Why Do Chinchillas Purr?


If you’ve just gotten a chin, you’d notice that they are delightful animals with lots of cute behaviors. They hop, they run about, and they have actual dust baths!

However, you may also have a few questions about their behavior. For example, you may be wondering why chinchillas purr. 

So, why do chinchillas purr? Chinchillas purr because of so many reasons.

A major reason is that they are afraid. If you ever see your chinchilla shaking and purring, it’s probably scared of something or someone.

Summary of today’s article:

Do Chinchillas Purr?

The answer or this may seem obvious, but it’s not. Chinchillas certainly do not purr in the same way cats are known to.

However, they do shake in a way that sounds like they are purring. Sometimes, they chatter and grind their teeth in a way that shows that they are happy— but that’s not set in stone. 

It’s not easy to figure out whether your chinchilla is shaking in a way that signifies “fear” or chattering its teeth in a way that signifies happiness. This is because, in both situations, the chin may still allow you to hold it.

A good way to figure out the distinction is to look for other signs. For example, is the chin hiding from your hands?

That’s a pretty good indication that he is scared, not happy. 

3 Reasons For Chinchilla Purring

Reason 1: They Are Scared 

Chinchillas don’t purr like cats or other pets. Instead, they shake, and you may mistake the sound that comes from this as purring. It is not. 

If you witness your chinchilla shaking, you may become quite concerned about your chin and become filled with anxiety. But you should note that your chinchilla is likely more scared than you, so you should not come off as jittery.

scared chinchilla

As humans, we are way bigger than chinchillas, and thus they have every reason to be scared of us. If your chinchilla shakes in your presence, it probably does that because it is terrified of you.

Since chinchillas aren’t domesticated, they have a natural fear of human beings. So it’s only normal that they are terrified of you. 

Shaking happens because of a shot of adrenaline that goes through your chin. When this adrenaline rush happens, the nerves that control your pet’s muscles become more sensitive.

That’s what gives the shaking reaction which may be the source of that purring sound you hear. 

But if the chinchilla is scared, why would the first thing to do be to shake? Surely, they should have some fight or flight response, right?

Well, there’s a good reason for that. The chinchilla’s brain has an important part called the amygdala.

This is the part of the brain that’s responsible for emotion and behavior. It’s also the part of the brain that processes fear— that is, it’s the part of the brain that can tell the body what to do in times of trouble. 

When the amygdala of a chinchilla processes fears, it takes over the rational brain by releasing excess adrenaline into the bloodstream. This adrenaline is very useful to the chinchilla as it makes sure it can react faster than normal to actual acts of aggression.

But adrenaline is also what causes the shaking and “purring” of your chin. 

Reason 2: Because It Is Unwell

While this isn’t too common, your chinchilla may also be purring because it is feeling ill. The link between purring and illness isn’t as established as the one between fear and purring, but it’s a possibility regardless. 

We know that there are two ways that illnesses can cause purring. The first is related to the illness that affects the muscles and nerves.

If your chin has any of these illnesses, it may start to twitch, shake or purr as a result. The second is related to poor health that may be caused by stress.

If you didn’t know that your chins can get stressed, well, now you’re aware.

So, what causes this stress? There are a lot of reasons for stress in chinchillas.

For one, they get stressed after getting sick. Illnesses like malocclusion can be painful for your chinchilla. The pain from this condition causes stress because it makes your chinchilla feel vulnerable to stress. 

Other things like lethargy, involuntary shaking and seizures could also be the reason your chinchilla is purring. 

Reason 3: Cold

Your chinchilla may purr when it is cold, but the chances of that happening are pretty slim. It’s unlikely that you would ever see that happen.

READ :  How Fast Can A Chinchilla Run?

Most warm-blooded animals shiver when it is cold. The idea behind this is fairly simple.

When these animals feel cold, they need to make their heat. And to do that, they make their muscles contract and relax continually.

This helps them burn energy and generates heat to keep the cold out.

This is a survival tactic that can be very important in keeping animals alive during extreme weather. If your chinchilla is purring as a result of this, the best thing to do is to try to make it warm.

But, again, this is unlikely to ever happen. Room temperature is about the ideal temperature for your chinchilla.

It has enough furs to keep it warm even during very cold weather. As long as it’s not out in the snow, your chinchilla should do rather well. 

How To Stop Your Chinchilla From Shaking And Purring In Fear

If your chinchilla is purring because it’s scared of you, you may feel sort of bad. But don’t be.

Chinchillas aren’t domesticated animals, so it’s only normal that your chin thinks of you as a predator. Sadly, you can’t just tell your chinchilla to stop being so scared of you.

You can’t just tell it that you’re not a threat— well, of course, you can, but it won’t listen. 

How To Stop Your Chinchilla From Shaking

Get An Hide

What you can say in words, though, you can say in actions. If you want your chinchilla to feel more comfortable with you, there are certain things you can do.

For one, you can set up a hide for it. Hides are small enclosed places where your chin can feel safe.

They come in all sorts of shapes and sizes, but that doesn’t matter. Just get one that your chin can feel safe in, and it’ll start feeling comfortable with you.

Reposition Your Chinchillas Cage

One reason why you chinchilla may be purring a lot is the location of its cage. You should ensure that your chinchilla’s cage is located somewhere that isn’t too hot or that is in direct sunlight.

You should also make sure your chinchilla isn’t in direct sunlight, and that it is in an area that isn’t too loud for your chinchilla.

For example, if you keep your chinchilla cage in the living room, or near the windows, your furry pet may be getting worked up. If people are always walking past your chinchilla’s cage, it would get scared a lot and may result in purring to show displeasure.

The same thing would happen if you keep your chinchilla near the TV set, or in the hallway or any place that isn’t quiet. Your chinchilla will get stressed by these things. 

Stop Handling Your Chinchilla So Much

Okay, we know that chinchillas are furry and may be fun to handle and play with occasionally. However, petting and cuddling your chinchilla so often isn’t a great idea.

The thing is that chins aren’t yet domesticated animals. Although they are furry and cuddly, they didn’t evolve that way to be smooth to the touch. That means your chin isn’t supposed to like being handled so much.

It doesn’t matter that you like cuddling your little pet. Your little pet may not like being cuddled back. 

So, how long should you cuddle your Chinchilla? The sensible answer seems to be once or twice a week. That sounds a lot better (for your chinchilla) than every day after work. 

So Where Should Chinchillas Be Kept? 

The ideal place for chinchillas is somewhere quiet like your bedroom, or a basement. Since these places are darker and more relaxing, your chinchilla will feel safer and more secure there. 

You Could Talk To A Vet

take your chinchillas to the vet

It’s entirely possible that your chinchilla’s shaking and purring is unrelated to fear. They may be suffering from some ailment you don’t know about.

If you’ve tried your best and still notice that your chin continues to shake and purr, it’s better that you speak to a vet about it. The vet will know whether such behavior is just regular chin shenanigans or there’s something else.

It doesn’t hurt to be on the safe side. 


There you have it. Chinchillas don’t purr as normal animals do.

Instead, they shake and make a sound that may be mistaken as purring. If you hear that sound, it’s probably because your chin is scared.

Thankfully, there are ways that you can help your chin stop being scared. You could get it an hide, reposition its cage, and stop handling it so frequently.

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