Middle Ear Infection in Chinchillas

By PetMD Editorial on Jul. 7, 2010

Otitis Media in Chinchillas

Otitis media is an infection of the middle ear that often affects young chinchillas. There are two primary reasons for this condition: infection and external ear trauma. When the ear is injured, the injuries may serve as entry points for infectious bacteria which may cause infection. Also, the scar tissue that forms during healing of the wound can enclose the ear canal and trap wax and debris inside which in turn becomes a source of infection. The eardrum may become thick and swollen. The swelling may progress to the inner ear, which will result in the development of otitis media.

Usually the treatment of otitis media is through antibiotics unless the ear canal is closed. Regular cleansing and dressing are of utmost importance too for complete healing. The underlying causes of otitis media should be treated as well.


  • Disorientation
  • Fever
  • Pain in the ears


  • Respiratory infections
  • Trauma to external ear


Diagnosis is made by the clinical signs observed. Blood tests and swabs tests may also be administered.


Your veterinarian will, in severe cases of infection, gently flush the ear canal and administer antibiotic eardrops. Oral antibiotics and painkillers may be prescribed to help relieve the infection and pain. A closed ear canal will require surgical reopening.

Living and Management

Your pet chinchilla should be given rest in a calm and quiet environment. If possible, house the animal separately so that it is not disturbed. If your animal is recovering from a surgery to reopen a closed ear canal, then proper postoperative care as suggested by your veterinarian should also be given. While the chinchilla is recovering it requires regular cleaning of the surgical site and antibiotics to ensure complete healing without complications.


Otitis media can be prevented in chinchillas by immediately tending to cases of external ear injuries and also treating respiratory infections promptly so that infection does not spread to the middle ear. Regularly cleaning the ear also prevents the build-up of wax and debris and the development of infection. Ask your veterinarian to show you how to safely clean the ears. Following these steps can help prevent the incidence of otitis media in chinchillas.

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