Chinchillas have the adorable resemblance to a large ball of fluff that you can’t help but want to squeeze! The question is, will they enjoy it? Will they even allow it? The truth is, these animals don’t necessarily like to “cuddle.” They’re more likely to climb on you, and hang out on your shoulder. Chinchillas want to run and play more than they want to be held, the closest thing to petting they enjoy is being brushed and gentle scratching. This doesn’t mean you should just give up though! Take your time, find ways to make your new pet feel more comfortable while they’re living in your home.
Interact With Your Chinchilla Frequently
The more time you spend getting to know your new pet, the happier they’ll be. Speak to them, sing to them, and allow them to hear the sound of your voice regularly. Sit by the cage, and hold your hand inside; don’t wave your hand around or pick them up forcibly. This will only scare them, and reinforce their desire to hide from you and their surroundings. They may even bite, however there is a difference between biting and nibbling. Occasionally, chinchillas nibble as another sensory way to recognize their owner. Use positive reinforcement by giving them treats and snacks when they do come to you for comfort and affection. Similar to guinea pigs, hamsters, and mice, your chin just wants to know they aren’t in any danger while in your presence.
Chinchilla Anatomy and the Proper Way to Handle Them
Chinchillas have sensitive ribcages and shouldn’t be lifted by their abdomen, lift them gently once they’ve settled in the palm of your hand. Never restrain or apply pressure when picking up your chin and use your second hand to help them balance. If you’re unable to pick them up this way, you can also lift them from the tail as it won’t cause them any harm. If they do feel threatened, they’ll quickly shed their fur. Grab the base of the tail, and as you lift place your other hand underneath your chinchilla’s belly. Keep in mind, rodents are prey animals and prefer not to be caught in general; you’ll have to put some work into gaining your pets trust, but they’ll come around eventually.
Keep An Eye Out For Health Problems
If you have a chinchilla that was comfortable with handling, petting and scratching, but suddenly shows aggression, they may be in pain. Animals who are sick, in physical pain, or have general discomfort will not want to be touched or played with. A sudden change in behavior could be a reason to call the vet; first you should examine their fur, toes, eyes, and nose if they’ll allow it. If they do try to bite, don’t risk hurting yourself and leave the rest to your veterinarian.
Since each chinchilla has their own unique personality, you may end up with one that does enjoy cuddling. It’s rare, but not completely unheard of. If your chinchilla does want attention go ahead and give it to them, just be safe and remember that they are delicate creatures to be handled with care!