Petkeen is reader-supported. When you buy through links on our site, we may earn an affiliate commission. Learn More

Are Chinchillas Friendly?

Oliver Jones

Chinchillas are docile and friendly creatures if you are affectionate, too. They rarely bite and can learn to tolerate and eventually enjoy human companionship.

However, they are less affectionate with young kids and novice owners in the first few weeks of adapting to their new surroundings. But overall, chinchillas are social and friendly pets once they recognize and trust their owner.

They can show that they don’t like you by spraying you with pee, biting you (although very rare), or hiding from you. To acquire a chinchilla’s trust, you need to be respectful and kind and offer it space when uncomfortable or moody.

divider-rodent

Chinchillas with Other Pets

It is advisable not to allow your chinchilla to spend time with other pets. That includes larger pets such as dogs and cats and smaller pets such as rabbits and other rodents.

There are a few reasons why. First, other creatures make you chinchilla feel vulnerable and threatened. That is particularly the case of larger animals, which your chinchilla tends to avoid since they think they might be predators.

However, even a miniature and non-threatening creature may cause your pet stress, as your chinchilla thinks they are a threat to its inhabitant and resource such as food. Because your chinchilla feels threatened around other animals, it will not be friendly towards them.

The second reason is that pets may transmit illnesses and infestations from one to another. For instance, your chinchilla may catch fleas from a cat or a dog. There are also illnesses and various types of bacteria your chinchilla may catch from other pets such as rabbits.

chinchillas
Image Credit: Luniaka Maria, Shutterstock

Chinchillas with Kids

Chinchillas can get along well with children. However, it depends on how well the kid understands the personality and needs of their pet.

There are various ways in which a kid can accidentally hurt a chinchilla. Chinchillas are highly cuddly creatures, and any kid’s first instinct will probably be to offer their pet a big warm hug. Unfortunately, chinchillas don’t like being squeezed since they are delicate, and they will not enjoy being around kids who pet them in that way.

Additionally, chinchillas don’t like being picked up and moved around fast. Strong children who make too many sudden movements will scare a chinchilla.

But you can avoid these problems by training your kid how to behave around their chinchilla correctly. Explain to them why chinchillas should not be cuddled and squeezed close. Also, explain why they don’t like sudden movements.

If the kid behaves responsibly, with understanding and empathy, their chinchilla will grow to like them the same it will do for an adult.

little girl holding a chinchilla
Image Credit: Ruslan Huzau, Shutterstock

How Do Chinchillas Show Affection?

Chinchillas are incredibly social creatures. They have developed various ways to show trust and friendship, and these are vital for your companionship with your pet and between chinchillas.

Spending Time with You

This is the best and simple way to tell whether a chinchilla likes you. If your chinchilla wants to display affection, it will spend time close to you. It can let you pick it up, or it may sit near you on your shoulder or lap.

However, if it doesn’t like you, it will avoid. When you let it out of its cage, it will not sit or stay near you and instead turn away to do its things.

Licking You

Even if you are not sweating heavily, your skin will taste sweet to your chinchilla, and so it may lick you for that reason. However, a chinchilla licking can be a sign of affection. Most pets lick their owners to show they love them.

Chinchillas groom each other as a sign of trust, which might be an extension of that behavior. It is not a show that the chinchilla doesn’t like you.

Do Chinchillas Cuddle with Humans?

They can, but chinchillas often cuddle because they tolerate it rather than enjoy it.

As mentioned above, chinchillas are extremely delicate creatures. They have thin, curved ribs that are typically made of cartilage instead of bone. It is too easy to bend these ribs and press on your chinchillas’ internal organs.

This is enough reason for you to avoid cuddling your chinchilla. But chinchillas know they are delicate, so they don’t enjoy being held tight. The only circumstance they understand that they would be picked up and carried by another creature is if the other animal is a predator.

However, chinchillas are brave and can, over time, learn that you are to be trusted. Once your chinchilla knows and understands that you can’t hurt them, it can tolerate being held. Most chins tend to enjoy intimate contact and will excitedly hop on your hands for you to pick them.

divider-multiprint

Why Would a Chinchilla Be Unfriendly?

The primary reason why a chinchilla would be unfriendly is when you continuously annoy, neglect, and hurt your pet. When you do this, it will not want to be around you. However, there are other additional reasons.

You are a Novice Chinchilla Owner

As a novice pet owner, you may tend to misunderstand your pets’ behavior and unfairly think that a chinchilla that is not yet familiar with you is unfriendly or aggressive. However, that is not the case.

Chinchillas take time to adapt to humans. That is because they are not wholly domesticated or trained. They don’t know what actual tamed creatures do to trust humans and enjoy being around them.

In addition, they need to learn to trust different people independently. Chinchillas tend to recognize people from what they smell but not what they look like since their sense of smell is higher than their sight.

Your chinchilla may learn that when it smells your scent, it can expect time outside the cage or a treat. However, when chinchillas smell someone else’s smell, they don’t know what to expect.

Generally, your chinchilla will probably not be affectionate and trusting of you at first. You have to acquire its trust over time. The best way to do this is by being a kind and diligent owner, avoiding making loud and or quick movements, and respecting the boundaries of your chinchilla.

three chinchillas
Image Credit: Luniaka Maria, Shutterstock

Stress from Surrounding or Other Chinchillas

Issues in its cage or other chinchillas it lives with may also get your chinchilla stressed. It may not be friendly as usual when stressed because of you or due to something else.

Chinchillas like to live in a more suitable environment, and so if there are some issues in their cage, it can make your chin stressed. It will become unhappy if it is in pain, unhealthy, or can’t display its instincts. Problems include:

Short Cages

Chinchilla likes to jump to and from ridges, which mimics how they jump on rocks in the wild.

Small Cages

Although chinchillas like to have areas they can hide, they require sufficient space to stretch out, exercise, and feel somehow free.

Cages Filled with Plastic Items

Chinchillas chew on plastic, and tiny bits of it get lodged in their intestines when they do. These lead to health issues.

Lack of Sufficient Food or Improper Feeding

Wrong foods can lead to nutritional deficiency, diarrhea, or malocclusion.

divider-chinchilla

Final Thoughts

Most chinchillas are friendly in many situations, provided you remain patient and develop a strong bond before doing much with them.

A chinchilla needs to rehearse the surroundings and learn the owner’s smell, voice, and touch. Give them time outside the cage to interact with you in a proofed space and allow the relationship to grow and thrive. It will not take long until you have a solid bond with your chinchilla, and both of you will enjoy dust baths and playtime together.


Featured Image Credit: Natalis.ph, Shutterstock

Oliver Jones

Oliver (Ollie) Jones - A zoologist and freelance writer living in South Australia with his partner Alex, their dog Pepper, and their cat Steve (who declined to be pictured). Ollie, originally from the USA, holds his master's degree in wildlife biology and moved to Australia to pursue his career and passion but has found a new love for working online and writing about animals of all types.