If you are on the fence about purchasing a chinchilla or perhaps recently adopted your first chinchilla you have every right to be concerned about your chinchillas current and future temperament. This leads us to one of the most common questions about chinchillas. Are chinchillas mean? I have owned a chinchilla and am very active in chinchilla forums and communities, and here is what I can tell you.
So, are chinchillas mean? No, chinchillas are not mean. Chinchillas are friendly and social animals. Chinchillas make wonderful family pets. Chinchillas do not display aggressive behaviors towards humans or other animals in most circumstances. Chinchillas are naturally loving and affectionate animals.
The line that I’m sure you picked up from that answer is, “chinchillas do not display aggressive behaviors most of the time.” While that may have sounded alarming at first glance, trust me, it’s not, and it’s nothing to worry about.
In fact, in case you need it, I have another full guide and overview of a chinchillas behavior that you can see here. It will break down everything you can expect when adopting a chinchilla.
Take 1-2 minutes out of your day, grab a cup of coffee, and read this post to understand what I’m referring to. If you don’t feel like reading the post, that’s perfectly fine as well, and your answer is clear as day above. Chinchillas are not mean, and they make wonderful and loving family pets.
For those of you who are deciding to stick around for a few extra moments, let’s dive into the specifics.
A Deep Dive into A Chinchillas Temperament
Like I stated in the introduction if you recently adopted a chinchilla or plan to soon, you have absolutely nothing to worry about. Chinchillas are not built to display aggression or act mean towards their owners or other chinchilla mates.
However, you do have circumstances that may present themselves that can cause chinchilla fighting with two cage mate chinchillas and precautions you can take to make sure you always respect your chinchillas’ boundaries. This ultimately will help and ensure that you never have to witness what a mean chinchilla may look or behave like.
While crossing these boundary lines may not result in aggressive behavior, it’s still the best practice to implement to ensure you are keeping your chinchilla in an environment that’s happy, healthy and comfortable for you and your chinchilla. This involves your chinchilla trusting you and feeling safe.
For those of you loyal readers who stuck around, here are my top 7 tips to ensuring your chinchilla is never anything except happy and ready to play, interact and love you as much as you love them.
Tip #1- Never Rush the Acclimating Process
This is always going to be primary key #1. Rushing the acclimation process is a big no-no. In fact, my breeder specifically advised me that play-time is not necessary during the first 10-14 days of getting your chinchilla home and getting them situated inside of their new cage.
This makes perfect sense to me. Think about it like this. Chinchillas are hunted in the wild. Not the hunters. They are naturally scared and programmed to run away from danger. This means that in the early stages, a chinchillas guard is way up and trust isn’t likely they’re between you and the chinchilla.
That’s perfectly okay, though because the trust does come. Chinchillas do get used to their environments in a speedy manner. Once they are situated and understand the sounds of the home, the smells of the home, and even the voices and visuals they can see, they will begin feeling much more comfortable.
Be Patient and Follow Through with This 10-14 Day Period
Trust me. I get it. Those 10-14 days are going to feel like a lifetime. Your excited and want to pet and play with your new pet chinchilla any chance that you can, and that’s completely understandable, and I don’t blame you.
However, the trust that’s formed during these few weeks is critical to how friendly and loving your chinchilla will be following the break-in process. During this time feel free to talk to your chinchilla at the front of the cage and make them comfortable in their new home.
This can include making the cage playful with all the favorite items that chinchillas love to play with inside of their cage.
If you haven’t done so already, you can also read my post about the necessary things you need in every chinchilla cage by clicking on the link a few words back.
That will simply take you to my other blog post to give you a good foundation of how a chinchilla cage should be structured for a happy, healthy, and playful chinchilla.
To re-emphasize before moving onto to tip #2, simply allow your chinchilla to get used to your home, keep them in an ideal room with ideal and cold temperatures for safety, and be patient.
Tip #2- Respect Your Chinchillas Wishes About Being Held
Moving into tip #2 comes down to merely understanding when no means no and not to force the issue with holding your chinchilla.
Some chinchillas don’t mind being held at all. This often is determined with how a chinchilla is brought up in their very young infancy months.
If a chinchilla has always been around people, held and cuddled, they will likely love for you to hold them too. However, sometimes, when adopting a chinchilla from a store such as Petco or PetSmart, you aren’t always as fortunate.
The great news?
This can all be re-programmed with your chinchilla. You can get them to enjoy being held and cuddled if you take it slow and respect their boundaries. If they are always trying to flee and run away from you holding them, don’t push it and simply end the cuddle and holding time.
If they are being receptive and don’t seem to mind being held, offer them up a safe chinchilla food or a chinchilla safe treat to illustrate that you like their behavior and wish for them to continue doing this.
This will eventually create a very affectionate and loving chinchilla that knows good and rewarded behavior.
Understanding Proper Holding Technique is Equally as Important
Never underestimate the power of proper handling techniques. This goes a great distance with your chinchilla being comfortable with you.
Improper technique is either going to cause your chinchilla to attempt to run away from you or can potentially cause a fur slip, and your chinchilla may not like being held in the future if that’s the case.
When you pick up a chinchilla, if you want to avoid those possible aggressive and run-away type behaviors, you need to support their entire body.
Following that, you simply draw your chinchilla closer to your chest. This will help your chinchilla feel comfortable and help your chinchilla not to exhibit any mean behaviors towards you now or in the future.
Although it’s rare that your chinchilla will be mean for improper holding, it’s still unlikely that your chinchilla will bite you, but if there is a time that could happen, this is likely the most possible and likely time that it would ever occur.
It’s only because it can scare and startle your chinchilla easily.
Tip #3- Don’t Corner Your Chinchilla at the end of Playtime
Another big tip I have for you is never to corner your chinchilla. Remember they are small, fragile creatures and cornering them brings out their natural instincts to run away, slip fur or if another chance did exist for a chinchilla to be mean, this would be the time.
When playtime is over, simply wait for your chinchilla to come to you. As long as you are in a safe chinchilla room where your chinchilla won’t overheat and where you don’t have loose wires exposed for them chew, you will be perfectly fine.
You can also use my trick where I place one raisin or treat in their travel cage and just wait for her to stroll right into it and then place her back in her main cage.
In all honesty, I haven’t ever seen my chinchilla be mean, but cornering is something I know has either scared my chinchilla or scared other chinchillas from members in other communities.
As you can tell, I’m honestly struggling to find examples of when a chinchilla would be mean, but I do know if it’s going to happen it’s likely to occur out of fear and nothing else, so your best bet is always to avoid scaring them, and you should never have an issue going forward.
Pretty plain and simple to understand if you ask me.
Tip #4- Don’t Force A Bonding or Pairing of 2 Chinchillas Too Quickly
I take everything I have said to this point back. Just kidding, of course. But seriously, this really is the most likely scenario when you will see a chinchilla be mean or exhibit aggressive behavior.
Sometimes chinchillas that have been bonded correctly or even incorrectly can have a dispute in the cage.
It happens, and it isn’t much you can do to avoid it. Therefore, it’s also essential to make sure you are looking for signs this taking place. Often one chinchilla may have a patch of fur missing, or there may be a physical indicator that one chinchilla has been aggressive towards another.
While it doesn’t happen and likely will only occur if chinchillas were rushed into the bonding process or perhaps when a female chinchilla is in heat.
Nonetheless, it certainly can happen; it’s something always to be mindful of. Chinchillas certainly don’t always do better in pairs no matter how social of a creature they have grown a reputation to be.
Tip #5- Don’t Allow Other Friends or Non-Family to Invade Your Chinchillas Hut-Hideout Space
Hut-hideout space is sacred space for a chinchilla. Some form of an enclosure should always be present for every chinchilla cage and for each chinchilla inside the cage. This is the one place a chinchilla can always go to feel safe.
Remember, in the wild, chinchillas are hunted so naturally, they need a dark spot where they feel as if they are hiding or always safe. To this day, my chinchilla still always sleeps inside of her hut, and it’s her only resting spot outside of her less utilized hammock I have on the top deck of the cage.
With you being the recognized owner that your chinchilla can trust and the fact they know your smell and voice, you may be able to poke and prod a little more, but that doesn’t go for everyone who comes over to take a gander at your chinchilla.
Don’t have friends and other individuals shoving their hands inside of their hut hideouts attempting to grab your chinchilla or even pet them.
Naturally, most chinchillas will come right out and be friendly but if for some reason, they opt not to, getting into their personal safe space is a likely example of when a chinchilla may decide to be mean.
Again, I’ve never seen my chinchilla be mean in these situations, but I do know it’s highly advised against so if you want to see only the friendly side of your chinchilla.
It’s always better safe than sorry in these situations.
Tip #6- Remain Ethical, Educated and Top of Your Chinchilla Parenting Skills
This is more of practical advice than anything else. Nothing in this tip is directly going to cause your chinchilla to mean or friendly.
However, always doing the best you can for your chinchilla or any pet for that matter is the best way to know and be assured that your chinchilla will be happy and friendly.
Chinchillas are very easy to care for and need not much else except the proper chinchilla foods and love. With some quality play time each day and some simple learning and educating, you can ensure you never have a mean chinchilla on your hands to deal with.
That’s been the experience for me thus far at least. Seriously, it’s been that easy.
Tip #7- Always Be Alert with Children and Other Pets Around A Chinchilla
My last and final tip of the day is always exercising some good judgment with specific scenarios. I’ll give you an example. My chinchilla seems to love my son, but he pushes her buttons from time to time.
Now, she has never even acted as if she would hurt him or bite him, but she certainly shows signs that she is done playing for the day and has also slipped her fur once due to him being a little too wild.
This could also be another scenario where you might have a potentially mean chinchilla on your hands.
Chinchillas are great with kids, but it’s best to be present when young kids are around your chinchilla.
Additionally, chinchillas and dogs don’t need to be interacting together. Likely it’s not safe and will end badly.
I can’t imagine the chinchilla would ever be mean to the dog and is more likely just to be very scared of your dog, which causes overheating and potential death for your chinchilla.
Chinchillas Will Be Overly Friendly, Don’t Overthink the Task at Hand
Listen, new chinchilla owners and future chinchilla owners. This honestly isn’t very hard. I do get your concern, however. I was the same way and relied literally on one forum for most of my answers.
In complete honesty, it’s why this blog was born. I knew people needed more clear answers that got straight to the point to help curb some of the anxiety that comes with being a new chinchilla owner.
Don’t overthink the process and everything will be just fine and a walk in the park.
Putting It All Together, Chinchillas Are Not Mean and Are Awaiting A Loving Home
At the end of the day, it should be infrequent that you ever witness a mean chinchilla. Chinchillas are not programmed to act this way.
I’ll repeat it to re-emphasize. Are chinchillas mean? Absolutely not and I would place money that you will find it more difficult to find a mean chinchilla than you believe.
Chinchillas are very social and loving creatures and crave the interactions with their owners or other chinchillas. They don’t need much to keep happy except some dedicated time each day to remain out of their cage, so they can effectively act like chinchillas by jumping and climbing all over the place.
That’s it, that’s all and nothing fancy to it.
However, I do have a feeling I may get some pushback from the readers on this topic. I’d love for you to share your stories by dropping a comment below. Has your chinchilla ever been mean? If so, what caused the mean and aggressive behavior. Please share with all of us. As always, me and “Chili” appreciate you and hope to see you again soon. Thanks for reading.