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Home > Rodents > Why Chinchillas Bite: 3 Vet-Reviewed Reasons & Solutions

Why Chinchillas Bite: 3 Vet-Reviewed Reasons & Solutions

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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 fun little pets that are native to South America. They have soft fur and compact bodies and are surprisingly active for their size, requiring a great deal of space and a large enclosure. 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 possible reasons that a chinchilla may bite you and what you can do about it.


The 3 Reasons Why Chinchillas Bite

1. Biting Due to Fear

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 aggressively, 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. 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.

It is important to adopt a chinchilla that was well socialized as a juvenile, as they can be more difficult to tame as adults if they weren’t adequately socialized as juveniles. When adopting a chinchilla, pay close attention to their mannerisms, their enclosure, and the behavior of the other pets in the area. This can give you a clue as to how well-socialized and tame a chinchilla might be.

chewing chinchilla
Image By: Luniaka Maria, Shutterstock

2. Tasting

Another reason that a chinchilla might bite is because you have a scent on your hand that piques their curiosity. Chinchillas have great monocular (single-sided) vision, but their overlapping visual field is quite narrow, and sometimes, they analyze objects right in front of their face by smelling them. If your hand smells tasty, they may inadvertently think you’re holding a treat and bite you in an attempt to taste what you’re holding.

What You Can Do About It

This issue is relatively easy to fix. Thoroughly washing your hands and drying them before socializing with your pet ensures that your hands don’t smell of something they may assume is food.

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.


Final Thoughts

Now that you know why a chinchilla may bite you 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.

As always, remember that your veterinarian can provide you with additional information and assistance with regards to your chinchillas health and habits, including unwanted habits such as excessive biting.

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Featured Image Credit: rossiaa33, Shutterstock

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