Chinchilla Stress [7 Signs of Stress + What to Do]

Understanding a chinchilla’s behavior and recognizing issues is one of the first anxieties new chinchilla owners experience.

Trust me, I was in the exact same situation and was frantically looking for the best information possible on the topic as well.

Due to this, I wanted to layout the information that I’m now aware of after owning my chinchilla for several years and experiencing the same worry and anxiety as you may be.

So, how can you tell if a chinchilla is stressed? You can recognize and understand if a chinchilla is stressed if you notice any of the following behaviors or symptoms taking place with your chinchilla:

  • Making Noise and Vocalizing (Barking and Grunting)
  • Hiding More Than Usual
  • Chewing Fur Excessively
  • Frantically Pacing Inside Of Cage
  • Lack of Movement or Lethargic
  • Reserved or Abnormal Behavior
  • Excessive Teeth Grinding

Any of the symptoms mentioned above or behaviors can mean that your chinchilla is suffering from some form of stress.

At the same time, it could potentially mean nothing to be overly alarmed about.

That’s what the rest of this brief post is going to break down for you.

By the end of the post, you should have a handle on what signals to watch for that indicate stress most of the time and what methods you can implement to help your chinchilla push through the stress and return to the happy and friendly personality that we are all accustomed too.

I’ve created easy to navigate links directly below that will allow you to skip to any specific section of this post that you desire to learn more about.


Here’s what I intend on covering for you today:

As stated previously, feel free to skip around throughout this post by using the links above.

Otherwise, if you have about 5-minutes to spare, I’ll break down everything you need to know about stress with your chinchilla and how to provide the best care possible to your chinchilla during these times.

Here’s what you need to know.

How Can I Tell If My Chinchilla Is Stressed?

We started off this post giving you a few indicators that typically can mean your chinchilla is stressed.

The critical thing to understand about owning a chinchilla is that they do, in fact, attempt to communicate or can show these signs to you if you are paying attention.

Referencing the list previously discussed at the beginning of the post, I want to break down each of those symptoms or signs just a bit further to help you understand a bit more clearly.

Here’s a look at each of them in more depth.

7 Signs Indicating Stress with A Chinchilla

As promised, those 7 stress indicators with chinchillas are broken down for you directly below and explained just a tad more than we discussed to open this post:

Stress Indicator 1-Making Noise and Vocalizing (Barking and Grunting)

This stress indicator is perhaps the hardest to pinpoint.

Especially for a new chinchilla owner. Part of this is because chinchillas also like to vocalize and make barking like noises for other reasons as well.

For example, a chinchilla may vocalize if they hear a loud noise or even to let you know that they don’t prefer being held in a specific manner.

Sure, loud noises may slightly stress your chinchilla or improper handling may stress your chinchilla, but this isn’t usually something to fret over.

It’s one of the less concerning stress signals on the list.

However, if you are like me, then it could mean a more severe problem is taking place.

Why do I say this?

Well, my chinchilla isn’t as vocal as other chinchilla owners have reported about their own chinchillas.

She will grunt very often but typically only out of pleasure, such as when she is being petted or enjoying whatever I’m doing.

When it comes to barking and being truly vocal, she is more reserved and on the quiet side.

This is when it becomes essential to understand your chinchilla in general.

Clearly, if you know your chinchilla behaves most of the time and they are beginning to act completely different, it could be a definite indicator that your chinchilla is stressed out.

At the very least, it could be an indicator for you as the owner to check on the situation, see if anything else seems unusual, and to consider consulting a vet if necessary.

Simply put, pay attention to the signals and behaviors your chinchilla is trying to tell you.

Stress Indicator 2-Hiding More Than Usual

Chinchillas tend to show their emotions in different ways.

Let’s assume that your chinchilla is not vocal, just like mine.

Sometimes, they may indicate stress in a different manner, such as hiding.

News flash, it’s vital that the chinchilla cage promotes this behavior and capability as well.

Items such as one of the best nest boxes or even a safe chinchilla tunnel are imperative to have inside of the cage.

Here’s why.

Chinchillas are a heavily hunted animal in the wild.

While chinchillas do adapt to their environment relatively quick, they still get frightened easily.

When a chinchilla is stressed, they naturally need the ability to “go to a safe place” and retreat.

This gives them the same feeling of safety that they would experience when they reached safety in the wild, hiding beneath a dark rock or other crevices.

These hiding areas inside of the cage allow them to calm down and feel safe during times of high stress.

Without them being present, they are likely to pace frantically around the cage, hoping a miracle hiding spot appears from the sky.

This can cause other issues if you leave a chinchilla habitat incomplete, such as pacing into a state of overheating.

Always ensure to provide these items inside of your chinchilla’s cage and ensure you have a large chinchilla cage with the correct accessories.

Also, always ensure that you have the cage and your chinchilla in rooms with chinchilla safe temperatures to avoid any chance of overheating.

To play it extra safe, consider something like a chiller stone pad (Link to Amazon), near or inside of a hiding box inside of the cage to give your chinchilla another nice spot to cool down and reduce stress.

Stress Indicator 3-Chewing Fur Excessively

Fur chewing is another excellent way for you to spot chinchilla stress relatively easy.

Especially if you know that this commonly doesn’t place.

Typically, a chinchilla that’s stressed will begin excessively chewing their own fur or even other items inside of the cage more than usual such as the cage bars.

If you notice your chinchilla with excessive bald spots, fur slips, or chewing other items in, around or attached to the cage, your chinchilla is likely to stress or potentially dealing with another illness or even tooth pain.

Stress Indicator 4-Frantically Pacing Inside Cage

A chinchilla that seems to be highly energized and continues to pace frantically around the cage can indicate stress.

The reasons could vary, such as lack of social activity, pain, or even a drastic environment change.

If you notice it, be sure to limit significant changes in your chin’s environment or area where you keep the cage.

If the frantic pacing persists, be sure to consider outside help or consult such as a vet to help diagnose the issue further, but in most circumstances, this problem will resolve itself with some patience and love from you.

Stress Indicator 5-Lack of Movement or Lethargic

On the complete opposite end of the spectrum, let’s assume that your chinchilla is typically happy and outgoing when they see you.

Now, all a sudden, your chinchilla is acting in the opposite manner and not showing much activity at all.

This can also indicate stress, depression, or other issues.

Stress Indicator 6-Reserved or Abnormal Behavior

Most of who have owned a chinchilla for any duration of time are accustomed to how our chinchilla behaves and what they do on a typical basis.

Well, hopefully.

While all the symptoms we have already mentioned can indicate stress, you also must exercise some common sense to spot stress and issues with your chinchilla.

Anything that’s completely abnormal compared to your chinchilla’s normal behavior can indicate something such as stress is taking place.

We will discuss a bit further in this post what you can do to comfort and help your chinchilla as much as possible during these times.

Stress Indicator 7-Excessive Teeth Grinding

In general, excessive teeth grinding will indicate pain in your chinchillas’ mouth and teeth, but it can also be a way your chinchilla releases stress.

This is different than chewing on cage bars, chewing their fur, or just chewing excessively in general.

It’s also audible and completely possible to hear the teeth grinding taking place.

If this is happening, I would consult a vet.

Teeth are one of the most significant concerns with chinchillas when it comes to illness or pain in general due to having teeth that never stop growing.

Out of all the factors we have covered on the list, this is one to pay extra close attention too so that you can ensure to stop any problem before it escalates for your new furry pet.

How to Help Your Chinchilla Deal with Stress + 5 Tips

Now that we know what to look for and how to spot stress with our chinchillas, what can we do to help the situation when it does take place?

Well, I’m glad you asked.

I have 5 additional tips that I would implement from the get-go to not only help prevent stress in your chinchilla but to help a chinchilla return to their happy and healthy state of mind as quickly as possible if they do happen to be stressed.

Here’s a look at them:

Tip #1- Provide Love and Socialization

Chinchillas are social creatures that want to interact with you or even another chinchilla if that’s a possibility in your household.

Adopting a second chinchilla isn’t always necessary, but if you choose not to, you need to realize that you as the owner are the primary social interaction that your chinchilla well enjoy.

This means that you need to be affording time to get your chinchilla out of the cage to play and providing an adequate amount of dust baths.

This will mean 2-3 dust baths per week and, ideally, at least 30 minutes out of the cage per day.

Ensure you proof the room and provide this love and affection towards your chinchilla.

Chinchillas can get bored and restless, and keeping them mentally and physically stimulated is imperative.

Relax, it’s easier than most people think once you have gotten into the swing of things for a few days.

Tip #2- The Correct Chinchilla Cage and Clean Environment

Chinchillas love the ability to jump and climb. It needs to be provided to them.

This means ensuring you have a big enough chinchilla cage. Especially when it comes to the vertical size of the cage.

Not only does this promote healthy physical activity, but it keeps your chinchilla happy in general.

Remember, they spend 23 or more hours in their cage most of their lives.

The more you can do to provide them; the most awesome cage is imperative.

If you need to learn more about this, considering reading my post about the best chinchilla cages to consider here.

You can also read about the best accessories to consider purchasing for your chinchilla here.

In addition to providing the best habitat possible for your chinchilla, you also need to be ensuring that you keep up with basic hygiene needs for chinchillas.

I’m not talking about the dust baths for this tip, either.

I’m talking about ensuring that you keep up cleaning the cage on a regular basis.

I’d even recommend changing from aspen shavings to fleece liners for your chinchilla’s cage.

They are more comfortable, easier to clean, and make for a cozier home.

You can view the exact set of fleece liners I use for my chinchilla cage here. (Link to Amazon)

Tip #3- The Proper Diet At all Times

A proper diet can not only lead to longer and healthier life but can also keep your chinchilla well balanced and happier overall.

Always limit the number of treats or fruits you are providing your chinchilla to avoid issues with their sensitive stomachs.

Make sure that their diet consists primarily of timothy hay and the correct formulated chinchilla pellets.

And of course, always have an unlimited supply and access to clean water.

Doing this will ensure your chinchilla avoids any stomach issues and will ensure you get a long relationship with your new pet for the next 15-20 years.

Tip #4- The Ability to Chew At all Times

As mentioned previously, chinchillas have teeth that grow all year round for as long as they live.

This is common with rodents.

This means that your chinchilla needs the ability to file down their teeth in order to avoid dental issues, overgrown teeth, and the possibility of severe pain and infections.

Make sure to be providing enough safe items inside of the cage for your chinchilla to chew.

This can include simple items such as using wooden ledges and making sure you always have plenty of apple chew sticks on hand.

If you need to view the chew sticks, I keep a large supply of, you can view them here (Link to Amazon)

3-4 Bags of these chew sticks will last you several weeks and ensure your chinchilla has plenty to chew.

Tip #5-Seeking Professional Help When Necessary

I know we all want to help and understand our chinchillas as much as possible, and clearly, we would all prefer to avoid costly vet bills at all costs.

However, a stressed chinchilla can be serious, and it’s essential to understand when to seek help and when to realize that your efforts have been exhausted and it’s time for plan B.

If you are sure you have checked all the items of the list that we have discussed in today’s post and can’t think of any other ways to reduce your chinchilla’s stress, then it’s time to call the vet.

Doing so will ensure you stop the problem before it escalates further.

Simply put, do your due diligence and seek help if all else fails.

Final Thoughts

Chinchilla stress can be overwhelming for a new chinchilla owner.

I’ve been there and I’ve done that. However, some of these simple steps can remedy the problem quickly if you know how to recognize it early in the process.

Put these tips into place, and your chinchilla will ultimately live a long and healthy life with proper care.

Chinchillas make one of the best family pets a family can choose to adopt.

I wish you the best of luck with your new chinchilla ownership.

Share Your Thoughts and Concerns on Chinchilla Stress

What other indicators have you noticed with your chinchilla when it comes to spotting stress quickly?

Do you have any other recommendations or remedies for chinchilla stress I haven’t mentioned that you can share with the readers?

Be sure to share your thoughts, stories, and concerns by dropping a comment below.

As always, Chili and I appreciate you stopping by and reading.

Thanks again, and we will see you next time.

Josh Martin

My Name is Josh and this is my 4 year-old female chinchilla "Chili". We created Planet Chinchilla to share all the stories about owning a chinchilla that you need to know. I'm the Author of the eBook "The Ultimate Chinchilla Care Guide, From Adoption and On"

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