Chinchillas are intelligent animals with a wide range of emotions. There will be times when your chinchilla may become angry and behave in ways that appear peculiar. This helpful guide was designed to assist with identifying a few of the most common problems your chinchilla may be experiencing. We will also review some of the surefire signs that your chinchilla is angry while providing tips to improve your chinchilla’s overall state of mind.
Why is my Chinchilla angry?
Understanding the reason why your chinchilla is angry is the first step to solving the problem. Let’s investigate some common issues that may be causing your chinchilla to feel angry.
Possible reason #1. Their cage is too small
Often when a chinchilla feels irritable, they are responding to living in too small of a cage. Chinchillas require room to hop and explore, so a cage that is too small will cause unnecessary stress. Tight quarters can make a chinchilla feel trapped and they will not be able to relax. Humans can become grumpy if they are feeling cooped up and chinchillas are no different!
Possible reason #2. They feel threatened
Chinchillas will become defensive when they feel threatened. In the wild, chinchillas are prey animals and are always on the lookout for danger. Chinchillas are very sensitive to changes in their environment, and they may react to unfamiliar sights, smells, or sounds.
Loud noises tend to upset them and make them feel skittish. Chinchillas are very observant and know the members of their household.
It is common for a chinchilla to become frightened of an unfamiliar person, especially if the stranger approaches them in a way that feels intimidating. Additionally, improper handling is a very common reason for a chinchilla to react aggressively.
Read this post to find out more about how to help a stressed chinchilla.
Possible reason #3. They are lonely
Chinchillas get frustrated if they are lonely. In their natural habitat, chinchillas live in large herds of up to 100 individuals! That is a big social circle, and a chinchilla’s survival often depends on their relationship with other members of their herd.
It’s important for everyone to stay close to each other and communicate effectively in case a predator is nearby. Being a social animal is greatly beneficial to chinchillas in the wild and they maintain this instinct even while living in domesticated situations.
Chinchillas form a strong bond with their owners and derive much happiness from interactions with them. If a chinchilla is feeling neglected, they will often act out in an attempt to get attention and also as a way to express displeasure with being ignored.
If you ever need to leave your chinchilla for a short period, read this post about How Long can Chinchillas be Left Alone.
Signs of an Angry Chinchilla
It’s very easy to spot an angry chinchilla. Here are some of the most prevalent behaviors.
Sign #1. Urine spraying
Spraying is a sure sign that a chinchilla is mad. The chinchilla will stand on their hind legs, then thrust their hips forward to get a good aim at their target before releasing a spray of urine. Sometimes this action is only meant as a warning and the chinchilla may assume their spraying stance, but not release any urine.
Frequently, the chinchilla is very quick to stand and the surprise spraying happens in the blink of an eye. Some chinchillas will also make agitated vocalizations while performing this maneuver. While urine spraying is seen in both male and female chinchillas, it is the females who exhibit the behavior most often and have the best aim.
Sign #2. Barking
A chinchilla bark is an extremely unique sound and often used to express displeasure. In the wild, barking serves to warn the herd of danger. Chinchilla barks may also be a warning to anyone who is invading their space. This vocalization is generally very loud and comes in a series of short bursts, often ten or more barks in a row! A chinchilla bark is very recognizable as it stands out from other vocalizations.
Sign #3. Fur slips
Fur slips are a very obvious sign that a chinchilla has been angered. Fur slips are different from natural shedding and are characterized by large patches of fur being released.
A bald spot will be visible on the chinchilla’s body after this occurrence, although the missing fur will typically grow back within a few months.
This is a great defense mechanism as chinchilla fur is the densest of any animal (up to 120 strands per follicle), creating a massive floating ball of fluff when released.
The giant fur tuft will end up flying in the face or mouth of predators who may be pursuing them. This unusual defense mechanism gives the chinchilla an opportunity to escape.
Chinchillas who are being chased around the house, backed into a corner, or forcible handled will frequently have fur slips. This behavior should be taken very seriously as a sign that the chinchilla is not happy and under a large amount of stress.
How to Calm a Chinchilla Down
Now that you have identified the reason why your chinchilla is acting out, it’s time to help them calm down. Here are a few techniques that have been shown to return an angry chinchilla to a state of bliss.
Tip #1. Provide an optimal cage setup
If your chinchilla is upset, make sure that you are providing an optimal cage setup where they can thrive and relax. Verify that your chinchilla’s cage is at least 12 cubic feet (2′ x 2′ x’ 3′).
This size allows plenty of room for the chinchilla to run, jump, and climb. Happy chinchillas have a ton of energy and will need space to bounce around and stay active. In their natural habitat, chinchillas are incredible climbers!
Your chinchilla’s cage should be equipped with wooden ledges at various levels. Chinchillas love ledges that are spaced far enough apart that they can hop from one to the other.
Make sure that your chinchilla’s bedding is changed regularly and keep everything in their cage clean. Chinchillas tend to be very light sleepers and you will want to avoid disturbing them while they are sleeping.
Provide tunnels for them to burrow in and plenty of areas in their cage to avoid bright lights while resting.
Read up on our popular post on how to create the optimal chinchilla cage setup. In that post, you will find 10 awesome tips on how you can create the perfect home for your beloved pets.
Tip #2. Create a safe environment
One of the best methods to calm an angry chinchilla is to create an environment that makes them feel safe. Bonding with your chinchilla is vital and you will want them to trust you. This is best done by making them feel secure every time they have contact with you or others in your household.
If your chinchilla looks agitated, speak to them in a soothing voice and pay close attention to their body language as well as your own. Do not try to force them to interact with you and give them some space if they act like they want to be left alone. Chinchillas are very social, but often want attention on their terms.
A good trick is to remain within their view, but focus on something other than them like reading or working on a project. Chinchillas are very inquisitive, and will often become so curious about what you are doing that they will forget to be mad!
Playing music is a fantastic way to help create a calming environment for your chinchilla. When a chinchilla is pleased with a musical selection, they will often jump, play, and make joyful vocalizations. Have fun experimenting to see what types of music your chinchilla prefers!
Tip #3. Playtime
Chinchillas can become distressed when they have pent up energy and exercise is a great way to calm them.
Although your chinchilla’s cage should be equipped with a myriad of toys, ledges, and perhaps even a chinchilla safe wheel, this may not be enough exercise for your pet.
Supervised playtime in a chinchilla proofed room is an excellent way to let your chinchilla get some additional activity, explore the environment outside of their cage, and also bond with you.
By the way, don’t forget to check out this popular post to find out how much playtime do chinchillas need.
A fun game to play with your chinchilla is to sit or lie on the floor and let their curious nature kick in. They will perceive you as non-threatening and feel comfortable walking on you, nibbling your toes, or even nuzzling in your hair.
All of these actions are a sign of affection and will go a long way in building trust. A good guideline for adult chinchillas is a minimum of 30 minutes of playtime per day.
If your chinchilla is reluctant to return to their cage, or they still appear to have a ton of energy to burn, be flexible and allow them to stay out a bit longer.
Tip #4. Give them a dust bath
Dust baths are an enjoyable and calming activity for chinchillas. You would be hard-pressed to find a chinchilla who can resist a bath, even while angry!
If your chinchilla seems on edge, try placing a dust bath house in their cage. By doing this you are still giving your agitated pet their space, but providing something that will appreciate. After a nice relaxing bath, your chinchilla will be calm and you will be back in their good graces!
Bonus tip: Check out our super helpful guide on chinchilla dust bath to make sure you learn all those best practices!
Tip #5. They deserve a treat
What is better than a nice and healthy treat after dust bath? Chinchillas love treats, and this is a fail-safe sure-fire method to cheer an unhappy chinchilla up.
However, be mindful not to give them too much treat, or else health issues may become your next situation to tackle!