How To Catch A Chinchilla (Safely and Without the Stress)

by Morgan Mulac
How to catch a chinchilla

When a pet escapes, it's never a pleasant experience for them or for you. Because of this, it is very important that you become familiar with how to properly catch a chinchilla and how to get it back to its cage with the least amount of stress.

Throughout this blog, we will go over a variety of methods you can use to catch and put your chinchilla back in their cage and how to make sure that they do not escape again in the future.

Why Do Chinchillas Escape?

Before we go over the ways to catch a pet chinchilla that’s run out of their cage, it’s important to look at why they might have escaped in the first place. 

Chinchilla on a wooden ledge inside his cage

One of the main reasons why your chinchilla may attempt to escape is because of fear or stress. Due to the fact, they’re prey animals, chinchillas can be easily startled and will run or hide at any perceived threat. 

As a result of being put into this fight-or-flight mode, chinchillas typically try to hide to avoid any potential threats after escaping.

Another reason your chinchilla may escape is due to an unreliable or defective chinchilla cage. This can come in the form of bars that are easy for chinchillas to chew through or a cage door that has weak or low-quality latches.   

Is It Dangerous If My Chinchilla Escapes

When your chinchilla escapes, it can pose a great deal of threat for a variety of reasons depending on where they go.

Your chinchilla faces the greatest risk if it escapes into the outdoors. Prey such as stray cats, birds, or dogs can be a danger to an escaped and lost chinchilla, as well as foreign bacteria, puddles, and unstable temperatures.

In the event that your chinchilla escapes inside and you have other animals, your chinchilla will similarly be at risk of being attacked by them. It is also possible for them to chew through walls or furniture, leading to a stomach blockage, or find any bodies of water, such as the toilet or water bowl for other pets. 

Chinchilla outside his cage

How To Catch A Chinchilla

The method you use to catch chinchillas will depend on several things, including your comfort level, where your chinchilla is hiding, how long your chinchilla has been hiding, and its size. 

Regardless of what method you decide to use, it is important to remain calm and confident throughout the process. Often, chinchillas pick up on your emotions and mimic you, so if you're nervous and skittish trying to catch them, they'll react the same way. This is also why it’s important to approach your chinchilla slowly.

Having someone else help you catch a chinchilla can also be beneficial since two people can make it easier to both find the chinchilla and push it in the direction that you want it to go.

Additionally, once you have caught your chinchilla, you will want to be extremely gentle with them, as their bones are extremely delicate, and if handled too roughly, they may break.

If possible, try to confine your chinchilla to a single room. This makes it easier to catch them 

Can I Use A Butterfly Net To Catch A Chinchilla?

If your chinchilla has escaped, you may have seen a butterfly net recommended. This is a common technique for breeders or ranchers to use to catch a chinchilla.

This method works best if your chinchilla is in an open space and is running away when you lean down to grab them.

As soon as you capture your chinchilla, you must NOT transport it in the butterfly net. There is a good chance that this will stress them out and they might be scared of you as a result.

After you catch your chinchilla, you can either pick them up by hand or put them in a carrier to bring them back to their cage.

Can I Use Dust Baths To Catch A Chinchilla?

Using your chinchilla's dust bath is another popular method of catching your chinchilla.

Chinchilla on a dust bath container from Quality Cage Crafters

If you have an idea of where your chinchilla is hiding, you can leave out their dust bowl and call to them, this is a place where it’s helpful to train your chinchilla to respond to their name.

Once your chinchilla hops in their dust bath and starts to roll around, you can then take the dust bath and place it back in the chinchilla’s cage. Some owners use a dust bath house so they can place their hand over the small opening, but this could potentially stress your chinchilla if they feel like they’re stuck.

The benefit to this method is that it’s one of the least stressful ways to catch a chinchilla, as your chinchilla will feel at ease in a familiar space like their dust bowl, and there isn’t much risk to picking up the dust bowl and transporting them.

There are a few drawbacks as this method requires a lot of patience as there’s no guarantee of how soon your chinchilla will decide to use their dust bath. Another drawback is that this method usually only works when you have your chinchilla confined to one room. 

Can I Throw A Towel Over A Chinchilla?

The use of a towel is one of the methods of catching chinchillas that are commonly discussed and debated.

While there are some drawbacks, namely stressing out your chinchilla due to an unexpected weight and darkness put on them, this can be one of the easiest methods if your chinchilla runs slow.

Using anti-pill fleece with this method will also prevent your chinchilla from ingesting fibers from the towel, although anti-pill fleece is not as heavy as a towel.

There are some situations in which this method will be the best choice of all of these options - such as when your chinchilla is chewing on furniture or electrical wires that are plugged in - and needs to be caught fast.

Can I Use Treats To Catch A Chinchilla?

Treats can be another good method to catch a chinchilla. Normally, we don't suggest more than a few treats a week, but luring your chinchilla back to you with low-sugar treats can often work when they've escaped.

This can be done in two different ways, either shaking the treat bag and waiting for your chinchilla to come out to the sound and then picking them up. The other way is to make a small trail of treats to coax them out of where they’re hiding.

It is vital with this method that you use treats that are low sugar and safe that chinchillas love like rosehips, marigolds, or rolled oats (Timothy hay can also work for this purpose).

Chinchilla treat dried rosehips from Quality Cage Crafters

Raisins, apples, or carrots may be recommended by some sources, but their high sugar and moisture content make them dangerous to chinchillas and should never be used.

 In this case, the method is primarily used to entice the chinchillas out of hiding and to use this in conjunction with another method of catching them.

Can I Catch A Chinchilla By Its Tail?

Picking up a chinchilla is one of the most straightforward methods of catching them, but it’s important that you do it as safely as possible.

A chinchilla’s tail can be handled by their base, close to their hind legs, and where it connects to the rest of a chinchilla's body, without harming them. (commonly known as the tail and scoop method)

Chinchilla held on the bottom of his tail

Catching a chinchilla by the middle or end of their tail is not recommended because it could cause their tail to break off, this is commonly known as degloving and can be dangerous if infected.

One thing that can be frightening to new chinchilla owners is their chinchilla’s fur falling out when they’re in fear. This is known as a fur slip and is relatively harmless and painless.

A fur slip is a chinchilla's defense mechanism against threats, fur slips allow chinchillas to escape whatever predator is holding onto them. This is also why catching your chinchilla by just their fur is not recommended.

Can I Use A Trap To Catch A Chinchilla?

If your chinchilla is particularly stubborn to the above methods, a humane trap may be your best choice as a last resort.

There are many places where you can find humane live traps, but it’s important to inspect the trap to make sure all of the mechanisms are working properly and safely.

A small number of treats, pellet food, or Timothy hay can be placed in your trap to attract your chinchilla. Your chinchilla needs easy access to the trap, so place it in a common hiding spot - this may look different from chinchilla to chinchilla, but we will go over common hiding spots below.

This method is best when your chinchilla has none of the other methods on the list have worked, or if they’ve escaped outside. This method is also helpful to use overnight, as your chinchilla will be more active during these hours and will be looking for a food source. 

Where To Look For A Chinchilla

There is a good chance that your chinchilla will try to find a place to hide after it escapes, making it difficult to catch them. Thankfully, there are a few places where you can look for them in. 

Under Furniture

You're most likely to find your chinchilla hiding under (or in) furniture like couches, dressers, or even kitchen appliances.

The reason chinchillas prefer to hide in these spots is that they are generally more comfortable in enclosed areas where large predators are not likely to get to them.

In Closets Or Other Dark Areas

Another place chinchillas like to hide is in closets and darker areas of your house, such as rooms without windows, like basements.

Chinchilla in the dark

Similar to the reasoning for liking more enclosed spaces, chinchillas feel comfortable in darker spaces as their senses allow them to navigate better than other animals. 

Familiar Places

Familiar places may encompass a large number of spots, but this is anywhere your chinchilla frequently spends time.

This is the most common place for your chinchilla to run to or hide if you’ve just moved their cage, as they will associate these areas as being more safe than the new location.

In Walls

There are a variety of reasons why you should keep your chinchilla away from this area, as it is one of the more dangerous places for your pet to hide.

The way that Chinchillas get into the walls is either through already compromised spots like holes or cracks already in the walls, or by chewing a portion of the drywall and crawling in.

The biggest dangers of your chinchilla being in the wall include chewing the electrical wiring that is tucked behind outlets or eating the insulation. Both of these can cause blockages or injuries in your chinchilla’s digestive system.

There’s also the chance of your chinchilla injuring their front paws or hind legs in the support beams or falling, potentially requiring amputation.

Chinchilla looking outside the window

How To Make Sure Your Chinchilla’s Cage Is Escape Proof

The best thing you can do in this situation is to prevent and make sure your chinchilla can’t escape in the first place.

To make your chinchilla’s cage escape-proof, it’s important to identify weak spots in the cage itself. There can be a number of reasons for this, including faulty or malfunctioning cage door mechanisms, wires that are too far apart, or simply a cage that is too small for your chinchilla to live comfortably.

There is typically only one solution, which is to purchase an entirely new cage, but even though this seems like a costly solution in the short run, it's better to invest in a cage that is escape-proof in the long run.

Quality Cage Crafters chinchilla mansion

In Conclusion

There are many ways to catch and get your chinchilla back in their cage. There are many ways to accomplish this, which can include dust baths, treats, towels, picking them up, traps, and some simple prevention measures as well.

In order to ensure the safety of your chinchilla, no matter which method you will use, it is imperative to remain calm, and confident, and approach them slowly in order not to scare them away from you.

We aim to make our blogs as accurate as possible to make sure you get the best and most up-to-date information on the care and keeping of your chinchilla.

Have you ever caught an escaped chinchilla? We want to hear about your experience, and also, we'd love to see photos of your chinchilla, too!

You may send us your story and photos at so we can attach them to our blog. If we use your story on a blog post, we'll give you a $10 Gift Card. 


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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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