Do I have your attention? Great! If you own a male chinchilla, you have probably heard in one of the many Facebook groups that hair ring checks are necessary for their health. What is a hair ring? A hair ring is when the naturally dense hair of the chinchilla gets stuck to a male's penis. When the penis retracts, the hair bunches up around the shaft into a ring. The worry with a hair ring is that if it is not removed, it could grow larger and tighter to the point of interfering with blood flow and can lead to life threatening illness and/or self mutilation.
Many of the Facebook groups recommend checking for hair rings once to twice a month. A check involved restraining the male, forcefully extending the penis, and then removing any hair.
So how often should you do these hair ring checks?? NEVER! Do not do a hair ring check unless your male shows symptoms of a hair ring. Hair rings used to be an extremely rare occurrence in chinchillas until the pet market picked up on hair ring checks from a video published around 2009. After that, hair rings became a frequent occurrence. Why is this? Male chinchillas practice self grooming. Many owners have been embarrassed by their boys...erm..."helping" themselves whenever guests are over. When you do a regular hair ring check, males will become lazy in their self grooming. When they are less attentive to their grooming, hair builds up more readily and forms very bad hair rings. Do your chinchilla and yourself a favor and forgoe the scheduled hair ring check. There are times that a hair ring check is medically necessary. If you notice your boy is lethargic or not acting like himself, it may warrant a check. Below is attached an image of a normal penis and then a close up shot shamelessly stolen from the interwebs showing the tip of a penis protruding from the sheath. When the tip of the penis is protruding, this is a sign your male is in pain or discomfort. In this case, checking for a hair ring is the first step to rule out as a cause for the non-retracting penis. Keep in mind, some breeders have 100s to 1000s of males in breeding. We do not do regular hair ring checks and yet, we do not have males dying left and right from hair rings. Instead, we rarely find a male with a hair ring because we allow them to practice their own grooming regimen.
Normal Penis Presentation
Abnormal Penis Presentation
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