Small Animal Pets

How to Properly Handle a Chinchilla

With a little patience (and bribery) you can get your chinchilla comfortable with handling. The first step is to simply give a new chinchilla time to adjust by keeping maintenance and interaction to a minimum. Move slowly and speak softly around your chinchilla. Limit interaction to the evening as that is when chinchillas are naturally more active and therefore more receptive to interaction.

Initially sit next to cage to acclimate the chinchilla to your presence. Offer it a treat (a small piece of a raisin) when it approaches cage bars. Once it is taking treats from your hand through the bars of the cage, offer treats through the open cage door. Once the chinchilla is taking treats this way, place the treat on your open hand to entice the chinchilla to step up onto hand to retrieve treat. Place the treat on your forearm and allow the chinchilla to climb onto hand. When your chinchilla is comfortable with your hand, lean in toward cage and allow it to climb onto arms, while continuing to offer it treats. Once the chinchilla is comfortable climbing on you, try gently placing your hand over its back to pet chinchilla. Avoid chasing or grabbing a chinchilla to get it back into the cage. It is better to allow it to hop back on its own, by enticing it with a treat, if possible. Handle your chinchilla regularly to keep him or her well socialized.

Tip for Success

Getting a 3–4-month-old chinchilla that has been handled will make taming it much easier. Use lots of treats and work in small steps; make sure your chinchilla is comfortable with each step before proceeding to next. It is best not to allow your chinchilla freedom in the room until he/she is used to handling.

Provided by Lianne McLeod, DVM

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