So, you’ve adopted a new chinchilla? Congratulations! As much as you're excited to bring him or her home, there are just a few things to think about first. Here's how to welcome your new chinchilla:
Preparing in advance
Before welcoming your new chinchilla, everything needs to be ready at home. Adopting a chinchilla means providing appropriate equipment that is adapted for to help them stay safe and thrive.
You can find out more about the physical characteristics, personality and care needs of the domestic chinchilla in our article.
Arriving at home
After a long journey home (for the chinchilla at least) you finally arrive home. The moment you’ve been waiting for over the past few months has finally arrived. It’s time to take your new little friend inside!
Once you have stepped over the threshold, your new chinchilla will be detecting all sorts of new smells. Undoubtably stressed by the journey, they will need some peace and quiet. Start by putting the box you transported the chinchilla in into the cage that will be their new home and open the door for them. Make sure to close the cage properly and let the chinchilla venture out in their own time. Don’t rush them. Your new friend needs some calm; no loud noises, vacuum cleaners, music or sudden movements.
If you already have other pets such as a cat or dog, it is advisable to remove them from the room in question and not allow them to get too close to the cage. This is necessary just while the chinchilla adjusts to their new environment.
Getting to know each other
Now that your new chinchilla is in your home, it’s time to win them over. Try not to rush things in your eagerness to cuddle or handle them. Begin by letting him or her get used to their cage, this will help the chinchilla to feel safe. It’s their new home and they need to discover this new world calmly. Talking to your chinchilla in a soft voice can help them to get used to having you around.
Next, when they are used to your voice, you can get to know each other. The first step is getting past the cage bars. However, no cuddles or trips out of the cage for the moment. The chinchilla needs to soak up your smell by coming near you to sniff your hands. The chinchilla is curious by nature and so should come to you quite quickly. After this, you can try and offer them treats, without rushing or forcing them. If your chinchilla isn’t interested? No problem. Step back until they feel safe enough to take the treat for themselves.
Once your chinchilla feels secure in their surroundings and doesn’t show signs of wariness when you move close, you can offer new treats from the palm of your hand with the cage door open. If they approach you then good news! They will come up and touch you and your first real meeting will be underway. If not, don’t be upset, it’s just that he or she needs more time.
When your first meeting with your chinchilla has been successful, and they aren’t showing and visible stress or fear, you can try to softly stroke them. Again, don’t insist if your new friend isn’t receptive.
Following this, if everything is going well, they can climb onto your arm. This can be their little ritual when you open the cage for them.
Finally, if your new pet is at ease, try bringing him or her closer to you for that long awaited little cuddle.
It’s important to remember to handle your chinchilla gently and not grasp them too tightly. Equally, never catch or hold them by the tail. These pets don’t always like to be handled, so avoid doing so unless they come to you. Another aspect to bare in mind is the location of the cage. You need them to be in a secured environment; you never know when they might slip through your hands! When your little chinchilla is not in their cage, take a second to check where your other pets are so the chinchilla can run about freely.
Taming your chinchilla
For the record, you can tame your chinchilla, but don’t count on training them like a dog. If you see them doing something they shouldn’t on their little outing, a firm "no" will be enough. Don’t try and touch a chinchilla’s neck as you may do with a cat, for example. This "no" can be reinforced with a finger click too, but no physical reprimands!
It takes a lot of patience to wait for a chinchilla to warm to you; it's a long process which entirely depends on the nature of each pet. Your chinchilla needs to decide to come to you and not the other way around. If you have children, this may be difficult for them to grasp. They need to learn that it is not a toy, but a living being that must be respected.
No matter how long it takes, your patience will be generously rewarded in the long run when you see how strong the bond between you and your chinchilla becomes.
Would you like to adopt a chinchilla?