You have chosen or are considering adopting a chinchilla. By taking pets, humans aspire to form a special relationship with them. This is probably the case as well. But to achieve this, you must learn to decipher the messages it sends out. This article therefore aims to give you the basics to better understand your chinchilla.
Chinchilla’s means of communication
In the wild, in the Andes, the chinchilla lives in small groups made up of ten to a hundred individuals. While it is not necessary to recompose a pseudo-colony, it is generally advisable to adopt at least two individuals. Cohabitation with a congener reassures them and reduces the stress to which they may be exposed. They will be a little easier to tame, although this is still a process that takes time.
To express themselves and communicate with their peers, the chinchilla has developed a varied palette of sounds and body postures. By knowing them, you will be able to better react or meet the needs of your pets.
One of the cries of the chinchilla evokes the barking of a small dog: it is a cry which tends towards the “oua”, a little hoarse, which is repeated several times in a row in a fairly regular way. In its form, it is also reminiscent of that of the groundhog, even if that of the latter is clearly more acute. Like the latter, this cry is a alert cry, whose goal is to awaken the group to react to danger. Newly arrived chinchillas will be able to use it quite often at first, facing anything they are not used to. Any loud and sudden noise, like a door slamming, can trigger it.
There is another cry that is often accompanied by an erect posture on the hind legs. It can also be accompanied by a jet of urine launched at the cause of his embarrassment or anger. Because this cry is not linked to an emergency, like the previous one, but to a manifestation of disagreement, which can be either timid or more aggressive in response to anger. These are kinds of “couink” repeated in series, interspersed with louder cries. A disgruntled chinchilla can also make growls.
Newborn chinchillas may make dog toy-like calls that squeak when squeezed close together. They tell their mother that they are alive. Emitted by adults, these calls are more guttural. They are emitted by 2 chinchillas who recognize each other.
Happy, the chinchilla chuckles or coos.
On the body side, we can distinguish the posture on the hind legs: the chinchilla can try to coax you, but on the other hand, can very well signify its dissatisfaction. When it comes to anger, a urine game follows.
A chinchilla hunched over in a corner is a sign, like many other mammals, that it is afraid. It can also mean that he is sick because an animal who senses that something is wrong is worried, especially since he feels that he may be slower to react in case of danger.
The chinchilla is not prone to bites because it is not a defense system for him. Given its size, the escape is much more efficient. If he were to do so, it will be gently, because it is not voluntary. He probably wants to mobilize his sense of taste: you may have washed your hands improperly. But since he’s got rodent teeth and can’t retract them, and you can feel a little something.
The chinchilla is a very suspicious animal
When you have made him understand that you are not a danger to him, you should not let go of your gentleness and believe that you can handle your chinchilla the way you want. In the wild, it is prey and you will easily understand that an instinct that touches on survival is not easily eliminated. Especially since a chinchilla has a independent character in the sense that it does not get caught easily, and does not have a particular appetite for cuddles or play. What is more, perhaps in connection with the harshness of its natural environment, the chinchilla has a strong personality : we therefore do not easily make him do what we want if he does not want to. Of course, this general tendency can be contradicted by particular individuals who prove to be more docile than others. It is up to you to observe your chinchillas carefully to find out what characterizes them and how you would recognize them, beyond mere appearance, in a group of several chinchillas.
A prey must have its senses constantly alert. If this can soften in the chinchilla with a few years in captivity and stable benchmarks, it remains a rodent. nervous. You will have to continue to be cautious in your movements which should be gentle when you approach him.
When you get to the stage where it is used to your proximity, you can attempt to take it. The best way to approach him is to touch his vibrissae to indicate your presence. It is good to accompany the gesture with the voice, calling your pet with a soft voice. Thus, there is no surprise effect.
Then, to take it, you will try to wrap it with your hands, grabbing it by the sides. It is not obvious that he will let it go from the first attempt. When it comes to taming, patience is always the order of the day. Don’t try never to take your chinchilla from above, even when it is tamed: you would immediately awaken its prey instincts and frighten it.
Understand the fact that repeated stressful situations will end up having an impact on his heart condition. Chinchillas can be prone to seizures that eventually lead to death. This sensitivity makes them undeniably an unsuitable pet for young children.
Behavioral disorders are indicators to take into account
Animals never act without a reason. Also, a chinchilla that develops abnormal behaviors are signs of which it is absolutely necessary to identify the cause to remedy it. The animal is in a situation of ill-being and can die quickly.
When a chinchilla is afraid, the shock can cause it to lose tufts of hair. The rodent may also be prone to fur chewing or pecking (fur chewing in English): it gnaws part of its fur or that of its congeners. Temperature too high, cage too small, lack of calm, poor diet, boredom or illness … You must methodically, if necessary with the help of a veterinarian, review what may be problematic for your chinchilla to restore its balance of life as quickly as possible.