Chinchillas are famously skittish.
But that’s not surprising.
Their life in the wild is fraught with dangers. Countless other animals would love nothing more than to snack on a chinchilla.
Chinchillas in captivity retain this skittishness.
They do not like being held. That makes holding a chinchilla tricky.
It takes time for them to trust you enough to let you hold them. Attempt to hold a chinchilla before it trusts you and things will not go well.
You also need to know how to hold a chinchilla correctly, to avoid injury or undue stress.
Keep reading to learn exactly how to hold a chinchilla. We will also give you a step-by-step guide for getting your pet to let you pick it up and hold it for the first time.
- 1 How To Hold A Chinchilla
- 1.1 Steps To Hold A Chinchilla Safely
- 1.2 How To Hold Chinchillas: Related Questions
- 2 Holding A Chinchilla: Final Thoughts
How To Hold A Chinchilla
Hold your chinchilla by placing your palms under its belly with fingers extending towards its back. Slightly shift one of your hands to support its hind legs and hindquarters.
Hold your pet close to your torso to make it feel safe and secure. You can also hold your chinchilla with a towel.
When you first get a chinchilla, you should not attempt to hold it right away. These animals need some time before they trust you enough to be held. Follow these steps to get to a point where you ca hold your new chinchilla.
Steps To Hold A Chinchilla Safely
Go through the following steps to ensure you can hold your new chinchilla safely and without causing it undue stress or other harm. This article goes into much more detail on how to get a chinchilla to like being held.
Step 1: Let Your Chinchilla Get Used to You
Chinchillas are shy and skittish creatures. As prey animals, they easily get stressed and anxious. Any sudden movement can startle them.
If you have recently acquired your chinchilla, allow some time to go by before picking it up and holding it. It usually takes a week or two (or more) for a new chinchilla to learn to trust you. Give it time.
Remember chinchillas can bite if they feel threatened. They also release fur (a defense mechanism known as fur slip) if you grab them roughly. This can result in patchy hair loss which can take months to regrow.
Female chinchillas may even spray you with urine if you force them to come in your arms. Most chinchillas try to run away and hide if they feel threatened. If this happens, allow your pet to do so. Do not try to grab it. Give it time.
Step 2: Spend Time With Your Chinchilla
As the days go by, spend time with your chin. You can talk soothingly to it and offer it a piece of fruit or other treat now and then. This will help establish trust and teach your chinchilla that you mean no harm.
Step 3: Pick Up Your Chinchilla
Once your chinchilla begins to trust you and comes toward you of its own accord, you can try to pick it up for the first time. You need the utmost care and caution when picking up a chinchilla. Here are three ways to pick up a chinchilla safely.
- Wrap your chinchilla in a soft towel and pick it up. This will prevent a fur slip. Do not leave the towel on too long as your pet could overheat.
- Pick up the chinchilla by its tail close to the base of the tail toward the animal’s body.
- You can also pick up the chinchilla by its neck. Firmly grip the nape of its neck, ensuring that you do not just grip its fur.
Step 4: Hold Your Chinchilla
Once you have picked up your chinchilla, you can hold it in your cupped palms.
Cup your hands and place one hand on the animal’s chest and the other under its belly. Then quickly but gently shift one hand to support the animal’s hind legs and hind quarters.
Some chinnies like their front paws supported, which allows them to sit upright in your palms.
Hold your chinchilla firmly and gently close to your torso. This will provide a feeling of safety and security to your pet. It is a good idea to sit down on the floor while you hold your chin. That way, your pet will be close to the floor if it decides to jump out of your arms. Yo don’t want your chinchilla to break a leg.
Step 5: Keep The Holding Sessions Short
Most chinchillas do not like being held. They may try to jump off. Therefore, you might want to keep the holding sessions short, at least in the beginning.
Once your pet is used to your handling, you can hold it a little longer. Note that many chinchillas simply dislike being held despite knowing and trusting their human.
Step 6: Release The Chinchilla Safely
To let your chinchilla out of your palms and into its cage, gently lower your hands towards the cage while still holding the animal.
You may have to lower your body and bend a bit to let your chinchilla into its cage. Extend your arms so your chinchilla can safely get off your hands and onto the floor of the cage.
Keep supporting your pet’s rear legs while it gets off. Remember, chinchillas have fragile bones. You should not allow them to fall from a height.
How To Hold Chinchillas: Related Questions
Next, we will answer some common questions related to holding your chinchilla. If you have additional questions, please feel free to as them in the comments below.
Do Chinchillas Like Being Held?
Unfortunately, even well-tamed chinchillas do not always like being held. Many won’t relax until you release them back into their cage or pen.
That does not mean that you cannot transform your pet into a cuddly companion. Your chinchilla might just take more time in getting used to being held.
Chinchillas are not like cats and dogs and you should not expect them to behave like these animals. Remember, chinchillas are hunted heavily in the wild. That is why they are always alert. Even if you have tamed your pet, it might still get stressed or anxious if held too long.
It is best not to force your pet to cuddle. Limit the holding sessions to 2 to 5 minutes, if your pet does not seem comfortable with it.
How Often Should You Hold Your Chinchilla?
In the beginning, you can hold your chinchilla daily for a few minutes at a time. If your pet appears anxious or stressed, please stop right away.
Let your chinchilla decide the duration of cuddling. If it does not like being held, you can play with it and talk to it. There are many ways of showing affection to your chinchilla. Holding it isn’t the only way.
How Do You Get A Chinchilla Used To You?
The first step in getting to know a chinchilla is by reassuring it that you are not a threat. Here are some tips to approach a chinchilla and make friends with it.
- Open the cage door and put your hand inside. If a chinchilla is not used to humans, it might run away and hide. If your pet hides inside a box, gently remove the box. Stand quietly and avoid any sudden movements. Let your chinchilla observe you.
- A curious chinchilla will surely try to approach you.
- If your chinchilla is very shy, you can try using a raisin to lure it toward you. Remember: raisins are sugary so you must only offer one raisin per week to your pet at most. (and the process of developing a bond of trust between you and your chinchilla can take several weeks)
- In the beginning, your chinchilla might not eat the raisin out of your hand and you might have to just leave it inside the cage on the floor.
- However, once your chinchilla understands how great raisins are, it will eagerly approach you each time you bring one.
- Soon, your chinchilla will eat the raisin out of your palm. This is what you want to achieve. Your chinchilla should be comfortable with your hands and arms.
How Long Does It Take For A Chinchilla To Let You Hold It?
Many chinchillas can take 2 to 4 weeks before they let you hold them. Some may take even longer.
All chinchillas are different. Some tame chinchillas that are used to humans might form a bond with your right away. Some may love petting and might cuddle with you from the start. Others may be painfully slow in approaching you.
When it comes to you and your chinchilla, you will have to find out what works. As with any animal, patience and love are the best tools to get your chinchilla used to being held.
Holding A Chinchilla: Final Thoughts
Chinchillas do not like being held in the same way as dogs or cats. But they can get used to it and many come to enjoy it. The key is patience.
It takes time for a new chinchilla to get used to its new home and environment and, most importantly, you. You need to show it that you are friendly and build trust with it. Once it starts coming up to you feely, you can start to hold it for brief periods of time.
Don’t push the issue. If your pet is uncomfortable with being held, build some more trust before trying again. And keep holding sessions short in the beginning. Unless, of course, you are one of the lucky ones with a chinchilla that loves being held and cuddled. They do exist!