Chinchillas have a reputation as exceptional climbers.
In fact, if you read chinchilla forums and FB groups, you’ve probably seen stories of chins getting into all sorts of trouble due to their climbing.
So is it true? Can chinchillas climb as well as they say?
And if so, what can you do to prepare for this?
A tiny animal with amazing climbing skills can be a huge danger to itself.
Keep reading to learn everything you need to know about a chinchilla’s climbing abilities, including what you need to do to prepare.
- 1 Can Chinchillas Climb?
- 2 Chinchilla Climbing Ability
- 3 Can Chinchillas Climb Trees?
- 4 Chinchillas Are Great Climbers: Final Thoughts
Can Chinchillas Climb?
Yes, chinchillas can climb. In the wild, chinchillas are used to climbing rock ledges, trees, and other structures to help them evade predators. Their feet and the natural spring in their back legs make them excellent climbers.
Seriously, chinchillas are incredible climbers and they can also jump like you wouldn’t believe. You should promote climbing and jumping inside of your chinchilla’s habitat using items like wooden ledges and other structures.
But there are also some potential dangers you need to be aware of. We’re going to go over some necessary precautions below.
Climbing is a natural chinchilla behavior, but knowing what you can do to accommodate your new chinchilla will have you that much more prepared.
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Chinchilla Climbing Ability
First off, I want to point out that having an animal in the home capable of climbing like an expert is nothing to worry about.
With a few safety precautions, it’s easy to enjoy your chinchilla and allow it to climb o its heart’s content, as if it were in its natural habitat.
A lot of this comes down to simple things, such as fully chinchilla proofing the room where your chinchilla interacts.
This, in addition to promoting as much of these behaviors as possible by structuring an awesome chinchilla cage, is about all that you need to do on your end.
Trust me, I was worried in the beginning as well, but I’ve since adapted and grown to love my chinchilla’s climbing abilities. It’s humorous and a joy to watch.
It’s perhaps one of my favorite traits about chinchillas and one of the biggest reasons they make such fantastic pets.
However, an awesome time watching your chinchilla jump around could also turn dangerous, without the proper preparations. So let’s ensure that we have you 100% prepared to handle these climbing abilities of your new pet.
How To Prepare For Your Chinchilla’s Climbing Prowess
To kick things off, you should never try and hinder your chinchilla’s climbing abilities. Never, ever, ever!
In fact, you need to be promoting it and encouraging, by having the proper cage setup for your chinchilla to climb and jump freely.
For my chinchilla cage, I have 4 total shelves or “levels,” a hiding box, and a ball to jump through. Big tip, when I say I have a ball to jump through, I am referring to a rodent ball.
This is actually one of the most frowned-upon chinchilla toys you can purchase. You should never get one of these for its intended purpose.
But if you modify it and use it in a different way, it can be a great addition to the cage. I popped both sides off the ball and hung it from the top of the cage.
Now, instead of having one of the more dangerous toys for my chinchilla, it is nothing more than an excellent tool to promote further climbing.
It does not end here my friends. I have more.
You also want to place other items in the cage to allow for exploring and climbing, like as rocks, branches, or even hammocks (we will discuss hammocks a bit more toward the end of this post).
Just giving your chinchilla a cage and keeping it clean is simply not enough to keep your pet happy. In fact, if you need help with this topic, feel free to refer to my post discussing how to understand if your chinchilla is happy.
They need more and you need to provide it. The point I’m trying to make is simple.
Your chinchilla climbing is natural and keeps it happy. A happy chinchilla is a friendly chinchilla. Again, promote chinchilla climbing and don’t try to stop it.
This can cause your chinchilla to become depressed.
It may even cause your chinchilla to be less social and can lead to a pet that’s not nearly as fun to watch, play with, cuddle with or even interact with, and this is the exact opposite of what you want.
In fact, it defeats the entire purpose of owning a chinchilla. Chinchillas have such unique behaviors and climbing is a part of that. If you don’t enjoy this or allow them to do so, you’re missing out on most of the fun that comes with being a chinchilla owner.
Structuring Your Chinchilla Cage To Promote Climbing
It all begins with the cage. And you have plenty of options when it comes to chinchilla cages.
In fact, if you haven’t done so already, you should read my post about the best chinchilla cages.
Or if you prefer to skip that post, you can go straight to my review of the Critter Nation 2 cage. It is the top cage in that post and the one I use myself.
This cage has everything you need and more to promote climbing, jumping, and happiness. Not to mention it looks great.
As an ethical chinchilla owner, I strongly urge you to spend the extra money and get a larger cage with multiple levels. Two levels is the bare minimum.
A single level cage just doesn’t offer that much room to climb around. This inhibits their natural tendency. It is not only borderline torture for a chinchilla, but it’s also pretty depressing to see.
I want the cage to bring my chinchilla joy and allow her to exercise and move around freely. Your goal is to design a chinchilla cage with multiple levels, ramps, hiding boxes, dangling toys, and plenty to do always.
You will feel far less guilty leaving your chinchilla alone for a day, if it has a cage that can keeps it busy. It’s essential, and I can’t stress this enough.
In all honesty, the proper size cage and ideal temperatures are perhaps the two biggest things needed to raise a chinchilla safely.
Playtime Outside The Cage For Climbing
This is essential as well. Time out of the cage is not only meant for your chinchilla to take dust baths.
This should be a bonding time where you interact with your chinchilla and allow it to get to know you as the owner.
Chinchillas are loving creatures, and yes, they need room to climb around when they are out for playtime. You can do this in several ways.
First, if you are using a full room, ensure that’s it fully 100% chinchilla proofed. This includes covering all wires.
Keeping your chinchilla in one room and allowing them to climb and jump around as much as they want in that room is your best bet.
My chinchilla will climb my chest, climb my arms and shoulders and even climb and sit, for minutes at a time, on top of my head.
This is wonderful and a strong sign that your chinchilla loves your company.
A Story About An Enclosed Playpen I Use For My Chinchilla
The basement I have my chinchilla in now is at the perfect temperature and works great for her needs when it comes to sleeping and other natural activities, but it’s hazardous for her to climb around freely. She could suffer a broken leg or worse. It could lead to permanent damage and a chinchilla dragging its hind legs.
And I didn’t really have another suitable room. My fix was simple.
I purchased an enclosed playpen off of Amazon that we use for playtime. It’s large and has soft sides and mesh windows.
What does my chinchilla do with the walls of this playpen? She climbs all over them, and she does it like a professional.
The playpen I use the JesPet 61 inch playpen. It is the first playpen listed in my post reviewing the best playpens for chinchillas and I have been using it for the past 4 years.
It has been my top recommendation for chinchilla playpens for this entire time and remains my top recommendation to this day. Seriously, it doesn’t fall apart and makes for an excellent spot for your chinchilla to jump and climb freely and have a blast with you.
Chinchillas when you watch them and really study their behavior climb very similar to a mouse. They can basically scale and climb walls and leap incredible heights for the size that they are.
It’s crazy to watch and a ton of fun.
Let’s recap briefly.
Chinchillas need to be allowed to climb during playtime and need a cage that supports and promotes your chinchilla climbing. No argument about it.
I know it might be somewhat frustrating to have to buy so much stuff. The fact that they do climb is one of the reasons chinchillas are so expensive on day one.
It’s all about that cage which is your most significant cost in the beginning. It’s only this expensive due to the size and the mere fact that it needs to support your chinchilla climbing and jumping for hours at a time.
The good news is that keeping a chinchilla is incredibly cheap, once the initial costs are out of the way. Overall, they are still one of the cheapest pets you can own.
Now let’s answer one related question I get asked all the time, though I am not sure why. And the answer should be obvious by now anyway.
Can Chinchillas Climb Trees?
Yes, chinchillas can climb trees. Chinchillas climb trees in the wild all the time, to remain safe from predators. This climbing ability is one of the most important natural chinchilla adaptations. But you should never take your chinchilla outside to climb a tree. You will never see it again, even if it does survive.
Chinchillas Are Great Climbers: Final Thoughts
When you think of chinchillas and what you need to do to provide an excellent home for them, think about one thing.
Vertical is the key with chinchillas. Tall cages and plenty of space to climb is essential.
Once you learn your chinchilla’s behavior and witness it, your chinchilla’s climbing ability won’t bother you.
In fact, it will be one of the traits you grow to love most about your chinchilla.
It’s that easy, and I assure you, I’m speaking the truth. This comes from pure experience.
Allow your chinchilla to climb in a large cage and make sure to get your chinchilla out for playtime, and you will be on your path to a healthy and loving relationship with your pet.
Chili and I wish you the best of luck with your chinchilla and hope you enjoy its climbing abilities as much as I do.
What’s your experience with your chinchilla climbing?
Do you also recommend the biggest cages possible for your chinchilla?
What else do you recommend to the rest of us to help accommodate a chinchilla’s climbing abilities?
Be sure to share those thoughts, stories, and concerns by dropping a comment below.
As always, Chili and I appreciate you stopping by and reading today and we will see you again next time!