Is it really possible to train a chinchilla to do anything?
Of course, you can’t train them to assist the blind or sniff out mines, corpses or drugs, like you can with dogs.
But if you know how to train a chinchilla, you can teach them to do simple tricks.
And you can teach them to be better pets, too.
We’ll cover a bit of both below.
Keep reading to learn how to train a chinchilla to do three things that will make you life easier as a pet owner, as well as 5 cool little tricks you can teach your pet.
- 1 How To Train A Chinchilla
- 2 How To Train A Chinchilla To Do Some Simple Tricks
- 3 Training Chinchillas: Final Thoughts
How To Train A Chinchilla
We will begin with three basis trainings most owners will want their chinchillas to learn. Below, we will get into a few cool tricks you can teach your pet.
Basic Training 1: Train Your Chinchilla To Be Handled
Before you begin training your chinchilla to be handled, it can help a lot to have some high-value, healthy training treats on hand. Then follow these steps.
- Start by placing your arm in your chinchilla’s cage.
- If needed, hold out a treat and let your pet take it.
- Continue this over the next few days, limiting it to no more than one treat per day.
- Next, create a cradle shape with your palm when you put your arm in the cage and let your chinchilla sit on it.
- Once it does, lightly place your other hand on the animal’s neck and back to prevent it from jumping.
- Pick your pet up and hold it close to your body. Do this for a few seconds and then let your pet go back into the cage.
- Keep the session short.
- Repeat once a day for the next few days, each time increasing the duration.
- Chins do not like being handled, so approach this task slowly and patiently. The key is to build trust with your pet and earn its confidence.
- If your chinchilla struggles, let it go back into the cage. Stressing a chinchilla could result in fur slip, which is something you don’t want. It can also burn any trust you have built up to that point.
- Patience and repetition are key to this exercise. Keep the faith!
- Limit the number of treats you feed your pet, because these small rodents are prone to obesity. Your vet can advise you regarding the right quantity based on your chin’s age and weight.
Basic Training 2: Train Your Chinchilla To Come When Called
For this training, make sure you have some low-calorie, healthy training treats that are suitable for chinchillas.
- Hold the treat in one hand.
- Open the other hand with your palm facing up and place it near the hand with the treat. The key is to get your chinchilla to use the open hand as a stepping stone to reach the treat in the other hand.
- Say your pet’s name soothingly.
- Once it comes to you, feed the treat to your pet.
- Allow your chinchilla to go back into its cage; most do not like prolonged handling.
- Eventually, try this command without the treat.
- A chinchilla won’t come to you the way a dog comes, but eventually, it will understand that coming to you means getting a reward.
- Practice this once or twice a day; you want to keep treats to a minimum to keep your pet from getting fat.
- Your goal is to get your chinchilla to you when called, inside and outside the cage.
Basic Training 3: Train Your Chinchilla To Use A Litter Box
In order to train your pet to use a litter box, you will obviously need a litter box, like the one in this article (which also covers the potty training process in more detail). You will also want to have some healthy treats on hand.
- Place the litter box in the same spot of the cage that your chinchilla uses as a bathroom.
- If available, place some soiled bedding or wood chips having your chinchilla’s urine and feces, into the litter box.
- If you see your pet using the box, praise and reward it with a treat.
- Do this each time you see your pet use the litter box.
- Litter box training requires a lot of patience.
- Be prepared for some accidents in the beginning.
- Do not shout at, or scold, your pet.
How To Train A Chinchilla To Do Some Simple Tricks
Next, let’s see how to train your chinchilla to do some cool tricks. These are simple tricks, but they are still sure to impress.
Trick 1: Train Your Chinchilla To Stand Up
For this trick, you will want to have some high-value training treats on hand. As always, they should be treats that are specially formulated for chinchillas.
- Hold the training treat above your pet’s head so it has to reach up on its hind legs to get it.
- Once your chinchilla reaches for the treat, say the command ‘Stand Up’. Feed the treat to your chinchilla.
- Practice this command once daily.
- Eventually, you should get your pet to ‘stand up’ even without a treat.
Use treats as motivation but limit your chinchilla’s daily consumption. Practice this command every day – consistency is key!
Trick 2: Train Your Chinchilla To Turn In A Circle
Again, you will want to have some tasty, but healthy, treats ready, before you begin training your pet to perform this trick.
- Hold a treat above your chinchilla’s head.
- When your pet looks at the treat, slowly move the treat around the pet’s body and say ‘Circle’.
- Your pet should move to follow the movement of your hand. Once it completes a circle, reward it.
- Practice a couple of times each day.
- Eventually, get your pet to circle even without a treat in your hand.
Trick 3: Train Your Chinchilla To Grab An Object
Check out this great video showing how to train a chinchilla to grab an object. For this trick, you will need a small object, like a finger ring, along with two types of treats: small, low-value treats and high-value treats
- Touch the ring to your chinchilla’s tiny paws. Simultaneously, say the command “Grab” and feed the treat to your pet.
- Continue doing this 3-4 times a day: touch the ring to the paws, give the command, reward, repeat.
- Gradually, your pet will start grabbing the ring. Once it does, feed it the high-value treat and praise it enthusiastically.
- Continue this training consistently every day.
- Your pet will be grabbing the ring in no time.
Trick 4: Train Your Chinchilla To Push A Small Ball
For this trick, you will need a small ball (obviously) that isn’t too heavy. A tennis ball works best. It should be easy for your pet to maneuver. You will also want a longer treat, like a wooden chew made of silver or birch.
- Place the wooden chew on the floor and keep the ball over it.
- Your pet should try and move the ball to access the treat.
- Keep encouraging your chinchilla to move the ball while saying ‘push the ball’.
- Even if your pet moves the ball slightly, give it the wooden chew and praise your pet.
- Repeat this trick daily.
- Eventually, your pet should move the ball without any motivation in the form of a treat.
Trick 5: Train Your Chinchilla To Jump Through A Hoop
For this trick, you will obviously need a plastic hoop with a 6–10-inch diameter. Make sure there are no sharp edges on the hoop. You will also need treats for encouragement.
- Hold the hoop so that it is touching the ground.
- Have your pet on one side of the hoop while you hold a treat with your other hand on the opposite side of the hoop.
- Say your pet’s name and have it come through the hoop to access the treat. When it does come through, say, ‘Through the Hoop’. Treat your pet immediately and praise it lavishly.
- You may have to nudge your chinchilla gently through the hoop a couple of times.
- Over time, your pet will be motivated to go through the hoop in order to get the treat.
- Repeat the training once daily.
- Eventually, your pet should go through the hoop without the motivation for a treat.
Training Chinchillas: Final Thoughts
Training chinchillas is certainly possible. And if you know how to train a chinchilla, it is a lot easier than you probably think. It just takes time and a lot of patiency. And consistency.
The key is to keep practicing any new trick with your pet every day, but only for a short period each day. Not only do you need to keep the chinchilla’s short attention span in mind, but you also don’t want to keep giving it a bunch of treats every day. You’ll end up with a well trained, yet gigantic, chinchilla.
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