KNOW YOUR NEW CHINCHILLA by Marie Date
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( written through personal experience)
Okay, so your
new arrival is sitting there in their brand new shiny cage; staring out
at you with large round bright eyes
the big question is - what do you do next?
are a naturally shy animal, so reaching in and trying to scoop your new
pet out from their new home is a definite NO, this type of
incident will only result in the poor Chinchilla being terrified of you
from the very start, and will more likely end up with you being sprayed
with urine or spat at!
(Not a nice trait of the
Chinchilla but take into account that these are it’s natural
‘defence tactics’ when living in the wild!)
the number 1 golden rule when befriending your Chinchilla is:
Never try to rush
The process will take time and patience on your side and theirs, you
both have to learn about each other and build up a trusting relationship
begin with, leave your new furry friend to settle into its new home at
first, and try to realise that your Chinchilla not only has to adapt to
you, but they also have found themselves in a totally new environment
too, it will take time to settle down.
Routine is important to
Chinchillas, so keep to the same time of day (preferable evenings around
6-7pm) for feeding and changing the water bottles, and also eventually
TRUST IN YOUR CHINCHILLA
talk to your pet as you pass the cage repeating her name, then a couple
of times a day you can offer her a small titbit (Raisins
are a confirmed favourite of all Chinchillas and a great bribery tactic!
– it doesn’t have to be a whole raisin at first – just half,
remember too many raisins can cause diarrhoea, but 1-2 raisins as a
treat each day is fine)
Just offer the treat to her through the cage bars at first, talking
continuously to let her know you’re there and as not to frighten her
with any sudden movements.
Always move slowly when
approaching the cage. I also make a noise when feeding treats almost
like a blowing kisses noise, I know this may sound silly, but now each
time I make this noise the Chinchillas associate it with having a treat
and come running to the side of their cages eagerly. It is best if you
can resist the urge to open the cage door and stroke them at this early
point, continue the ‘treat approach’ for a few days and see how they
react to you. If she’s showing signs of becoming braver then you can
move onto the next step, bravery on a chinchillas part is when they are
quick and eager to come running up to the cage for treats, and maybe
being just a little ‘cautious’ of you but willing to brave it for
that special raisin!
Armed with a raisin, open
the cage door very carefully; talking all the time to your chinchilla -
offer the treat to them very slowly, extending your hand towards her
nose, hopefully she will take it from your hand fairly quickly and will
either eat it there or run to a corner, but chinchillas are naturally
curious animals so it’s more than likely they will feel compelled to
investigate your hand - just be careful that she doesn’t nip your
fingers as she’ll be searching for another raisin & your fingers
will smell of them. You can also try to gently tickle under the chin or
behind the ears as most chinchillas enjoy this and it is a good way of
letting them know you, your smell and also the ‘association’ of you
related to that nice treat they get!
Once you have done this a few times and you feel confident that your
chinchilla is ready to explore further than just your hand, generally
they might start climbing up your arm by now looking for new ground to
This is a sure sign that you can move onto the next stage, the removing
of your new Chinchilla from their cage. An exciting development!
If you are lucky enough to
have your Chinchilla’s cage positioned in the room where she will be
exercised, then the next stage will be all that much easier for you to
complete; just slowly open up the cage door talking softly to your
chinchilla to encourage them to leave the cage, you can always use the
‘old faithful’ raisin bribe here again and reward them with this
titbit when they do leave their safe haven to investigate, the best idea
is to cut some raisins in half to make smaller treats as at this stage
of befriending your chinchilla treats are a big help and you don’t
want a chubby Chinchilla from the start! Another good treat that is
‘chinnie’ safe is Quaker oats; just one oat is a good ‘bribe’
and ‘reward’ – not too many though, as they can cause constipation
– especially in a new and young chinchilla.
However, for myself, my own
five chinchillas play in a separate room to where their cages are
located. I’ve successfully used the following method on all 5 of my
Chinchillas (including my rescues).
I use a standard size pet
carrier, as shown in the pictures below
it level with the cage door so that the Chinchillas can jump easily into
it; this method also has its advantages when vet visits are necessary!
They can then be carried effortlessly through to their exercise room
without having caused them any undue stress whilst trying to catch them
in their cage. Then once in the room just open the door to the pet
carrier and the method is the same from here on in as if you have opened
their cage door! Once your little furry friend is out in the open space
always make sure you leave either the cage/carrier door open so that
your chinchilla can have a safe haven to bolt to should they become
frightened by anything. Place several play items around the room, these
can also act as safe places to run and hide.
you can see from the picture below that I use cardboard boxes and a
product called Fiddlesticks which Malibu & Cleo are happily munching
important feature of their play room has to be their dust bath.
Some people use a wide variety of containers for this purpose including;
biscuit tins, washing-up bowls, goldfish bowls etc, etc.
I personally use a yellow
storage box, which Beano is modelling for you below!
Jaffa my brown velvet, is also pictured in a washing-up bowl style
The special chinchilla dust
is available from most pet shops.
secret to ensuring your Chinchilla has a happy and relaxed playtime is
to make sure you sit very quietly and still; you will find that
eventually they will come and explore you by jumping all over you
exploring - and maybe nibbling you gently.
young Nephew demonstrates here, (with the aid of Pepa my grey) how to
sit quietly and let your Chinchilla come to you; any sudden movements
will frighten them and send them running for cover. Eventually you will
discover that you can gently build up to stroking your Chinchilla while
they are out during playtime and in time
pick eventually pick them up.
move like lightening and turn very quickly whilst on the run; try not to
give chase, as this will only alarm your Chinchilla and more than likely
cause them stress. Just wait patiently until they are close enough for
you to pick them up, then do so quickly by placing both hands
around their body firmly but gently: remembering that they have a very
delicate little body underneath all that lovely thick fur, their ribs
are quite delicate and held too tightly will easily break.
Support your chinchilla underneath; it is important to let them feel
secure with you at all times
The best method is to lift
them in towards your body as shown on the pictures below
A chinchilla held
underneath for comfort
A chinchilla held
safely towards the body
chinchilla feels it has being handled roughly it will slip some of its
fur, this is a natural defence mechanism to assist the Chinchilla in
escaping from its handler – or in the wild - a predator.
Literally it means it has
the ability to leave the handler with a handful of its fur rather than
Chinchillas are not what you would term ‘cuddle’ pets, they may look
it with their beautiful fur coats but they very much prefer to run free!
In time they will be happy
to climb all over you and allow themselves to be stroked. Once your
Chinchilla becomes used to you and learns that you mean them no harm,
you can build up a special and trusting relationship with your pet
They really are such wonderful and amusing little animals; I have to
smile to myself each evening when I enter the room around 8pm and see 5
furry little faces peering at me expectantly waiting for their exercise.
pet needs is time and patience and you can have a furry friend for