Owning a chinchilla is a fantastic experience, but it can also come with some frustrations.
For all the new chinchilla owners reading, don’t fret, and we will get to the bottom of what you need to know.
One common problem tends to arise with some chinchillas and their owners.
How do I get my chinchilla to like being held?
Well, I went through the exact same struggle, had to figure it out, and now plan to detail all of that information for you in today’s post.
So, 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 they adapt to their environment. Most chinchillas will allow and enjoy being held after time has passed, and some will never prefer being held.
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 layout actionable steps you can take to make your chinchilla go from being stubborn, to cuddly and into a state where they enjoy being held.
In fact, I’ve created easy to navigate links directly below that will allow you to skip to any specific section of this post that you desire or need to learn more about.
Like many of my other blog posts, I have also included a short video below detailing this topic in more depth.
It’s a few paragraphs down for those of you interested in that.
Here’s what’s on the lesson plan for today.
- Do Chinchillas Like Being Held?
- The Story of My Chinchilla
- Don’t Break Trust and Exercise Patience
- A Short Video About Holding Your Chinchilla
- What Is the Proper Way to Hold A Chinchilla?
- Understanding and Recognizing If Your Chinchilla Is Stressed
- 7 Tips to Conditions Your Chinchilla to Being Held
- Final Thoughts
As stated previously, if you need to skip around or want a video learning session, feel free to use the links directly above to navigate around this post.
Otherwise, if you have about 4 minutes to spare, I’ll do everything I can to get you into a better relationship with your chinchilla where they enjoy being held.
Here are the details you need to know.
Do Chinchillas Like Being Held?
The first thing to understand is that not all chinchillas like to be held.
It’s just how it goes. For the most part, however, depending on the age of your chinchilla at adoption, you can begin conditioning your chin to enjoy being held over the course of time.
One of the best ways to do this is to make your chinchilla feel safe in your presence.
You see, chinchillas get scared easily and are prone to retreat in the same fashion they would in the wild.
Clearly, in a controlled environment such as your home, your chinchilla should not have much, if any ability to run away from you.
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 (Link to Amazon)
The exact playpen you see above is the same playpen/tent 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, one more adult and even your chinchilla
- 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 up 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.
What I believe this did in the beginning stages was get my chinchilla warmed up to me very quickly, which in return, 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 believe it can work.
If you can’t nor want to use the playpen, simply try getting down low on the floor with your chinchilla to spend time with them.
Talk to them and begin making them comfortable with your presence.
Eventually, they will start to trust you more, and yes, they 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 always pick your chinchilla up just to return them 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 them and pet them.
If they don’t like it, respect their wishes and put them 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 on this topic discussing the animal play tent, I used, in addition, to not force your chinchilla to be held, I wanted to make this quick video for you on the topic as well.
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 and easily return for the rest of this post after.
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 them up, bond with them, pet them, draw them near your chest, and pet them.
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:
- If your female chinchilla sprays urine
- If your chinchilla attempts to bite you
- If your chinchilla is trying to run
- If your chinchilla is slipping fur
- If your chinchilla is making noises, they haven’t made in the past
All these behaviors listed above 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.
7 Tips to Conditions Your Chinchilla to Being Held
As promised, I wanted to give you 7 speedy but useful tips for conditioning your chinchilla to enjoy being held.
Some of these will repeat some of from items we have already discussed but, nonetheless, should help tie everything together for you and have you off in the right direction.
Tip #1- Limit the Interaction Space
As stated previously, shrink the space down that you interact with your chinchilla within.
This forces the bond to grow. Refer to my section of the post discussing the playpen I used.
Tip #2- Never Lose Patience
You have plenty of time to build a strong bond with your chinchilla the correct way without rushing or forcing it.
Forcing it will only cause harm and a lack of trust from your chinchilla.
Keep your patience to ultimately win your chinchilla over.
Tip #3- Give Your Chinchilla What They Need
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.
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 you should be considering here.
Overall, the better you do at this, the happier they will be and the better the interaction will be for both of you when you have them out of the cage and when you are attempting to hold them.
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 their surroundings and used to being around you, you need to communicate with them.
I’m not talking about pulling a Dr. Doolittle here.
Just some simple conversation in a friendly inviting tone that gets your chinchilla use 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 they are ultimately going to be to you holding them.
Plain and simple.
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, and it inevitably happens to me.
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 that you can read here.
After you have read that, read my post about what chinchillas eat in general here.
That will at least get you up to speed and help you understand how to give your chinchilla treats in moderation.
Nonetheless, using some 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, It Will Happen
The last tip that I have for you today is to simply not give up. It’s rare that you own a chinchilla for the duration of their life that never warms up to you.
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.
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 The Topic
As always, I prefer the readers to get involved and share their 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!