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Choking in Chinchillas


Obstruction of Esophagus or Food Pipe in Chinchillas


Choking occurs in chinchillas when the esophagus is obstructed. Since chinchillas do not have the ability to vomit they are unable to relieve the obstruction, which presses on the windpipe resulting in respiratory distress. The animals may choke when the airway is blocked by a large piece of food or bedding. Females may also choke when eating the placentas after delivering infants. Fluid can get collected in the lungs when the lower respiratory tracts are irritated by foreign particles. Choking needs to be immediately treated, otherwise the chinchilla may die due to lack of breath and oxygen.


You will know your chinchilla is choking when it begins to cough, attempts to vomit, and/or takes gasping breaths. This is an attempt by the chinchilla to expel any foreign body lodged in the windpipe.




  • Lack of eating
  • Anxiousness, restlessness
  • Excessive salivation
  • Coughing
  • Difficulty breathing
  • Bulging of the esophagus




  • Large swallowed material
  • Accidental swallowing of material with sharp projections or rough surface
  • Females may choke after eating placenta




A diagnosis of choke is possible by observing the aforementioned symptoms. The choking action may also be felt by manual palpation during physical examination. However, the only way to confirm the diagnosis is by taking an X-ray.


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