Socializing a Chinchilla

Chinchillas are naturally social.  This means that they have the potential to bond strongly to their human owners with time and proper handling.  When you first get a new chinchilla, it is important to take it slow and help your chin get comfortable with you.  Chins that are not properly socialized can become scared of humans and may avoid you or become prone to biting.

 

Number1FINALWhen you first bring your new chinchilla home, DO NOT attempt to hold him or play with him!  Your new chinchilla is scared and stressed.  They have just moved to a totally new environment with sounds, smells, and sights that they have never been exposed to before.  Let your chinchilla have at least 2-3 days to get used to his new home without being bothered.  Give him a hiding spot inside his cage – a small cardboard box or a dust bath house works well.  This will help him feel safe and comfortable.

 

Number2While your chinchilla is adjusting to his new home, sit next to his cage and talk to him every once in a while.  This will help him get used to your presence and the sound of your voice.  Play soft music when you aren’t in the room so that your chinchilla is not sitting in silence.  If your chinchilla is curious, you can let him smell your hand, but remember not to make sudden movements and do not try to pick him up just yet.

 

Number3On day 3, take the hiding spot out of the cage.  Let your chinchilla explore his cage and get comfortable with being out in the open.  Continue to sit next to his cage and talk to him.  Open the cage and set your hand inside.  Do not try to pet your chinchilla or chase him around the cage with your hand!  Just put your hand inside the cage and wait for him to come to you.  Chinchillas are very curious – even if your chinny is scared at first, he will come and investigate once he feels safe.  If you want, you can put a treat in your hand so that your chinny finds something yummy when he comes up to you!

 

Number4Continue to spend a little bit of time with your new chinchilla each day.  Start taking his hiding spot out of the cage for longer periods of time before putting it back in.  You want your chin to be comfortable in their cage with or without a hiding spot.  Once they are comfortable with this, you can keep the hiding spot in their cage more permanently.  This way, they have a place to sleep and hang out but they aren’t spending all of their time hiding away from the outside world.

 

Number5When your chinchilla seems comfortable with you, you can pick him up and take him to a play area to get some exercise and bond with you.  To pick up your chinchilla safely, you must NEVER grab him around the middle!  Chinchillas have very delicate rib cages and it is very easy to accidentally hurt your chinchilla this way.  The proper way to safely pick up a chinchilla is to hold them by the base of the tail.  Their tails are very thick and strong, and although it might seem strange, holding them by the tail does not hurt them.  You can also pick them up by scooping both hands underneath them.  This is more difficult to do, especially if your chinchilla is not very familiar with you.

 

Number6Socialization is a life-long process.  Once your chinchilla is comfortable with you, be sure to continue spending time with him each day.  This will keep him happy and healthy and will keep him comfortable with being handled.  The more quality time you spend with your chinchilla, the easier it will be to handle him and play with him.