Chinchilla Behavior and Characteristics

Chinchillas possess different behaviors and characteristics which make them unique from other rodents. Understanding behaviors and characteristics of Chinchillas is paramount since these traits are different from one another.
In this article, we will talk about 13 different features of chinchillas.

If you are planning to adopt a chinchilla, this article will be helpful since adopting a chinchilla requires a lot of understandings as they are a bit sensitive to the environmental factors and obviously distinct from the other domestic pets.

We will probe into details about how chinchillas are friendly, sensible, loving and emotional. We’ll then further look into different noises they make to express their different emotions.

Also, this article will give you details about their main behavioral patterns, such as jumping and chewing; what makes them jump and chew. You’ll get an overall idea about what chinchillas like and dislike, what makes them happy, angry and depressed. Chinchillas’ characteristics are a rather interesting and entertaining watch. With that said, let’s dig into the details.

Friendly and loving

Chinchillas are popular for their friendly and cuddly nature. If you are adopting a chinchilla as a pet, we assure you, this species is one of the most lovable pets. They love company as they normally live as herds in their natural habitats. They take time to get adjusted to new environments and once they do, they begin to show love and affection.

Besides, chinchillas are not 100% lap-pets, yet you can cuddle them with respect to their approval as well. They prefer to be left alone rather than being too much attached to the owner, but chinchillas make sociable companions.
Making sounds

Chinchillas bark, chirp, and squeak when it comes to communicating. They usually bark when they are frightened or scared. Also, if they live with the herd, they bark to warn danger to the other fellows. Pet chinchillas bark to show annoyance and disapproval. As in, if they do not want to be picked up or cuddled, they bark to show dislike. They squeak in different ways. They chatter their teeth when they are both frightened and happy. Chinchillas cry when they are in pain or discomfort. Besides, they coo or grunt when they are content and to communicate.

Gentle, sensitive and emotional

Chinchillas are one of the gentlest animals. They have emotions as we human beings do. They seek attention, especially from their owner. They love to be cuddled and to have social interaction. If they feel that they are ignored or have less attention, they get hurt and displeased easily.

The most important feature of chinchillas is that they are quick mood swingers. They can be happy in a moment and then not in the mood to be happy at the same time. As they are gentle, they never tend to bite humans unless you hurt them. They are typically less aggressive. Female chinchillas are more aggressive and dominant in the two genders.

Dense fur

Chinchillas live on the top of trees (3000-5000 meters from the ground) when they are in their natural habitats. Dense fur protects them from high cold and humidity. This thick layer of fur also helps chinchillas to protect themselves from fleas, lice and predators.

Chinchilla fur is super soft and thus they are used to make garments and other accessories. Earlier, chinchillas were hunted to get fur and then the species became endangered. Now, they are farm-raised for the purposes of fur industry.

Fur slip

Fur slip is a defense mechanism that chinchillas have which is to release or “slip” his fur at the spot where it is touched. When the chinchilla is frightened in the process of picking him up or handling him, he may release fur at the point of contact. Fur slipping is usually harmless and the fur will eventually grow back.

Loves cold and dry Environment

Chinchillas originate from Andes Mountains where there is low temperature and rare rain. Hence, they need specific humidity and temperature levels when they live away from their geographical locations. The temperature should not be higher than 80 F. High temperature causes them to get heat strokes. Chinchillas are afraid of getting wet because that can make them ill. Also, they can’t live in the outdoor (only if they are from their natural locations) because of the rain and heat. It makes them to be more indoor pets.

Keep themselves clean

One of the best features of Chinchilla is they are highly clean and hygienic. Unlike the other animals, they don’t use water to get cleaned; instead, they roll in dust 2-3 times per week. Chinchillas do not smell bad. As in, since they do not get wet, they generate no bad smell. Also, their feces are hard and odorless facilitating pet owners to clean easily. Also, they shed lightly.
Loves jumping and climbing

Chinchillas are known for their jumping and climbing abilities. They can jump 6 feet high. Thus, if you’re adopting a chinchilla, make sure to give it enough space to roam and jump freely as it wishes. Chinchillas are highly playful and they want to explore things in their playtime.

Chinchillas get bored and stressed easily. Hence, domestic chinchillas should have enough space and things in their cages to do without getting bored. Moreover, when chinchillas are too excited and happy, they hop and jump around to show their happiness.

Urine Spraying

Urine spraying occurs when a chin rears up and expels a jet of urine, which can easily reach up to a few feet in length. The chin may stand on her hind legs for a moment and give a warning sound first in low buzzing tones, but there is not always forewarning. Males can spray urine but rarely do, as it is almost exclusively a female behavior and is especially common to females with a high-strung or oversensitive temperament.

Such temperamentally difficult chins may take more time to get to know, and may require more bonding effort on your part, but in our opinion these are often the most intelligent, fascinating and fun chins to know. The urine is not harmful in any way, to people or other chins. Urine spraying is often fear and stress-related behavioral problems but also could be for domination and fighting between chins.


A chinchilla may release an odor from his anal gland, which is a scent gland located in the opening of the anus. The odor is not particularly pungent but it is definitely noticeable within a range of about 2 meters and it is one of many warnings that a chin may give leading up to biting or urine spraying. In fact, most of the antisocial behaviors are signs pointing to the possible or eventual deployment of those two ultimate defenses. This odor also happens when the male chin tries to dominate the female.

Nocturnal/ crepuscular

Chinchillas are hyperactive in dawn and dusk. They hesitate to stay awake during the day time. They prefer to get an undisturbed long sleep or to hide in their cage during the day. When it is dark, their playtime begins. They tend to feed themselves and to jump around at night time. Also, they are more sociable during the night time when compared to day time.

Chewing almost everything

Chinchillas have growing teeth for the entire life. They chew almost everything around them to file down their teeth properly. Also, they tend to explore things by chewing. If you are raising a chinchilla as a pet, you better give it safe toys to chew and make sure that there are no risky things like wires. A proper diet also helps them to even up their teeth. If their teeth do not file down well, they easily get dental problems and sometimes they can be fatal.

Fur Biting

When a chinchilla bit on its own fur, its called “fur biting”, and it appears as a patch of fur cropped shorter than the rest. It is impossible to tell by watching whether a chin is in the act of fur biting or just intensively grooming, you only know by the aftermath.

The most common location for fur biting is on the flanks, but it can occur anywhere the chinchilla can reach, including the underside, around the legs, and the tail. In more serious cases, the whole lower body might be barbered right down to the skin.

Fur biting is simply a neurotic reaction to stress, which can come in many forms, including a medical problem (internal pain, injury, recent surgery, amputation, etc.) or an environmental stress factor (boredom, malnutrition, cage mate incompatibility, etc.). If suspected medical issue, contact your exotics specialist vet immediately.


Biting occurs when a chin is in extreme stress or fear. Because of their front long and very sharp teeth a chin’s bite is really painful. As we said before chinchillas are different from one another. Therefore, some chins may never bite no matter what.

Some others may bite only if they really being stressed and feared. There are chins also that biting no matter what. Chinchilla bites are often deep and piercing. It is rare for chinchillas to bite a human, but biting between chins is commonly seen.

There also could bite itself and this indicates a chinchilla at his most stressed or afraid, when he is using the most persuasive, urgent means conceivable of communicating his feelings. Some chins, in particular those who have had negative or limited experience with people, may not even realize that their bite will affect the human.

But in any case, it is very important trying calmly to put the chin down and not to display anger, pain or fear. Such a display will only make the chinchilla more afraid and it will reinforce the biting behavior, showing the chin in very dramatic terms that biting grants him power leverage whenever he feels helpless or upset in any way.

Chinchilla Discipline

Chinchillas do NOT respond to negative actions – punishment like hitting, smacking or flicking, which can easily lead to wounds or reprimands by shouting or similar displays of anger. Such discipline is neither suitable nor effective in relating to chinchillas and it will have the opposite desired effect.

Therefore, when the chin receives a hostile reaction to his attempt to communicate these feelings, it justifies his need for a stronger defense and the behavior will worsen, even escalate.

A chin that bites or sprays urine may appear to be vicious or may seem to be offensive and hostile. However, in reality the antisocial behavior, communicates the chinchilla’s intense feelings of vulnerability, demonstrates that he is feeling defensive for some underlying reason that needs to be pinpointed and resolved in order for the antisocial behavior to stop.

When we successfully with love and patience find and solve these problems, the chin will finally be able to feel reassured that he is now in good hands, relieved of what is troubling him and secure in his environment.

Final thoughts

These unique characteristics and behaviors make chinchillas more interesting. They are cute, little pets but they should be looked after carefully. We hope that you enjoyed reading chinchilla characteristics and behavior.