While seizures are not common in chinchillas, a chinchilla owner should still be aware of them and what they can mean to their pet. Seizures are most common in chinchillas that are very young or that are pregnant, but malnutrition can also cause seizures. Learning more about seizures in chinchillas can help you decide what to do if it happens to your pet.
Seizures in chinchillas may be caused by illness, accidents or heat stroke. Fevers, poisoning and ear infections can all cause seizures, as can calcium deficiencies and hypoglycemia. Head injuries can also cause seizures. Heatstroke stresses the chinchilla's resources and overloads its system, causing a seizure. According to Chinchillas 2 Home, chinchillas with red eyes may be prone to short, harmless seizures.
One sign that a chinchilla is having a seizure is a full body shake or shiver. The chinchilla may shake briefly and then experience a few minutes of full body paralysis or muscle stiffness. The head may be pressed towards the tail or against the side as the body stays rigid. The chinchilla may also seem dazed and wander around the cage in circles. These symptoms are serious and if you see them in a chinchilla, you should take it to the veterinarian.
The treatment of seizures in chinchillas needs to match the cause. A calcium deficiency can be rectified through low sugar soy milk and calcium absorbate in the early stages or calcium gluconate can be given to the chinchilla intravenously in late stages. Head trauma may need to be examined by a veterinarian and heat stroke can be combated through keeping the chinchilla cool with ice in bottles, rotating fans and cool water.
To make sure that your chinchilla does not get seizures, start out by selecting wisely. Speak with the breeder to ensure that there is no history of seizures in the family of the animal you are purchasing. Similarly, feed the chinchilla a balanced diet to prevent nutritional deficiencies and make sure that you have nothing in the cage that is higher than two feet, which will prevent the chinchilla from hurting itself as it tries to jump down.
There are a few chinchilla gestures that may look like seizures. Chinchillas might shake their heads or tremble when they are startled or picked up suddenly. This can happen even when they are picked up by people they are familiar with, but a head shake or a tremble is a voluntary action. It is situation specific, rather than being a sign of illness or discomfort.
Seizures in chinchillas may be divided into seizures where the cause is known, and seizures where the cause is not known. Seizures of unknown cause are called epileptiform seizures, and it may be inheritable. There is no known cure or treatment for epileptiform seizures, and if they are severe, the veterinarian may recommend having the chinchilla euthanized.