Chinchillas originate from South America. They are prey animals so they must hide in rocks and bushes or even underground to stay alive.
Because of this chinchillas tend to be timid pets, but that does not mean they cannot be trained. That’s why in this article, we’re going to show you several tricks that you can teach your pet chinchilla.
For handling training start by letting your chinchilla sniff your hand. It will gradually come closer to you and when you are able to hold onto it be gentle and brief. To potty train, put a litter box where it usually urinates and scoops up any soiled bedding outside of the box and put it in the box.
Can you house-train a chinchilla? What tricks can you teach your chinchilla?
Make sure you check out the extended guide full of tips on how to train a chinchilla to do the coolest tricks up next.
Table of Contents
What You’ll Need
In this article, you’ll learn how to train your chinchilla to do simple tricks, use a litter box, get on with other cage mates, and get used to handling. To make sure you can complete each training session, gather the following tools and meet us at step 1.
- Litter box. (You’ll see some of the best litter box options a little later on.)
- Bedding for the litter box. (More details about the right bedding for your chinchilla in a mo.)
- Litter scoop
- Low-calorie nutritious treats. (More about which treats are best coming up later.)
- Small hoop
- 2 chinchilla cages
- Toys. (Stay tuned for suggestions for the best chinchilla toys.)
How to Train a Chinchilla
Some people mistakenly think of chinchillas as unintelligent small rodents that are incapable of learning simple tricks. But that is far from true, chinchillas, with the right training, can learn several handy tricks that you will love to show off to your friends and family.
Coming up next in this article, we are going to show you how to train your pet chinchilla to do the following:
- Like handling
- Urinate in a litter box
- Come when you call it
- Stand up
- Move in a circle
- Jump through a hoop
- Get on with other chinchilla pets
Let’s get training for your small pet!
Step 1: How to Train a Chinchilla to Like Handling
Can you train chinchillas to like handling?
Yes, you can!
To help your pet chinchilla feel comfortable in your arms, you must start slowly. Here’s what you’ll need to do.
- Give it time to settle in. For the first few weeks after you take it home from the pet store, do not attempt to hold it.
- Talk to it. Instead of trying to hold your pet chinchilla straight away, help it to get used to the sound of your voice. Do this by going into the room where you’re keeping your chinchilla and talking to it in a low and calm voice every day.
- Let it sniff you. Within a few weeks, your new chinchilla will no longer associate you with danger. Place your hand inside your chinchilla’s cage every day and allow it to sniff you. Some chinchillas will take a few days or weeks to feel confident enough to come and sniff you while others will do so immediately.
- Stroke it. After a few days, begin to stroke its fur gently, always avoiding the face and tail. Do not make any sudden movements or loud noises while you do this.
- Allow it to explore your hands. Once it is familiar with the touch of your hand, hold out your palm facing your pet and allow your chinchilla to crawl onto it. Do not grasp your pet at this time.
- Gently pick it up. After doing this for a few days, use both hands to pick it up. Hold your hands in a cradle shape and keep your chinchilla close to your body for warmth and support. Sit on the floor so it will not fall from a height if it struggles and gets away. Always hold it upright to protect its delicate spine.
- Always keep handling sessions brief. When your pet begins to squirm or starts to make noises, you know it has had enough.
Most chinchillas will get used to their owners and will no longer run and hide when the cage door opens. If you are gentle and give your chinchilla time to warm up to you looking after it will be most rewarding.
Step 2: Your Chinchilla’s Litter Box Training
Can chinchillas be house-trained?
Yes, they can!
To give your chinchilla training to use a litter box you must be very patient.
Baby chinchillas do not have proper control over their bladders until they are 6 weeks old. So make sure your pet is older than that.
Start training your chinchilla while it is still young. Give it a couple of weeks to settle in and then begin to potty train it.
Here’s a list of everything you must do.
- Observe the areas where your chinchilla urinates. Younger chinchillas will urinate all over the cage, but an older chinchilla will designate just a few areas to urinate that are far away from where it eats and drinks.
- Start reducing the bedding. Gradually reduce the amount of bedding you put in the other areas of the chinchilla’s cage. Put the majority of the litter in the areas it likes to urinate.
- Introduce the litter box. Once you’ve pinpointed the areas your pet likes to urinate, put a litter tray there. Keep the litter box a good distance from where your pet eats and drinks. Fill the litter box with the same bedding. This will help your pet to see that it must urinate not just on the bedding but in the litter box. Keep the litter box in place for a few days without changing the soiled bedding. The presence of soiled bedding in the cage will help with potty training.
- Correct mistakes. Whenever your pet urinates outside of the litter box, scoop up that portion of bedding and place it inside the litter box.
- Change the bedding. As your pet advances with its litter box training and becomes more comfortable using the box, begin to change the bedding inside it more frequently.
- Keep things consistent. To complete its potty training, do not change your chinchilla’s litter box, the position of it, or the amount of bedding you put in it for a few months. Only change these things if you really have to.
You must note that while training a chinchilla to urinate in a litter box is possible, a chinchilla will not learn how to defecate in it. Do not use negative reinforcement for defecating training as these animals normally defecate all over their cages.
Step 3: Train Your Chinchilla to Come When You Call It
Can chinchillas be trained to come to you when you call them?
Indeed, they can!
When you train a chinchilla to come to you, it will not react as quickly or as enthusiastically as other pets will like dogs or cats. But with a little patience, your chinchilla will approach you when you call it.
Make sure you choose healthy treats to give your chinchilla as positive reinforcement (more about that in a mo).
Here’s how to do it.
- Call your chinchilla in a low voice and offer it a treat afterward. Make sure you approach it slowly and while you sit on the floor.
- Begin open-hand training. After a few days of calling and giving a treat, place the treat between the fingers of your open hand and allow your pet to bite it itself.
- Train it to be more confident. After a few days, slowly move the treat further and further up your hand. Make sure you call your pet in the same way every day. Eventually, your pet will feel comfortable enough to use your hand as a stepping stone to reach for the treat itself.
- In time, your pet will run up to you when you call it.
The key to most chinchilla tricks is consistency and patience. Make sure you spend time with your pet every day.
Once your chinchilla understands the trick, you'll be able to slowly wean the animal off of the treats. That way, it will come to you when you call it without expecting anything.
Step 4: Train Your Chinchilla to Stand Up
Not sure how to train a chinchilla to do tricks like standing up?
Then you’ve come to the right place in this step, we’ll teach you how to train a chinchilla to stand on its hind legs when you call it.
Here’s how to go about it.
- Start by making it easy. Choose a healthy treat, allow your chinchilla to sniff it, and then hold it just above its head. As your chinchilla bites the treat say the words “stand up.
- Change the order of the trick. Gradually say the words “stand up” before offering the treat. Do this over and over once a day for the next few days.
- Make it more challenging. In time, hold the treat higher and higher above your pet’s head. This will train your chinchilla to reach for the treat by leaning on its hind legs and stretching upward.
- Eventually, you can offer fewer treats to your chinchilla and it should still stand up in response to the voice command.
Step 5: Training Your Chinchilla to Move In a Circle
Can you train a chinchilla to move around in a circle?
Chinchillas are intelligent animals and with the help of some tasty treats, they are easily trained to move in a circle in response to basic commands. They will not respond as promptly or move as quickly as dogs or other animals, but they will complete the trick.
Here’s how to train your chinchilla to do this.
- Start by making it easy. Hold a treat in your hand and say the command word “circle”. Allow your chinchilla to sniff it and then move slowly in a half circle. Allow your pet to nibble on it when it follows the treat. Keep practicing this each day, training your pet to follow the treat in the half circle. Make sure you always say the command word in the same tone of voice.
- Complete the circle. When your chinchilla gets used to following the treat in a half circle, complete the circle. This way, your pet will need to do a 360 body movement to get the treat.
- After you train your chinchilla with a treat, you will be able to slowly cut them down so your pet will move in a circle in response to basic commands without treats.
For faster results, train your chinchilla every day for a short time.
Step 6: Train Your Chinchilla to Jump Through a Hoop
Can you train a chinchilla to jump through a hoop?
You most certainly can!
Seeing your chinchilla jump through a hoop is really rewarding. But as with any trick, it takes a lot of dedication to get it perfect.
Here’s what you’ll do.
- Get it familiar with the hoop. Keep a small hoop outside the cage for a few days so your pet can get used to the smell of it. (Never keep the hoop in the cage with your pet as it will chew on it.)
- Hold the hoop in front of it. Move it towards your chinchilla slowly. It might frighten a little the first time you do this.
- Feed your chinchilla a treat. Hold a treat in your hand on the other side of the hoop. Entice it to eat it.
- Hold the treat further away. After a few days of this, begin holding the treat further and further away from the other side of the hoop. Reward even the slightest movement toward the hoop with a treat. In time, your chinchilla will become used to moving towards the hoop, if it takes one foot through it, reward it.
- In time, your chinchilla will move through the hoop on its own.
Depending on how comfortable your chinchilla feels with this trick, in time you will be able to experiment with holding the hoop at different heights and in different directions. For each variation to the trick, you will likely need to go back to offering treats to get your chinchilla to participate.
After it becomes comfortable with the variations, you will be able to slowly wean it off the treats again.
Step 7: Train Your Chinchillas to Get Along
How do you train a chinchilla to behave with other chinchillas?
Training your chinchilla to get along with other chinchillas in the same cage is possible but it takes a little time. Many owners have been able to achieve this with the right step-by-step adaptation process.
Here’s what you will need to do for your pet chinchillas to get along.
- Keep your two chinchillas in separate cages in the same room. Keep the cages close to one another (not touching) for a few days. This will allow your small animals to get used to one another.
- Allow the chinchillas to interact with one another. Always do this in a common area so neither pet will feel territorial. Keep interaction sessions short to begin with, (no longer than an hour). Put toys in the common area to keep the animals occupied. You must monitor these training sessions and separate your chinchillas if they begin to fight.
- Gradually make the interaction sessions longer. Keep an eye on them and quickly disrupt any bad behavior.
- Move them in together. When your pet chinchillas have gotten used to being in the same area, transfer them to the cage they will share. Monitor them closely for the first few days to ensure they are getting on.
It might take only a few days to train a chinchilla to get on with another. But in other cases, it can take a couple of weeks or even months for your chinchillas to settle down and be ready to share a cage.
Training a Chinchilla FAQs
Are you attempting to train your chinchilla for the first time?
Then you’ll no doubt agree that doing so is not as simple as it is with dogs. But up next, we’ve put together a little help that will make teaching your chinchilla a lot simpler.
Have a look at the following FAQs about getting your chinchilla trained and apply the tips to your pet.
Which Are the Best Treats for Your Pet Chinchilla?
Training a chinchilla to do simple tricks will require short practice sessions every day and a lot of treats. Make sure you choose healthy treats that will not mess with your pet’s diet or lead to obesity.
Unfortunately, many of the treats you find at pet stores are full of sugar and fat, so it is best you pick something natural to give your pet.
Here is a list of the right treats for you to give to your chinchilla and encourage good behavior.
- Raisins. Although chinchillas love raisins, you must not give them to your pet more than twice a week due to their high sugar content. Too many raisins can cause diarrhea and lead to diabetes.
- Dried cranberries. Chinchillas also like to eat cranberries as a treat. Only offer them dried cranberries just once or twice a week. Cranberries are high in sugar, fat, and phosphorus which is why your little pets mustn’t eat them often.
- Dried herbs. These include dandelion, strawberry, and blackberry leaves. Rosemary and Parsely are also good.
- Dried rose hips. These are good for chinchillas as they are low in sugar and high in vitamin C. Give your chinchilla one rose hip once every other day.
- Dried apple. Dried apple is an excellent source of potassium, calcium, and iron.
- Dried papaya. Dried papaya is full of magnesium and amino acids. Only give this treat to your chinchilla once a week.
Some treats are not good for chinchillas. These include the following.
- Citrus fruits. These have high levels of acidity that your chinchilla cannot handle.
- Chocolate. You must never give this as a treat to your pet as it contains too much fat and sugar.
- Dairy. Chinchillas cannot consume any food that contains dairy. Diary consumption in chinchillas is often fatal.
- Watermelon and similar fruit. A piece of fruit with high water content does not make a good treat for a chinchilla. Fruits like these can cause them to have diarrhea.
What Kind of Litter Box Is Best?
Getting your chinchilla trained to use the litter box is not easy. But the right kind of litter box will help.
Here are some of the characteristics of the best litter box for your pet.
- Avoid plastic. Chinchillas will nibble through anything in their cages. If you put a plastic litter box inside its cage, it will be in danger of nibbling it and swallowing the plastic. This could cause digestive tract issues. Choose a metal litter pan as it will be easy to clean and is nibble-proof.
- Removable wire mesh floor. Litter pans with wire mesh floors are best as these allow the urine to run into a lower compartment and through to the litter and keep the cage cleaner. Litter pans with a removable wire mesh floor are easy to clean.
- Splash guard. A litter pan with a splash guard will help to keep the cage cleaner for longer. A 5-inch tall splash guard is a good size for your average chinchilla.
- Secure attachment. A litter pan with a secure attachment like wing nuts will keep the pan firmly fixed in place inside the cage. When the litter pan stays fixed in the same place, your pet will train faster.
Which Pairs of Chinchillas Can Share a Cage?
Chinchillas are naturally social animals. Wild chinchillas live in groups so your pet will enjoy having company in its cage.
Here are some pointers on the best chinchilla pairs.
- Do not put male and female chinchillas in a shared cage unless you want them to breed.
- Only put a male and a female together if one of them has been neutered. It is more common for you to have the male neutered than the female.
- Two male chinchillas or a group of males will get on well together
- Two female chinchillas or a group of females will also get on
To train them to be docile, ensure you keep the chinchillas in separate cages close to one another for at least a week. Then allow them to interact for short periods on neutral ground.
Which Toys Are Best For Chinchillas?
While you are training two chinchillas to get along with one another you will need the right toys to keep them occupied.
Your chinchilla's teeth will continue growing throughout its life so it needs the right hard food and toys to keep its teeth down. Because of this, plastic toys are not suitable for chinchillas.
Here are some of the characteristics of the best toys for your chinchilla.
- Made of wood. Chinchilla toys must never be plastic. Wood toys will allow your chinchilla to keep its teeth down. It is safe for your pet to chew on and will keep it occupied for hours. It will continue chewing it until it devours it and then you simply replace the toy.
- Made of corn husk. Corn husk is a robust material that is great for your chinchilla to chew on. The tough husk will help keep its teeth down and keep it entertained.
- Made of chewable loofah. Another nice alternative to wood and corn husk is chewable loofah.
- Dyed with vegetable dyes. Chinchilla toys colored with vegetable dye are safe for your animal to chew on.
- Hook. The best toys will come with a hook that makes them easy to hang inside a cage.
- No glue. Toys that simply slot together like wooden hideouts or that tie together with rope as best. This prevents your chinchilla from licking or chewing on harmful glues.
- No screws. Your chinchilla will chew on anything inside its cage. Toys put together with screws are not suitable for chinchillas.
Now we know what consists of a good chinchilla toy, here are some of the best options.
- Hanging wood blocks
- Wood chew sticks
- Slide together wooden hide box
- Woven toys
Is Cat Litter Good Bedding For a Chinchilla?
Chinchillas end up chewing on and ingesting the litter in their cage. That is why you need to line your pet’s cage with chinchilla-proof litter.
Never use cat litter inside your chinchilla’s cage as it could ingest the litter and this would be bad for its health.
What must you use to line your chinchilla’s cage?
Here are some of the best options for your animal.
- Wood shavings. Always use wood shavings rather than wood chips. This can be aspen shavings or kiln-dried pine shavings. Avoid putting softwood shavings like cedar in the cage.
- Recycled paper. Newspaper and shredded paper are very absorbent options that are great for lining your pet’s cage.
- Hay. Oat, rice, or wheat hay are ideal for your pet’s cage as most chinchillas will snack on it throughout the day. Alfalfa hay is also very nutritious and is a great source of fiber that will support your pet’s digestive and dental health.
These litter materials are best to train your chinchilla to use the litter box.
Chinchillas are not your most common pets which is why some people have doubts about training them and what they are capable of doing. Thanks to this article, we have seen that chinchillas are able to learn many basic tricks and even learn to use a litter box.
To begin training your pet you must keep your practice sessions short but regular and use treats as positive reinforcement. Once your chinchilla adapts to acting in a certain way and receiving a treat, you can reduce the number of treats you give it.
Did you find this article interesting?
At Oddly Cute Pets, we always strive to provide you with the best tips on how to get your chinchilla trained. For up-to-date information about the best food and enclosures for small animals like guinea pigs and hamsters, check out our website.
Thanks for reading!