There are many wonderful reasons to have two chinchillas - chinchillas in pairs are often less lonely, more socialized, and when bonded are typically easier to care for. But occasionally, fights can break out between your chins and cause one of the two to get hurt.
Because of this, you must know how to prevent an oncoming fight, how to deal with the situation if one breaks out and one of your chinchillas is injured, and what to do if a fight occurs.
Are Chinchillas Usually Aggressive?
Chinchillas are typically non-aggressive animals. Nevertheless, chinchillas must be cared for properly and socialized with other chinchillas and people to avoid becoming aggressive in the future.
Fortunately, if you raise your chinchilla from a young age and give it regular playtime and socialization time, your chinchilla will rarely show aggression to you or other chinchillas in your household.
One of the reasons chinchillas may act aggressively is if the previous owner of the animal did not socialize the animal properly or did not allow it to play freely outside of the cage. Feeling trapped in their cage or feeling territorial can also cause your chinchilla to become aggressive with you or another chinchilla.
Chinchillas can be very aggressive if their cage is too small, and undersized cages can be dangerous for many reasons, including stress and aggression. In much the same way as not getting enough time outside the cage to play, having a cage that is too small can cause restlessness and stress that will result in your chinchilla lashing out.
What Do Aggressive Chinchilla Behavior Look Like?
It is extremely important to know when your chinchillas are showing signs of aggression towards one another so that you can separate the two chinchillas before a fight breaks out. Here are a few warning signs to look out for.
One of the most obvious signs of aggression in your chinchilla is when it sprays urine on its cage mate or, worse, on you.
In the same manner, like many animals, the chinchilla does this to show dominance and display its territory to other chinchillas and potential predators.
The chinchilla is a very vocal creature, and one of the many ways that they demonstrate their feelings is by barking at you or another chinchilla when agitated or angry.
Barking is generally reserved for situations in which the chinchilla feels threatened by something or someone.
While bonded chinchillas do groom and nibble on each other, a chinchilla biting its cage mate can be a sign of trying to exert dominance over the other and lead to more intense fighting.
It’s important to note that if your chinchilla is bitten by its cage mate, you should keep a close eye on the wound and call your vet if any symptoms of infection begin to arise, as an infection in your chinchilla could be fatal.
Another huge sign of aggression in chinchillas is them lunging at one another. This is one of the last warning signs before a fight starts as when they land, they will usually begin pulling the other chinchilla’s fur and biting.
Many chinchilla owners note that a typical sign of aggression in their chinchillas is teeth chattering. While this can also be a sign of pain, and should not always be brushed off as aggression, when combined with other behaviors on this list, it is something to look out for.
Do Female Chinchillas Spray?
It has already been mentioned that chinchillas spraying is a sign of aggression, but many owners wonder if this behavior is exhibited only by the male chinchillas, or if their females will spray too.
What many new chinchilla owners may be surprised to find out is that this is a behavior typically more common in female chinchillas - there are a couple of reasons for this, namely the fact that female chinchillas are more accurate at aiming their spray toward their target. Additionally, females are the more territorial members of the species, so they will spray quicker than their male counterparts.
Why Do Male Chinchillas Spray?
It is not uncommon for male chinchillas to attempt to spray at you or their cage mates at times, but almost always they end up barking at you or their cage mates instead, attempting to drive them away.
Why Do Chinchillas Fight?
There are many reasons chinchillas fight with one another. These reasons can range from their cage being too small and feeling territorial over the minimal amount of space they have, to simply establishing a hierarchy.
I'd like to elaborate a little more on the specifics of getting an overcrowded cage - as with a cage that is too small for one chinchilla, having an overcrowded cage causes both chinchillas to become restless and agitated with one another, resulting in a fight breaking out.
Fighting as it relates to dominance is to be expected when you introduce chinchillas to each other. Any bonded pair will have a dominant chin, and the chinchillas may fight in their early bonding stages to establish that dominance.
How Do I Prevent My Chinchillas From Fighting
Now that you know a bit more about the reasoning for aggression in chinchillas and why chinchillas fight with each other, let’s go into how to prevent your chinchillas from fighting in the first place.
One of the ways you can achieve this is by bonding your chinchillas early. While this isn’t a surefire way to prevent small squabbles, bonding your chinchillas can prevent large fights further down the line that could require medical attention.
Other long-term prevention measures include providing both of your chinchillas plenty of room to move around in their cage, and setting aside individual playtimes for your chinchillas to run around and release any excess energy they may have.
Now let's move on to prevention when you see signs of a fight brewing between your chinchillas. The number one method of prevention is to get them separated as quickly as possible. One common method is to grab one chinchilla by the base of its tail and put it back into its cage to separate the two of them.
How To Separate Fighting Chinchillas Safely
If you walk in on your chinchillas fighting one another or the fight begins to happen before you can separate them, you may be wondering what to do. Separating fighting chinchillas can be done in a few different ways, but here we’re going to go over two main ways to separate fighting chinchillas.
First things first - if you have multiple chinchillas, it’s incredibly important to have a small secondary cage so you can keep the two chinchillas apart for some time after the fight. If you put them back in the same cage, you run the risk of another fight breaking out, which could potentially be even worse than the first.
One way to separate chinchillas is the aforementioned method of picking your chinchilla up by the base of its tail - to do this, grip at the base of the chinchilla's tail in the bend between your thumb and index finger as you pick them up.
This works in the same way as grabbing the scruff of a cat's neck and stabilizing your chinchilla so you can move the chinchilla to a place away from the other chinchilla to allow both chinchilla's time to cool off.
The other way to separate fighting chinchillas is to wait for a break in the fight and take fleece and throw it over one of the two chinchillas. You can use this method to effectively put one of the chinchillas in a "time out" and to give yourself a bit of time to get the other chinchilla out of the room so you can end the fight.
What To Do If Your Chinchilla Is Hurt In A Fight
There may be times when your chinchillas fight when you aren't around to see it, or you are unable to stop fights from getting out of hand in time, and it is not your fault. But it’s incredibly vital to look over your chinchillas and see if either of them is injured.
Since chinchillas have long and sharp teeth, it’s important to inspect deeper down in your chinchilla’s fur than just the base level to check for any bite marks or cuts. If you notice any marks after a fight between your chinchillas, it’s incredibly important to take your chinchilla to the vet.
Because your chinchilla will likely be stressed out after a fight, their immune system will be weakened, causing the risk of infection or other complications to rise dramatically. This means that it is entirely worth it to visit your veterinarian to have a look at your chinchilla.
What If Your Chinchillas Continue To Fighting
While occasional fights between your chinchillas are inevitable and easily resolvable, frequent fighting may be a sign of a few different issues.
If your chinchillas are fighting constantly, it may be time for a visit to the vet for a check-up on both of your chinchillas. Pain or sickness might be potential causes behind more frequent fighting between them. If the vet finds nothing, they may not be able to live together. It may be time to keep them in separate cages.
If it's a matter of their cage being too small for the two of them to live together, then you can opt to invest in a larger cage to give the two of your chinchillas enough room to coexist happily with each other.
Alternatively, there could also be a chance that the reason your chinchillas are fighting frequently lies in them just not getting along suddenly. This is known to happen even with chinchillas who have been happily bonded for long periods. If this is the case, then it may well be that you’ll need to buy a full-size secondary cage for one of your chinchillas. While you may be hesitant to invest in a new cage and isolate them, this will be much better for both of your chinchillas’ physical and mental well-being in the long run to be in separate cages.
Have questions about bonding your chinchillas?
Email us at firstname.lastname@example.org
Bonus Motivational Chinchilla!