If you’ve just built a new loft for your Chinchilla, it’s naturally disappointing when your Chinchilla won’t even go up the ramp to explore it. Some Chinchillas simply need a bit of time to adjust and start learning the ramp on their own. However, many Chinchillas will completely ignore it and have no interest in climbing it at all. For these Chinchillas, you may have to teach them how to use their new ramp so they can enjoy their fun new loft. Below I’ll go over the simple steps you can use to teach any Chinchilla to navigate a new ramp. I’ll also include some additional tips and tricks to make sure your training goes as smoothly as possible.
Is Your Ramp Suitable for Chinchillas?
If your Chinchilla is hesitant to use a ramp, consider if there’s a reason behind it. Is the ramp too steep? Perhaps you can decrease the angle by putting a platform of fleece bed under the base of the ramp. Ensure your ramp is wide enough for your Chinchilla to walk on easily. Adding side rails to the edges of the ramp often makes it much less intimidating to Chinchillas. Side rails can be made with some coroplast or even pieces of cardboard.
Make sure your ramp is sturdy and solid as well. Some Chinchillas don’t like to walk up something that moves as they walk. Finally, consider the surface of your ramp. Is it easy for the Chinchillas to grip as they walk up? Old carpets, mats, rubber slats, and fleece can all improve traction on your ramp.
How to Train Your Chinchilla to Climb a RAMP
Follow along with these steps to teach your Chinchilla to go up and down a ramp. Remember to work at your Chinchillas pace. Take as much time as your Chinchilla needs on each step. If they become confused or hesitant about something, try rewarding them more frequently or going back a step. This is often the best way to get your Chinchilla back on track quickly. Keep your training sessions relatively short, ideally under 5 minutes. This prevents your Chinchilla from getting bored or distracted. It also gives them time to process what they’ve learned between training sessions.
#1 Lower the Ramp or Decrease the Angle
Find your Chinchilla favorite veggie treats. My piggies really love green leaf lettuce and carrots for training treats. You’ll only need treats for the initial training process. Once your Chinchillas learn how to navigate the scary ramp, they’ll be able to go up and down freely as they please. If possible, lower the ramp or take it out of the cage to lay flat on the floor. You can also decrease the angle of the ramp by placing a brick or some books under one end.
Rat Bendy comes up with Bendable Ramps that are suitable to train your chinchilla withput any worries. You can order this bendable Chinchilla Ramp using this link.
#2 Lure Them Up the Low Ramp With Baby Steps
Lure your Chinchilla across or up the low ramp gradually with a piece of food. Lure just a tiny step at a time and reward. If they don’t want to follow the lure, hold the treat still and let them take a couple of nibbles. Move the treat just slightly further away and let them come and take another couple of nibbles. It may take several minutes to get your Chinchilla up the ramp using this method, but it generally works well. Take baby steps and progress at your Chinchillas pace. Work on this step slowly until your Chinchilla reaches the top of the ramp.
Give them a big piece of food once they get to the top. If your Chinchilla is really struggling with this, try making the ramp even lower. If you can take it out and put it on the floor, that is even better. Lure your Chinchilla across the ramp a few times, rewarding every step they take. Trying to lure them all the way up at once will not work with most Chinchillas. They will usually just stretch up towards the food as far as they can and then run away when the food is too evasive. This is why it’s essential to lure them up in small, gradual steps.
#3 Lure Them Down the Low Ramp With Baby Steps
Some Chinchillas will find this easier than the previous step, and some will find it harder. Regardless, the process is exactly the same as the second step. Lure your Chinchilla down the ramp in tiny baby steps. Give them a nibble or two of food for every small step they take. If they start planting their feet and stretching towards the food, keep your hand still for a moment and let them nibble for a minute. Once they are relaxed again, you can move your hand a tiny step away for them to follow. Keep this up all the way down the ramp.
#4 Rinse and Repeat
Practice luring your Chinchillas up and down the ramp at least a few more times. They should follow the lure easier each time. You may be able to lure them further and reward them less frequently each time. Practice until they can go up and down the ramp pretty confidently.
#5 Gradually Increase the Height
If you lowered your ramp for the previous steps, it’s now time to get it back up to the regular height. Do this very gradually. Each time you raise the height, lure your Chinchilla up and down a couple of times before raising the height again. If they become stuck or hesitant to go up, lower it a bit and keep practicing.
There are a few tips you can use to encourage your Chinchilla to go up the ramp on their own. These work really well in combination with the training steps above.
Scatter Some Treats on the Ramp
Spreading some pieces of your Chinchillas favorite treats up the ramp can help encourage them to explore it on their own time. This can be good to do in between training sessions. Your Chinchilla may use what they’ve learned so far to climb up and get their treats.
Make the Loft Into a Cool Secret Piggy Hideaway
If your Chinchilla does happen to go up the ramp to their loft, you want them to think that their loft is the absolute best place ever. Make the loft appealing to your Chinchillas by draping a blanket all the way across the top of the loft. Load it with piles of fresh hay for the Chinchillas to eat and run through.
Drape a Blanket Across the Ramp
Chinchillas are very drawn to enclosed hidey spaces. They feel vulnerable trying to navigate an unknown object (ramp) out in the open. Oftentimes simply draping a blanket over the top of your ramp can give them enough confidence to investigate the ramp and even try climbing up.
Start With the Most Confident Chinchillas
If you have multiple Chinchillas, try teaching your most confident Chinchilla to go up the ramp first. Confident Chinchillas are the easiest to train. In addition, the other Chinchillas will often learn easiest by following the example of the boldest pig. If the ring leader of the group can confidently go up the ramp, the other Chinchilla(s) are more likely to follow.
How Long Does it Take to Teach Chinchillas to Use a Ramp?
Most Chinchillas can learn to go up a ramp in about a week or two. This depends a lot on the Chinchillas personality and age. Naturally, younger, athletic Chinchillas will have an easier time going up and down a ramp. Bold, outgoing Chinchillas also tend to be more curious and easy to train. Older or shy Chinchillas usually prefer to stick to things that are familiar to them. Because of this, they generally take more time and patience to train. It helps if you have a more confident Chinchillas to set an example for the other. Draping blankets over ramps and lofts often helps immensely with more nervous Chinchilla pets.
Are Cages With Ramps Safe for Chinchillas?
Ramps that lead to a small loft in a C&C or similar cage are perfectly fine for Chinchillas. Make sure your ramp is wide, relatively low, and easy for the Chinchilla to climb. However, you do want to avoid high multi-level cages and the steep ramps that come with them. Cages made for rats, ferrets, sugar gliders, etc are not suitable for Chinchilla pets. Most of the time, Chinchilla pets will not use the upper levels of these cages at all. Chinchilla pets cannot climb ramps that are too steep. In addition, Chinchilla pets have poor balance and depth perception. If they do manage to get to a higher level, they can be injured if they fall or jump from even relatively low heights.
How Steep Should a Chinchilla pets Ramp Be?
A Chinchilla pet ramp should be no more than a 30-degree angle. Be sure to provide a ramp with adequate grip, as Chinchilla pets are not natural climbers. The loft height should be less than 16 inches. In addition, both the ramp and the loft should have side rails to prevent the Chinchilla pet from jumping or falling off. If your Chinchilla pet is aging or arthritic, the ramp should be kept to a very low incline, ideally less than 10 degrees. If you have an older pig, do not put all the food and water sources in the loft. Older Chinchillas should have access to everything they need on the bottom floor of the cage, so they have the option of using the ramp or not.
Going up a ramp can be challenging for some Chinchillas. But with a bit of time and patience, any Chinchilla can learn to go up a safe, sturdy ramp. With just a few adjustments and a bit of training, most Chinchillas will be racing up to their new loft in no time at all. I hope this article helped your Chinchillas learn to navigate their new ramp quickly and easily! For more training guides, check out our Chinchilla training guide pages.