Monthly Archives: November 2014

How to Tame a Chinchilla

A good thing about having a chinchilla is that they can be tamed quite easily.

Taming a chinchilla is an important part of your relationship with them as there will be times when you will need to to restrain your chinchilla or even pick them up.

Once you have tamed them you can also do things like let them out of their cage into a room for some good exercise as you’ll known that you can easily catch them and put them back in their home.

This is because they know and trust you enough to be not scared of you and the bond between you is strengthened.

Because they are prey animals they are naturally quite nervous creatures. This kind of behaviour keeps them from being eaten by predators in the wild and can save their lives as they are able to get away at quick speed. If you can show patience you can build the trust with them and it does take time to do so.

So if you are looking at how to tame a chinchilla, then here is our guide to help you.

When to start taming a chinchilla

The sooner you start doing the better. In fact the younger they are the more reactive they are to being tamed.

They have far less fear at a younger age compared to when they get older and so the more you handle them at this young age, the better they will be as they get older at being around humans.

Is it easy to tame a chinchilla?

It is not difficult to tame a chinchilla but it does need patience. It important to not make sudden movements which may scare them.

Noises around the home may cause them alarm as well and cause them to retreat inside their home to where they feel more secure.
If your chinchilla is roaming around a room at this time, they may retreat somewhere like behind a piece of furniture until they feel that the coast is clear.

If you are starting out with a young chinchilla who has recently been weaned, it should be quite easy to win their confidence, however it is not something that can be achieved instantly. Younger members of your family who are eager to handle the chinchilla may need to be supervised in their interactions with it and have the situation explained to them.

How to get a chinchilla to trust you

Using treats is a great way of motivating your chinchilla into working with you. You can use larger treats such as a dandelion leaf or a piece of carrot for taming a chinchilla which isnt too keen on being handled.

The taming process can begin by sitting alongside the cage and talking to your chinchilla.

Give them a treat and offer it to them out of your hand.

If they happen to ignore it at first then be patient and be persistent.

Make your words softly spoken and give them encouragement so your chinchilla can get used to the sound of your voice.

Don’t be tempted to wave the food around but be subtle with your movements..

You may find that they come up and sniff your hand first to check you out rather than taking the food straight away.

If you have to leave the vicinity, then just leave the treat in the same place where you were offering it.

When you return they will have probably eaten the treat.

They are most likely to be responsive from late afternoon and into the evening, so don’t try this in the morning as they wont be at their best and will probably be asleep in their home.

Once the chinchilla feels comfortable taking a treat from your hand then just let it slide out of your fingers and wait until they have totally backed off with the treat before moving your hand away. Any sudden movements whilst they are still in the vicinity may result in them dropping the treat and retreating to their home.

Try and do this process every day at around the same time. Routine is important in the taming process and helps to build trust with the chinchilla.

In fact, they are more likely to come out to anticipate you coming to their cage them more you do it, and will end up waiting for you. This will build up the bond between you. It is also helpful to use this time to check on your pet’s health for any signs of illness.

What treats can be used to tame a chinchilla?

Once you have used treats such as dandelion leaves or slices of carrot, you can move to smaller treats such as raisins. You can also get healthy chinchilla treats from pet stores.

However, do stick to those designated and especially made for chinchillas.

Treats can also be used to coax a reluctant chinchilla out of a hiding place and a way to get them to do something you want them to do. They also work as a positive reinforcement for when they do something you ask them to do.

By rewarding positive behaviour, you also encourage them to repeat the task or behaviour.

However, it might be worth in time, moving between rewarding with treats and verbal praise or even cuddling them to ensure that they don’t become too dependent on the treat.

Using a routine to tame a chinchilla

As previously mentioned, when it comes to taming a chinchilla then a routine is one of the most important things you could do.

So when it comes to handling them, allowing your chinchilla out of their home regularly at the same time each day will allow them to anticipate this time and learn to look forward to it.

When you first handle your chinchilla, you may get nipped when attempting to handle them. Although they have sharp teeth that can give a nasty wound if you are not careful, a chinchilla is unlikely to react in this way when they are picked up. It is more likely that they will bite you when they are getting a treat from your hand.

How to pick up a chinchilla

Firstly, speak quietly to them and provide reassurance to them. This will ensure that they are less inclined to struggle. Do bear in mind that chinchillas do compare being held tightly to being gripped by a predator.

Secondly, when you pick them up don’t overpower them, just make sure that they are not able to wriggle free and fall out of your hands.

Thirdly, carry out the process of catching your chinchilla with minimal disturbance. It may even help if you simply take your chinchilla out of their nest box choosing a time immediately before they would normally wake up.

A chinchilla will soon get used to being roused from their sleep and will not resent it as much.

Fourthly, when picking up a chinchilla, scoop them up by plaing your hands on each side of the body to slow them down so that they don’t try to run away.

Fiftly, gently slide you hand udner their body just behind the body just behind the front legs.

Sixthly, Shift your other hand more centrally over the chinchilla’s back so that you can lift them up safely and give them adequate support beneath their body especially around their rear end.

The importance of this is that if your chinchilla feels uncomfortable and thinks that they are likely to slip out then they will struggle and become even more likely to do so.


A Guide to the Behaviour of a Chinchilla

The chinchilla has a wide variety of behaviours that you’ll be able to see when you studying them.

So recognising different body language, vocalisations, and behaviour will help you to get to know them better.

Here are some of the facets of the behaviour of a chinchilla which will will help you.

How does a chinchilla talk ?

The main way that chinchillas communicate is giving out a squeak which means that they are responding to you.

The more they get to know you the more they will increase their desire to speak to you and the more you will hear them squeak.

If you ignore their call the more they will increase them as they struggle to get attention.

The louder the call gets the more urgent their need becomes and if they are in pain for Some reason, their cry will be even more louder.

How can I tell if a chinchilla is angry?

If they are in an aggressive mood then you may find that they make a growling sound. This is particularly when confronted with another chinchilla.

This growling sound serves as a warning. If you feel that the two chinchillas are not getting along then this growling sound will suggest that one of gem is being bullied by the other.

Another way they may express heir displeasure at each other is if they stand up on their hind legs and spurt out a jet of urine which targeted in the direction of he other pet.

How can you tell if a chinchilla is relaxed?

You can tell that a chinchilla is relaxed as they will move slowly around their cage. They will feel comfortable in sitting in the open cage and not just in the shelter. You will find that they are willing to move around by hop around using their tail to help them stay balanced and almost leaning on it. They will groom them selves using their front paws and are generally interested in exploring especially when they are let out of their cage.

How can you tell if a chinchilla is nervous?

When they are nervous, chinchillas will keep their ears lower and flatten them down toward the back rather than keeping them raise as usual.

How can you tell if a chinchilla is frightened?

You can tell that a chinchilla is frightened as they will exhibit various traits.they may cower in their shelter away from perceived danger.

You may see them shaking or they may start chewing their own fur.

How can you tell that a chinchilla is being affectionate ?

You can tell that a chinchilla is asking for affection as it will come up to the side of the cage and squeak.

I you attempt to touch and tickle it, the chinchilla will respond by squinting its eyes.

If you have the chinchilla out of its cage it will squeak and maybe come close and snuggle to you. It may even jump up on you.

How can you tell that a chinchilla is happy?

You can tell that a chinchilla is happy when it runs and plays without fear and will not be just sitting in its home shelter all of the time.

If it enjoys playing with you and the food that you give to it and attempts to coverse with you.

How to Safely Let Your Chinchilla Roam

Chinchillas are curious and lively creatures who do benefit from being let out of heir accommodation to get some exercise. However if you do this then are some safeguards which are good to have in place.

They maybe relatively large creatures but they are still able to disappear easily within the confines of a room.

So here are some steps you can take to ensure your chinchilla’s safety when letting them roam.

11 steps to ensuring your chinchilla roams safely


1. Check the safety aspects around the room keeping in mind that chinchillas are very quick at moving around and can also damage hints with their sharp teeth.

2. Put any valuable objects away just in case your chinchilla decides they are going to leap around off furniture thereby knocking precious objects over.

3. Put any dangerous plants in another room out of heir way so that they do not eat them. Plants such as cactus, ivy, and some house plants will be pretty bad for them. It is best to remove any house plants out of their way.

4. Screen off and secure any open fires as they are potentially hazardous for them.

5. Let others in he household know what you are doing so that they can support you.

6. Close off any windows and doors so that your chinchilla can’t escape.

7. Keep any other pets out of the room so that they do not scare the chinchilla or try to attack them. Check for any pets that maybe hiding in he room from view.

8. Turn off any lamps and disconnect the power chords or any electronic items. They may decide to gnaw on a cable so remove them from the area. This includes any television cabling and telephone wires.

9. If you have had your carpets cleaned in the recent past then take care as there maybe chemicals used in the process of the cleaning that maybe still there and therefore be harmful to your chinchilla.

10. It is better for a chinchilla to be on a wooden or tiled floor as they cannot easily nibble the flooring and the chinchilla will not be at risk from any carpet fibres from a carpet.

11. Concentrate on where your chinchilla is at all times whenever they are outside heir accommodation. It is easy to get distracted whilst looking after them but they could easily get up to mischief or if you wander out of a room, may even follow you making it harder to catch them. Chinchillas can even hop and jump up stairs.

What else do you need to do?

Going through this routine of checking for these things will ensure that the room is safe for them.

If your chinchilla does happen to escape and ends up in an area where you just cannot reach them easily then try putting one of their favourite treats in an open area.

Then step away from the area where hey are hiding and call out their name softly to encourage them to come out.

Be patient and in time they will come out and you will be able to catch them more easily.

If you happen to find that your chinchilla has picked up a power cable and is about to gnaw at it, don’t rush to it as they may just bite harder on the cable. Instead move quietly but efficiently to the power source and take out he plug before pursuing your chinchilla.

Regular exercise is important for a chinchilla and their physical and mental health. It’s a good idea to establish a regular schedule for activity outside of the cage. Try and set aside time in the evening for regular play.

Once everyone is at home and the environment is quiet then you can set aside to supervise your chinchilla without any distractions. Try and let them roam free in the room that you have designated without any distractions so that they are under your watchful eye and give them toys such as climbing ladders, tubes or wheels that they can play with.

By giving them time out of the cage to play, you are creating time to interact with them and will result in a happier chinchilla.

Once their roaming time is over the chinchilla will need to be returned to their accommodation.

If you have a newer chinchilla who isn’t fully tamed this may be tricky as they are harder to catch than one that knows you.

When trying to catch them don’t chase around after them as they will find it easy to escape you by darting underneath a piece of furniture.

There is also a risk that your chinchilla could get stressed and may develop heatstroke if you chase them persistently.

Instead opt for a calmer approach and you may need the help of a mother family member.

If your chinchilla starts to do something that could be harmful when they are in the room then avoid shouting at it and scolding it. If is is done, then they won’t understand that they have done something wrong. Just remove them from any harms way and try and change the environment so that the situation can’t arise again. Shouting at your chinchilla can cause them a lot of stress as their hearing is very sensitive.

How to catch a chinchilla that has escaped

If you follow the following steps then it should make the catching process that much easier.

1. Decide which corner of the room will be the easiest and most accessible area to catch your chinchilla. Working together from different angles will allow you to guide it to this spot and block off any escape route that may allow them to slip past you.

2. Crouching down on your hands and knees and move towards it will help you to grasp hold of it better.

3. When you grasp your chinchilla, place your hand over their back to slow em down and then scoop them up with your other hand. Try not to restrain your chinchilla by their ears or tail.

4. If you find that they struggle don’t be rough in handling it.

5. If you are struggling to catch it then try rearranging the furniture to make it easier for yourselves.

6. Don’t raise your voices or stomp around as this will scare them. Try and keep the atmosphere peaceful and relaxed.

Why Do Chinchillas Drink Water?

One thing that chinchillas need is to drink often.

Chinchillas need constant access to water which is clean so they can get the liquid in their body that they need.

They have diet that consists of hay and pellets that gives them little fluid intake compared to what they would eat in the wild.

Normal tap water is more than satisfactory for a chinchilla but it is good to filter it before feeding it to your chinchilla so as to remove any chlorine from the water.

Don’t offer any chilled water to your chinchilla from your refrigerator as this may upset your chinchilla’s digestive system.

What is the best way for a chinchilla to drink water?

There are two ways that a chinchilla can drink water;

  1. Using a water bottle
  2. Using a water bowl

A Water bottle allows a chinchilla to drink when they want to and for the water to be kept safe and un-contaminated.

The ball in the bottle regulates the flow of the water and so when they draw it from the bottle, the water comes out at exactly the volume and pressure that the chinchilla needs.

You can get water bottles at different sizes from small to large depending on how many chinchillas require. If you have just one chinchilla, then one small water bottle will be sufficient.

Using a water bowl for a Chinchilla

A water bowl can also be used to feed your chinchilla. However water in a water bowl can become contaminated very quickly by wood shavings, faeces or urine.

It can also be knocked over by a chinchilla very easily
This makes the water bowl not preferable for feeding a chinchilla and it is far better to have a water bottle to give them water.

How much water should a chinchilla drink?

A chinchilla should not drink too much water each day but it should always be available for them.

The normal amount a chinchilla should be drinking is around a few ounces a day. If they are drinking more then there may be an issue with your chinchilla.

If this is happening, do check the bedding which is underneath the water bottle to see if it is wet.

Occasionally with a ball and tip type of bottle, the opening will get stuck open and the water will seep out of it.

The bottle may also leak when the chinchilla plays with it and starts to rattle the ball around in the bottle until all the water seeps out.

Another reason for more water than normal being drink is if your chinchilla is pregnant or is a young pup and growing. Their demand for water will be much higher than that of a normal mature chinchilla.

If you find that there is more water missing from your bottle than normal and it is not down to bottle leakage, check your chinchilla as if they are drinking a large amount of water then do seek veterinary attention as there will be health issues that need addressing.

Can chinchillas drink bottled water?

There is a misconception that bottled water is safer than tap water but this isn’t always the case. It would be safer to filter this water as well as it may also contain infirmities before.

Can chinchillas drink flavoured water?

Unfortunately flavoured water often has preservatives and sweeteners in it which are bad for chinchillas so they cant drink flavoured water at all.

Can chinchillas drink hot water?

Hot water is not good for Chinchillas at all. They just cant handle it and are much better if given cool water. Even warm water wont be great for them, but will be much more bearable at least.