Chinchillas have no specific mating season and breed any time in the year. Unlike most members of the rodent family, they have a longer conception period of 111 days (approximately 4 months). And unlike their cousins, young chinchillas (called “kits”) are referred to by biologists as “nidifugous” or “precocious.” This means that they’re born fully developed, completely furred and with eyes open. It’s a surprising fact that kits are already sexually active within just 4 months. But owners shouldn’t worry about their chinchillas multiplying so fast. Litters are generally small, usually 2 to 6 in number.
These fundamental facts are significant in understanding chinchilla breeding. But remember that the actual process of breeding is entirely different, and complex to say the least. Amateurs shouldn’t experiment with breeding. It’s best to leave it to professionals.
Knowing gender is vital in deciding and segregating males from females. Female chinchillas are highly sexually active, in heat for half of the year. This period (called the “Estrus Cycle’) usually cover the months from November to May, with the occasional “mid-summer heat” phase. After giving birth, females have the ability to mate anew in a cycle referred to as the “Postpartum Estrus.”
Segregating your pets during occasions of birth and the height of a female’s sexual appetite prevents unwanted pregnancies and inbreeding.
To know whether your chinchilla is male or female, you can take a look at their underbelly and locate their genitals. With females, their vaginas are in very close to their anus. For males, their penis is a little further away.
On Mating, Pregnancy, and Birth
Just like humans, it is important to socialize male and female chinchillas to get them attracted or determine compatibility between the two. Usually, males are more than ready to mate, only awaiting the signal from an obliging female. Though mating in most cases occurs in the evening, mating rituals include the male making a gurgling noise and both genders rubbing their chins on the floor. Don’t worry if a lot of fur is shed during mating as chinchillas get aggressive in the process.
Determining characteristics with pregnant females are similar to those of their relatives: she usually becomes aggressive with other chinchillas in the cage. Also, she either becomes passive and refuses food, or begins to groan and squirm when contractions begin. Births are usually in the evening. If you can’t help but take a peek, try to stay hidden so you don’t agitate her more. Females usually pull their own kits out, taking at least half an hour to do so (or more if there are others).
Mother chinchillas will clean themselves and their young, often eating the placenta themselves. Don’t be alarmed when she bites her brood till they squeal. This is her way of clearing out the liquids from their lungs.
Caring for Kits
By 8 weeks, you may have to take away kits from their mother. Aside from the fact that they reach sexual maturity in a matter of months, this prevents them from getting hurt by other chinchillas in the cage. This also helps when some kits are not properly taken cared of by the mother in large litters.
Kits usually die because of hypothermia and hunger. Try to make sure that the mother does not neglect to warm or feed her brood. Pet owners can prevent this by keeping the cage away from drafts, assuring the cage is suitably warm. Supplementary feeding may be necessary if the litter is too large. You can do this by either dividing the brood during feeding time or gradually adding pellets to their diet.
Seeking advice from professional pet breeders is still the best option when dealing with chinchilla breeding. Not only are you assured of the right information, they can give you valuable tips too. The importance of making well-informed choices and decisions with your pet chinchilla will surely make your experience with your pet more responsible and worthwhile.