If you have ever witnessed a frightened lizard losing its tail, you may have been left confused, worried, or even intrigued. Shedding a limb is one of nature’s most interesting tricks and it’s reasonable to wonder how many creatures are capable of this unique self-defense mechanism.
It has come to my attention that some people are curious as to whether chinchillas are capable of losing their tails, so I decided to write this article in order to address this thought-provoking question.
Do chinchillas’ tails fall off if you pull them?
A chinchilla’s tail will not fall off if you pull it, however, it is not recommended that you pull on a chinchilla’s tail! Let’s cover some of the reasons why chinchilla tail pulling is a bad idea.
Summary of today’s article:
- Reasons not to pull a chinchilla’s tail
- Is it ever OK to hold a chinchilla by the tail?
- Will my chinchilla’s tail fall off for other reasons?
- What are some other causes of chinchilla tail injuries?
- What should I do if my chinchilla’s tail looks injured?
- Handle with care
Pulling a chinchilla’s tail is a cruel practice and should not be encouraged. Although there are people who unashamedly engage in this behavior, it should be noted that chinchilla tail pulling is unnecessary and can lead to a host of unintended consequences. Here are a few of the most common negative side effects that could result from pulling on a chinchilla’s tail.
Reason #1. You Can Hurt The Chinchilla
A chinchilla’s tail is part of their spine and contains a series of caudal vertebrae. This cute, bushy tail serves the important purpose of helping the chinchilla stay balanced while running and jumping.
Chinchillas have very fragile tails that can be prone to sprains and breaks if handled improperly. Damage to ligaments during a sprain can cause swelling and intense discomfort.
A broken chinchilla tail will typically heal with a kink where the break occurred and recovery is a very painful process for the animal. Broken bones are extremely dangerous to chinchillas as they can respond to the injury by going into shock.
Additionally, a broken tail can result in limited blood supply, causing portions of the tail to become necrotic and eventually require amputation. Although your chinchilla’s tail will not completely fall off if it is pulled, there is a possibility of the tip breaking off in extreme situations.
Any practice that can result in physical or emotional harm to your chinchilla should be avoided at all costs.
Reason #2. It Can Cause Fur Slips
Fur slips are another potential result of pulling your chinchilla’s tail. A fur slip is when the chinchilla releases tufts of fur when they feel cornered or under stress.
Fur slips are a defense mechanism designed to slow down or stop predators who may be threatening the chinchilla. The released fur will end up in the predator’s face, allowing the chinchilla time to escape capture.
It is important to understand that fur slips are a sign that your chinchilla is feeling unsafe or upset. If you were to pull a chinchilla’s tail, it is highly likely that they would resort to using fur slips as a way to express their discontent.
Pulling a chinchilla’s tail can also cause fur slips due to friction. Ripping out hair is not comfortable for anyone, so rest assured that your chinchilla will not appreciate being subjected to that experience.
Along with the loss of fur, your chinchilla could also suffer the removal of skin. The bald patches left by fur slips can last for several months and should be viewed by chinchilla caretakers as a reminder that a situation occurred which exposed their pet to endure undue stress.
Reason #3. Mishandling A Chinchilla Will Erode Trust
Chinchillas are prey animals and naturally skittish. Although they can become affectionate companions, in most cases it takes quite a while for them to form a bond with their caretaker.
Chinchilla owners must dedicate a lot of patience and time to create trust with their pet. Any situations that make your chinchilla feel afraid can easily undo all of the hard work you have put in to show that you are willing to care and nurture them.
Chinchillas are highly emotional animals with great memories. This means that they feel deeply and will remember instances where they were hurt or afraid.
It is unwise to damage the trust which has been established by something as unnecessary and harmful as pulling a chinchilla’s tail.
There are instances where it is not only safe but appropriate to hold a chinchilla by the tail. You may encounter situations where your chinchilla is not allowing you to hold them.
This can be problematic, especially if you are attempting to transport them to the vet, conduct a health inspection, or remove them from their cage for playtime. A willing chinchilla will often climb right into the palm of your hand and can gently be held around their body.
In the case of an obstinate chinchilla, the best course of action may be to hold them by the base of their tail.
The base of a chinchilla’s tail is much more sturdy than the tip, and if handled properly, no injury should result. The first thing you will want to do is avoid sneaking up on your chinchilla as this can startle them.
Gently place your fingers around the base of their tail closest to their rump and lift the back of their body up. Scoop your hand under their belly, and once they are stable, remove them from their cage.
You may encounter some resistance with this technique in the beginning, but once your chinchilla recognizes that you are not going to hurt them, they will become accustomed to the procedure.
Although a chinchilla’s tail will not easily fall off, it can become severed or require amputation due to irreparable damage. One of the most common reasons that a chinchilla loses their tail is a result of dangerous cage accessories.
If your pet’s tail becomes trapped by their cage or any items in it, they will probably experience an injury. Thoroughly research any new accessories being added to your pet’s cage to ensure that they do not contain sharp edges or small crevices.
Legs, feet, and tails are all prone to being stuck in tiny spaces, so be sure to remove any items that may pose a risk. Choose a running wheel specifically designed for chinchillas.
The best running wheels are typically made from metal and will be flat so that the chinchilla’s feet don’t get caught between bars or mesh that is found on traditional rodent wheels. Inspect any ramps that have slats to make sure that the space between them isn’t a potential hazard.
Chinchillas should never be left unsupervised and you must be hyper-aware of where they are while out for playtime. It is very easy to step on a chinchilla’s tail if you are not paying attention, and by the time you realize that this has occurred, the damage has already been done.
Make sure that your chinchilla’s play area is restricted to only people who are actually playing with the chinchilla. Don’t let other members of the household walk through the play space and be cautious of other pets who could potentially hurt your chinchilla.
Another familiar scenario is chinchilla squabbles leading to tail injuries. Cage mates may have disagreements and it’s no surprise that these arguments can lead to fights. If you have multiple chinchillas sharing a space, make sure that they get along well and are adjusted to each other before leaving them alone together.
If you notice frequent altercations, then it may be a good idea to split them up. After any fight, thoroughly inspect the chinchillas involved and be sure to address any injuries that may be present.
If you become aware of a situation where your chinchilla’s tail has been injured or think that they may be hurt, you should take them to a qualified veterinarian as soon as possible. A chinchilla with an injured tail may act lethargic, irritable, or become protective of their tail by not allowing you to get physically close to it.
You may also see signs of injury such as missing fur, bruising, or even blood. Some injuries will cause your chinchilla’s tail to become misshapen, so be on the lookout for any odd-looking crimping or changes to the curvature of their tail.
Chinchillas are bubbly and occasionally feisty pets, yet it is imperative to remember that they are also somewhat delicate. As a chinchilla caretaker, you must consider your pet’s overall health at all times and be careful while handling them.
Chinchillas have excellent recall and will respond positively when they are treated compassionately. If you take the time to study your chinchilla’s personality and learn proper handling techniques, you will enjoy a strong relationship with your furry sidekick!