Symptoms of environmental stess include, among other things: whitish eye goop, smallish or squashy fecal droppings, fungus, anti-social behavior(chasing and pulling fur, biting, urine-spraying) directed at the chinparent or cagemates (causing conflicts), lethargy, acting depressed and withdrawn, weight loss, persistent dominance mounting, excessively marking territory with urine, fidgeting behaviors such as obsessive chewing of cage bars, hammock, water bottle, etc., and neurotic behaviors such as fur biting, pacing in circles or somersaulting.Besides being affected by environmental stress factors, a chin can also suffer from health and behavioral problems that originate with the chin himself, internal factors, such as when a chin has a particular sensitivity to a certain brand of dustbath that gives him eye irritations, or when a chin is recovering from a recent operation, illness or injury and the stress of recovery (especially if not on pain medication) causes him to fur bite or to act anti-social in self-defense.In the event of the latter, when a chin is in recovery from something stressful or traumatic, extra measures should be put into place to ensure maximum comfort, security and tranquility; providing TV helps ease stress and boredom.It is very important to rule out any potential internal cause before assuming and addressing a health or behavioral problem from the environmental stress angle, because a chin that is ill or suffering should see a vet without delay.Throughout our years of rescue work, which includes networking with rescuers internationally, we've come to realize that chinchilla health and behavioral problems are frequently rooted in a single cause: STRESSAs stated in Critical Points, "Because they are highly intelligent, chinchillas can easily become stressed or bored...They cannot just sit, caged, for hours on end without sufficient environmental stimulation, exercise or interaction." There are a wide range of health (stress weakens the immune system, increasing vulnerability) and behavioral problems which in reality are only SYMPTOMATIC of the cause, the real problem: environmental STRESS.But this is not representative of the common experience, as chinchilla rescue workers and anyone who's been on a forum and watched chinparents recycle the same old stress-related health and behavioral problems can attest to.
Chinchilla temperaments generally tend to mellow with age.
For instance, a chinchilla with a naturally high-strung (should be regarded as NFB) or oversensitive temperament is more likely to be negatively impacted by environmental stress than a chinchilla with a calm, easy-going, mellow temperament.
This section on Environmental Stress takes a broad approach, so that the chinparent can apply their analytical skills and intuition to troubleshoot within the context of their particular situation.
Often chinparents don't realize there is an environmental stress factor at work until after one of the aforementioned symptoms develops, sometimes in a serious or chronic way, and then To resolve a stress-related health or behavioral problem, it's necessary to pinpoint and address the underlying cause, because treating the symptom (fur biting, weight loss, change in fecal droppings, anti-social behavior, etc.) in isolation of understanding and correcting the actual problem usually fails and can even make matters worse. Generally speaking, chinchillas are adaptive, resilient animals, HOWEVER, some are more susceptible to the consequences of environmental stress.
Chinchilla Behavior: Relating to People and Other Animals Chinchilla Introductions and Group Dynamics/ Chintelligence and Communication/ Dental Health/ Exercise and Play Grooming, Fur and Skin Health/ Healing: Ailments & Remedies/ Nutrition/ Origins and Wild Chinchillas Today Continued on next page: *The Red Print: Please Read First *Adoption Source, or Background, and Behavioral Expecations (pet breeder, ranch, pet store, rehoming, rescue) *General Characteristics of Behavior *Routines (exercise, sleep and covering cages) Often, the people who give the most online advice are not the same people who spend hours every day working with high-strung, oversensitive or troubled chins, and that's why these chins are so often overlooked, misunderstood or dismissed as the rare exception.Thus, it's easy for some people to over-generalize from their experience with very mellow, well-adjusted chins and they may not see the need to address the subject of stress and its consequences, because indeed, those mellow, well-adjusted chins are more adaptive and resilient.