The Beginners Guide to Bonding Chinchillas

by Morgan Mulac

bonding with chinchillas

If you are reading this right now, chances are you are considering adopting another chinchilla and are wondering whether or not you will need a separate cage for it, or if you can let them live together in the same cage. 

So, do chinchillas need a friend? (beyond you, of course.) This is a more complicated question than it seems - considerations like whether they're of opposite sexes, if your current chinchilla is aggressive toward other creatures, and whether they're the same age all play a factor in whether or not you should try to bond your new chinchilla with your current one or get a separate cage.

Do Chinchillas Do Better In Pairs?

 two chinchillas in cage

It seems the question owners want to know most before bonding chinchillas is whether or not chinchillas should be in pairs. Despite the fact that each chinchilla has a unique personality, they are extremely social, highly intelligent, and thrive when put in groups or pairs, whether that’s in the same room as one another, or in the same cage together. There are a few grumpy chins that will not get along with any other chinchillas.

There is a possibility that your chinchilla may feel lonely if it is not bonded to another chinchilla, or bonded to a group of chinchillas. It is believed that this may be one of the few reasons for chinchillas to become depressed. As a result, some chinchilla owners will recommend adopting multiple chinchillas.

Can Chinchillas Live Alone?

two bonded chinchillas

In spite of the fact that chinchillas thrive in a community, you can own a single chinchilla. There are several things you can do to ensure that your chinchilla will be just as active and socialized as a bonded chinchilla. Toys like stick bundles and finger traps and socialization with other household members are just some of the things you can do for your chinchilla to keep them socialized and happy. 

To keep your chinchilla active, you might want to give them some time outside of their cage, making sure they have their own closed-off area to explore. Playing outside of their normal environment gives your chin an opportunity to interact with you in a way they would not otherwise get to. Just make sure to have a Chin chiller handy afterward!

Can Male And Female Chinchillas Live Together?

It is considered unethical to let chinchillas of the opposite sex live together in the same cage unless you are a professionally trained and certified chinchilla breeder. Since chinchilla neutering is almost impossible, male and female chinchillas can and will mate if put in the same cage together.

Two chinchillas bonding

This isn’t to say you can’t own a male and female chinchilla at all, you just need to take every precaution to make sure they’re not in the same cage at any point in time - this includes smooshing, a shared cage, or time outside the cage. 

Do You Have To Quarantine Your Chinchillas?

This depends on a number of factors - it’s recommended to quarantine your chinchillas if they came from different breeders. It is also recommended to quarantine your chinchillas to prevent any illness from spreading between the two of them.

When quarantining your chinchillas, you should ideally keep them in separate rooms for 30 days and thoroughly wash your hands each time you handle either of them during the quarantine period.

What Is Smooshing?

If you’ve done any research on owning multiple chinchillas, ‘smooshing’ is a term you’ve probably heard a lot. So what exactly is smooshing and why is it important? 

Smooshing is one way of introducing chinchillas that involves taking two chinchillas and putting them into a small chinchilla carrier together, not giving them enough room to fight with each other. Smooshing them together in this environment allows them the opportunity to get used to each other in a safe confined environment where you are able to monitor their behavior and allow them to get along and bond.

smooshing chinchillas

One crucial tip chinchilla owners share with this method of smooshing is to make sure you don’t attempt this for more than 15 minutes at a time. If you go any longer than that, you run the risk of overheating your chinchillas and causing them both distress.

Other Methods Of Bonding Your Chinchillas

While we recommend smooshing your chinchillas for the best bonding results, that’s not the only method available to bond your chinchillas together. If you don’t feel safe enough to put your chinchillas in such close quarters, you can try one of these different methods.

Introducing Chinchillas During Playtime 

This method requires having an open space for both of your chinchillas to play around in. This can be a self-contained tent with fleece lining the bottom, or a cold room in your house, preferably with tile.

Contrary to the smooshing method, this allows your chinchillas to get acquainted and bond with one another while also giving them the space and freedom to get away from one another if they begin to squabble.

bonded chinchillas dusting

One thing you can do is set up two bowls with dust so as your chinchillas bond, you can also get a dust bath out of the way.

Introducing Chinchillas With A Side-By-Side Cage Set Up 

Taking a few weeks, this is the longest of the methods we will share with you. This method requires two cages of similar sizes and placing the cages side by side, just close enough for your chins to interact through the cage bars, but not touch each other.

With this method, the goal is to get the chinchillas accustomed to being around each other over time and gradually move them into the same cage. It’s recommended that you use the more dominant chinchilla’s cage as the final cage for both of them. 

It is also recommended to set aside playtime with the new chin and the one you already own in a neutral area so the two chinchillas can spend time playing with one another.

two chinchillas talking

Can You Bond Another Chinchilla With An Already Bonded Pair?

You absolutely can! It is recommended to use the side-by-side cage method if you intend to bond another chinchilla with an already bonded pair. 

Using this method, the bonded pair’s routine will not be impacted, allowing the new chin to gradually integrate into the mix. Eventually, you will be able to put the new chinchilla in the same cage as the bonded chinchillas.

Can You Bond A Baby Chinchilla With An Older Chinchilla?

An older chinchilla and a younger chinchilla can definitely bond. Having said that, bonding an older chinchilla, such as a 7 or 8-year-old with an 8-week-old is a lot more difficult than bonding a pair of chinchillas around the same age.

baby chinchilla with older chinchilla

Since the older chinchilla will be much larger than the baby, it is recommended to start out with separate cages side-by-side for the two chinchillas. This will take time and you'll likely be unable to bond them for a few months until the baby chinchilla is old enough for no issues to arise. Bonding them separately is also safer for both chinchillas.

How Can You Tell If Your Chinchillas Are Fighting? 

Chances are, your chinchillas are likely going to squabble with each other the first time they meet. But where is the line between playful curiosity versus aggression towards one another? The answer lies primarily in their body language. Here are some of the most frequent chinchilla fighting signs you’ll see: 

Barking 

Barking is the clearest way you can tell the difference between playing and fighting. While it’s common for chinchillas to ‘talk’ amongst one another, chinchillas never bark unless they feel threatened and feel the need to display dominance, which is a surefire sign they may begin fighting.

Biting

While chinchillas can and will groom one another, the grooming will consist more of small nibbles than actual biting. If you notice bites are becoming progressively harder or your other chinchilla shows signs of pain like alarm calling, it’s best to separate the chinchillas into different rooms and allow them to cool off from the fighting.

Chasing One Another

This is a chinchilla fighting sign which may seem fine on the surface, but when combined with other signs like barking and biting, chasing each other during playtime may be a greater cause for concern.

chinchillas glaring

Spraying Urine

In the same way that most animals do, chinchillas will spray to indicate their territory as well as to show dominance over other chinchillas in the household. Typically, spraying will remain inside one chinchilla’s cage, but can also be in a neutral area where you're introducing them. If you're worried about any scent lingering, you can spray the area down with a 50/50 vinegar & water mixture.

What To Do If You Can’t Bond Your Chinchillas

Bonding chinchillas together is not an easy task, and sometimes it is safer all around to keep your chinchillas in separate cages rather than trying to force bonding between the two chinchillas.

The most important thing is that you shouldn't blame yourself for being unable to bond your chinchillas. Not all chinchillas get along with others, and you don't need to feel like you're responsible for it.

The first step for bringing in a second chinchilla should happen before they enter your home, and that’s getting a secondary cage so you’re not stuck with two chinchillas who won’t bond, sharing a cage. 

Chinchillas can still be kept in the same room with one another even if they won’t bond together. They will still get pleasure from having a companion in the room with them, so long as they are not in one another's personal space.

Questions?

Have questions about bonding your chinchillas?

Email us at cages@qualitycage.com

Bonus Motivational Chinchilla!

motivational chinchilla


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