Łapiński, S., Orel, J., Niedbała, P. et al. 2020. Infrared thermography as an indicator of heat loss in fur-chewing chinchillas (Chinchilla lanigera). Journal of Applied Animal Welfare Science 23(3), 338-347.
Fur-chewing is a common problem in chinchilla (Chinchilla lanigera). It may affect the welfare of animals due to heat loss, thereby possibly impacting food and water intake to maintain body temperature. In this context, infrared thermography seems to be a suitable method of measuring heat emissions from the surface of objects. Sexually mature male domestic chinchillas were divided into two groups: “non-fur chewers”, exhibiting normal behaviour (n = 25), and “fur chewers” displaying fur-chewing behaviour (n = 23). Food and water intake (mean ± SD) measured in the control animals amounted to 20.7 ± 4.52 g and 15.9 ± 3.45 mL, while in fur-chewing chinchillas were 25% and 33% higher, respectively. Metabolic energy intake, were calculated 2.2 and 2.8 W for the control and fur-chewing animals, respectively. Heat flux through chewed areas was 6.06 mW cm-2, which is 2.8 times higher than through undamaged chinchilla fur. To sum up, thermal imaging explicitly shows that fur-chewing causes increased heat loss. Disturbances in the maintenance of thermal homeostasis may be an additional factor that reduces the welfare of these animals.