What is Difficulty Giving Birth?

Difficulty giving birth (dystocia) can also develop in chinchillas too young to be bred and have kits. In a normal labor and birth, it takes about one to two hours for a kit to be born. With multiples, the kits are born one or two hours apart. If the mother chinchilla has been laboring for more than four hours, she may have dystocia, which should be attended to and treated by an exotics veterinarian.

Other signs of trouble, either during or right after birth, can include bright red blood in large amounts. If you see this, you’ll need to act quickly. 

Birthing difficulties in your chinchilla can range from an unborn kit that has died in its mother’s uterus, to one or more kits being in the breech position during labor. If your pet is weak, or if she has been bred too many times, she may have trouble giving birth to her latest litter of kits as well. 

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Symptoms of Difficulty Giving Birth in Chinchillas

Even though most kits are born during the nighttime hours, you may have been able to time your chinchilla’s labor date pretty closely. If you’re awake while she’s giving birth, you may be able to spot any indications that she is having difficulty delivering:

  • Looking exhausted
  • Birth is taking much longer than normal
  • Chinchilla is restless with no kits delivered
  • Pet is still restless even after giving birth
  • Excessive loss of bright red blood
  • Physical discomfort
  • Excessive vocalization
  • Overdue pregnancy
  • Partial birth of kit or kits

Causes of Difficulty Giving Birth in Chinchillas

Your chinchilla may develop dystocia for one of several reasons:

  • She is too young for pregnancy and birth
  • Fetus is too large
  • Fetus is in breech position
  • Chinchilla is in poor physical condition, causing uterine contractions to weaken and stop

Diagnosis of Difficulty Giving Birth in Chinchillas

If you suspect that your pregnant chinchilla is having trouble giving birth, take her to your exotics vet right away. He will give her a head-to-toe physical, focusing on her symptoms and examining her abdomen, uterus, and vagina. He’ll palpate her uterus to see how many kits are inside, as well as determining their positions (this is useful for breech births). 

He may also take an X-ray of your chinchilla to verify the positions of the fetuses, especially if he suspects a breech birth or an overdue labor date.

Treatment of Difficulty Giving Birth in Chinchillas

If your pet was not in optimal health to support a pregnancy, labor and birth, she may be too weak to successfully get through labor. If her contractions stop, the vet will need to inject a hormone into her so that contractions begin once again. If she is truly too weak to continue with labor, the vet will have to carry out a Caesarian section and remove the kits surgically.

For a fetus too large to pass through your chinchilla’s birth canal, a Caesarian section will be necessary. 

Sometimes, one fetus or more will die before birth. If your chinchilla isn’t able to give birth to a kit that has already died, it will have to be delivered via Caesarian section. If it isn’t removed as soon as possible, the fetus can become toxic within your pet’s uterus, causing infection and possibly death.

Recovery of Difficulty Giving Birth in Chinchillas

Your chinchilla should be able to recover after having a difficult birth, but she will need more care and attention than usual so she recovers and returns to full health. 

Female chinchillas who have just given birth are able to experience a heat about 12 hours after giving birth (called post-parturient heat). This heat will continue for seven full days. If you don’t want her becoming pregnant right away, remove the male chinchilla from the cage and house him in a different cage. If she does become pregnant right away, this is called “back breeding,” and it can cause health difficulties and pregnancy or birth complications. Future kits will be small and could experience health difficulties.

If your mother chinchilla had a difficult delivery, allow her time to recover and ask your vet about supplementing her feed with calcium and vitamins. She is going to have to take care of her new kits, which will use up much of her attention, time and energy, so give her as much loving care as you can so she can regain as much strength as possible and return to full health.