What It IsFurther InformationTesting

What It Is

The most common parasites found in chinchillas are giardia and coccidia. Other parasites that they may get are ear mites or roundworm. The last one is dependent on who you ask, which is fleas.

Further Information

  • giardia: any chinchilla, young or old, can get this parasite. Tap water can carry it. They usually have it in their system anyways and it is causing no symptoms. When stressed or sick it can then start causing them symptoms such as diarrhea, decreased appetite, weight loss, dull fur, and even death. Diagnosis is through microscopic identification of this parasite in the stool. Your vet may treat with anti-parasitic medications or antibiotics.

    "Cysts containing giardia can persist in the environment for weeks, so the animals environment must be completely disinfected with dilute bleach, with all porous materials (such as wooden toys) being replaced. Treatment of infected chinchillas may simply suppress clinical signs, with treated animals remaining a chronic source of cyst shedding. Giardia is potentially transmissible to people." 1

  • coccidia: a microscopic parasite. "Signs of infection include diarrhea (with mucus or blood), weight loss, dehydration, and death if untreated. Diagnosis is through identification of the parasite in the stool. Treatment involves administration of an anti-parasitic drug orally plus thorough clean-up of all fecal material in the environment. Generally, these parasites are species-specific and do not infect people. "1

  • ear mites: These may present as itchy or "dirty" ears or a head shake (imagine feeling something crawling down your ear canal); ear mites usually cause a dark red-brown, waxy residue in the ears. Diagnosis is by looking at this residue with a microscope, where the mites can be seen moving around. "Treatment is typically with topical or injectable anti-parasitic medication and complete environmental disinfection." 1

    ear mite residue

  • roundworm: of all the gastrointestinal parasites affecting chinchillas, the roundworm Bayisascaris procyonis is considered to be the most serious -- The roundworm parasite mainly affects the central nervous system, causing paralysis, loss of motor function and coma. 2

    Chinchillas infected with roundworms generally display symptoms affecting the nervous system, including lack of coordination, head tilting, tumbling and agitated up and down motions. In the final stages, the chinchilla may suffer from paralysis, coma and, in severe cases, may die. 2 Roundworm is diagnossed with a fecal sample and will require veterinarian care.

  • fleas: this is a controversial parasite in chinchillas. Many say that their fur is too dense for fleas to navigate through & survive. While most agree with this, there are some who believe fleas can hang out at the fur line around feet and hands, as well as the less dense fur around the eyes, nose and private areas.


We highly suggest you have a stool sample tested on any new chinchillas you bring into your home. It is not wrong to repeat this test on a yearly basis or if you see signs that there may be a parasite present such as diarrhea or unexplained weight loss.




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