Do Chinchillas Like to Be Held? [You Need to Know This]


When you first embark on the journey on owning your first chinchilla, you may be curious if chinchillas like to be held.

I know I wanted to know as well.

Do chinchillas like to be held? After raising and going through the process with my own chinchilla, here is what I can tell you on this topic.

So, do chinchillas like to be held? Chinchillas may enjoy being held if they were raised and conditioned to enjoy handling from a young age from the rescue or location you adopted them from. Other chinchillas will not be as open to being held and may prefer some distance or less frequent handling.

Yep, I get it.

Most likely not the answer you were looking for, but unfortunately, that’s the cold hard truth of the matter.

Some chinchillas will be perfectly content being held and will enjoy a good head scratch, and some may be a bit squirmier or have issues with being handled and loved on.

This is normal and how most chinchillas tend to behave.

Especially in the beginning and warming up phase.

I wanted to give you a few pointers about understanding chinchillas and if they will enjoy being held or not.

I also wanted to give you a better idea at some best practices you can begin implementing immediately or after your upcoming chinchilla adoption.

If you hang with me for just a minute or two, I’m confident I can relieve some anxiety about becoming a chinchilla owner.

Let’s dive into the details.

Understanding If Chinchillas Like to Be Held

First and foremost, one of the biggest keys and tips I can give you is to respect your chinchilla and their wishes as far as handling is concerned.

Chinchillas are known to be very friendly.

Yes, they love you, and over time, they will begin to recognize you as the owner and the trusted caretaker.

However, chinchillas do go through a warm-up phase where they need to adjust to sounds, smells, and your presence.

This isn’t the best time to determine if your chinchilla genuinely likes to be held or not.

During this time your chinchilla isn’t going to want to do much of anything.

They may be scared or hiding in their wooden box.

That’s okay and this only last 7-14 days for them to fully adjust to their new settings.

Gain Trust Slowly to Encourage Your Chinchilla Enjoying Being Held

Your chinchilla may need some further time to adjust to you when outside of the cage for playtime.

It is essential that when you have your chinchilla out for playtime that it’s a chinchilla safe zone where your chinchilla can’t easily run away.

Remember, everything is new to your chinchilla.

At this point and it’s entirely possible that they would prefer to jump, dart or find a hiding place.

You want to respect them during playtime as well.

Maybe offer a chinchilla safe treat and see if you can slowly condition your chinchilla to sit on your lap while enjoying the treat.

Make sure not to just give your chinchilla treat without any behavior associated with being touched, held or cuddled.

You want to associate being handled by you as the best thing in the world!

You want to put your chinchilla in the most relaxed state of mind as possible!

This is how you start conditioning your chinchilla to love being held and understanding that you can be trusted.

Don’t Force Your Chinchilla To Be Held, Give Them Space

Another key tip is to make sure you don’t force this.

Pretend you are drawing a circle around your chinchilla.

The circle is the point where your chinchilla may get frightened by you getting to close to their personal space.

If your chinchilla continues to shy away or offers to push back, that’s okay.

Allow them to play and sniff around and don’t force the handling.

The less you force it, the more natural and the faster it will happen.

That was my experience at least.

As you begin to condition your chinchilla slowly, trust me they will start to become cuddlier and enjoy hopping all or over you.

When you reach this point is when you can start finding out if your chinchilla truly enjoys being held or not.

Here’s how to do it.

How to Pick Up and Hold Your Chinchilla

I don’t see as many individuals who are looking for information about holding a chinchilla.

More individuals I speak to are more afraid of the actual motion of picking the chinchilla up.

This is with good reason, and I get it. Chinchillas are fragile with a toothpick like rib cage and tiny bones in the feet.

When I first got my chinchilla home, I was terrified to pick her up as well.

I used the hand in the face and grab by the tail method, and it’s still the method I use today.

I see a lot of individuals who say it’s not very comfortable for the chinchilla.

In all honesty, it’s what the rescue owner showed me how to do.

I did once with success and hadn’t ever changed my method thus far into my chinchilla ownership.

It’s simple. Take your non-dominant hand and place it in front of your chinchillas face to block her from running away.

At the same time, simply take your other hand and grab at the base of the tail and scoop with both hands until you have a grasp of your chinchilla.

Once you have your chinchilla in your arms, you no longer need to continue holding the base of the tail.

Now, it’s all about holding the chinchilla.

Take a deep breath, it’s easy as 1,2,3.

How to Hold Your Chinchilla Properly and Comfortably

Now, you have already done the hardest part about handling a chinchilla as a new owner.

You have them in your grasp, and now you just need to keep him or her comfortable so you can begin showing some scratches and love towards them.

You can do this by simply using one arm to allow your chinchilla to rest within and hold them close or firmly towards your chest and body.

Use your other hand to offer some scratching or even a small treat or two (chinchilla safe of course).

Outside of this method to hold your chinchilla, you have plenty of options but figuring these out merely is trial and error.

Your chinchilla will inform you if they enjoy what you are doing or not.

No, they aren’t going just to bite you (well, no guarantees of course) but they will either relax and stay calm for a few minutes or be immediately squirmy.

Do Chinchillas Like to Be Handled?

Yes, chinchillas like to be handled in some circumstances.

In other circumstances, you may have a chinchilla that does not want to be treated or held.

It depends on how young the chinchilla was when socialization began and how you approach and condition your chinchilla when you take over ownership.

Can You Cuddle with a Chinchilla?

Yes, you can cuddle with a chinchilla.

You need to respect your chinchillas’ boundaries and treat your chinchilla’s fears with respects in the beginning.

Over time, your chinchilla may love to be cuddle or enjoy the activity of cuddling.

For more information on this topic, be sure to see my post about if chinchillas are cuddly here.

Respect Your Chinchilla and They Will Eventually Enjoy Being Held

The most important thing you can do for you and your chinchillas’ relationship merely is to respect their boundaries and afford them love and care regardless of if they love to be held or if they don’t.

Some chinchilla owners even report that it can take a year or longer to open and be entirely comfortable with the owner.

This includes all forms of handling.

I lucked out, and this took about 10 days, but I also got my chinchilla from a fantastic rescue where she was treated great and socialized with often.

I hope that your chinchilla breaks in quickly for you but if he or she doesn’t, don’t worry and don’t rush it.

Time will pass, and your chinchilla will begin to love and trust you are giving you the opportunity to hold him or her as often as you wish.

Be sure to check out our related questions below in case you need further information on the topic.

What’s your experience with your chinchilla enjoying being held or possibly hating the idea of being held?

How long did it take for your chinchilla to warm up to you and begin allowing you to handle him or her more often?

Be sure to drop a comment below.








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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