Abscesses In Chinchillas: What You Need To Know

Posted on: 24 June 2016

Originating from South America, chinchillas are adorable animals with soft, furry coats, large ears, inquisitive eyes and long, hairy tails. Chinchillas are highly active, energetic animals, and, unfortunately, they are also susceptible to certain health problems, including abscesses. Find out why chinchillas get abscesses, and learn more about the steps you may need to take to fix the problem.

Why abscesses form

An abscess is a normal reaction to an infection. If the chinchilla's body detects an infected area, his or her immune system sends leukocytes (white blood cells) to form a protective wall that will contain the infection and stop it spreading to other parts of the body. When this happens, pus forms underneath the skin, causing swelling and inflammation.

You may not immediately notice an abscess on a chinchilla, as the animal's fur will often disguise the lump. Some abscesses will have a small scab on top, while others will show a white lump at the center. Some abscesses will also secrete smelly pus, which you may see on the rodent's fur. The rodent may show other signs of sickness. For example, he or she may not want to eat.


Abscesses form due to a traumatic injury to the affected area. A chinchilla may suffer an injury while playing and running around his or her enclosure, but bite wounds can also cause this problem. Chinchillas will normally nibble gently when inquisitive, but lunging and biting will occur if the animal is afraid or stressed. Commonly, this will occur when the animal is around other chinchillas.

Diagnosis and treatment

If you suspect that your chinchilla has an abscess, you should take the animal to the vet immediately. Without treatment, the infection could cause toxemia (blood poisoning) and even death. Your vet will carry out a physical examination. He or she may take a sample of the pus inside the abscess for analysis.

If the abscess has already ruptured, the vet will normally flush the wound site with an antiseptic solution. He or she may also recommend an antibiotic cream to cut the risk of infection.

If the abscess has not yet ruptured, your vet will normally recommend surgical removal. Surgery isn't always essential. You can also apply topical ointment that will ripen and ultimately drain the abscess. However, surgery will normally allow the abscess to heal more quickly. You should carefully follow the vet's care instructions following surgery. For example, you'll need to regularly change the animal's dressing.

Abscesses are painful and dangerous for your chinchilla. Talk to a veterinarian or animal surgeon like Northwest Animal Hospital for more specialist advice.