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3 Reasons Why Chinchillas Bite (And How to Stop It)

Rachael Gerkensmeyer

Chinchillas are fun little pets that originated in South America. They are related to the guinea pig, which they slightly resemble. They have soft fur and compact bodies and don’t need a ton of space to enjoy a happy life, unlike dogs and cats. One problem that some owners have is understanding why their chinchilla might bite them, others, or habitat mates. Understanding why chinchillas bite is the first step in figuring out how to stop the biting problem once and for all. Here are three main reasons that a chinchilla may bite and what you can do about it:

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1. Biting Due to Fear

chewing chinchilla
Image Credit: Luniaka Maria, Shutterstock

When chinchillas get scared for any reason, they may react by biting anything or anyone near them at the time. If someone gets too close too quickly and startles a chinchilla, there is a chance that the person will get bit. Loud abrupt sounds like lightning and horns honking, animals that are acting aggressive, and forced handling by strangers are all good examples of what might scare a chinchilla into biting.

What You Can Do About It

The best way to keep your chinchilla from biting out of fear is to keep the animal in a safe, quiet, protected environment. Do not allow dogs to track the chinchilla in their habitat. Make sure children and strangers know how to slowly and properly introduce themselves to the chinchilla. Don’t turn the television up too loud when you are watching action movies and shows.

Get your chinchilla used to noises that happen regularly in your home, like phones ringing and alarms going off in the morning, by holding the animal and reassuring them while the noises happen. Eventually, your pet will get used to the noises and should react accordingly as time goes on.

2. Biting Due to Aggression

chinchilla-pixabay
Credit: agdas666, Pixabay

Another reason that a chinchilla might bite is aggression. Aggressive bites are the most painful because a mad chinchilla chomps down and does not want to let go. A chinchilla that is biting for reasons other than aggression typically nips instead of hold onto whatever they are biting. There are many reasons that a chinchilla might become aggressive.

Many times, a chinchilla will get aggressive when fighting with other chinchillas over territory, food, or toys. Chinchillas may become aggressive if they feel that their habitat is offensive in some way. Aggression is also common among chinchillas that are not happy in their habitats, that are hungry, and that have just birthed babies.

What You Can Do About It

To minimize the risk of aggression between chinchillas in their habitat, make sure that each chinchilla has plenty of room to spread out and be alone when they want to. Include at least 1 toy per chinchilla in the habitat, and feed each chinchilla at least a couple of inches away from one another. Make sure that anyone who handles your chinchilla does so quietly and softly.

3. Biting for Grooming Reasons

Chinchillas like to groom each other, and they will try to groom the human companions whom they have bonded with as a showing of care and teamwork. The grooming can feel like biting, as a chinchilla nibbles on the skin in an attempt to clean it like they would their own skin and fur. Most of the time, this type of biting does not hurt. However, if a chinchilla gets carried away with the grooming, its nibbles can become harder and result in pain when all is said and done.

What You Can Do About It

It is a good thing if your chinchilla wants to groom you. However, if you feel uncomfortable or get pained during the process, you can stop your chinchilla from nipping you by redirecting their attention any time they start to do so. Give your pet a toy to chew on or a treat to enjoy. You can also put the chinchilla down as a reprimand any time they start to groom you, and eventually, they will stop the grooming to avoid being put down.

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Now that you know why chinchillas bite and what to do to stop the biting, you can work on creating a more pleasurable relationship with your pet that enhances your bond and time spent together. Have you ever experienced a chinchilla bite? If so, how did you handle the situation? What tips can you share to help other chinchilla owners avoid being bitten? Let us know by sharing your thoughts in our comments section.


Featured Image Credit: Benjamingross83, Pixabay

Rachael Gerkensmeyer

Rachael has been a freelance writer since 2000, in which time she has had an opportunity to research and write about many different topics while working to master the art of fusing high-quality content with effective content marketing strategies. She is an artist at heart and loves to read, paint, and make jewelry in her spare time. As a vegan, Rachael is obsessed with helping animals in need both in her community and anywhere in the world where she feels she can make a difference. Animals also happen to be her favorite topic to write about! She lives off the grid in Hawaii with her husband, her garden, and her rescue animals including 5 dogs, a cat, a goat, and dozens of chickens.