How to Adjust to a New Home

One of our readers recently moved and describes the following situation with her chinchilla:

We have had our Chinchilla for about 6 months, and when we brought him home everything was normal. We recently moved and now he is making noises at night. The first 2 nights after making sounds every couple of hours I finally went and slept in the same room as him and he was quiet after that. Then a couple of nights went by with nothing, now he has started again. I looked up the noises and found that they were stress related, but it has been over a week. Is there anything I can do to help him relax into his new home?

Our advice to Krysten:

We're sorry your chinchilla is having a hard time adjusting. The first thing to realize is that chinchillas can be made nervous by the oddest of things. It seems like we could crash plates all around ours and they won't react. Yet, if we shuffle our feet suddenly across the floor they'll go running. Ours also don't like the sound of rain or wind and on such days will stay in their cage.

A couple of things to consider:

  • Are there any noises outside of the house? Chinchillas have good hearing so they may be hearing things that don't register with you. A dog in the distance? Raccoons or cats fighting?
  • Does your chinchilla have enough room to run around in your new home? Ours will sometimes "bark" if we're out for the evening and don't have a chance to run around before we go to bed.
  • Do you still have time to play with your chinchilla? Or has the move sapped all of your free time? Your chinchilla may be missing you.
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21 Comments

  1. Hello i am considering adopting my neighbors 2 chinchillas. They have slept over for three nights now and this morning i woke up and their exercise wheel fell from the 2nd level tear to the bottom of the cage, luckily I had left their cage door open and I couldn't find either of them, after 20 minuets of searching i found them and now they wont even let me get close to them ....I s there no hope?

  2. How can I stop my chinchillas from getting bored in thier cage when I'm at school? Is there anything I can do to entertain them? Also, my chinchilla's look as though they are the same sex, although when we bought them we were told that they were brother and sister. How can you tell the difference?

  3. my small animal class is looking for a new animal, i want to know if a chinchilla would be good for a class setting

    • Chinchillas are nocturnal they like to sleep and rest during the day. So unless your class is after 6-7pm I would not recommend it. Guinea pigs would be better I think, they are friendly.

    • I woulodnt suggest it for a class setting because chinchillas are nocturnal and the noise of a classroom would be bothersome to it, as well as chinchillas dont enjoy being held or pet for long period of time so the interaction with kids would be stressful or limited. I would highly suggest a rat as a classroom pet, rats are clean and actually enjoy human company a lot more willingly also they are highly unliklly to bite :] I have chinchillas and rats and i love them both for their differences.

  4. hi. we have bought two new chinchillas (females) from two different breeders, both about 2.5 months old. one of them is very active inside the new cage, while the other one in sitting in their wooden box without getting out for two days now. she's eating and drinking normally, though her droppings are more wet then normal. she's also barking at the other chinchilla whenever she tries to get close. how can we get her out of the stress she's in? do we need to seperate them even though they're not harming each other?

    • Do you have these two in the same cage? It sounds to me like the one in the box isn't letting the other one near? You may have to get two separate boxes so they each have their own. Since you got these two from two different breeders I would have separted them at first to be sure they are both healthy. One may have something since it's stool is more wet than normal but that can also be caused from stress. She may need more fiber. If she isn't getting out of her box, she may not be eating as much of what she should. She could also have parasites. There is a book out that is called the Joy of Chinchillas by Lani Ritchy, Elizabeth Current Cogswell & Roxane Beeman. It has alot of interesting facts on Chins. It covers so many issues with chins. Amazon has alot of books on their website (which is where I buy my books) & you can get a good used copy-although I haven't gone on there to see if they have that particular book just your local pet store. That's where I got mine. This book says that a chinchilla under 4 months is very young and must learn to eat properly. Maybe yours hasn't learned to eat properly yet. It also says to introduce the two new one slowly over a period of time under close supervision. You need to watch how they interact with each other. Female chinchillas are more territorial than males. If these two aren't related or aren't littermates, for example sisters or mother and daughter, one can become so territorial that they will kill the less dominate one. If you can, I would get another cage and put a large piece of cardboard between the two for a while and slowly introduce them to each other. Also, too, maybe having two boxes would separate them enough to let them get used to each other. I know these two are young, and that is a plus I think than to introduce two older ones set in their ways. This may not solve the problem but it may help the one that has a more than wet stool to calm down. I have one male and was going to get another one for company but found out from a breeder that they do fine by themselves if you give them enough attention. I suggest to buy the book and read it since you have two chinchillas in your possesion. It will tell you about health, disease, parasites, introducing them, etc. Well worth your money. Another thing that helped our chinchilla at night was to put a night lite in his room and he calmed down alot. I know they are nocternal but each has their own personalities. I hope this helps you and good luck.

  5. Hi i just heard that chinchillas don't have a rib cage is this true?

  6. hi. my chinchillas name is nellie. when i first got her and a little bit today she was making wierd noises like short barking and sharp sudden squeking. whenver she does this i take her out of her cage play with her and cradle her in my arms. after a mediam amount of time when your chinchilla seems happy and content put him/her back in their cage. while there in their cage try to sit next to them and maybe get some work done while your at it. after doing this for a few days your chinchilla should get used to its new home and will be more comfertible knowng that he/she is living with owners that love him/her dearly.

  7. Chris Celnar

    Randi, Introductions can take longer than 2 weeks. Our last one took a month.

  8. HI, I bought from a breeder a 4 month old male chinchilla as a friend for my 4 year old male chin. The breeder thought that the younger one would be easier to introduce because he will be more passive. well it has only been 2 weeks. so i am still trying to get them used to each other before i try letting them out together. well My older one is still trying to attack the younger one through the cage. is this normal? even after 2 weeks? or should i just plan on 2 chinchillas in 2 different cages and different run times? Also the little one is easy to handle and doesnt mind it. when we first got him he would sit on my shoulder and cuddle for a little while. well he now seems to only want to be in his cage. he doesnt want to take treats from my hands. which he did before. He also no longer wants to cuddle at all. Do you think he is nervous about the other chin? Missing his littermates? or did i go too far too fast?

    • I have a 5 year old male chinchilla. Chinchillas are very territorial and that is probably what is going on with yours. I also wanted to get another one to keep the one I have company and I even babysat a female for two months and they never got acquainted. I was told by a breeder that the only time you can keep two together is if they are littermates otherwise they feel the other one is in their territory and have been known to even kill the other. I would separate the two in two different rooms or cages or put a huge piece of card board between them so they can't see each other. I don't know if you let yours out to run around like I do but that may make it difficult from keeping the one from seeing the other. Chins get easily stressed also so that my be the problem with the treats and behavior from the younger one. I hope this helps. I'm not sure when you posted your problem.

  9. Chris Celnar

    Victoria, It is unlikely a chinchilla will get your brothers sick. In fact, at that age they probably shouldn't be playing with a chinchilla anyway. While pet stores aren't the best places to buy chinchillas, if that's your only choice, look for a chinchilla that is lively, has "bright" eyes, and good fur. None of that guarantees a healthy chinchilla, but it is a good start. As for living in Florida, it sounds like your home will be too hot to keep a chinchilla comfortable especially if your area is humid along with being hot. You really need an AC to keep the temperature down even if it is just a window unit for a single room. It is unlikely that you will be able to train a chinchilla to sleep during the day and be awake at night unless you completely simulate night and day. We've never tried.

  10. Hi, I am thinking about getting a chin, but i have 2 baby brothers that are 2 and 3. My mom is wooried that the chinchilla might make them sick, will it? I also want to get a chinchilla from petsmart or petco, should i, or should i go to a smaller company, because i dont know any breaders. I live in florida and the temperture gets really high, my house is usually 78 degrees and my mom doesint want to make it higher because my brothers can get sick, what should i do to keep the chinchilla cool? My room is right next to my brothers room and thats were i want to keep the chin,(im gonna keep it in my room) will it wake my brother up at night or can i train it to sleep at night by putting a night light or somthing?

    • Since you live in Florida and it is hot down there I wouldn't consider getting a chinchilla. They are VERY sensitive to heat stroke. I live in Washington State and keep the temperature in his room at the highest, 60-65. 65 makes me nervous. 50-55 in the winter. They are orginally from Peru high in the mountains where it is cool. I would read up on them alot. research them on the internet. They won't make your brothers sick but they are to young to interact with them and hopefully won't figure out how to open the cage? You can buy a cooling stone (mine is marble) and put them in the fridge (not freezer) so when they sit on it, it keeps them cool. I have two so I can interchange them if it gets too hot out. But considering where you live you may have to really make alot of adjustments just to keep one. How do you plan on keeping your room cool enough? Night lights work wonders at keeping chinchillas quiet at night. They are alot of work and they need to bath in dust which can make your room really dusty. Do you have allergies? They will shed hair which is very fine. You didn't say how old you are. They are alot of work keeping their cage clean and they need to chew on pine wood sticks or pumice stones to keep their teeth down as they continually grow. Before buying, please research so you can be sure you are making the right choice in your climate.

  11. Wow! I am now really nervous about getting my neighbor's chinchilla. She has 2 dogs & a horse & noone pays "Chico" any attention. My 17 yr. old son thought the chinchilla would make a good addition to his biology class study of small mammals & reptiles. This would require taking Chico to high school & leaving him. Is this a good idea? Should he be brought home every weekend? We have had numerous gerbils & fish in the past & our dog of almost 10 yrs. recently died. I am concerned because I didn't realize that chinchillas were so delicate. They seem to need more care than I thought & I guess I'm nervous about the school situation. My friend thinks he'll be fine, but I'm not sure. Any thoughts? I'm keeping him regardless, just don't want to jeopardize his health.

  12. We have had our chinchilla for almost 4 years now. We had two dogs (one has since passed away). The one that passed away was a cocker mix and she was very good with the chinchilla and would just lay and watch him in his cage however my other dog is a terrier mix. Terriers were bred originally to kill rodents. I don't let him in or near the chinchilla at all as he has killed rats in the past out in our barn. Our chinchilla is in a room all by himself but he also hears all the daytime activities that go on in our household as he is on the same level. We also have two cats and they don't seem interested in him at all. Our chinchilla is very territorial and we tried to introduce him to our son's chihuahua. He will run around in his cage and try to taunt another animal that is in the same room and when the puppy went up to the cage to sniff the chinchilla tried to bite him thru the cage. So now we don't let any other animals into his room. He is really friendly otherwise and when we let him out he will come and sit on our legs and is really sociable. We only let him out in his room as they can get into really tight places which can harm them. Also they like to chew on plastic or electrical cords so make sure cords are up and out of the way and not anywhere near their cage as they can grab the cord and pull it into their cage. I know someone whos chinchilla did that and luckily wasn't electricuted! Chinchillas like company and love to get out and run around their rooms and are very curious little creatures. They love to explore and hide in dark places so we built ours a little 3 story house out of shoe boxes with a long skinny box as a ramp and he loves it. He goes in and out of it all the time. Anyway, don't know if this helped or not. Good luck with yours when you get it.

  13. Chris Celnar

    Kellie, Many chinchilla owners have multiple pets and don't have any issues. However, you can never tell ahead of time how a chinchilla will behave as they are all different. And, of course, you have to be aware that even if you're really careful, the dogs may come in contact with the chinchillas accidentally one day which would not be good.

  14. I am planning on getting a chinchilla soon at the end of the summer and I would like to know with my two small 7 pound dogs will my chinchilla adjust or will it be too much even if the chinchilla is downstairs and the dogs strictly upstairs? And will it require a friend or if I have a schedule will it be okay?

  15. Chris Celnar

    Teresa, Thanks for the tip. Our chinchillas would occasionally bark at night, but not often enough to be a real bother. I think part of what keeps ours quiet is that there are two of them together so they have each other's company.

  16. Since Chinchillas are nocturnal they can get noisy at night when they are active. Ours used to run on his exercise saucer at night all the time or bark and we couldn't get any sleep. He did this when we brought him home and even months after. I put a tiny night light in his room and that has seemed to help a lot. He hardly ever gets upset anymore and we can all sleep at night. We get winter storms here and our electricity goes out a lot in the winter and when the light goes out so goes the exercise saucer! So the night light really has helped.

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