If you are thinking about adopting a chinchilla, do you need to adopt multiple?
Chinchillas are social creatures. In the wild, they can live in herds of 100 chinchillas. But don’t worry, you don’t need to adopt a large herd, two or three is enough!
Can male chinchillas actually live together or will they fight too often? The answer is yes they can – if they are introduced properly. And in this post, we will discuss everything you need to know about introducing chinchillas.
Can Multiple Males Live Together?
If you plan to adopt multiple chinchillas, should you adopt males or females? Whichever you choose, understand that there is a possibility that they will not get along. If this happens you need to be willing to house them separately permanently.
In the past I have had two males that just couldn’t get to a place where I felt comfortable leaving them together in cages. I was able to get them comfortable enough to have out of cage time together however. So they lived in separate cages next to each other, and then both came out to play in their room together.
Female chinchillas are very territorial. If you adopt two female chinchillas, they might fight frequently. The exception to this would be if you adopt a pair of already bonded female chinchillas from a shelter. While they will still spray some, if they are already a successful pair you probably won’t have a major issue – so long as there are no male chinchillas around.
Male chinchillas might also fight, but they are less territorial than females. Male chinchillas can successfully live together under the right conditions. If you are adopting chinchillas that are not bonded, I would advise you try for males. It’s not a guarantee, but your odds will be better vs if you adopt two single females.
Basically, male chinchilla cohabitation can be successful if:
- They are introduced properly
- There are no female chinchillas living in the same area
- Only one chinchilla wants to be dominant
How to Introduce Chinchillas
The key to successful chinchilla cohabitation is a successful introduction. Without the right introduction, chinchillas will not enjoy living together and fights will likely occur.
When introducing chinchillas, you need to be patient. This is not a quick process. It took me 6 months to successfully introduce my two males – to a point where they stopped fighting (mostly).
Below is a video that discusses chinchilla introductions. Although this video focuses on introducing two females, the process is similar for introducing two males. Feel free to review this video before continuing on to our how-to guide below.
Introductions – Step by Step
Step 1: Keep Chinchillas in Separate Cages- When you are first introducing chinchillas, it is important to keep them in separate cages. If you introduce them too quickly, fights are likely to occur. For a few days, place each chinchilla in its own cage. Keep the cages in the same room (about 1-foot apart). This will help them get used to each other’s smells. Gradually decrease the distance between the cages until they are next to each other or almost touching (4-5 days). See if you can observe any interactions through the cage bars.
Step 2: Let the chinchillas share dust baths and bedding. So instead of cleaning out the dust, let each chinchilla bath in the same dust (just not at the same time). Have the chinchillas share several baths. If you keep your chinchillas on fleece, switch around the fleece a few times. You can also transfer some bedding from each chinchilla’s potty spots several times. It’s a bit gross, but smelling each other’s urine does help the process. Do this 4-5 times (or for about a week) before moving on to the next step.
Step 3: Switch Cages- After a few days of side-by-side living, you can switch their cages. Continue rotating the chinchillas every 1-2 days. This helps the chinchillas get familiar with the new smells and reduce territorial aggression. This step can take a long time, at least a week. Wait until the chinchillas seem comfortable in each other’s space.
Step 4: Arrange a Play Date- Now it is time for the chinchillas to meet. Let the chinchillas share a very supervised play-date. Allow them to play together outside of their cages in a neutral space. Ensure there are several hides and places one chinchilla can hide from the other if he needs a break. Treats, toys, tunnels etc are all great things to place in the room. Make sure you watch closely to prevent any fights. If a fight does occur, try to separate them quickly. Have a dust bath on hand that you can place down if they start to fight. Once you separate them, one should jump into the bath and then you can take him back to his cage. If a fight does occur go back to step 2 for a day or two.
Step 4: Cohabitation- If everything goes well up to this point, you can now let the chinchillas share a cage. Make sure the cage is large enough for two chinchillas – like a multi-level Ferret Nation. Observe the chinchillas closely, especially at first. Put them together in the morning on a day you are around, that way you can keep an eye on them. As it gets later in the evening make sure to watch them closely, and separate them if you don’t feel comfortable leaving them overnight. If you do this try to remove the more dominant chinchilla. Then the next morning put them together again and observe. If you notice any fighting, separate the chinchillas and try a play-date again in a few days.
How to Handle Fights
Unfortunately, some chinchillas simply won’t get along. Even if you are patient and slowly introduce the chinchillas, there are just some chinchillas that don’t want to live together. Ultimately, it comes down to each chinchillas personality. You can’t predict a chinchilla’s personality, so you need to take some time to get familiar with their traits and habits. Some personalities are simply less conducive to cohabitation.
If your chinchillas start to fight, you need to be prepared to handle this situation. Some chinchilla fights are very dangerous. These rodents have very sharp teeth, which can cause severe damage. Fighting can also cause fur-slips, which is a defense mechanism they use in the wild. So if you see hair flying around, this is normal during a fight. Other fights are more emotionally than physically damaging. Fighting can cause some chinchillas to become anxious or fearful. They might decide to stop eating or drinking.
I like to have a dust bath on hand so if there is some fighting, I can plop that down and hopefully one of them will run in and I can take them back to their cage.
Female chinchillas are very territorial and are likely to fight with other chinchillas in their cage. It is important to spend extra time introducing female chinchillas.
Male chinchillas are less territorial than females. But, males are likely to fight with other males if a female chinchilla is also present.
If your chinchillas start fighting, try placing them in separate cages. You may need to try the introduction process again. Let your chinchillas have some space and then slowly allow them to try another play date. Hopefully, with patience and time, your chinchillas will be ready to live together again.
Can Chinchillas Live Alone?
Chinchillas are social creatures, and if you only adopt one you will be making a huge time commitment. If you only adopt one chinchilla, you need to make sure you can give your chinchilla plenty of attention. You should plan to spend 1-2 hours a day playing/socializing with your chinchilla at a minimum.
If you don’t think you can devote this amount of time to your chinchilla, you need to adopt two. Two chinchillas can keep each other company and fill their need for socialization.
In my experience, having a single chinchilla is more work vs having two. Even though there is more of a mess to clean up with two, you can give yourself a break and maybe not take them out for playtime if you had a bad day. The pressure on you to be your single chinchilla’s only social outlet is much less when you have two,
As someone who owned a chinchilla housed alone for over a year, it is a lot to deal with. Having to devote at least an hour every evening to a tiny rodent – that is very adept at causing all kinds of mischief- is harder than it appears on paper.
Chinchilla cohabitation can be tricky.
In the wild, chinchillas live in large herds. Pet chinchillas don’t have to live in groups, but they are still social creatures, and owning just one is a huge time commitment.
Assuming you are going to adopt multiple chinchillas, you need to plan for plenty of time to introduce these chinchillas. With a proper introduction, chinchillas (especially male chinchillas) can live together. If fights occur, separate the chinchillas for a few days before planning another play-date. With patience and the right introduction, chinchillas can live together and even bond with each other.
Have you tried to introduce chinchillas? Was this successful? I would love to hear your story! Share it in the comments below.