How Do I Pick Up and Hold My Chinchilla?
One of the more common questions we get has to do with handling chinchillas. Their jumpy nature can make it quite a challenge to pick them up and this can frustrate new pet owners.
Trina wrote to us with this:
I was just wondering if you can actually hold a chinchilla like you would with a hamster or kitten. Also, can you pet it from its neck to tail like you do with a dog?
Our suggestions consisted of:
We have two chinchillas. One can be picked up, carried around the house, and petted. The other chinchilla is not nearly as cooperative. Picking her up is tricky as she'll try to run away. And once we do have her, we have to be very gentle or she'll jump out of our hands. Both chinchillas will only tolerate a short period of being held before getting antsy and wanting to be let go.
The more a chinchilla was handled when young, the more likely the chinchilla will tolerate being handled as an adult.
Like Trina, Jessica too was looking for some advice on handling her chinchilla:
I just got a chinchilla and he is friendly but doesn't like to be held. How can I get him used to us without getting him stressed?
Our answer to Jessica was:
The first thing to accept is that it will take time. What we did was start off by sitting quietly in the same room as our chinchillas as they ran around. After a while they would come over and “investigate” us. When they did we would slowly reach out and pet them.
We also would hand feed them a treat. First they would grab the food and run away, but eventually they would be fine eating while we held on to the treat. And eventually, they would come running when they heard us opening the bag.
Eventually, we were able to pick up one of our two chinchillas whenever we wanted to. The second remains uncooperative most of the time.