Chinchillas are relatively clean animals.
Chinchilla owners rarely need to do any grooming.
That’s because chinchillas groom themselves.
But do chinchillas groom each other, too?
And if they do, what happens if you only own a solitary chinchilla?
Keep reading to learn everything you need to know. We will go over chinchilla group grooming in the wild, and what changes in captivity. Most importantly, we will cover what you need to do as an owner.
Do Chinchillas Groom Each Other?
Yes, chinchillas groom each other. In fact, they love doing so! Not only does it help then stay clean and healthy, but it also fosters social bonding.
But what does this mean for you as a chinchilla owner, especially if you only have one chinchilla? First we will get into a bit of detail on grooming behavior in the wild, before seeing what it means for captive chinchillas.
Group Grooming In The Wild
Chinchillas are social animals that live in colonies in the wild. Grooming is an essential part of their daily routine. They use their teeth and paws to clean each other’s fur, focusing on hard-to-reach spots like the back and neck.
Grooming also helps these rodents establish social bonds and maintain a sense of normal in a new or stressful environment.
Grooming Together In Captivity
Grooming each other not only helps chinchillas maintain cleanliness, but it also provides stress relief. Chinchillas are susceptible to stress, and grooming with a companion can be a simple and easy way to reduce stress levels.
Similarly, grooming helps to build social connections, which can play a role in a chinchilla’s overall mental wellbeing. The frequency of their grooming, along with the chinchillas involved, depends on the personalities of the chinchillas and the environment within which they groom.
Grooming To Mark Territory
Chinchillas are territorial animals that use scent marking to identify their territories. Grooming each other helps spread their scents throughout their living space, indicating ownership and functioning as a warning to other chinchillas.
In the wild, chinchillas groom each other as a way of claiming territory and keeping other chinchillas away. In captivity, they still engage in the same behavior as an instinct, even if they’re in a shared living space.
Picky About Grooming Partners
While most chinchillas prefer to groom each other, some may be more selective about who they groom. Some dominant chinchillas will only groom those they consider subordinate.
Some chinchillas show stronger bonds with some animals than others, and typically choose only one or two companions for grooming. But despite these little quirks, chinchillas as a whole are sociable animals that rely on grooming for hygiene purposes, stress relief, and social bonding.
Benefits Of Chinchillas Grooming Together
If you plan to have a pair (or more) of chinchillas at home, providing them with ample space, toys and other comforts will naturally encourage grooming. On the other hand, not providing enough space, or putting ill-suited companions together, may make them less social and a bit irritable.
Chinchillas usually groom themselves. But if given the chance to groom each other, they’ll take the opportunity. This may be trickier to discern in some chinchillas, so it’s helpful to watch out for their grooming behaviors and adjust where necessary.
What If I Only Have One Chinchilla?
You do not need to worry about your chinchilla’s grooming habits, if you only have one chinchilla. Instead of your chinchillas grooming each other, they can use a dust bath, which will help to make them just as clean. Or even cleaner!
You can pick up special dust for chinchilla from your local pet store. Just add some to a shallow bowl or a dust bath house and place it in a playpen or other chinchilla-safe area.
Some like to put it in the cage, but I don’t. It can get messy and is harder to clean up if you do it that way.
Wherever you provide the dust bath, your chinchilla will use the dust to soak up any excess oils in its fur, leaving it soft and free from any grease.
If you do put the dust bath in the cage, only leave it there for 10 to 20 minutes. Remove it once your pet is done. If you leave it in the cage, you pet may start using it as a toilet. And that would defeat the purpose of a bath, wouldn’t it!
Because chinchillas have extremely dense fur, you should not use water to wash your chinchilla. It can take a long time for the fur to dry, which can result in a fungus or other type of nasty skin infection.
Do Chinchillas Groom Together: Final Thoughts
If you only have a single chinchilla like I do, you have probably asked yourself the same question I have: do chinchillas groom each other and what does that mean for my pet?
Chinchillas do groom each other and it is an important part of their routine. It keeps them clean, it helps reduce stress and it helps them bond with each other.
But even if you only have one chinchilla, you can accomplish all three of those things. It simply means you’ll have to pick up some of the slack, with 2 to 3 dust baths per week and at least an hour of social time per day, when you play with your pet outside of the cage.