Chinchillas are fascinating small creatures with remarkable behavioral characteristics. The majority of these characteristics can be pretty amusing to witness. Consider the traditional chinchilla dust bath or how they learn to trust and respect their owners through distinct gestures and body language.
However, some of their behaviors, such as chinchilla tremors and twitches, can be rather alarming to their owners. You’re undoubtedly curious as to why they do it.
Fear and anxiety are the primary causes of chinchillas shaking. They will begin to experience tremors of varying degrees if they are worried or terrified.
Fear creates a rise in adrenaline levels, making muscles and nerves very sensitive. If you’re sure your chinchilla isn’t fearful or anxious, disease could be to blame.
The information below will explain why your chinchilla may be shaking and how you may help.
Summary of today’s article:
It’s possible that a chinchilla’s head shaking isn’t due to fright. Chinchillas are well-known for tilting their heads. They may do this due to irritated ears or a build-up of dust in their nasal passage, resulting in a series of (adorable) sneezes.
Ear infections are another prevalent reason, and they may also be the cause of itchy ears. An ear infection causes discomfort and irritation inside a chinchilla’s ears, causing them to twist their head from side to side.
Chinchillas usually cater to the ear that is bothering them by rubbing it with their paws or against surfaces in their cage, rather than shivering in terror. Ear infections are frequent in chinchillas and should not be cause for concern.
However, they can produce moderate fevers, so a trip to the veterinarian is strongly advised. The veterinarian will be able to clean their ears thoroughly and safely and prescribe antibiotics if necessary.
Tail wagging is an indication of a happy chinchilla, just like it is for most other animals. Some people believe that chinchillas aren’t as excitable as larger pets (cats, dogs, and so on), yet this couldn’t be further from the reality.
Chinchillas have incredible memories and can learn to recognize their owners visually and through their sense of smell. When they are excited, they will wag and twitch their tail.
Male chinchillas, on the other hand, may be shaking and flicking their tails for different reasons. When a male chinchilla smells a female nearby, his tail begins to wag and twitch in an attempt to attract the female’s attention. It’s an effort to win the female’s approval as a compatible mate, and it’s rather cute to see.
Shaking When Being Held
When a chinchilla shivers when you pick it up or hold it, it’s usually because it’s frightened of you. Chinchillas are heavily preyed upon in the wild.
When you hold a chinchilla that isn’t used to you, it stimulates the “fight or flight” response that is firmly ingrained in their instincts, resulting in a spike of adrenaline. Consider this: the only time they’d be “picked up” in the wild would be if they were being carried away by a predator.
But the bottom line is that we, as humans, are far larger than they are. This can be terrifying for them, especially if you haven’t completely earned their trust. They realize how much stronger you are compared to them, which may lead them to tremble with anxiety.
It’s also worth remembering that chinchillas aren’t technically domesticated animals. It has taken thousands of years for other pets, such as cats and dogs, to intergrade and fully get accustomed to human touch and interaction.
Chinchillas and other rodent creatures have not been domesticated to that extent. If your chinchilla is afraid of being held, they may also exhibit other strange habits, such as spraying. When they feel threatened, they will urinate in your general direction.
If your chinchilla quivers when you lift it up, don’t be disheartened. They will learn to trust you via careful practice and loving repetition. They might even become charmed and delighted to be held by you! Although not every chinchilla will enjoy being held, no matter how much they trust you.
Should I Be Worried?
Chinchillas May Shake When Feeling Affectionate
You shouldn’t typically be alarmed by this behavior, which is a characteristic that most tiny creatures share. However, it’s never a bad idea to stay alert and see if there are any other underlying causes.
Chinchillas, despite their small stature, are incredibly affectionate toward their owners and other people they trust. They build strong bonds that cause them to do something known as the “chinchilla purr”.
This isn’t the same as a cat’s purr, but it’s comparable in that it causes their small bodies to vibrate mildly when they’re feeling extra lovey. Chinchillas often chatter their teeth when they are relaxed and joyful, resulting in this “purr.”
Do Chinchillas Shake or Shiver When Cold?
Chinchillas are masters at trapping and holding heat to keep their bodies comfortable. They don’t have all that fluff for nothing, after all. It’s not impossible, though, for their body temperature to dip below a safe range.
Chinchillas are usually perfectly fine at room temperature, and they can survive in much colder temperatures than that. However, it isn’t ideal.
If you’re concerned about the temperature in their cage being too cold at night, drape a blanket over it to keep them warm. Just don’t overdo it to the point of overheating them.
When Chinchillas are climbing, they will shake and quiver when establishing a sound footing. You may have noticed this already if your chinchilla, like most, is a classic shoulder companion. They’re merely trying to keep their balance—a strategy for maintaining their equilibrium.
This is especially true when they’re climbing on top of their cage or above your head. This behavior is nothing to worry about.
1. Keep Handling to a Minimum
Chinchillas are so soft and cuddly that it’s difficult not to want to pick them up and cuddle them. However, just because you like, it doesn’t imply that they will. Remember that we are 100 times larger than they are, and for some chinchillas, being picked up by a human can be a very traumatic experience.
If you hold them too much, they may develop a phobia of you, so minimize physical contact to roughly twice a week to lessen their stress.
This does not imply that there will be no contact. You can still be close to them, but don’t pick them up or pull them in close.
2. Give Them Proper Housing
Even though they are safe inside their cage, make sure they have private housing. Chinchillas frequently require small enclosures to provide them a sense of security.
Chinchillas are burrowing creatures, so providing them with a tiny, private spot to go to can help them cope with the stress of the outside world. Hides are a standard purchase for chinchillas, and it looks like a natural burrow that they would dig in the wild. They are available in a variety of sizes and styles. Make sure it’s in the easiest-to-reach area of their cage.
3. Careful Cage Positioning
The placement of a chinchilla’s cage can have a significant impact on how stressed they are. Although they are sociable animals, keeping them in a cage in a busy area of your home can force them to be continuously on alert.
They may experience persistent stress if their cage is placed in a location with constant activity, such as the living room or a hallway. Also, make sure it’s not too hot or cold for them, and keep the cage out of direct sunlight. Chinchillas enjoy dark, quiet places like basements or bedrooms, so make sure their cage is not in direct sunlight.
Unfortunately, there are instances when your chinchilla shakes due to an injury or illness rather than stress and anxiety.
Although no extensive research has been done on this, we know that when chinchillas are uncomfortable, they tremble.
A variety of medical issues can cause stress. If you can’t find a physical problem, your chinchilla may be suffering from a disease or illness that causes them to tremble as a coping technique.
Ear infections lead chinchillas to shake and twitch their heads due to the pressure, as we previously discussed. Antibiotics and proper ear cleaning techniques delivered by trained professionals are frequently required to treat these infections. It may be time for a check-up if you see the chinchilla focusing its attention on one ear (or both).
This condition is frequent in rodents and is known to induce tremors and shakes. Malocclusion occurs when a chinchilla’s teeth become excessively long and start pointing in opposite directions.
This eventually causes abnormalities in their jaws as well as uncomfortable strain on their gums. Chinchillas will grind their teeth to cope with the discomfort, causing mild to severe shaking, even though this ailment may take weeks to observe. A visit to the veterinarian is recommended if you notice your chinchilla shaking and grinding its teeth regularly.
The Bottom Line
Chinchillas are naturally cautious creatures, so trembling or shaking shouldn’t be a cause for concern. They are easily intimidated, which might cause them to become agitated, resulting in tremors and shaking. However, there are a variety of methods you can use to assist them in reducing their tension and relaxing.
However, as previously stated, shaking could indicate something more serious, such as a disease or injury. If you suspect these tremors are the result of something more serious, please seek professional advice.