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How High Can Chinchillas Jump?

beige velvet chinchilla

Chinchillas are a type of rodent native to the Andes Mountains in South America. It’s a little larger than the ground squirrel and has the amazing ability to jump. One of the first questions many potential owners have about these pets is how high they can jump. The short answer is about 6 feet, but quite a few factors come into play when determining the actual height.

Keep reading while we look at these other factors as well as some other interesting facts about the chinchilla to help you be better informed.

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How Do Chinchillas Jump So High?

The chinchilla has a bone structure in its back legs that’s similar to a kangaroo or a rabbit. This bone structure causes the legs to act more like springs, propelling the animal forward and jumping extremely high. It has long feet and toes that create a great base for jumping, and it can also use its front legs for additional power. The size of your chinchilla will also impact how high it can jump, as will its age and weight. Baby chinchillas cannot jump as high as adults, nor can overweight chinchillas jump as high as underweight ones.

Why Do Chinchillas Jump So High?

black velvet chinchilla
Image Credit: ATTILA Barsan, Shutterstock
  • Chinchillas tend to jump around frequently when they’re happy. Many people refer to this behavior as “popcorning” because the jumping resembles popcorn popping in the pan.
  • Chinchillas like to wall surf when they’re happy. Wall surfing is when your chinchilla jumps up onto the wall and uses it as a springboard for a second jump. This technique allows them to get quite high, and it’s common for owners to be concerned about their safety. However, the chinchilla is an expert at knowing its limitations (but supervision is always a safe bet).
  • Chinchillas likely developed the ability to jump in part to escape the many predators they face each day. Snakes, mountain lions, foxes, owls, and plenty more all consider the chinchilla a tasty meal.
  • Chinchillas likely developed the ability to jump in part to better get around extremely rocky and steep Andes Mountains. Jumping allowed them to reach higher boulders they may not have been able to reach by walking.

Can a Chinchilla Get Hurt Jumping?

Unfortunately, chinchillas can and do get hurt occasionally from jumping. They’re very good at judging how far they can jump, and although rare, sometimes accidents happen. Their foot could get stuck or the landing might not be sturdy. Your pet does not have to jump high to get injured, and injuries we’ve seen include broken toes, broken ribs, damaged organs, and even concussions. Unfortunately, there’s not much you can do to prevent these injuries from occurring. The only solution would be to stop them from jumping, which would likely sour their mood and possibly cause them to become possibly depressed or destructive. You can try to limit their room to jump so they can only maneuver smaller jumps and not higher-risk acrobatics. You can also move obstacles from the area to reduce the risk of them hitting something hard.

If your pet seems to be less active after a jump and you think it might be injured, we highly recommend taking it to the vet to have it looked over. The vet can help put your mind at ease, and if there is a problem, they should be able to put you on the right track to fixing it.

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Summary

Chinchillas can jump about 6 feet in height, which is pretty amazing for these small animals. The jumping helps them escape predators and traverse the steep rocky terrain of the Andes mountains. In captivity, your Chinchilla will likely use its jumping to express happiness. Though there is a small chance of injury, the risk is small, so you needn’t be overly concerned. The best way to keep your pet safe is to remove any clutter from the area where your pet jumps.


Featured Image Credit:  Natalis.ph, Shutterstock

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