Why Is My Chinchilla Laying On It’s Side? (4 tips to help!)

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Have you ever walked up to your chinchilla’s cage, only to find your chinchilla laying on its side? A chinchilla commonly rests on its stomach, so it can be alarming to see your pet on its side. 

But take some deep breaths and don’t panic! This behavior does not always mean that something is wrong.  

The most common reasons your chinchilla is laying on its side are fatigue, overheating, bloating, or pregnancy. However, they may also lay sideways if they feel too comfortable with you.

This article will discuss why your chinchilla is laying on its side and what to do when you see it behaving this way. 


Why your chinchilla is laying on its side (5 reasons)

5 Reasons your chinchilla is laying on its side

Chinchillas commonly sleep on their stomachs, but it isn’t unusual to find them laying on their sides. Here are some common reasons!

Reasons 1: Your chinchilla may be tired

As all good chinchilla owners know, chinchillas are extremely energetic. Therefore, any enclosure for a chinchilla should have ample space to explore along with platforms where it can jump as much as it likes. 

High energy indicates a healthy chinchilla; however, it can also cause issues.

Chinchillas lack a sweat gland which can cause fatigue for them. Giving your pet space to exercise is good, and it’s a safe way to burn off its high energy. 

However, with no sweat gland, chinchillas struggle to regulate their body temperature. Luckily, by laying on its side, a chinchilla’s body stretches and releases the excess heat onto the ground. 

Reason 2: Your chinchilla might be overheated.

Chinchillas are well known for their soft, dense fur. Because of the large volume of fur, chinchillas tend to overheat quickly. 

For your pet’s safety, it’s best to house it in an area with a temperature between 60- and 70 degrees Fahrenheit. A chinchilla can experience heat stroke after exposure to over 70 degrees Fahrenheit.

If temperatures are high near or inside your home, this behavior of laying sideways could indicate that it is overheated. By performing this action, a chinchilla can release the heat from its body through stretching. 

Reason 3: Your chinchilla is comfortable.

Chinchillas, like people, have their own habits and personalities. When a chinchilla feels safe and relaxed around you, it might change its sleeping position. 

Laying on its side is not always a red flag. It could simply mean that your beloved pet feels safe and relaxed in your home and your presence. 

If there is no sign of distress or overheating, then your chinchilla laying sideways might be its way of saying, “I trust you.”

Reason 4: Your chinchilla could be bloated.

If your chinchilla’s stomach looks a bit fuller when it’s laying on its side, it may be experiencing discomfort from excess gas buildup. 

The bloating can be caused by a change in diet or your pet overeating. Laying sideways relieves the chinchilla from the pressure of the excess gas. The bloating occurs anywhere from two to four painful hours. 

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Although bloating might be a reason for your chinchilla to lay on its side, it is not one of the most common explanations for this behavior. 

Reason 5: Your chinchilla may be pregnant.

Pregnancy could also explain why your fluffy pet is laying on its side. Pregnant chinchillas relieve discomfort from the weight of their kits by stretching on their sides.

This reason can only be applied to females who have been bred or introduced to an unneutered male. This is not a common reason for this behavior, but it is a possible explanation.


How to help your chinchilla? (4 tips)

What to do when your chinchilla is laying on its side

There are three simple steps to take when you see your pet laying on its side.

By performing these quick and easy steps, you should know why your chinchilla is laying in this position and if you need to take it to the vet. 

Tip 1: Check on your chinchilla

Checking on your chinchilla should be your first response.

Look at your chinchilla’s chest and listen. Is it rapidly breathing? Is your chin panting? If so, your pet may be laying on its side from exhaustion. 

Play time may have been a little more exciting than usual. In this situation, giving your chinchilla time to cool down is best. 

Check back in later; if it hasn’t cooled down or is showing signs of distress, call your vet immediately.

Does your chinchilla look like it’s relaxed? If there are no signs of distress or exhaustion, it could be laying sideways because it’s comfortable doing that. 

To make sure this is the reason why it’s in this position, gently pet your chinchilla. If it responds to you like usual, there’s no need for concern; this behavior is not an issue. 

However, if your pet doesn’t respond, call your vet as soon as possible. 

Tip 2: Turn up your AC

Is it a hot day? Is your chinchilla in a warm room with lots of direct sunlight? If so, your pet might be overheated and laying on its side to release heat from its body.

If it is a warm day, consider turning your air conditioning or fan on for your chinchilla. Once it’s colder in the room, your pet will perk up and return to its normal activities. It’ll be back to playing soon after it cools down!

Tip 3: Provide cooling plates

Other than turning on the AC, a quick way to ensure your chinchilla does not get overheated is to provide him with a cooling plate.

Most of the time, chinchillas lay on the ground because they wish to cool themselves. A chinchilla chiller plate will come in handy in this case!

Place it anywhere in the cage and your chinchilla will lay on it to pass some of its heat onto the cooling plate.

Tip 4: Check your chinchilla’s stomach.

If you notice your chinchilla’s stomach is rounder than usual, it may be laying sideways to relieve bloating. 

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A chinchilla bloats if there is a change in diet or if it eats too much. Before concluding that your pet is bloated, check if you changed its diet and if its food bowl is significantly empty.

If your chinchilla is a female and has a bigger stomach than usual, it may be pregnant. 

Positioning itself sideways relieves pressure from the weight of its kits for the expecting mother. If you think your pet might be pregnant, schedule an appointment with your vet to check. 


Should you call the vet?

Should you call the vet

Seeing your chinchilla laying on its side can be very worrying, but it’s important not to panic. Before you start frantically calling your vet, check on your pet and its behavior first. 

A chinchilla’s body language is the best way to decide whether a trip to the vet is needed. 

Check on your chinchilla first.

Check your chinchilla’s body language and its behavior. Does it seem to be in pain? Is it distressed? If your answer is yes, the best thing to do is contact your vet. 

Although a chinchilla laying on its side isn’t a common indicator of danger, if your pet is sending distress signals, then this new position may hint at an underlying medical condition.

Does your chinchilla look relaxed? Is it a warm day? If it’s a hot day, your chinchilla might be stretching to release heat. The same applies if it was recently playing. 

Running around can tire your pet out, and it may lay on its side to cool down from exercising. If your chinchilla is relaxed, changing its position to its side could be comfortable. 

A chinchilla laying sideways is not always a sign of danger. It is important to take note of its body language to ensure this behavior isn’t dangerous. 

Reaching out to your vet may not be necessary if your chinchilla isn’t showing signs of pain or distress. 

Call if your chinchilla doesn’t respond to you.

Have you tried to interact with it? If your chinchilla is not responding to you at all, immediately call your vet. It’s never a good indicator if your pet does not react to your touch. 

An unresponsive chinchilla may be seriously ill and need immediate medical attention. It is always a good rule of thumb to contact your vet if your pet shows signs of distress or is completely unresponsive. 


Final thoughts 

Owning a chinchilla is a lot of responsibility, but it’s worth it. Because they’re not a common household pet, caring for chinchillas can be equally stressful and rewarding. 

However, it is important not to panic! If your chin is laying on its side, stay calm and check on it first. 

Take some deep breaths and take note of your chinchilla’s body language and behavior before panicking. 

You likely have no reason to worry, but if your pet shows signs of distress or is unresponsive, the best thing to do is contact your vet as soon as possible.