If you recently adopted a chinchilla, I can almost guarantee that you are in the exact same boat I was in when I first brought my chinchilla home.
I got her home, had a safe area to interact with her and thought I was the king of the world and knew exactly what I was doing.
However, I didn’t really know anything and had tons of questions non-stop.
I didn’t even know how to pick my chinchilla up correctly.
This led me to a specific question that I thought may help all of you reading. Is it okay to hold a chinchilla by the tail?
After owning my chinchilla for a long time and testing different methods, here is what I can tell you.
So, is it okay to hold a chinchilla by the tail? Yes, it is okay to hold a chinchilla by the tail. It’s the best way to hold a chinchilla and to get control of them before moving them closer to your body. To pick a chinchilla up, grabbing the chinchilla by the base of the tail is the safest, best method.
I’m sure if you haven’t seen this nor heard this stated before, you may be a little confused and maybe even think I’m crazy.
I promise that it’s true and it’s your best bet to maintain control of your chinchilla and to avoid them potentially biting you.
Don’t worry, chinchilla’s don’t typically bite.
I have an entire post that discusses if a chinchilla will bite that you can see here.
For a further dive into chinchilla behavior, you can see my full guide on chinchilla behavior and chinchilla temperament here.
In this post, I want to detail some best practices for handling your chinchilla and discuss this tail holding technique a little bit more in-depth.
Hopefully, by the end of this post, you feel more comfortable and understand that it’s 100% okay to hold a chinchilla by the tail.
Let’s dive into the details.
More on Picking Your Chinchilla Up Using the Tail Grab Technique
It may feel weird to hold a chinchilla by the tail.
I get it and it took me some time to adjust to this idea as well.
What I can tell you, however, is that it works and it’s the best practice.
As I stated previously, it’s especially the best practice to hold your chinchilla when you are first getting to know your chinchilla.
They may jump and climb all over you after some bonding time, but this doesn’t necessarily mean they love to cuddle up on the couch for an afternoon movie.
They don’t like to feel trapped and they are naturally preyed upon in their natural habitats.
Trying to get too touchy with them in the form of holding and grabbing, in the beginning, can result in a fur slip or even your chinchilla attempt to bite you (rare but possible).
On the flip side, some chinchillas are the complete opposite and you don’t have to use the tail technique to pick them up.
I’ve seen this in YouTube videos and my breeder also had some chinchillas that were so friendly or socialized that picking them up was a piece of cake.
If this is the situation you’re in, be thankful.
For me, I still must use the tail grab and face block technique.
It’s not that she would ever bite me.
She never has and never has even attempted to.
She just gets squirrely and likes to jump and climb.
When I attempt to pick her up, she flees and continues to do her thing.
The Actual Tail Pick Up and Face Block to Secure Your Chinchilla
So here is how it works.
Your chinchilla is very fast (in case you didn’t know).
In addition, cornering them never works.
Remember, they are preyed upon animals and not the predator so it’s normal for them to feel scared or run away from you.
Read that again if you need to. A chinchilla will run away from you.
This doesn’t mean they don’t love you or recognize you.
What I like to do is wait for my chinchilla to come to me.
If you don’t force it, it doesn’t take long at all and she respects me much more in my opinion for not chasing her all over and trying to pin her in a corner.
After she sniffs and runs around, she will come to climb on my shoulders, head and lay on my lap.
When she does this, I don’t go crazy and immediately try and capture her or do anything to jumpy with her.
I simply wait till she’s hanging out near me and I can tell she’s okay with playtime coming to an end.
Use your dominant hand to grab the base of her tail.
Grabbing the base of your chinchillas’ tail will not hurt them so get that out of your mind.
It’s a perfectly fine and common method to use.
At the same time, you are grabbing the base of her tail, place your non-dominant hand in front of her face.
This will block her for just a second from trying to getaway.
As you pick him or her up, slide your hand under her body to support all her weight and bring her close to your body.
Once You Are Supporting Their Wait, Your Chinchilla Will Begin to Relax
Some of you may have different experiences with this.
My chinchilla is only jumpy and shaky during the brief few seconds it takes to get her close to my body.
I have another post worth checking out on this topic as well. It’s all about why a chinchilla may shake that you can see here.
Once I have my hand beneath her and she’s up close towards my chest, she doesn’t remain frantic or trying to jump out of my control.
It’s almost as if they can sense, you have no intention of hurting them, they recognize and love you and they calm down.
This is how it is for me at least and I do understand that some chinchillas just don’t like to be held in general.
In all honesty, picking them up by the tail is very easy after you have done it a few times and have good muscle memory of the technique.
Always Be Sure to Support Under Your Chinchilla for Safety and Comfort
If you do have a chinchilla that seems willing to cuddle and likes to be held, you always need to remember to support their weight.
Chinchillas have very thin fragile bones and it’s important to make sure they are fully supported when being held.
Additionally, them jumping out of your arms or falling on anything except their feet from your hands on something like concrete or wood floors could injure them.
Make sure you are always practicing the proper technique when holding your chinchilla and that their full bodies are supported from your arms or hands when being held.
This may sound scary or like it’s some big ordeal but it’s not.
It’s one of the reasons that chinchilla make such great pets.
Proper care and educating yourself about best practices with your chinchilla is not only ethical but will form a much stronger bond over time with your chinchillas while keeping them happy and safe.
You can’t beat that, and, in all honesty, you can’t beat owning a chinchilla.
I was skeptical at first, but I love my chinchilla just like any other family member or family pet.
They are a joy to be around and will surprise you daily if you take the time to interact with them and take proper care of them.
That’s all there is to it.
What If You Can’t Pick Your Chinchilla Up by The Tail? What Should You Do?
If you are struggling to get this grasp of how to grab your chinchilla by the tail and handle them, you have a few alternatives.
First and foremost, not being able to grab your chinchilla properly, is not an excuse not to interact with them.
You just need to get creative.
You can use two other alternatives to get your chinchilla safely back into their cage.
First, try using their dust bath.
Once they are in their dust bath container and have finished fun and playtime, simply pick them up in the dust bath and take them back to their cage.
Again, don’t try capturing them in the dust bath or cornering them.
Allow them their time out of the cage and wait for them to return to the dust bath.
Trust me they will, and it doesn’t take long for this happen. Sometimes less than a few minutes.
They love their dust baths.
Secondly, use a travel cage. A small cage and have some bedding and a chinchilla safe treat in the cage.
If the door is open on the travel container they will get curious and walk into the cage on their own.
Don’t’ force this method either and when they enter the travel cage, simply close the door and return them to the cage.
Of course, you can always try to just leave the cage doors open as well to return them, but this may take longer because they surely love their playtime and don’t always want to go back right away.
You Need to Learn the Tail Pick Up Method Eventually with Your Chinchilla
The two methods discussed previously should only be used until you are more comfortable picking your chinchilla up by the tail.
If you continue to use the other methods, you never fully have any control of your chinchilla and you’re always relying on these techniques.
Learning to pick your chinchilla up by the tail will allow you to control where and when you need your chinchilla to be and allow you to end playtime when you choose.
Additionally, it’s nice to know your chinchilla feels safe and will allow you to do this.
I can’t imagine many scenarios where this should be a major struggle to accomplish.
Final Word, Don’t Hesitate to Pick Your Chinchilla Up by The Tail. It’s Perfectly Safe and A Good Method
At the end of the day, you need to get over the awkward feeling picking your chinchilla up by the tail can create.
It doesn’t hurt them and it’s the recommended and safe approach for handling your chinchilla properly and returning them to their cage after playtime.
Additionally, there may come a time when you need to take your chinchilla to another location or to a vet and you need to learn this skill to properly care for your chinchilla over the long haul.
As always, thanks for stopping by and I appreciate you.
What’re your thoughts on picking your chinchilla up by the tail?
Do you have any further recommendations for the readers that we haven’t discussed in this post?
Be sure to drop a comment below.