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Home > Rodents > Do Chinchillas Like to Be Held and Cuddled? Vet-Reviewed Handling & Petting Guide

Do Chinchillas Like to Be Held and Cuddled? Vet-Reviewed Handling & Petting Guide

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Reviewed & Fact-Checked By

Dr. Luqman Javed

Veterinarian, DVM

The information is current and up-to-date in accordance with the latest veterinarian research.

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Chinchillas are adorable rodents that love attention and socialization. Unlike rodents who are often scared of humans, chinchillas are incredibly curious and social, even around people. As a result, most chinchillas like being held and cuddled. When socialized early, chinchillas love human affection.

That being said, not all chinchillas like being held. Even if your chinchilla enjoys your cuddles, it’s important to train and acclimate them for human handling. That way, the chinchilla knows they have nothing to worry about when being approached and held by humans.

To learn more about if chinchillas like to be held and cuddled, read on. This guide fully details the personality of the average chinchilla and how to train reserved chinchillas to enjoy human handling. Let’s get started.


Does the Average Chinchilla Like to Be Held And Cuddled?

Despite being an exotic pet, chinchillas have friendly, sociable, and cuddly personalities around humans. Because of this fact, the average chinchilla likes to be held and cuddled. In fact, many chinchillas get stressed if not given enough attention by other chinchilla friends and humans.

Especially if the chinchilla was socialized around humans from an early age, there is a high chance that the chinchilla will be cuddly and love being held. If abused or exposed to little interaction with humans, it may cause an individual to be more reserved than the average chinchilla, though.

Because chinchillas may be more resistant to human handling if not socialized early, you always want to get chinchillas from a reputable breeder. A reputable breeder will socialize the chinchilla from a young age, further ensuring that the chinchilla loves being handled.

Regardless, chinchillas are known to love being held and cuddling much more than other exotic pets. Chinchillas make a perfect pet for homes that want a cute and cuddly ball of fur to call their own.

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How Can I Pet My Chinchilla?

Because chinchillas are so affectionate, petting them is much easier than other small exotic pets. Most likely, your chinchilla will come right up to you as long as you are gentle and calm.

When you start petting your chinchilla, do not make any sudden movements and allow the chinchilla to come to you first. Because you are so much larger than the chinchilla, giving them the power to make the first move will greatly ease their fears.

Because chinchillas are prey animals, they especially do not like being chased around. If your chinchilla runs away from you, don’t force the interaction. Instead, let the chinchilla be. Next time, have a treat in your hand to try to lure the chinchilla towards you.

Once the chinchilla trusts you enough to walk up to you, gently stroke the chinchilla’s head and back. The chinchilla will let you know if you are petting it in an area it doesn’t like to be touched. Starting with the head and back is safe because most chinchillas have no issues being petted there.

To carry a chinchilla, gently lift them from the base of their tail and use your other hand to support their body, holding them close to you so that they don’t feel frightened from being held. You should not attempt to carry or lift a pregnant individual unless necessary.

woman holding cute chinchilla in room
Image by: New Africa, Shutterstock


Fur Slip in Chinchillas

Chinchillas that are startled during the handling process, or those that aren’t accustomed to humans approaching them, can display a reaction known as fur slip. This is an instinctive reaction a chinchilla might display when they’re frightened.

The reaction involves the chinchilla quickly releasing a large patch of fur, revealing their skin underneath. It is thought that this reaction would help them escape the clutches of a predator in the wild, and their dense fur would provide valuable seconds of distraction during which the chinchilla may potentially escape. Once discarded, the fur may take several months to regrow, and the replacement fur might also be of a different color or shade than the original fur. It is important to properly inspect a chinchilla before adopting them; if their fur seems to change color along parts of their body, it might indicate a traumatic episode. Such individuals might not take to handling readily.

grey chinchilla with pink and red balloons
Image by: Irina Vasilevskaia, Shutterstock

How Often Should I Hold My Chinchilla?

Because chinchillas are so social, they need a lot of attention and activity. At the minimum, play and hold with your chinchilla for 30 minutes to 60 minutes a day. They may become stressed if you fail to play with your chinchilla consistently.

While you are holding your chinchilla, make sure to pay attention to their mannerisms. If the chinchilla is shaking or acting scared in any way, put them down and try again tomorrow. Even though chinchillas need playtime and attention, forcing playtime when they’re scared is a bad decision.

Why Does My Chinchilla Shake When I Hold Them?

If you notice that your chinchilla is shaking every time you hold them, it means that your chinchilla is scared. You must work with your chinchilla to build trust for petting and cuddling. Do not force your chinchilla to be held while they are shaking to avoid fur slip. Instead, put the chinchilla down and return to training and trust building.

Image by: Yanya, Shutterstock


Final Thoughts

Except for neglected or abused chinchillas, these creatures tend to be active, social, and love being cuddled and held. If you get a chinchilla when they’re a juvenile, you can easily socialize them to love your attention.

Chinchillas that are neglected or bred by irresponsible breeders may be reserved. For this reason, it’s important to select a breeder that is responsible and cares for the chinchilla. That way, the chinchilla will be acclimated to people and attention from a young age.

Of course, certain chinchillas will be more reserved than others, even if reputable breeders bred them. Always pay attention to the chinchilla’s mannerisms, and don’t force your chinchilla to be held if it appears scared. Most likely, your chinchilla will warm up to you if you are patient and kind.

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Featured Image Credit: New Africa, Shutterstock

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