How High Can A Chinchilla Jump? (How to Keep them Safe While Playing)

by Morgan Mulac
How High Can A Chinchilla Jump? (How to Keep them Safe While Playing)

A chinchilla has a lot of wonderful qualities and abilities that make it such a wonderful pet. In fact, they are incredibly playful and fun to watch. 

This playfulness includes their jumping abilities as they will leap around their cages for hours on end. Not to mention that playtime out of their cage can especially bring their energetic side out!

Throughout the course of this article, we will go over helpful facts we need to know about chinchilla jumping abilities, and how to keep them safe during playtime.

Chinchilla on a pole

How High Can Chinchillas Jump?

Chinchillas are innately impressive jumpers, especially relative to their fairly small size. Chinchillas have been known to jump up to about 6 feet and can be precise in landing exactly where they wanted to land.

Why Do Chinchillas Jump?

There are two main reasons that chinchillas evolved to be excellent jumpers.

The first reason is that it allowed them to escape from predators. Being able to quickly jump up heights allowed them to stay safe from large animals stalking them on the ground. As they were originally from the Andes Mountains, it became their instinct to jump for survival.

The second reason was that it would allow them to reach food easily. Being able to quickly scale trees allowed them to find berries that have been left behind by other creatures.

Why Can Chinchillas Jump So High?

The reason chinchillas can jump as high as they do is due to the structural strength in their back legs - albeit, on a smaller scale, chinchillas have similar bone structures to kangaroos or rabbits.

Chinchilla standing up

Hence, their legs are used for pushing them up and forward more efficiently.

Both the age and weight of a jumper are important factors that should be taken into account when considering how high they can jump and balance upon landing.

Why Does My Chinchilla Jump So Much?

Chinchillas can jump so many times for a number of reasons. Though it's quite worrisome to see because of the high levels of energy, none of which should make you worry about them except for the minor issue of over heating but this is manageable as long as you know how to detect them. 

The most likely reason your chinchilla is jumping at such a high frequency is that it’s the most reliable way for them to find their way around the cage, especially if your cage is multi-leveled (which we recommend).  

Another reason that your chinchilla may be jumping more than usual is that they're displaying a behavior known as popcorning.

Why Do Chinchillas Jump Instead Of Run?

Your chinchilla's jumping behavior is most likely a result of their ancestry - as chinchillas were originally from the Andes Mountains in South America, chinchillas typically have to jump from rock to rock to both explore their surroundings and escape from predators that can possibly harm them.

However, this is not to say that chinchillas don't run at all. They're actually quite adept runners, gaining speeds of 1.5 MPH at a time, which is quite fast compared to other rodents. 

What Is Popcorning?

While it might look similar to jumping, popcorning is quite different from a regular jump. Rather than jumping upwards or forwards to get somewhere, they instead jump quickly upwards from all fours out of excitement. 

If your chinchilla is popcorning, that is a good sign that your chinchilla is really happy! You’re likely to see popcorning when you give your chinchilla a treat or let them out for playtime.

Is Popcorning Dangerous?

While it might be a little alarming to see your chinchilla jump up without warning, the good news is that popcorning is completely normal! There’s nothing to be concerned about with this behavior.

The only thing we would say to watch out for is if you have them on a table or other high surfaces more than 6 feet high. You may want to bring them closer to the ground to reduce the risk of them falling and having an injury.

What Is Wall Surfing?

Like popcorning, wall surfing is a behavior you’ll see when your chin is really excited. Wall surfing is when your chinchilla runs and jumps and bounces off the wall.

Also like popcorning, while it might be concerning to see your pet run into a wall, this is completely normal and not something to worry about.

Chinchilla standing

Can Chinchillas Get Hurt While Jumping?

Unfortunately, while chinchillas are very good jumpers, they can occasionally get hurt while jumping. The most common way a chinchilla would end up hurting itself while jumping is by getting its foot caught in something. Below are some of the injuries your chinchilla might sustain from falling; if you suspect they are experiencing any of these we highly recommend taking your chin to a vet to make sure they can get the proper treatment.

Chinchilla on a white table looking down

Foot Injuries. As mentioned above, foot injuries are among the common injuries that result from jumping, and they are often a source of great concern as they may require amputation. 

In spite of that, you can still expect chinchillas that have undergone amputations to live long and happy lives as long as you give them proper care and make the appropriate cage adjustments for them.

Chinchilla being checked by the vet

Cuts or Scrapes. Although the least concerning, cuts and scrapes can be hard to catch on a chinchilla as their fur is thick enough to cover their skin.

It is important to pick up your chinchilla and inspect it thoroughly if you suspect that it may be suffering from any cuts, as an infection could lead to a serious health issue, if not treated right away.

Chinchilla leaping from a high ledge

Broken Ribs. The bones of chinchillas, especially their rib cages, are very delicate. There is a large amount of cartilage in their rib cages, which means that their ribs are prone to breaking easily if they fall while jumping.

Damaged Organs. As a result of their delicate bone structure, breaking a bone could result in some internal damage. In a worst-case scenario, the broken bones could result in the rupture of certain organs as a result of the injuries.

Sad Chinchilla

Concussions. Concussions in chinchillas can be very serious if not treated soon and properly by a veterinarian. If you notice your chinchilla is acting lethargic, not eating or drinking, and all-around not themselves, it’s important to take them to the vet and follow their recovery instructions.

How To Keep Your Chinchilla Safe While Jumping 

If you are an owner of a chinchilla, there are many things you can do to ensure that your chinchilla doesn't get hurt while jumping around in its cage, as well as during its regular playtime outside the cage.

Chinchilla on a wooden ledge inside a cage

In Their Cage

If you want to keep your chinchilla cages safe for them to jump in, it is imperative that they have enough room to jump around comfortably. We recommend a cage that’s at least 24” tall and 30” wide and has multiple shelves.

Chinchilla on a cage

As well as shelves, it is advisable to have lava ledges strategically placed in order to avoid falling if your chinchilla attempts to jump too high to the next shelf. 

Another important thing for you to do is make sure your cage does not have any dangerous materials like chicken wires that your chinchilla's foot can get caught in or toys and cage accessories that could hurt your chinchilla if fallen on. 

Chinchilla inside a cage

Out Of Their Cage

In order to keep your chinchilla safe when they jump outside of their cage, you need to make sure that they are in a secure playpen that does not have any tall objects which could be dangerous if jumped from.

In addition, it is also important to make sure that the floor is free of any hazards that could be dangerous if jumped on, even from small heights, as they could cause injuries if they were to land on top of them.

Lastly, if you’re in the playpen with your chinchilla during playtime, it’s vital that you remain in a crouched or sitting position so if your chinchilla jumps on or off of you, they aren’t jumping from too high of a height. 

Chinchilla in a basket

In Conclusion

It is no secret that chinchillas can jump quite high, despite their small size. As their primary mode of exploration, they rely on it to discover the world around them. 

While they are expert jumpers, there are steps you can take to ensure their safety as well as prevent any injuries from occurring in the event of an accident. Such as making adjustments to your cage and playpen. 

Chinchilla looking over his cage


Have Questions About Chinchillas Jumping or Chinchillas?

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Author Bio: Morgan Mulac

Morgan has been a professional copywriter for over five years. Morgan also happens to be a chinchilla owner for many years. Now she is merging her two passions to create chinchilla expert care guides to help other chinchilla owners.
Morgan loves all things artistic and enjoys making others happy through her art and stories.

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