What You Need To Know Before Breeding Chinchillas
Breeding chinchillas involves a lot more than simple putting a male and female together in the same cage. In taking that approach you put the health of the chinchillas at risk as well as the health and well-being of any offspring. Also, if you haven't bred chinchillas before, you may soon find yourself confronted with situations you don't know how to deal with, as well as uncertainty as to what needs to be done as the breeding process unfolds.
There's Much To Learn – Before any attempt at breeding chinchillas is made, there is a considerable amount of information one should become familiar with. This information includes knowing when and when not to put male and female together, the gestation period and complications that might arise during that time, birthing preparation and possible complications, postnatal care, and weaning and raising the kits. In addition to this important information, the potential breeder is well advised to become familiar with how to pick appropriate mates. Not just any male chinchilla and just any female chinchilla will do as far as breeding is concerned.
The following information by no means covers all the bases, but is presented to give the reader some idea of what all is involved, and what more there is that needs to be learned. For example, most chinchillas are capable of breeding at around the age of 5 months. In human terms, this would be early teens or even preteen, an age bracket in which mating is definitely not recommended. Most breeders will wait until both male and female are around 9 months of age. Some will wait even a bit longer.
Family History - Assuming you have purchased, or plan on purchasing, a male and a female, both of which are at least 9 months old. Before attempting to breed them, even before purchasing them in fact, you should be made aware of their ancestry, as you want to ensure that both male and female come from healthy bloodlines, and not run the risk of having kits (baby chinchillas) that could suffer from some genetic disorder. The best approach here is to purchase chinchillas intended for breeding from a reputable breeder who knows something about the individual animals. This isn't so important when simply buying a chinchilla to have as a pet, where cuteness counts as much as anything.
A Little Patience Needed - Even if you get a pair suitable for breeding, when you take them home and put them together in a cage, a full scale fight may break out. Chinchillas usually need some time to get acquainted, so side by side cages are best until they get used to one another. Just be aware that this can take some time, so a little patience is going to be needed. Chinchillas will tend to breed according to their own schedule, not yours. The female cycles roughly once a month, give or take a week, depending upon the chinchilla. It is the female that decides when it is time to mate, although the male, like most males, is forever ready. Mating involves quite a bit of chasing, squeaking, and flying fur (normal). Neither chinchilla is particularly shy about letting you know that the mating process is going on.
Gestation And Birth - The gestation period will be between 105 and 115 days, after which the female will give birth to two or three kits, typically two. Unlike puppies, the kits are born with open eyes, and can begin to walk around almost immediately. The male, who can be in the cage with the female during the gestation period, should be removed at some point in time before the kits are born, and separated from the female for several weeks after. The female will be ready to breed again within 24 hours, but doing so is not good for her health. Most breeders allow for 2 litters per year, although 3 is always possible.
While the mother chinchilla will take care of her young, it’s still best to keep a close eye on the kits for a few days, to make certain all is going well. It's good to keep an eye on the mother as well of course, though postnatal complications aren't all that common. There is much more to be learned about the art of breeding chinchillas, so try your best to become somewhat of an expert before even attempting to do so the first time.