Chinchillas are small and delicate.
It is all too easy to accidentally injure them. Especially if you pick them up incorrectly.
This is further complicated by their skittishness. They do not enjoy being picked up and held. At least not at first.
If you try to pick your chinchilla up before it fully trusts you, it will do its best to escape, increasing the risk of injury even more.
That is why you should not even try picking it up for the first week or two, until you have built some trust first.
After that, you can begin picking your chinchilla up and holding it for short periods of time.
But you need to make sure you pick it up the right way.
Keep reading to learn exactly how to pick up a chinchilla to avoid scaring it and to minimize the risk of an injury. We will show you 4 different methods you can use.
- 1 How To Pick Up A Chinchilla
- 1.1 4 Safe Methods To Pick Up A Chinchilla
- 1.2 Picking Up A Chinchilla: Related Questions
- 2 How To Pick Up Chinchillas: Final Thoughts
How To Pick Up A Chinchilla
To pick up a chinchilla, cup both your hands and place one hand in the front and one hand behind the animal. Then quickly cup the chinchilla in both hands. You can also firmly grasp the chinchilla’s tail close to its body to pick it up. Another method is to pick it up at its neck.
There are a lot of different ways you can pick up a chinchilla, but many of them are not ideal. They carry a higher risk of injury. The following 4 methods are the best ways to pick up chinchillas.
4 Safe Methods To Pick Up A Chinchilla
You should pick up a chinchilla very carefully. These small rodents are prey in the wild and very nervous as a result. They tend to release their fur when handled roughly.
Chinchillas have a unique defense mechanism known as fur slip. When grabbed or handled roughly they feel they are in danger and they release their fur. In the wild, this mechanism helps chinchillas escape their predators who end up with a mouthful of fur.
Your pet chinchilla might use this same defense mechanism if someone handles it roughly in captivity. If it does, it can take several months for the chinnie’s fur to grow back.
This is why we strongly recommend you must use one of the following safe methods to pick up your chinchilla, to prevent stressing it and triggering fur slip.
Method 1: Using The Tail
We recommend this method for chinchillas that are new to being handled.
- Grasp your chinchilla by its tail close to its body.
- Pick up the chinchilla using the tail’s base.
- Talk soothingly to it so it feels safe.
Method 2: With Your Cupped Hands
This is the most recommended and gentlest method to pick up a tame chinchilla.
- Cup both hands.
- Place one hand in the front and the other behind the animal.
- Then quickly cup the animal in both hands.
- You need to do this very quickly otherwise your chinchilla might jump and head back to safety.
- Hold your chinchilla close to your body. This will make it feel safe and secure. For chinchillas that appear scared, it may be better to hold on to the tail also. Keep talking to your pet soothingly.
Method 3: By The Neck
Chinchillas that are not used to being handled can get agitated and might try to run away. Here is a safe way to pick it up by its neck.
- Hold the chinchilla firmly at the back of its neck so that it realizes that acting up won’t get it anywhere.
- With your other hand, hold the animal’s rear legs.
- Adjust the strength of your grip accordingly.
Method 4: Using A Towel
- Wrap a soft towel around your chinchilla’s body.
- Pick up your wrapped chinchilla and hold it in your lap close to your body.
- A towel can protect you from being bitten by the chinchilla and will also prevent fur slip.
Picking Up A Chinchilla: Related Questions
Next, we will answer some common questions related to picking up and handling chinchillas. If you have any further questions, please feel free to ask them in the comments below.
Do Chinchillas Like To Be Picked Up?
Chinchillas make excellent pets but they are not like cats and dogs. They certainly aren’t big on cuddling and especially do not like being picked up or held. At least until they get used to it, which can take quite some time.
When your chinchilla is just getting to know you, it might appear wary and aloof. These pets take time to warm up to strangers. Some chinchillas may take a week or two (or even longer) before they let you pick them up.
However, that does not mean that you cannot convert your chinchilla into a gentle, loving, and affectionate pet. It just takes time and patience to train your chinchilla to welcome your touch.
As long as you take things slowly, exercise caution, and avoid startling your chinchilla while picking it up, things should be okay. It is especially important to avoid sudden movements, because they can startle and stress your chinchilla.
Use one of the four methods described above to pick up your chinchilla. Start slowly so your chinchilla gets used to being handled and held. Gradually increase the duration of holding your chinchilla.
In some cases, despite the owner’s best efforts, a chinchilla simply does not like being held and never will. And that’s okay. Let your pet decide. Don’t force it.
Can You Pick Up A Chinchilla By Its Tail?
Yes, you can pick up a chinchilla by its tail, as long as you hold it close to the base of the tail, by the animal’s body. This is actually one of the safest ways to pick up a chinchilla.
But you need to be careful. A chinchilla’s tail is part of its spine and plays the important task of helping the animal maintain its balance. Take care not to cause any injury.
If handled incorrectly, a chinchilla’s tail could get severely injured. The fragile tail could even break or get sprained or fractured, if you pull it too hard.
You must exercise extreme caution when picking up your chinchilla by its tail. Avoid pulling on the tail or bending or twisting it.
Your pet could get stressed and might even release its fur. Most importantly, improper handling could permanently erode any trust you have established with your chinchilla.
Do Chinchillas Bite?
Like dogs and cats, chinchillas could bite if they feel threatened. Biting is a defense mechanism, just like a fur slip. Chinchillas use a quick bite to warn predators off.
Naturally, well-socialized pet chinchillas rarely bite, especially if you have built trust with them. However, on rare occasions, a chinnie might bite if it feels it is in serious trouble or cannot escape.
Sometimes, your pet might also squeal loudly in addition to biting. This is another way of defending itself against predators.
Chinchillas have two long teeth in the front. These can easily cut through human or animal skin causing pain and bleeding. If your chinchilla has bitten you, please wash the wound with warm water and soap and apply an antiseptic cream over it.
If needed, cover the bite with sterilized gauze or a bandage. The swelling and pain should subside in a couple of days. Please see your doctor if the bite site starts oozing pus or appears red, inflamed, or infected.
Do Chinchillas Let You Hold Them?
Can Chinchillas Be Cuddly?
While they are affectionate pets, chinchillas are not cuddly like cats and dogs. They prefer not to be held and handled.
Do Chinchillas Like Being Pet?
Most chinchillas do not like being pet. Some might accept being pet by people with whom they are familiar, but most do not enjoy being touched too often.
How Do You Bond With A New Chinchilla?
Speak to your chinchilla in a soothing tone. Also, feed it, play with it, and try to get it used to being pet and held, albeit for short periods of time. As mentioned, it is best not to touch a chinchilla too frequently.
How To Pick Up Chinchillas: Final Thoughts
Chinchillas do not enjoy being picked up and held in the same way as cats or dogs, but they can grow used to it over time. But it does take time. When you first get your chinchilla, refrain from trying to pick it up for a week or two (or more) until it has learned it can trust you.
Once your chinchilla trusts you and the two of you have built a bit of a bond, you can begin picking it up and holding it for short periods of time. Use one of the safe methods we gave you above to pick your chinchilla up safely.