Chinchillas are lovely creatures and they make wonderful pets. They are intelligent although they can be a little strong willed when they want to be. The key to them being 'people friendly' is to ensure they have lots of contact with humans from an early age.
When chinchillas are gently handled when young, they soon learn to enjoy interacting with people and once they do, it is possible to teach them to do certain things. This includes using a litter tray and coming to you when called. If you own a timid chinchilla, the best way to make friends with them and get them to trust you, is by using one of their favourite treats which happens to be raisins.
It's important to earn your pet's trust before you do anything, which means you need to show a lot of patience and understanding when you interact with them. The one thing you must never to do is surprise your pet by waking them up or trying to pick them up before they are ready for you to do this.
The best approach is to spend time in the room where their cage has been placed, but not to pay too much attention to your pet. Their cage should be put as high as possible because chinchillas like to be up high, especially when they are sleeping. You should talk gently to them without getting too close, because at this stage you just want them to get used to you being around and the sound of your voice.
It's not a good idea to stick you fingers through the cage bars if your pet is nervous. You have to let them settle in to their new environments for a couple of days. After this, you can open the cage door and gently place a couple of raisins on the floor.
You'll more than likely find your pet cannot resist the treats and if you leave your hand close by, they will come and eat the raisins all the while getting used to your smell and your presence but without having any direct contact with you.
You should never try to touch your pet at this stage of the process, but rather wait for them to come and investigate your hand. It's also important to keep talking to them gently and reassuringly. Once they seem happy with you having your hand in their cage, you should place a raisin in the palm of your hand and wait for them to take it and you have to be very patient.
If when your hand is in their cage your chinchilla seems anxious or nervous, you should remove it straight away and go back to just spending time in the same room as them, all the while talking to them kindly and offering them a favourite treat from time to time. The thing to bear in mind is that nothing will happen overnight because earning their trust takes time.
Once your chinchilla is happy with your hand being in their cage and is quite content to eat treats placed in your palm, the next step is to place a raisin a little higher up your arm which is the first step in getting them to accept coming out of their cage.
If at any time they retreat further into their cage, you should never go after them because this will just stress your pet out and make them more distrustful. The result would be all the effort you put into making friends with them could be ruined. A more confident chinchilla would happily jump on your hand and pop up your arm to retrieve a raisin!
You should never let a nervous or stressed out chinchilla out of their cage. You have to gain their trust and be sure they are not going to be scared by anything before you do. Once they are relaxed about things, you have two choices with the first being to let your pet run up your arm to get the treats you placed on it, or you may prefer to gently scoop them up when they are eating a raisin in the palm of your hand.
However, if they get nervous you should not insist but rather bide your time and wait a little longer before attempting to pick them up again by repeating all the processes mentioned above.
Getting a chinchilla to trust you takes time and patience. They are not like dogs and do not answer so readily when you call them or to commands, but having said this, once you gain their trust and friendship you can form a wonderful bond with your pet. The key to making a timid chinchilla feel more confident about everything is to take your time remembering it could take months to accomplish your goals, but it will be time very well spent for both of you!
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