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Do Chinchillas Like to Cuddle?

Last Updated: 30.03.20


There are a lot of things to consider when choosing the right pet for your family. If you are thinking about getting a chinchilla, we came to your help as we provided more info here. Most of the chinchillas don’t make good lap pets. Nevertheless, they might develop a connection with their owners and enjoy their presence. But they don’t like being restrained and handling a chinchilla requires a lot of attention. 


A chinchilla’s temperament

A lot of people consider chinchillas to be cute and cuddly. While there is no doubt about their cuteness, the majority of chinchillas don’t like to cuddle.  This should be no surprise since wild chinchillas are prey animals.

Chinchillas aren’t big fans of cuddling. Sitting still on your lap is not really an option for them. They will enjoy more to jump over your feet or to escalate your body if they have the chance. They would rather run and play than being cuddled. The closest thing to cuddling when it comes to chinchillas is light scratching and brushing.

However, there is a small chance that one of these fun and active rodents will like to snuggle up to its owner.

The best time to start bonding with your chinchilla

After approximately 8 weeks, the young chinchilla is weaned from its mother. This is the best time to check if it will like to cuddle. Missing its mother, it will be looking for a replacement and the chances of bonding with someone new are pretty big. That new companion might be you!


Make sure your chinchilla is as friendly as possible

In general, a young chinchilla will have the same temperament as its parents. To choose the one with the best temperament you might want to go to a breeder rather than a pet store. The main reason is that thoughtful breeders will be very scrupulous when selecting mating pairs. So they will have a higher chance of producing gentle chinchilla babies.

In addition to selective breeding, the young chinchillas will be regularly handled and socialized with other rodents and with humans. A chinchilla that has been socialized from a young age is more willing to interact with its new owner.


How to hold your new furry pet

You also have to be really careful when you handle one of these small, furry rodents. Avoid lifting them by their abdomen. You might hurt them since they have sensitive rib cages. Without moving suddenly, place your hand outstretched into the cage. You can put a treat into your hand. Wait until the chinchilla comes to a complete stop in the palm of your hand. 

Use the other hand to help them keep balanced as you gently lift them. You should never apply pressure or try to restrain them in any way while doing this. If chinchillas feel trapped or threatened, they will shed their fur.

There is another option to use in case you can’t handle the rodents this way. Catch the tail’s base and start lifting them slowly. Despite looking uncomfortable for them, this method doesn’t produce them any pain. Put the other hand under the belly to keep them in a more natural position.

Hold the chinchilla against your chest, allowing its legs to rest on you. Be careful as they tend to move a lot in order to get loose. You will need a lot of caution when holding a chinchilla this way. If they fall from this height, they will easily get hurt.

If you are not sure about how you should hold your new pet, ask the breeder to show you the right method. 

How to get your chinchilla used to being held

In order to get your new pet used to be held, you will need to be very patient. Firstly, put one of your hands into the cage. Without moving your hand, wait for the chinchilla to come and sniff it. Reward its courage with a treat. A great treat for chinchillas is green pea flakes or dried rosehips. 

After a while, you can try and lift the rodent. Pick it up with both hands just for a few seconds. Then gently put it back down. Reward it with another treat for letting you hold it. Slowly increase the time you hold the chinchilla. At the beginning of this training, give your chinchilla a treat every time you pick it up. This way, the chinchilla will be excited about being picked up and will look forward to it. 

After it gets used to being picked up, go ahead and place the chinchilla on your lap. While it is there, use its favorite treats to make it feel like a safe place. Just like other rodents such as hamsters and guinea pigs, chinchillas just want to know that you are not a threat and that they can feel safe around you.


Don’t lose your patience

Even if the training doesn’t go according to your plan, don’t shout or punish your furry friend. Not only they will not understand what they did wrong, but you will make them more scared. Take note that they have very sensitive hearing.

Remain patient and continue the training. After some time, the change will be very easy to notice.


How to get closer to your pet

Despite their apparent rejection of cuddling, there are ways to establish a connection with your furry rodents. First of all, make them feel comfortable. Avoid making sudden gestures or loud and startling noises. This causes them to be scared and adds up to their wish to hide away.

A lot of time is required in order for your pets to trust you. Get them accustomed to the sound of your voice by speaking (or even singing) to them.

Place one of your hands inside the cage and wait for them to come and sniff your hands. It might look like the chinchilla is biting you. But there is a difference between biting and nibbling. Chinchillas use nibbling as another way to distinguish their owners. If you are in luck and your chinchilla is more willing to be cuddled, there are some obvious telltale signs. 

When you enter the room, they will produce gentle chirps as a way to express happiness. They will also wag their tail and start running around in the cage ready to play. It is a known fact that chinchillas recognize their owner. They even have a favorite member of the adoptive family. So make sure you are the chosen one. 

Choosing the right time to interact

In general, chinchillas sleep most of the day. Sometimes, they squeeze themselves into very small spaces sleeping on their side or even upside down. They will get up to eat or to take a dust bath, but they will not engage in long and energy-consuming activities.

According to the scientific community, chinchillas are crepuscular rodents. It means that your pet will be most active at dawn and dusk. This is the best time to establish a connection with your pet. Also, chinchillas don’t like to change their daily routine so try to set a schedule for playing and dust bathing. 


How to check if your chinchilla likes you

If your chinchilla allows you to pet it inside and outside the cage, it is pretty obvious that it likes you. Remember that most of these rodents like to be scratched behind the ears and under the chin. 

Another way to test your pet’s love is to let it roam freely around a room while you are lying on the floor. But don’t expect it to fall asleep next to you as a cat would do. Your chinchilla is sort of cuddly if it snuggles against your body for a couple of minutes. Another way for the chinchilla to show its love is to hang on your shoulders or lay on your legs. 

Don’t get upset if your chinchilla isn’t really a big fan of cuddling. Keep in mind that these rodents are more explorers than snugglers.


Irina Ionescu

As a long-term learner and animal lover, Irina helps her readers find the best products and accessories for their pets, as well as the latest training techniques, tips & tricks on how to handle animals.

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