Do Chinchillas Bite? What To Do When That Happens?


Chinchillas are skittish and sensitive animals that have just a few defense mechanisms to help them survive in the wild. One of them is their teeth, which they use not only in self-defense but also in expressing emotions.

It is not uncommon for a chinchilla to bite its owner, you just have to recognize what that bite meant and how to behave after it. A bite is delivered in self-defense, whereas a nibble would be the type of biting behavior, which expresses emotions and is very different from aggression.

If you get a bloody wound after your chinchilla bites you, you should wash the wound and dress it up. 

While chinchillas do bite, there are signs that will show you whether the bite was a sign of aggression or affection. If your chinchilla bites down hard, causing pain and piercing the skin drawing blood then you can be certain it is a sign of aggression.

If your chinchilla is giving you mild bites or nibbles it is trying to communicate with you and you have to notice what your pet is telling you.

Summary of today’s article:

Why Do Chinchillas Bite?

Chinchillas use their teeth to communicate and explore the world. Chinchillas deliver painful bites when they feel threatened and scared, usually resulting in a bloody wound. Chinchillas nibble on objects in their surroundings exploring the textures and tastes from the objects and your hand might just end up being explored in such a way.

Chinchillas groom each other with gentle nibbles and if you are lucky enough to have a great bond with your pet, you or most likely your hand will be groomed with gentle nibbles too.

1. From Aggression And Fear

Chinchillas are gentle skittish animals that usually run away and hide when they feel attacked or threatened. A caged chinchilla might not have a lot of hiding places or a lot of room to escape the “attacker” and if it feels it has no other choice – it will result in a painful bite.

So if you are trying to catch your chinchilla and it is running away from you that will be your first hint to leave your pet alone until it feels more comfortable to be handled and petted. Rather than catching it, you should put your hand in the cage and wait for your pet to approach it when it is ready.

If you take your pet out of its cage at a time when it is not in the mood, you could get bitten. Be wary of when you are handling your pet or how you are handling it because if your chinchilla does not like it – it will bite.

Avoid poking your fingers through the cage as it might agitate your pet if it is not used to being cuddled in such a way. Not all painful bites will result in a bloody wound but chinchillas teeth are capable of delivering really painful “dry” pinches which are also signs to let your pet be.

a sign of aggression

2. From Curiosity And Exploring

Not all bites from your pet chinchilla will be painful. Some of them might even seem playful, if they seem like they are playful – they probably are. Chinchillas explore their surroundings by taking bites and nibbles from various objects.

These bites give them information if they are biting into food, chewing material or materials that are not satisfying to gnaw at. When you handle your pet make sure your hands are clean and do not smell like food as your pet will probably have a go at your fingers trying to taste that food it is smelling.

If you are handling your pet and you get a bite that is more surprising than hurtful, make sure that your pet is comfortable and held properly or let your chinchilla have a run for it – this kind of bite is a warning sign for you to take notice of what is happening and change it. 

3. From Expressing Emotions

Chinchillas also bite each other. Multiple gentle bites and tugs on the fur of its cage-mate are called nibbles and are an act of grooming and showing positive emotions.

Chinchillas will groom each other when they are comfortable, happy and loved and the same goes to grooming their owner. If your chinchilla starts nibbling on your hand while you are handling it, you should be content.

Your pet is showing you love and comfort as you are part of its family. Nibbles can be painful to a certain point but they should not be mistaken for signs of aggression.

READ :  Can Chinchillas And Rabbits Live Together?

Nibbles are continuous small surface bites with some sniffs from your pet, whereas an aggressive bite is one quick and painful blow to the skin. The reason why nibbles hurt us sometimes is because the skin on our hands are quite delicate and full of nerve endings giving them more sensitivity.

If your chinchillas grooming nibbles start being hurtful do not pull away your hand, instead just return the favor by giving your pet some nice scratches under the chin and chest, behind the ears and around its face.

What To Do When Your Chinchilla Bites?

What To Do When Your Chinchilla Bites

It is very important to understand where the bite is coming from so that you can react accordingly. If you get a bite that is painful and gives you a wound it is a clear sign that your actions were threatening to your pet or that possibly your pet is not comfortable or happy. 

Meet The Basic Needs Your Pet Has

To make your pet more comfortable make sure that its cage is kept in a quiet part of the house, at an optimal temperature and humidity level. Your pet will need fresh water, good quality food and hay with occasional treats to help it bond with you more easily.

A lot of chew toys and places to hide will help your pet be busy during the night and have places where it can relax and rest. Do not forget about the exercise and playtime, as it is very important for your pet’s wellbeing.

After the basic needs are met, you can look into other reasons why your chinchilla would bite you. 

Let Your Chinchilla Get To Know You

Let Your Chinchilla Get To Know You

Your chinchilla might not be comfortable with you or it may not trust you. There is no shortcut in getting your chinchilla to like you, you will have to have patience and a keen eye out for your chinchillas’ moods.

The best way to build trust with your chinchilla is to come often to its cage and speak softly so that it can get used to your presence and associate that you being there is no threat to it. Occasionally put your hand in the cage and wait for your chinchilla to come and check it out, giving you a soft nibble and tasting you.

You can try and gently turn your hand in order to give your pets scratches but if your chinchilla does not feel comfortable with this, it will let you know. 

Take Care Of The Wound And Don’t Give Up

Although being bitten by your pet is not a pleasant experience both physically and emotionally, you should not be discouraged because relationships take work and it will pay off in the long run. If you get a bloody wound just wash it off with water and dress it up with some antiseptic spray and a Band-Aid.

Although these wounds can bleed profusely because chinchillas have long, sharp teeth and can deliver a painful strong bite, the wound will not cause you any major problems except the discomfort from the pain and while waiting for it to heal. Chinchillas bites will rarely get infected if addressed right away but wounds are susceptible for bacterial growth and if your wound starts swelling, having a bad smell or oozing puss just visit your doctor and he will recommend an antibiotic treatment that will fix the problem right away.

Being bitten from your chinchilla does not mean you will never gain the trust of your pet or that you should stop trying to bond with your chinchilla. Some chinchillas need more time than others to gain trust in their owners and this will take time but it is manageable and will happen, so arm yourself with patience, courage and occasional treats.

Final Thoughts

A very important piece of advice is that you should not pull your hand away if you get bitten. Even from painful bites you should try to restrain yourself from reacting as you letting out loud noises (screams) or pulling your hand suddenly will lead your chinchilla to think it is under attack, that you are a threat and that biting is an effective way to get rid of you.

This will take practice from your side but if you get bitten try to remain calm, chinchilla bite wounds heal and your courage now will be repaid from a strong and loving bond you will build with your pet once you start understanding and trusting one another.

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