How Does a Chinchilla Care for Its Young?

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Both male and female chinchillas attain full physical maturity when they're around 8 months in age, but sometimes even earlier. Once these furry rodents are sexually mature, they are fully capable of mating and creating brand new litters of tiny kits.

Gestation

The gestational period of a chinchilla typically lasts for 111 days. If you are around an unfixed female chinchilla and suspect that she may be carrying a litter, be on the lookout for any telling hints of pregnancy, including appetite loss, sluggishness, weight gain, prominent nipples and uncharacteristic truculent behavior. In many cases, it may be difficult to pick up on any differences at all, physical or otherwise.

Nesting

Unlike many other species of animals, mama-to-be chinchillas usually do not prepare for upcoming parturition by seeking out cozy nesting spots. You may want to encourage the optimal health of the litter by offering a box for these purposes, however. Chilling is a serious danger for newborns, so warm birthing and nursing conditions are imperative.

Birthing

Chinchilla moms generally can independently give birth. When her youngsters are on the way out, the mother sometimes even helps along the process by tugging at them with her teeth. The litters generally consist of two kits, but can be made up of as many as four youngsters.

Newborn Kits

Chinchilla kits are precocial, entering into the world relatively sophisticated and independent, development-wise. Although some baby animals are born naked, these kits possess considerable amounts of fur at birth. Their eyes are also totally open following birth. They can even walk around on their own in the span of a single hour. Right after they are born, they crawl under their mother's body to stay warm. At this time, the mother thoroughly cleans and dries her babies.

Caring for the Young

Mother chinchillas wean their kits off of nursing fully by the time the little ones are between 6 and 8 weeks old. The mothers are highly defensive of their kits. If they sense danger, they can behave fiercely, often spitting straight at offending parties as a way of saying "back off." Since newborn kits have the ability to consume plant matter right off the bat, the weaning process is usually not too difficult for them -- or for mom.

Father Chinchillas

Father chinchillas occasionally lend helping hands in the child-rearing process, especially when it comes to providing beneficial warmth. If you have any control of the situation, however, separate the father from the mother during times of nursing. If a male chinchilla impregnates a female chinchilla during the nursing or weaning processes, it can be a stressful physical burden on her in the midst of a crucial time.

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