Unexpected Kits


 

We are a rescue-based pet group, but in rescue, we realize that unexpected kits are going to happen. Weve tried to put together some information if you suddenly find newborn kits in your cage! FIRST, remove the male IMMEDIATELY, before anything else... mama is quite fertile during and immediately after birth. Secondly, don't panic; We're here to help!

Sections
Pregnancy Watch Supplies to Have On-Hand
Nutrition for mama & kits Tips to Help Mama
Preparing a Safe Cage On the Day of Birth
Determining Sex Rotating the Kits
Hand/Supplemental Feeding Adding to Their Cage
Birth to 8 Weeks Weaning
8 Weeks to 6 Months


Pregnancy Watch

If you know a female has been with a male, you'll need to keep that female on a pregnancy watch until the date that she'd give birth (111-120 days) if she had gotten pregnant on the last day she was with the male. To help detetmine that date range, we've created a Pregnancy Watch Calculator to do the math for you. Irregardless if she is pregnant or not, you should immediately separate males and females to prevent unwanted pregnancies.


Supplies to Have On-Hand

If you believe she is pregnant, there are a few supplies you should get and a few cage changes to do before she gives birth. If you end up needing to supplement feed, you will need the following... and may not have the time to get it at that time, so we suggest you get it beforehand. Click here to jump to the hand feeding section.


Goats Milk Powder

Goats Milk Liquid

Baby Rice Cereal

Glass Dropper

Dropper Bottle

Mini Miracle
Nursing Syringe


Nutrition for Mama & Kits

Mama should be fed a high-quality alfalfa based pellet like Oxbow Chinchilla Essentials, Mazuri Chinchilla or, in the UK, Science Selective Chinchilla. This should be available in unlimited quantities. During the last 2-3 weeks before birth, you need to add alfalfa hay to her cage. Again, in unlimited quantities. I keep both alfalfa and Timothy in my maternity cages. You should also lower her water bottle so that the kits can reach it - they will learn from mom to drink from the bottle.

Click on Flag to Purchase


Oxbow Chinchilla
Essentials



Mazuri
Chinchilla



Science Select
Chinchilla


Click to See Where to Purchase Hay


Tips to Help Mama

Once she gives birth, you can start her on a teaspoon or so of oatmeal daily to help her with milk production. Additionally, you can mix the same formula up that you would hand feed kits and put it in a water bottle on her cage. You should remove it after a couple hours as it won't keep all day. Lastly, you should not let mama dust bath until 10 days post-birth. Her cervix is open from giving birth and you don't want dust getting in there as it could cause an infection. After 10 days, allow her to bath in her cage. The kits will learn how to bath by emulating mama. If you find yourself raising an orphan, you will need to show them what dust is for. You can put them in the bath, sprinkle some dust on their back and rub it in... won't take long for them to figure it out!


Preparing a Safe Cage

Prior to labor (I do this a week before their earliest due date), you will need to arrange the cage to be a safe environment for kits. This includes:

  • Whatever cage you choose to use as your nursery, be sure there are no openings more than 1/2", including but not limited to, the space between your bars.

  • Remove all ledges, shelves, houses, hammocks, cubes... about the only thing you should leave in there is their pellet bowl, hay rack, any hanging chew toys and sticks.

  • Within hours of birth, Chinchilla kits will start exploring which includes climbing the cage bars. Because we wish to make their cage as safe as possible, it's imperative that you limit the height of their cage to 12". The easiest way to do this is to install 4 small ledges, 1 in each corner, 12" from the floor of the cage. You can then slide boards in to rest on your ledges limiting the height. Personally, I use a 1/4" hardboard because it's cut to fit snugly from edge to edge so a Chinchilla can't get ahold of anything to chew on. If you have problems with chewing, please use a safe wood to limit the height. Do not be alarmed if the kits climb up as high as they can go and throw themselves backwards from the bars (every kit I've seen born has done this). This is the #1 reason why we suggest you limit the height available to them.


  • Chloe Iki Kolohe, 10 Days Old

  • I discovered with my last litter that by setting one of mama's ledges on the floor, she felt she was on a ledge and was much happier.

  • Starting at 4-5 weeks of age, I start adding low ledges, large houses and hammocks. The kits should be old enough, by this time, to push mom where they want her if she has inadvertently blocked access to her nipples. Start low and slow, keeping your mass height at 12" (I remove my 12" board at weaning time).


    On the Day of the Birth


    So, the kits have been born, now what you ask... if you happen to catch the birth, mama will pass the afterbirth/placenta at the end of her labor. She will immediately start eating it... as gross as that sounds, you should let her eat what she wants of it. It triggers changes in her body that allows her to start lactating to feed the kits. If she only eats part, then you should remove the rest.

    No dust bath for mom for 10 days. Her cervix opened quite widely to give birth and you don't want dust getting in that could cause an infection. Usually she will clean the blood and birth fluids from herself over the first couple of days. If it bothers you, you can use a dye/fragrance free wet wipe to clean her up. Just be sure to get her dried!

    If you have kits that look identical, you should use a dot of a gel food color to mark each kit so you can tell who is who. Locations to mark include the base of the tail, the tip of the tail, on the back of their neck. You could also use different colors. Keep your color handy, you'll need to refresh the color every few days.


    kit with a marked tail

    Now that you know who is who, you should get a birth weight of each chin, in grams, and start a table of weights for tracking. Good birth weights are 45g and up, but in rescue cases, birth weights can be considerably lower. It's completely normal for the kits to lose a few grams over the first 48 hours while mama's milk is still coming in. But then they should gain 1-3g each daily. Be sure to weigh at the same time daily for the best record keeping.

    If you have multiple kits, especially 3 or more, you will need to watch closely for fighting after the 48-hour mark when mama's milk comes in. Mama only has so much milk, and while she has 6 nipples, most mamas can feed twins with no problem, but triplets can and will fight with each other. They will chase each other, making loud kauking noises and bite each other (especially ears, tails, feet). The stronger one(s) will keep the weaker one(s) from nursing. To prevent this, if you see fighting, you should rotate the kits.


    Determining Sex

    You can sex your kits right away, but it can be very difficult to tell girls from boys. We highly suggest you take pictures of each one and post to the group to confirm genders. To take the best picture, hold the kit by the base of the tail and lift slightly.


    Proper Position to Determine Sex

    Once you have the right picture, you can compare with the images we've recorded for helping on our determining sex page.


    Rotating Kits

    If the kits are fighting or one is not gaining, it's a good idea to rotate the kits. Start by removing the stronger one(s) to another location. I use a small animal carrier lined with fleece. These kits will need to be kept warm. We suggest a heating pad on low under 1/3 of the carrier so the kits can choose how warm they wish to be. Alternatively, you can "foster" these kits with an obliging chinchilla. When I had to do this, their papa was willing to keep them warm. But I've heard of other chins who are quite willing to help out.


    papa keeping his kits warm during rotation

    Ok, now that the stronger kit(s) are removed, this gives the weaker kit(s) a chance to nurse. You will need to switch every 2 hours. When you remove the weaker kit(s), we suggest you try to hand feed them to help keep their strength up. Especially if they are losing weight. Unfortunately, it doesn't take much for a weaker kit to fade away.


    Hand/Supplemental Feeding

    If a kit is not gaining weight like they should, you will need to help them by hand feeding. To make the formula, mix 1 can of goats milk with 1 can of filtered water then add 1 tablespoon of baby rice cereal. You can then fill an ice cube tray with the formula and freeze, thawing out 1 cube at feeding. Kits need to be fed every 2 hours throughout the day and night. Using a glass dropper (they will chew plastic), put a drop in the side of the kits mouth and give them a chance to swallow. It will probably take a bit of practice to get them swallowing. Be careful that you dont give too much at once or give too fast as they can inhale it into their lungs. The biggest thing is to be patient and dont try and rush it. This video is Tina Feeney's Teddy at 2 weeks of age... he had the hang of eating from the dropper by this time!


    Birth to 8 Weeks

    Chinchilla kits are born in perfect miniature, with hair and teeth. They are extremely agile, with strong legs for jumping, but their judgement for distances hasn't been learned yet.

    Most mama's are ok with you handling the kits, even removing them for 10-15 minutes at a time. To help with socialization, kits should be handled 2-3 times daily. Allow them to sit in your hand and explore new sights and sounds.

    It's important to start chinchilla's chewing at an early age. Chewing options should be offered right away and in a good variety. They will instinctually want to chew and since their teeth are fully developed at birth, it's a good idea to encourage that.


    Adding To Their Cage

    Starting at about 3 weeks, if kits are gaining well and being active, you can start adding some things to their cage. Start with something simple like a small ledge, 3-inch up from the floor. Like so:


    The following week, you can add another ledge 6-inch from the floor, but be sure to overlap it slightly with the 3-inch. So that if they were to fall off the higher one, the lower one would catch them.


    The following week another, being sure to continue the overlaps.


    As you continue to add stuff, try to make sure if they were to fall off the higher ones, something would stop their fall and catch them - hammock, house, another shelf or ledge, SOMETHING! As they get older, they'll learn a bit more restraint and figure out how to judge their jump. At about 6 months, you can give them an "adult" cage setup where you don't have to be quite as draconian in making sure they have something to catch them. In their adult cage, it's a good idea to keep drops to no more than 12". That's erroring on the cautious side, but a long fall can give them a concussion, leaving them with life long seizures, among other things. It's definitely rare, but it has happened. Most owners love spoiling their chinchilla and their chins all seem to love their "full" cages.


    Weaning

    At 8 weeks, any kit that weighs 200g or more can be removed, Girls can stay with their mom (just watch that she isn't letting them nurse any more or she won't recover from the pregnancy). Any boys that weigh 200g or more should be moved into their own cage or bonded with another male.

    Any boys that weigh less than 200g at 8 weeks can be left with mom for another week but no longer. Boys mature much faster than girls and you don't want him getting his mama pregnant!


    Up to 6 Months Old

    Kits under 6 months of age have some special guidelines to help them get established and growing well without overtaxing them. Those guidelines include:

    • No Play Time - they just don't know that they need their energy for growing and they can become seriously ill by wearing themselves out.
    • No Wheel - same as with play time, they are still growing and need that energy directed internally.
    • Limited Treats - as they are still developing, we want to limit any treats to ones deemed safe for growing kits. These are chamomile, marigolds, mint, red or pink rose and rose hips.

    Most chins reach adulthood by 6 months. They may gain a bit more weight, but all their bones and muscles should be developed by this time.

    We hope we've answered any questions you might have, but if we've missed something, please PM one of us or ask in our Facebook group!



     
 
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