We’ve written about chinchillas before and have tackled a variety of topics from chinchilla chew toys to what makes a spacious cage good enough for this sort of animal. But in this post, we’ll tackle the types of sounds that this animal is capable of making and how you can interpret them. Like many other animals out there, chins make sounds for a variety of feelings.
If you have never been the parent of a chinchilla, you might be unfamiliar with their natural sounds. Yes, it’s true, they can make an array of sounds and the most common one of all is called a ‘barking’ sound. They do it to indicate that they are feeling scared. It is a sound mostly used to alert other chinchillas nearby that there is the possibility of danger in the area.
Another thing that you might not be aware of is that chinchillas tend to get scared quite easily, so they might make that ‘barking’ sound even as a noisy car passes next to your house, for example, or in case they hear a particularly unusual noise outside. Let’s look at several different types of sounds that chinchillas make in an attempt to better understand them.
As is the case with many other animals, chinchillas are now domesticated but they have evolved from their wild counterpart. Therefore, in nature, chinchillas had to have some kind of a language to communicate with each other and sometimes, even to show their disagreement or protest. They have a variety of sounds, however basic they might seem as they benefit from a rich variation of loudness and melody.
The warning call is one of the more common sounds you will hear your chinchilla make and it happens when something out of the ordinary has happened. It can be singular or it happens in a sequence of short and loud warning calls that can be as many as 15. A newly purchased chinchilla is more prone to emitting this sound, but as he or she gets used to the new environment, you’ll hear it less often.
Just remember, there are a lot of weird noises in a new environment, so the animal needs a bit of time to get used to them. The same type of sound can be made by a chinchilla when he or she hears a sound that you might not be able to perceive. For instance, if your windows are closed and there’s someone outside and they’ve just shut their car door, your chinchilla is going to be able to hear that, but you won’t.
Therefore, it might seem to you that your chinchilla is making sounds without any particular reason, but in reality, that happens very rarely. The barking sound we were mentioning at the beginning of the article can also be made while the chin is sleeping. Chinchillas are known to dream, and quite a lot, so it’s only natural for them to emit croaky or hoarse sounds as they imagine themselves in all sorts of situations.
Other sounds that chinchillas make are indicative of alarm, fear, or pain, or even rage and anger. The short alarm call sounds like ‘hababababapp’ according to Chris Celnar from infolific: pets and animals. Chinchillas react unpredictably to things that scare them, but in most cases, they will use the same sound for pain and fear – you will hear a piercing and loud scream all of the sudden if the animal hurts him or herself, for instance.
Chinchillas tend to fight, a lot, especially when they are babies and they have to deal with the competition for their mother’s milk. The fights can get heated rather fast, and when they do it, they threaten each other by chattering their teeth and trying to throw down their rivals. When these fights happen, you should expect the mother to become quite mad, in which case she will respond with a loud rasping noise that sounds somewhat like an angry grumble. To calm down her babies, she might even get up on her hind legs and spray urine toward the little ones so as to separate them. Urine spraying is also used by shy chins that haven’t become accustomed with the humans they have to live with.
The so-called ‘Marriage Dispute’
Because they are spirited animals, they love chewing and jumping, and even though they might live in a spacious cage, if there’s two of them, a quarrel is bound to happen at some point. This is even more likely if they do not get enough exercise in the evening. However, chins are peace-loving beings, so such squabbles can be quite rare.
Nevertheless, fights can happen, especially if a male is adamant about bothering a female. If the male provokes her by chattering his teeth, she can answer with an angry and loud grumble (somehow in the style of the one that we mentioned in the section where we talked about how she calms down her babies). Usually, if she dares to defy him by urinating on him, he leaps up and so begins a turbulent chase.
Do baby chinchillas make any sounds?
The simplest answer to this question is yes. We’ve already mentioned that in a large litter of chinchilla babies, fights can occur as they all compete for the mother’s milk. Sometimes, babies sniff at their mother to ask for attention and to signal that they want to be fed and be cared for. The mother usually answers with a somewhat calm grunt and starts licking the baby’s ears with care.
When the baby manages to crawl under the mom’s belly so as to look for the teats, the mother usually turns the baby upside down and begins washing it with her tongue. While the mother is silently grunting, the baby starts singing happily in high tones (especially after having found the teat).
What you should know is that young chinchillas are a lot more talkative compared to their full-grown counterparts. They also talk a lot with their mothers – an active conversation always happens between those two.
Other types of communication
Chinchillas that get along well will often emit a contact sound that confirms their togetherness. They will use this sound when they feel calm. However, they might make the same sound when they are feeling lonely and longing to have someone to play with.
Another type of sound that chinchillas are capable of making is called the decoy sound. This happens when the animal is searching for something or wants to have it. You might hear this sound when the chin is begging for a snack, for example, or when he or she wants to be taken out of the cage.
Other sounds that chins make reflect their protest, when they have to go into defence mode, or when they have to ask for them not to be hurt. They are also quite lovable and will make a typical sound when they miss their companion. Males or females can make sounds looking for each other when one of them has gone to see what else there is to chew on in their environment.