Why is it important to keep a chinchilla happy
As a chinchilla owner, the well-being of your pet is of utmost importance. A happy chinchilla is a healthy chinchilla, but how do you know when your chinchilla is happy?
Unlike most traditional domesticated animals, chinchillas can sometimes be an enigma due to their unusual behaviors.
This can present an issue for the well-meaning caretaker who is often left confused and unable to read their pet’s mood.
Summary of today’s article:
Thankfully, as chinchillas have grown in popularity over the years, many people have studied their behaviors and shared their observations.
This information has been instrumental in helping chinchilla owners provide the best care for their pets.
In this article, we will discuss some of the most common happy chinchilla behaviors and address ways to entertain your chinchilla to keep them happy.
Chinchillas have a plethora of behaviors, many of which are truly fascinating and unique! In the quest to determine if your chinchilla is happy, it’s wise to start by looking at some of the most recognizable happy chinchilla traits.
Behavior #1. Eating and drinking frequently
One of the most obvious characteristics of a healthy animal is a voracious appetite and lots of water consumption.
Your chinchilla should have plenty of high-quality pellets available to them along with a generous helping of hay at all times.
Keep an eye on how often your chinchilla is eating and make note if they are consuming less than normal. Additionally, your chinchilla should be drinking plenty of water.
Chinchillas are native to the frequently chilly climate of the Andes Mountains, hence the necessity for super dense fur that traps plenty of heat.
Water is essential to keeping your chinchilla hydrated and cool, especially during the warmer summer months.
If at any point your chinchilla stops eating and/or drinking, this may be a sign of a serious health issue and they should be evaluated by a veterinarian.
Behavior #2. Popcorning / Happy hop
Chinchillas are exuberant creatures when they are in a good mood, so it is an excellent sign if your chinchilla greets you with lots of bounces!
In their native South American habitat, chinchillas regularly hop and climb over mountainous terrain with ease.
Chinchillas are very agile animals and will frequently show their excitement by running back and forth or jumping from ledge to ledge.
You can also expect a happy chinchilla to squish their face through the bars of their cage in an attempt to elicit a head scratch or treat.
Occasionally, you may be in another room and hear a clamor from your chinchilla’s general location.
While it’s normal to be concerned about loud, unexplained noises, this is often just your chinchilla flying around in their cage and keeping themselves busy with joyful bounces.
Behavior #3. Content vocalizations
Chinchillas are capable of producing a broad range of sounds meant to express every emotion from anger and fear to contentment and serenity.
Learning your chinchilla’s vocalizations is a great way to understand their personality better and communicate with them more effectively.
The most common happy vocalizations tend to be squeaks, soft grunts, and chirps. Squeaks are often heard when a chinchilla is trying to get someone’s attention.
Your chinchilla may squeak when you walk near their cage or when they want affection.
Although chinchillas sometimes produce this sound when they feel cornered, over time you will be able to decipher the different pitches and meanings of your chinchilla’s squeaks.
Soft grunts are generally a sign of connection. Chinchillas will use this vocalization to communicate fondness towards each other as well as their owners.
When your chinchilla makes a soft grunting noise while spending time with you, consider it a huge compliment! Chirping is one of the cutest chinchilla sounds.
Chinchillas tend to chirp when they are investigating something, which can be quite often due to their curious nature. Happy chinchillas are very inquisitive, making the chirping sound a positive sign that your chinchilla is happy.
Chinchillas are intelligent, curious creatures who can be entertained in a myriad of ways.
Each chinchilla has an individual personality, however certain methods are predictable approaches to increase their happiness.
Ideally, your chinchilla will always be a pleasant ball of fluff, but if you are sensing that they may be less than satisfied, you may want to consider the following options to boost their mood.
To start off, you may also want to check out our helpful post about what do you need in a chinchilla cage.
Advice #1. Chewable delights
One of the keys to a happy and healthy chinchilla is an endless supply of items to chew.
A chinchilla’s teeth never stop growing throughout their lives and it is vitally important for them to have a way to wear them down.
Chinchillas naturally love to chew, and if not given safe items to gnaw on, they will resort to chomping on whatever is nearby.
One of the best ways to create a good chewing experience for them is to present plenty of safe, chewable objects.
This is easily accomplished by providing wooden ledges, chew toys, edible tunnels, and the occasional treat.
Check out our popular post for a list of chinchillas’ favorite chew toys.
Certain types of wood can be toxic to chinchillas, so be mindful when adding items to their environment.
Additionally, do not give your chinchilla any wood that has been treated with chemical additives or pesticides.
A few of the safest and most widely available options are bamboo, dogwood, and kiln-dried pine.
Fresh pine should be avoided! There are also many fantastic toys and chew treats made from apple and pear wood that chinchillas adore.
Another great way to help wear down your chinchilla’s teeth is to give them organic dried rose hips as an occasional treat.
Be sure to consult a vet if your chinchilla has difficulty chewing, starts drooling, or you notice that they seem to be chewing less. These may all be signs of malocclusion, a serious, but treatable condition.
Advice #2. Exploratory missions
Nothing excites a chinchilla quite like playtime!
Even though your chinchilla’s cage may be decked out with plenty of amenities, they will benefit greatly from some free time in a chinchilla proofed environment.
Chinchillas are prone to boredom if left alone for too long, so having the opportunity to interact with you in a fresh space will send them over the moon.
Don’t forget to check out our helpful article on how much playtime do chinchillas need.
This experience together will strengthen the bond you have with your pet, which is key to maintaining a happy chinchilla.
Providing a safe place for chinchillas to satisfy their natural curiosity is more simple than you may imagine.
One of the easiest ways to create an ideal play area is to set up a playpen. Small pet pens are available from many retailers and your chinchilla will have a blast with all of the extra room to run and jump.
Fill the playpen with some of their toys and tunnels to create an interesting obstacle course for them to explore and hop around on.
Another option is to use a room in your home where you can easily remove or block off anything that may be dangerous for them to chew on such as electrical cords, baseboards, and furniture.
Barricade any escape routes or places that your chinchilla may hide where you cannot reach them. Once the room is properly composed, your pet can roam the space and get a much-needed leg stretch and mental stimulation.
Advice #3. Introduce a cage mate
Although chinchillas are social animals in the wild, many will live completely fulfilled lives as solitary pets as long as they receive adequate attention from their owners.
That being said, if your chinchilla is looking a little gloomy, they may benefit from the company of a cage mate.
Introducing another chinchilla can be tricky and is not always successful. Should you go this route, remember to take it slowly and pay close attention to how the chinchillas react to each other.
Same-sex pairs can be very happy together. It is worth noting that a male and a female will produce offspring if housed together. Be mindful of any signs of aggression when introducing a new chinchilla and do not rush the process.
When housing two chinchillas together, you will want to purchase a cage that is 18 cubic feet. This will provide enough space for both of them as well as any additional chew toys and food.
Before housing them together, place the new chinchilla in the larger cage in the same room and within viewing distance of your original chinchilla.
After about a week, experiment with allowing them to learn each other’s scents by sharing bath dust.
This can be done by letting the first chinchilla take a bath, followed by the new chinchilla, and then the first chinchilla again.
After both chinchillas have gotten accustomed to each other’s smell, allow one chinchilla to wander near the other while they are still caged.
If both chinchillas look eager to bond after meeting in this way numerous times, you may then allow them to play together and eventually share a cage. Perhaps having a chinchilla companion is exactly what your pet needs to live happily ever after!