Is there anything cuter than a chinchilla holding something?
I love it when mine sits there with a little toy or treat in its paws.
Do they all do this? And why do chinchillas hold things?
Is there an actual reason behind it, or it it just something some chinchillas do, while others don’t?
That’s exactly what we’re going to answer today.
Keep reading to learn 6 reasons chinchillas hold things. We will also cover why they sometimes seem to enjoy dropping things just as much as holding them.
- 1 Why Do Chinchillas Hold Things?
- 1.1 6 Reasons Chinchillas Hold Things
- 1.2 Do Chinchillas Like To Hold Things?
- 1.3 Why Do Chinchillas Drop Things?
- 1.4 What Do Chinchillas Do When They Are Angry?
- 1.5 How Can You Tell If A Chinchilla Is Happy?
- 2 Chinchillas Holding Things: Final Thoughts
Why Do Chinchillas Hold Things?
Chinchillas like to hold things, because the behavior is instinctive and genetically wired into them. In the wild, chinchillas forage for food and nesting materials that they carry back to their caves and burrows.
Holding items like twigs, sticks, and toys also lets your chinchilla smell those items. Sometimes, they might like the texture of the items and chew or gnaw on them.
Holding objects may also feel like a reward or treasure for your chinchilla, and the activity can provide stress relief and comfort to your pet. Here are the detailed reasons chinchillas like to hold things.
6 Reasons Chinchillas Hold Things
While we cannot be 100% certain why chinchillas have the cute habit of holding things, here are some probable reasons.
It is A Natural Behavior Or Instinct
Chinchillas are natural foragers. They forage a complex range of items such as twigs, sticks, flowers, bark, grass, hay, etc. Some of these items are foods that help nourish them and provide them with optimum health.
Other items that chinchillas forage for are nesting materials that they carry back to their crevices or burrows. This foraging behavior is instinctive in your chinchilla. A young chin might also observe the foraging behavior of its herd mates and then indulge in it as well.
In captivity, your chinchilla loves to hold and drag its toys, twigs, sticks, etc. around its cage. The activity may seem pointless to us humans, but to a chinchilla, it is sending messages to its nervous and sensory systems and satisfying the need to forage.
For Comfort And Stress Relief
Holding things can provide great comfort to your chinchilla. Carrying things around helps give your chinchilla a sense of control.
As mentioned before, this activity sends signals to its sensory and nervous systems, which release feel-good endorphins that relieve stress in your pet.
To Chew Them
Chinchillas need to chew a lot. The continuous chewing action is necessary to wear down their ever-growing teeth. Chewing is an instinctive action that helps prevent dental issues in your chinchilla by preventing their teeth from growing too long.
Consequently, your chinchilla might carry or hold items in its hands or jaws so it can gnaw on them from time to time and satisfy the instinct to chew.
It Feels Like A Treasure Or Reward
If you have provided plenty of obstacles for your chinchilla in its cage, it might traipse around those obstacles and find some objects to hold. These objects feel just like a reward or a treasure for your small pet.
Your chinchilla might find a stick, a wooden toy, or bark that may feel like a reward for all the exertion it has undergone when running around the obstacles!
Your Chinchilla Loves The Smell
Sometimes, chinchillas hold things that smell good to them. It can be apple sticks or alfalfa cakes that smell delicious. And they also benefit your chinchilla’s teeth and digestion.
Due To Positive Reinforcement
In the past, you might have laughed, praised, or rewarded your chinchilla for holding things. These actions make your chinchilla feel encouraged to continue the behavior.
Your pet gets loving attention from you when it holds things, therefore it may continue holding things to get more attention from you.
Do Chinchillas Like To Hold Things?
Yes, chinchillas like to hold things in their hands and jaws. Holding objects is an instinct that they have hard-wired into them. The action provides them with comfort, stress-relief, and satisfaction.
Young chinchillas may also hold things because it helps them transport them from one place to another. At times, the items may smell alluring to a chinchilla, which further fuels this instinct to hold. They may even chew the items they hold.
Holding things provides a sense of control and gives confidence to a chinchilla.
Why Do Chinchillas Drop Things?
Chinchillas may drop things for a variety of reasons. The most common are:
They Lose Interest
A chinchilla might be curious about an item and may hold it, sniff it, and later decide that it is not “that interesting.” Hence, it might drop the object due to a lack of interest.
To Mark The Item
Chinchillas are territorial animals. They tend to mark the things they hold with their scent. This is also a method of communicating with other chinchillas.
Once they are done marking an item with their scent glands, they drop, knowing they have done what they can to keep other chins away from that object.
To Get A Reaction From You
If you have clapped, praised, or petted your chinchilla for dropping an item, then your pet might pick up and drop items to get the same reaction from you. You might have unknowingly “trained” your furry friend into ‘dropping’ items.
If your chinchilla is having some health issue, like muscle weakness, paralysis, or some other condition, then it might drop items frequently.
Please observe your chinchilla over the next few days. If the dropping continues or other symptoms develop, then please call your vet.
What Do Chinchillas Do When They Are Angry?
When chinchillas get angry or mad, they can show the following behaviors:
An angry chinchilla could get aggressive towards its cage-mates and humans. Aggression can occur due to an unclean cage, a cage that is too small, or a health issue.
Your chinchilla could also get aggressive due to a lack of exercise or if it is lonely. Signs of aggression in chinchillas are: biting, hissing, chasing cage mates, etc.
Angry and aggressive chinchillas may also lunge at their cage mates or even you, when you try to feed or clean their cages. Chances are that your pet is feeling threatened or stressed, which may cause it to lunge or chase away the threat. Learn how to make you chinchilla less aggressive.
If a chinchilla is angry, it might make a series of high-pitched chattering or barking sounds. In addition to such vocalizing (which is usually in short bursts of barks), your chinchilla might also appear highly stressed.
An angry chinchilla might also stand on its hind legs and spray urine on an object, a cage mate, or even you. Sometimes, they may only “warn” with this action and not actually release the urine. Female chinchillas tend to show this type of behavior more than males.
An angry chinchilla might also release a patch of fur (a defense mechanism called fur slip) when it is angry or feels threatened.
You might see a noticeable bald spot on its body. The fur can take months to grow back. Chinchillas often use the “fur-slip” when they are scared, threatened, or mad. In the wild, this behavior protects them from their predators.
How Can You Tell If A Chinchilla Is Happy?
These are some signs that your chinchilla is happy.
- It has a cheerful disposition and seems ready to play. Your pet might greet you happily when you let it out.
- It will eat its hay with enthusiasm and accept treats gratefully and happily.
- Your pet will frolic around in its dust bath when you provide one.
- It will love being held and will happily interact with you.
- Your happy chinchilla will also chatter and make happy sounds while eating or playing.
- A happy chinchilla will also climb, explore, run, and play in its enclosure and use the toys you have provided to entertain itself.
Chinchillas Holding Things: Final Thoughts
Most chinchilla like to hold things. Why chinchillas like to hold things is not 100% clear, but there are a number of possible reasons behind this adorable behavior. The 6 reasons above are the most common and likely.
In the end, it does not matter why your chinchilla holds things, as long as it is not causing any harm to itself or items you value. I love watching my chinchilla hold various objects, regardless of its motivation for doing so.
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