Chinchilla care starts with ensuring they are healthy and happy. Ensure they are fed correctly and that you can provide a suitable environment. Let any new chinchilla settle in to their new home for at least a week before handling. Ensure the cage is in a good location that helps keep them relaxed.
A noisy environment with lots of people and other pets moving around can be quite upsetting as chinchillas have sensitive hearing and your chinchilla may feel more defensive in these circumstances.
- Choose your moment: chinchillas are most active at dawn and dusk and won’t appreciate being woken up from sleep – they need a good 12 hours in darkness to rest properly. Wait until they are eating or playing before handling.
- Spend time near the cage and use your voice so they become accustomed to you.
- Don’t offer treats through the cage bars as this can provoke biting of fingers in the future.
- Offer treats near your hand with the cage door open and wait for the chinchilla to approach you.
- Once your chinchilla is taking treats from close to your hand, place the treat on your hand.
- When the chinchilla is standing on your hand to take the treat, work up to scooping up your chinchilla for gentle handling. Keep them cupped in one hand with another over their back to prevent them jumping.
- Ensure there is a soft surface underneath in case they fall.
- Let your chinchilla explore your arms and legs while you are sitting down. You can offer treats at this time too to create positive associations.
- It can take two weeks to two months before you have succeeded in taming your chinchilla.
- If you rush things or your chinchilla is startled, they may show signs of stress, including repetitive behaviours, urine spraying or fur slip. Go back to an early stage of the process and slowly build up again.
- Your pet will soon become accustomed to being handled appropriately and do keep in mind that young chinchillas that are handled from a young age are the most amenable.