Much like in other animals, endoparasite worms are a common problem in chinchillas. And of all the gastrointestinal parasites affecting chinchillas, the roundworm Bayisascaris procyonis is considered to be the most serious -- it is even contagious for humans, and may lead to a fatal brain disease. In chinchillas, the roundworm parasite mainly affects the central nervous system, causing paralysis, loss of motor function and coma. Transmitted mainly from contaminated food with infected raccoon droppings, roundworm infections currently have no effective treatment and must, therefore, be taken seriously. If you suspect a your chinchilla has roundworm infection, bring it to a veterinarian immediately.
Chinchillas infected with roundworms generally display symptoms affecting the nervous system, including lack of coordination, head tilting, tumbling and agitated up and down motions. In the final stages, the chinchilla may suffer from paralysis, coma and, in severe cases, may die.
The roundworm infection is due to the parasite Baylisascaris procyonis, normally found in raccoons and contracted by eating feed contaminated with raccoon droppings containing parasitic eggs.
Your veterinarian will confirm the diagnosis by microscopically examining fecal samples collected from the chinchilla for the presence of roundworm eggs.
There is no effective treatment for the roundworm disease in chinchillas. Instead, your veterinarian may suggest supportive care and medication to treat the nervous system symptoms and ease the chinchilla's stress.
Living and Management
Separate the infected chinchilla from any other animals and exercise caution while handling it, as roundworms may be passed on to humans. Also, cleanse and disinfect the chinchilla’s cage and the surrounding area.
Other than maintaining a clean living environment for your chinchilla, taking the appropriate steps towards pest control, such as using rodenticide, will help keep raccoons or rats from entering your chinchilla's cage, and thus prevent roundworm infections.