnancies can be determined by an ultrasound or sonogram. Most veterinarians have an ultrasound available, but an exotic veterinarian or reproductive specialist are the ideal candidates for checking on the status of your chinchilla’s pregnancy. These vets will have equipment small enough for your chinchilla, as well as equipment that will keep her safe and comfortable. They will also have a solid knowledge of reading the results of the scan.
An ultrasound will do more than simply verify the pregnancy. Your vet will be able to count and measure the fetuses, helping you better track the pregnancy and know how many kits to expect.
It’s extremely important that you are fully prepared for pregnancy and raising kits before you even consider finding a partner to breed your chinchilla with. Pregnancy can be difficult for chinchillas, so they will need to be healthy and strong before pregnancy is considered. You will also need to have knowledge of the breeding and pregnancy processes, and you’ll need to understand how to monitor your chinchilla during her pregnancy.
A reproductive or exotics vet should be able to help you fully understand the ins and outs of chinchilla breeding before you attempt it.
Pregnancy can be risky and high stress for your chinchilla, and it’s important for you to have a good working knowledge of the breeding, pregnancy, labor, and kit-raising processes in order to keep your chinchillas safe and healthy. It can be tricky to determine if your female is pregnant, so if all else fails, talk to your vet about an ultrasound to determine the number of kits in the litter, as well as give you an idea of the stage of gestation the kits are in. This will help you know when you can expect your chinchilla to give birth.
Featured Image Credit: Luniaka Maria, Shutterstock