Spaying and Neutering Chinchillas
It is important to remember that chinchillas are not like dogs or cats. They do not require frequent vet visits, vaccinations, supplements, or spaying/neutering.
Listed below will be the reasons we do not recommend spaying or neutering chinchillas.
For all questions regarding behavior, click the link at the bottom of this page to send us a message.
Should I Spay/Neuter My Chinchilla?
Commonly with other animals, spaying and neutering prevents unwanted pregnancies, reduces cancer risks, and can help with behavioral problems. This does not really apply to chinchillas. Risks of uterine/testicular cancer in chinchillas is very low. Spaying/neutering actually has more risks of danger than these forms of cancer.
Chinchillas do not really have any behavioral problems remedied by spaying/neutering. Male chinchillas will still hump things and females will still spray urine; neutering will not make them calmer or more friendly, a chinchilla's personality is not really based on their hormones.
Although neutering does prevent pregnancies, the risks associated with it are more dangerous than just opting to have a same sex pair. The easiest, safest, and most cost effective form of pregnancy prevention in chinchillas is same-sex pairs or groups.
Risks of Surgery in Chinchillas
Because chinchillas are a small animal, the risks of undergoing surgery can be high. Spaying in particular is very dangerous and invasive for a female chinchilla. With this surgery, a veterinarian must make an incision in her abdomen and open her up to locate the uterus for removal. After being removed, she is then sutured and must heal for a few weeks. This surgery can be very risky and has a high likelihood of complications, infection, or death.
Neutering males can be less risky, but is not really much better. Chinchillas do not have a true scrotal sack, their testes are usually hidden internally and only distend during arousal or mating. This requires a veterinarian to make an incision, locate the testes and remove them. The male then must heal for a few weeks. Risks of complication, infection, and death are lower than spaying but still very high.
Chinchillas under 7 months should absolutely not be spayed/neutered. Animals this young are still considered babies/teenagers and surgery is even riskier for them.
Anesthesia in small animals is very risky and dangerous, rodents can easily die during surgery from complications. Proper dosage can be difficult to determine and can vary based on each animal. In some cases, the stress of this can cause them to go into shock and pass away either during or after surgery.
Another risk of surgery in chinchillas is bloat or GI stasis. The stress caused by being in a vet office, going under anesthesia, surgery, pain, and healing can be too much for a chinchilla's body. Their digestive system can slow down and go into a stasis, meaning it is not working properly. This can cause bloat leading to a medical emergency and/or death.
Chinchillas are a prey animal, so they are very good at hiding pain. By doing so, it can be difficult to know when they are in pain until it is too late. A sign of pain is when they stop eating, drinking, and pooping normally. Chinchillas who don't feel well don't want to eat, and when they do not eat their digestive system will go into GI stasis leading to bloat.
Commonly, vet's will prescribe pain medication and Critical Care for chinchillas. Unfortunately, pain meds can affect their gut biome and cause them to stop eating which also leads to bloat/GI stasis. This is where Critical Care comes in; with this, you must manually feed your chinchilla with a slurry of food to keep them eating. It is not ideal and causes a lot of unnecessary stress for a surgery that is not even required.
Chinchillas may also chew at or remove stitches, leading to bleeding and infection. Rodents are known to chew at or disturb areas of pain on their bodies, this is a natural behavior but can cause complications.
That being said, we really do not recommend spaying or neutering. Chinchillas can be housed in same-sex pairs and avoid unnecessary surgery. Because they are not feral, living outdoors and causing overpopulation, there really is no way to have accidental babies. The only way this happens is incorrectly sexing, allowing males/females to play together, or backyard breeding.
Alternatives to Spaying and Neutering
Below are a few much better alternatives to spaying and neutering chinchillas:
Correctly sex your chins: It is very easy and should always be done when bringing a new chinchilla home. When in doubt, double check the sexes of your chins. If you find that you have a male and female together, separate immediately and never allow playtime together. It takes only seconds for a successful mating to occur, and chinchillas can mate through cage bars.
Keep males and females separate: If you have opposite sex chinchillas, always cage them separately where they cannot reach the other. If your chinchillas are escape artists and get out a lot, keep them in separate rooms with the doors shut in between. Never allow opposite sex playtime, chinchillas will mate when they have the chance and it only takes a few seconds.
Do not neuter male pairs to avoid fighting: Male pairs will not fight if they smell a female or are housed together. If you have a pair of males and a female caged separately in your home, the males will not fight over her smell. This is a myth; if they are fighting they could have unbonded and may need separating.
Have a single chinchilla: Chinchillas are social, but that doesn't mean they need to socialize with another chinchilla. Many can live happy lives alone. They can get plenty of socialization from their owner and family.
If you feel you chin has behavioral problems, consider it may just be their personality: It is very normal for chinchillas to refuse to be held, bark, bite, spray urine, or just be uninterested in interacting. We have had some chinchillas surrendered to us who have been neutered, we have never seen a difference in temperament or behavior. It is better than we adapt to our chinchillas rather than try to fix them by neutering/spaying.
Chinchillas should only be spayed or neutered in the rare case of emergencies, the risks really outweigh the benefits. Same-sex pairs/groups or singles is a much safer option.
If you have any questions regarding spaying/neutering, click the link below to send us a message.