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.
It gave me some anxiety before the adoption and I wanted the answer to that specific question.
Do chinchillas like to be held?
After raising and owning a chinchilla for the past 4 years, here is what I can tell you on this topic.
Chinchillas are naturally skittish and get scared easily. Chinchillas generally do not like to be held and if they do, they do not like to be held for long periods of time. After trust has been built with your chinchilla, it is much more likely that they will enjoy being held.
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 during the warming up phase.
I wanted to give you a few pointers about understanding chinchillas and if they will enjoy being held or not and what you can do on your end to increase your chance of your chinchilla enjoying being held in the future.
To streamline the process, I plan to break down this post in the following manner:
- Do Chinchillas Like To Be Held
- Do Chinchillas Like To Be Handled
- Use A Playpen To Expedite The Process And To Condition Your Chinchilla To Enjoy Being Held
- How to Pick Up and Hold Your Chinchilla
- Your Chinchilla Will Eventually Enjoy Being Held and Handled
I also wanted to give you a better idea of 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.
Do 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.
Ultimately, this is going to help your chinchilla enjoy being held and handled much faster.
Trust is key with a chinchilla and you want to do everything you can to build it and then hang onto it after the fact.
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.
You also do not want to be handling and trying to hold your chinchilla too frequently when they are adjusting.
During this time your chinchilla isn’t going to want to do much of anything which certainly can include not enjoying being held.
They may be scared or hiding in their nest box or they may just not be very receptive to being held.
That’s okay and this only lasts 7-14 days for them to fully adjust to their new settings.
After this period is over, you can attempt to hold and handle your chinchilla more frequently but still, take it slow.
Now that we understand that chinchillas have this phase they need to finish in the beginning, I want to discuss the differences between holding a chinchilla and handling a chinchilla.
In my opinion, they are two completely different things, and both need to be discussed in this post.
Do Chinchillas Like To Be Handled
Holding and handling a chinchilla can be classified as two different things.
Handling can encompass other forms of touch with a chinchilla such as scratching, petting, or even brushing.
If your chinchilla does not enjoy being held, that doesn’t mean that they will not enjoy being handled.
In fact, it is exactly how my chinchilla is.
While she will allow me to handle her and even hold her for short durations, she is a much bigger fan of being handled lightly compared to being held.
So, to answer this question more specifically…
Yes, chinchillas like to be handled in some circumstances.
I would always recommend that you break into holding a chinchilla by first slowly learning to handle them gently and gaining their trust.
Once this is moving along you can certainly begin trying to hold your chinchilla more often.
Many factors can be part of the reason as to why a chinchilla does not like to be handled or held (more on this shortly)
It depends on how young the chinchilla was when socialization began and how you approach and condition your chinchilla when you take over ownership.
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.
This means that you need to be fully chinchilla proofing the room where you have your chinchilla out of the cage.
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 treats without any behavior associated with being touched, held, or cuddled.
You want to associate being handled and held 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.
Now, I want to move into one of my secrets for increasing the chances of your chinchilla loving to be held or handled with frequency and how to do it quickly.
Use A Playpen To Expedite The Process And To Condition Your Chinchilla To Enjoy Being Held
I have mentioned this plenty of times in other posts on this site.
Using a recommended and safe chinchilla playpen can take your relationship to the next level with your chinchilla.
In my opinion, this is because it forces close interaction with you and your chinchilla.
This is going to speed up the time it takes for your chinchilla to do things such as sitting on your shoulder and just enjoy being held and handled much faster.
It took my chinchilla a few short weeks before she began warming up to me.
And yes, I am aware that this time to handling for every chinchilla owner is going to be different but one thing that will never change is simple.
A playpen helps immensely.
I personally recommending the Jespet playpen (Link to Amazon) and I have been using it for 4 years now and it is still working flawlessly and has plenty of space.
However, if you need other options to consider, you can view my post about the best chinchilla playpens here.
One of the last things I want to touch on before wrapping this up is the importance of never rushing anything with a chinchilla.
Here are those details.
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 or force them to be held.
The less you force it, the more natural and the faster it will happen.
Not to mention, it greatly reduces the chances of stressing your chinchilla out.
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 a 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 chinchilla breeder showed me how to do.
I did it once with success and hadn’t ever changed my method thus far into my chinchilla ownership.
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
First and foremost, you should begin by reading my post about how to get your chinchilla to enjoy being held here for a full tutorial.
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.
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 respect 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.
Your Chinchilla Will Eventually Enjoy Being Held and Handled
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.
Chili and I wish you the best of luck with your new chinchilla and hope they warm up to being held and handled in no-time.
Share Your Thoughts On The Topic Of Chinchilla’s Being Held and Handled
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 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.