The tibia is the bone of the lower leg, and in chinchillas, it's very fragile and can be easily broken. Here are three things chinchilla owners need to know about tibial fractures.

How do chinchillas get tibial fractures?

Your pet may break their tibia if they catch their leg in the cage bars while they're climbing. Accidentally picking up your chinchilla by the back leg can also lead to this fracture. Accidents like falls can also result in a broken tibia.

How do vets repair these fractures?

These bones need a lot of stability to heal properly, so padded bandages and lateral splints aren't usually enough. Surgical stabilization is recommended, though these procedures are difficult and often lead to complications. 

Either external fixation or intramedullary pins can be used to surgically stabilize your chinchilla's bone. External fixation involves drilling holes in the bone adjacent to the fracture and inserting bolts into the holes. A rod is then used to connect the bolts and hold the bone in place. Since the rod is on the outside of the skin, your chinchilla may try to chew it.

Intramedullary pins are inserted within the bone to hold it in position. These pins won't be visible from the exterior. If necessary, your vet will use a combination of these two methods to stabilize the bone.

If surgery fails, your vet may need to amputate your pet's limb. Fortunately, chinchillas aren't typically bothered by this and adapt well to losing a limb, according to the Merck Vet Manual.

How can you help your chinchilla heal?

Chinchillas are very active creatures, but when they're recovering from a fractured tibia, it's important that they don't try to run, jump, or climb. To discourage these activities, move your chinchilla to a small cage that doesn't allow for these movements. The house, water bowl, food bowl, and hay rack should be placed close together to minimize the need for movement around the cage.

You'll also need to ensure that their cage is kept very clean. This is important because their surgical site could become infected if their cage is allowed to get dirty.

Until your chinchilla heals, you'll need to monitor them to make sure they're not harming their surgical site. Since chinchillas love to chew, they may chew their external fixation apparatus, and in some cases, may even mutilate their leg. Elizabethan collars can be used to help prevent these problems.

If you think your chinchilla has a fractured tibia, take them to a vet like one from North Lexington Veterinary Clinic right away.