It’s disappointing. I’ve been there.
You get your adorable new chinchilla home and it wants nothing to do with you.
You imagined it cuddling you, climbing on you and eating out of your hand. But all it does is hide.
I’m sorry to tell you: you got an antisocial chinchilla.
Just kidding! That behavior is perfectly normal. You just need to know how to bond with your chinchilla.
It takes chinchillas a while to warm up to new surroundings. But if you do things right, it will happen.
Follow the tips below to help you little fluff ball get used to you and want to spend time with you.
- 1 How To Bond With Your Chinchilla
- 1.1 Part 1: Provide The Right Environment
- 1.2 Part 2: Handling Your Chinchilla
- 1.3 Part 3: Allowing Playtime Outside The Cage
- 1.4 How Long Does It Take To Bond With A Chinchilla?
- 1.5 Best Way To Bond With Your Chinchilla: Final Thoughts
How To Bond With Your Chinchilla
The key to bonding with your chinchilla is patience. Take it one step at a time and let your new pet get used to you slowly. Don’t rush things. And it begins with habitat and environment.
Part 1: Provide The Right Environment
A chinchilla will never begin to feel comfortable around you, if it is unable to feel comfortable in its environment. That’s why you need to make sure you get it what it needs to feel at home. This is the first step to caring for a chinchilla properly.
Pick The Right Cage
Picking a comfortable cage for your chinchilla is the first step in bonding with it. After all, a happy and relaxed chinchilla will be more willing to bond with its humans.
Chinchilla cages come in different types. Wire cages with solid flooring are a good choice, because they allow plenty of ventilation. They are also easy to clean. Select a multi-level cage so your chinchilla can mimic some of its natural habits like climbing, jumping, etc.
Make sure the cage is at least 35.4 (L) by 23.6 (D) by 47.2 (H) inches (90 x 60 x 120 cm) for two or three chinchillas. Your chinchillas should have adequate room to move about. Provide several nesting/resting areas, bedding, food, water, toys, and wooden chews in the cage.
This article reviews my favorite cages, including the Critter Nation I ended up going with for my chinchilla (the one pictured above).
Locate It In The Right Place
Locating the cage in a safe and quiet place is extremely important for your chinchillas. Avoid placing the cage directly under AC vents or heating ducts. Similarly, the area should be free from loud noises. Ensure a temperature range of 60° to 74° F (16° to 23° C).
Allow Your Chinchillas To Adjust
If you have just brought your chinchilla(s) home, avoid handling it right away. Ensure that your pet gets time to settle down and gets used to the new environment. You can cover the cage with a light cloth to give your pet some privacy.
Once your chinchilla adjusts to its enclosure, it will be more relaxed and open to being handled.
Note that chinchillas can be shy and skittish, especially if they haven’t had much human interaction before. Allow a time period of at least 2 to 3 weeks for your chinchillas to settle down.
Part 2: Handling Your Chinchilla
Chinchillas are skittish, so you want to go very slowly. You can’t simply grab your pet and pick it up. Get it used to you step by step. And if it gets scared and runs away, let it. Try again the next day.
Introduce Yourself To Your Chinchilla
During your chinchilla’s settling-in period, you may approach the cage from time to time. Allow your chinchilla to see and smell you. Do not rush things. Take it slow.
- Talk soothingly to your chinchilla.
- Continue doing your work near its cage, where your pet can see you. You can prepare your pet’s treats near its cage, so it knows treats are coming!
- You can place your hand inside the cage, but avoid touching your pet for now.
- Never grab your new chinchilla.
Slowly introducing yourself to your chinchilla will help it get used to your presence, before you actually handle it and bond with it.
Pet Your Chinchilla
Feed your chinchilla some treats, and while it is eating, gently pat it. This will reassure your chinchilla that you mean no harm. This way, it will eventually relax and allow you to handle it.
Do not try to pick up your chinchilla at this point. If your pet gets scared and wants to run back into its hideout, let it.
Remember: chinchillas can bite if they get scared or anxious. Never sneak up on your pet, and especially do not disturb it when it is sleeping.
Hand-Feed Your Chinchilla
Getting your chinchilla used to hand-feeding is one of the best ways to bond with it.
- First, place your hand inside your pet’s cage without any food. Allow your chinchilla to explore, sniff, and get to know your scent.
- Place food on your hand and allow your chinchilla to come and get it.
Pick It Up
Once your chinchilla is used to your presence and has started trusting you a little, try gently picking it up. Work slowly and observe your pet’s body language. If it seems anxious, please put it back and try again after a few days. Learn how to pick a chinchilla up here.
- Only let an adult hold your chinchilla.
- You can place one hand underneath its chest (or around it)
- Use your other hand to support the animal’s hind legs.
- You may sit on the ground and let your chinchilla sit on your lap. It is better to hold your chinchilla close to the ground to prevent falls.
Remember: any pain or discomfort will break the bond between you and your furry friend. Make sure it won’t fall or get hurt. Do not squeeze or hold your pet too tightly. This article goes over how to hold a chinchilla correctly.
Part 3: Allowing Playtime Outside The Cage
Invest in a playpen like these or create a safe, enclosed area (bathrooms or closets work well) to allow your chinchilla some time out of its cage.
You can sit on the floor inside the safe space, so your chinchilla can run over your legs. Pet your chinchilla gently as it gets used to your scent.
- If you’re letting your pet out in the garden, check for dangers nearby.
- Keep other pets away from the chosen area.
- If you are indoors, check for wires, electrical outlets, and other hazards. Proof the room thoroughly.
- Add plenty of toys inside the playpen.
Try to give your chinchilla at least an hour outside its cage every day.
How Long Does It Take To Bond With A Chinchilla?
Chinchillas are inherently shy and nervous animals. They are prey animals and instinctively do not trust humans. This is especially the case with wild-caught chinchillas. Some captive-bred chinchillas may be more accustomed to human contact than wild-caught chinchillas.
Good breeders also make it a point to socialize and desensitize their chinchillas before sending them to their forever homes. Having said that, it could still take a new chinchilla about 2 to 3 weeks to bond with you.
Remember: there are no hard-and-fast rules here, and no two chinchillas are the same. Some may bond within a couple of days, while others may take more time. Some may never warm up to you.
Best Way To Bond With Your Chinchilla: Final Thoughts
The best way to bond with your chinchilla is to provide it what it needs. Make sure you provide a spacious cage with an optimum environment consisting of the right temperature, humidity, and peaceful location.
Provide fresh hay, pellets, and clean drinking water, and keep its cage clean. Add in some comfortable bedding as well, and replace it when it gets smelly and moist.
Ensure that you feed your chinchilla healthy treats and give it plenty of toys. You can rotate the toys from time to time to prevent boredom and mentally stimulate your furry friend.
Make sure to be patient, and if your chinchilla appears scared, allow it to hide. Provide plenty of hideouts in the cage for your buddy to relax. Most importantly, spend time with your chinchilla by teaching it tricks, playing with it, feeding it, and allowing it out-of-cage time daily.