Owning a chinchilla is a fantastic experience.
But it can also come with some frustrations.
Especially if you are struggling to get your chinchilla to enjoy being held.
I can’t blame you for wondering “Do chinchillas like to be held at all?”
Chinchillas are skittish at first, but you can change that. We will help you get your chinchilla to enjoy being held.
Keep reading for our 7 top tips on getting a chinchilla to like being help, plus advice on how to hold them correctly (which goes a long way toward getting them to enjoy it).
- 1 Do Chinchillas Like To Be Held?
- 2 How Do I Get My Chinchilla To Like Being Held?
- 3 7 Tips To Condition Your Chinchilla To Being Held
- 3.1 Tip 1: Limit The Interaction Space
- 3.2 Tip 2: Never Lose Patience
- 3.3 Tip 3: Give Your Chinchilla What It Needs
- 3.4 Tip 4: Talk To Your Chinchilla Often
- 3.5 Tip 5: Get Your Chinchilla Out Of The Cage More Often
- 3.6 Tip 6: Treats Never Are A Bad Idea
- 3.7 Tip 7: Don’t Give Up
- 3.8 The Story Of My 2-Year-Old Chinchilla
- 3.9 Don’t Break Trust And Exercise Patience With Your Chinchilla
- 3.10 A Short Video About Holding Your Chinchilla
- 4 What Is the Proper Way To Hold A Chinchilla?
- 5 Eventually, You Will Get Your Chinchilla To Enjoy Being Held
Do Chinchillas Like To Be Held?
Chinchillas generally do not like to be held. At least not at first. They are naturally skittish and get scared easily. After you have built trust with your chinchilla, it is much more likely that it will enjoy being held.
I’m guessing this is 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, but most will be a bit squirmier and have issues with being handled.
This is normal. It’s just the way chinchillas naturally behave, especially in the beginning, when they are still warming up to you and their new surroundings.
But don’t lose hope. I’m going to give you some tips (7, to be exact) to help you get your pet to the point that it enjoys being held. It’s a bit of work, but so worth it. Trust me.
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How Do I Get My Chinchilla To Like Being Held?
To get your chinchilla to like being held, you need to have patience. You need to build the bond slowly with your chinchilla as it adapts to its environment.
Most chinchillas will allow you to hold them, and will enjoy it, only after some time has passed. And some will never prefer being held.
I hate to break it to you, but that’s the truth.
Instead of just answering the question listed above, I want to dive further into detail and lay out actionable steps you can take to make your chinchilla go from being stubborn, to cuddly and into a state where it enjoys being held.
7 Tips To Condition Your Chinchilla To Being Held
As promised, I will give you 7 quick but useful tips for conditioning your chinchilla to enjoy being held. They will help you and your pet get past the nervousness and grow more comfortable around each other.
Tip 1: Limit The Interaction Space
You want to shrink down the space in which you interact with your chinchilla. This forces the bond to grow. The use of a playpen is a great help here. I will discuss the exact playpen I use further below.
Tip 2: Never Lose Patience
Chinchillas live for a very long time. You have plenty of time to build a strong bond with your chinchilla, in the correct way without rushing or forcing it.
Forcing it will only cause harm and a lack of trust from your chinchilla. Stay patient and always respect your pet’s wishes to ultimately win it over.
Trust is key with a chinchilla and you want to do everything you can to build it. And then maintain it.
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 their new environment and its sounds and smells, and your presence. You do not want to be handling and trying to hold your chinchilla too frequently when tit is still adjusting.
During this time your chinchilla isn’t going to want to do much of anything. And that certainly includes being held. It is probably feeling scared and will likely hide in its nest box much of the time.
That’s okay. Again, be patient. It usually only takes 7 to 14 days for a chinchilla to fully adjust to its new surroundings.
After this period is over, you can attempt to hold and handle your chinchilla more frequently. But even then, take it slow.
One of the most important factors in making your chinchilla comfortable in its new environment is to give it all of the things it needs to feel comfortable.
Tip 3: Give Your Chinchilla What It Needs
You may think this wouldn’t make a significant difference, but it does. A happy chinchilla is a friendly chinchilla.
Your chinchilla needs to be comfortable and happy in your home and around you.
Bored chinchillas can become overly chewy and even get depressed. A cage that is too small and is void of anything to do would make any animal bored and restless.
So make sure you get a quality cage and fill it with fun toys and accessories. If you need help with this, be sure to start with my post about the best chinchilla cages here.
You can also view my post about the best chinchilla accessories to add to the cage.
Overall, the better you do at this, the happier your pet will be and the better the interaction will be for both of you, when you have it out of the cage and when you are attempting to hold it.
Tip 4: Talk To Your Chinchilla Often
Seems crazy, right? It’s just like interacting with a dog.
What makes a dog more comfortable with you over time?
The same stuff that’s worked forever. Talking to them like a baby in a friendly, inviting tone.
If you want your chinchilla to get used to its surroundings and used to being around you, you need to communicate with it.
I’m not talking about pulling a Dr. Doolittle here. Just some simple conversation in a friendly inviting tone that gets your chinchilla used to your voice.
This way, when it is time to start handling, cuddling and holding more often, your chinchilla is not frightened and has heard your voice thousands of times.
I think this worked exceptionally well for me because I used to have my office in the same room as my chinchilla.
I was on the phone a lot for work, which naturally let my chinchilla hear my voice for hours every day.
Listen, the more you can do to make your chinchilla comfortable with you, your family, and your home, the better and the more responsive and receptive it is ultimately going to be to you holding it.
Tip 5: Get Your Chinchilla Out Of The Cage More Often
News flash chinchilla owners: you should be getting your chinchilla out of the cage often regardless.
It’s part of owning a chinchilla. For the record, I’m not going to sit here and try and play the perfect owner, either.
Things happen, and our schedules get busy. Trust me, I get it. I’ve had weeks where I could have done better or gotten her out more often.
The key is not letting the pattern continue for too long, if you want to eventually be able to hold your chinchilla all the time.
If you have a few bad days, let it go. It happens to all of us. When it works, make the darn time to get them out of the cage.
Interaction is key, and they love time out of the cage.
Think of it like this. They spend nearly 23 hours in that cage on a good day for nearly 20 years, in some circumstances.
A lot of their life is spent just sleeping. Wouldn’t you like a breath of fresh air and something different?
Give it to them, and they will show you the love and affection that you are looking for.
Tip 6: Treats Never Are A Bad Idea
Treats are never a bad idea to get your chinchilla comfortable with being held, but don’t overdo this.
Please start by reading my post about what fruits a chinchilla can eat.
After you have read that, read my post about what chinchillas eat in general.
That will at least get you up to speed and help you understand how to give your chinchilla treats in moderation.
Using treats to lure your chinchilla’s attention and get your chinchilla into your good graces is a method that works.
Tip 7: Don’t Give Up
The last tip I have for you today is to simply not give up. It’s rare to own a chinchilla that never warms up to you for the duration of its life.
Sometimes it happens in a week, and sometimes it takes months. All chinchillas are different in this nature and show their emotions in different ways.
Stick with it, remain ethical, and provide the best care possible, and you will be on the right track.
The Story Of My 2-Year-Old Chinchilla
I took this one step further when I adopted my chinchilla, and it began as an accident.
When I first adopted my now two-year-old female chinchilla, my basement was not chin-proofed and had exposed wires and other dangerous items that my chinchilla could have chewed, causing harm to herself.
I ended up purchasing an animal playpen/tent.
The first playpen listed in that article is the exact same one I’ve been using for nearly 2 years.
Here’s what’s so great about it:
- It forces close interaction with your chinchilla (this grows the bond quickly)
- It eliminates the excuse of not having a safe play area
- It’s comfortable for you, your chinchilla, and even one additional adult
- It’s easy to enter and exit
- It has pouches to hold other essentials (chinchilla accessories and treats)
- It’s easy to clean up the mess from a dust bath, poop, and even urine.
Here’s the deal though my friends, don’t overdo it.
As stated previously, I ran into this blessing by mistake, due to having an unsafe area for my chinchilla before moving into our new home.
It’s not necessary to continue using the playpen forever unless you prefer to.
What I like to do is use the playpen for a few different reasons.
Here’s a quick list of them:
- When I need to chin-proof the room again
- When I need to make YouTube videos for all of you
- When I want a close and more cuddling type interaction with my chinchilla.
- When I want to clean her cage.
What I believe this did in the beginning stages was get my chinchilla warmed up to me very quickly, which in turn, obviously made her much more open to letting me hold her.
I fell in love with the idea of suggesting this method to others, because I wholeheartedly know it works.
If you can’t, or do not want to, use a playpen, simply try getting down low on the floor with your chinchilla to spend time with it.
Talk to it and begin making it comfortable with your presence.
Eventually, it will start to trust you more, and yes, it will begin showing affection towards you.
That’s only step 1, however, to getting your chinchilla enjoying being held by you.
Let’s keep moving along and covering other factors that you need to keep in mind during the process.
Don’t Break Trust And Exercise Patience With Your Chinchilla
In the beginning, phases when chinchillas typically don’t like being held, remain patient and don’t break trust.
Your goal, in the beginning, is to simply demonstrate to your chinchilla that you are safe, friendly, and someone they want to be around.
Don’t corner or chase your chinchilla. And don’t only pick up your chinchilla when you need to return it to the cage.
Chinchillas love their time out of the cage.
If they begin associating that the only time you pick them up is to return them to their cage, they may start negatively interacting with this holding technique in the future.
Hold your chinchilla just to hold it and pet it.
If it doesn’t like it, respect its wishes and put it down and try another day.
With a chinchilla, forcing the issue is never going to work.
You need to move at their pace and allow them to get comfortable with you.
Once you begin executing this like a pro, you will be in great shape, moving forward in the relationship.
While we are discussing the animal play tent I used and not forcing your chinchilla to be held, I wanted to make this quick video for you on the same topics.
I still highly recommend reading the rest of this post to get the information you need and the tips I recommend to getting your chinchilla comfortable.
But for those of you that enjoy a quick video, you can take a look at the video I put together directly below.
A Short Video About Holding Your Chinchilla
Now that we have that out of the way, let’s move onto some of the techniques you can use to hold your chinchilla once you have them warmed up and ready for some cuddling.
What Is the Proper Way To Hold A Chinchilla?
Holding a chinchilla is not overly complicated. The most significant thing to keep in mind is that you need to support the chinchilla fully.
When you approach your chinchilla, ensure that you don’t do so in a frantic motion. It will startle them and make them not want to be picked up.
Remain calm and collected during this motion and phase.
Chinchillas typically will not bite, but they will undoubtedly run away, so be gentle and calm and inviting towards your chinchilla.
You should also remember to pet your chinchilla during this phase. Some smooth petting can go a long way to relax your chinchilla and get them warmed up to you.
Again, don’t overdo it and respect your chinchilla’s wishes if they don’t seem receptive just yet to being cuddled, pet, or held.
Now, once you feel comfortable, you can pick up your chinchilla. This needs to be with two hands, and it’s perfectly fine to use the base of the tail as a grabbing spot if need be.
I’ve done it several times without issues.
Two hands allow you to stabilize your chinchilla and draw them close to your chest for support and comfort.
In the beginning, you don’t need to overdo the length of time that you are holding your chinchilla.
Simply pick it up, bond with it, draw it near your chest, and pet it. After a few short minutes, place them back down or back inside of their cage.
Do this repeatedly until it begins not being an issue whatsoever for your chinchilla to be held and picked up.
That’s really all there is to it, my friends.
It’s not rocket science. It simply just takes time and effort. If you can show this patience and put in the time to effectively warm up to your chinchilla, you will be in excellent shape.
Now, let’s look at the opposite end of the spectrum.
Understanding And Recognizing If Your Chinchilla Is Stressed
Let’s assume that you are a newer chinchilla owner, and you are beginning to implement the tips in this post.
You likely aren’t aware of how to recognize if your chinchilla is stressed.
Due to this, I need to fill you on a few indicators that mean back off a bit.
Here’s a look at the most common signs that your chinchilla is stressed and that you need to try again another day to hold your chinchilla.
- Your female chinchilla sprays urine
- Your chinchilla attempts to bite you
- Your chinchilla tries to run
- Your chinchilla is slipping fur
- Your chinchilla is making noises it hasn’t made in the past
All these behaviors can be indicators that your chinchilla is stressed, and you simply need to back off.
Stressed chinchillas can overheat and slip fur. Slipping fur isn’t necessarily the end of the world, and yes, it will grow back.
However, overheating needs to be avoided and can even be fatal for a chinchilla if you are not careful. Watch for your chinchilla’s ears turning red as any easy sign that they may be getting too hot.
Once you begin seeing that your chinchilla is stressed, be sure to back off and give them the space they are asking for.
One bad day has no bearing on the long-term relationship, you will be able to build with your chinchilla.
I can promise you that.
Eventually, You Will Get Your Chinchilla To Enjoy Being Held
There you have it, friends. Holding a chinchilla and getting your chinchilla to enjoy being held sometimes takes a bit of patience. But overall, it’s easily attainable, and I’m sure you will get there.
Keep at it, keep interacting with your chinchilla, and I’m confident that you will be holding your chinchilla with ease very soon.
Don’t hesitate to share your thoughts on how to get your chinchilla to enjoy being held.
As always, I prefer you get involved and share your thoughts and concerns on the topic.
Do you believe any of these methods could be altered, or any methods need to be added to this list?
How long did it take you to get your chinchilla comfortable being held?
Share your thoughts, stories, and concerns by dropping a comment below.
Chili and I appreciate you stopping by and reading. We will see you next time and best of luck with all your chinchillas!