Do Chinchillas Like Being Held?

How to hold a chinchilla
Image credit Camilla Bjerke

Chinchillas are rodents, and as rodents, they are prey. What does that have to do with holding them? Well, a lot. Being prey animals, they tend to flee from danger, and having something more substantial than they are getting hold of them tends to make them panic. That fear of being eaten keeps them from wanting to be held.

Each chinchilla is an individual and might be just fine while handled. Chinchillas have become pets rather than an animal farmed for their fur. Meaning chinchillas are held more than ever. If you take your time and work with them, there may be a point you can pick up your chinchilla with little fuss. Your little fuzzball may even enjoy it. Patience is the key here. Especially with an adult. After some time and patience, she might allow you to cuddle and carry her without panic.

Baby Chinchillas can be raised being held. Once mamma has settled and is caring for her kits, as chinchilla babies are called, you can start picking up the babies. Be sure your mamma chinchilla is okay with this. If at any time, she shows stress, you should place the kit back and allow time to pass.

You can train your chinchilla to be held. The important part is being patient with your pet. Your first step should be allowing your chinchilla, if you’ve just brought your pet home, is to let her get used to her cage.

 Next step is to put your hands slow and gentle into the cage. Let your chinchilla sniff you for a bit. If there is no sign of stress or panic, you can pick your chinchilla up around the body for a few seconds and set your chinchilla down.

Give your little furball a treat for doing so well and allowing you to hold them.

Repeat these steps and each time keep them longer, rewarding them for allowing this exercise. The more you work with your chinchilla, the better chance you have at having a chinchilla that will enable you to hold her.

Why Buying Your Chinchilla From The Right Place Is Important

Chinchillas are crepuscular, which means inactive during the day and quite active at night. If you are a night owl this would be the opportune time to work with your pet.

Chinchilla kit temperament is innate, stemming from the combination of their parents’ personalities. You should research the chinchilla breed and any breeder you may think about purchasing your chinchilla from.

It isn’t recommended you get your chinchilla from a pet store because they won’t take the time to raise a batch of kits with the attention a reputable breeder will.

Most breeders are fussy about their mating pairs. The considerate breeder will choose gentle, good-natured chinchillas to breed, increasing the chances that the kits will be mild and agreeable as well.

Another reason to go with a reputable breeder is that they know how to take care of and handle kits. Kits should be held and touched as they grow to become used to humans. This makes sure that when you get your chinchilla, she will respond to you better.

How Do You Hold a Chinchilla?

There are several different ways to handle or hold your chinchilla. First, you must remember your chinchilla is a small and somewhat delicate critter. So, this means getting hold of your chin in a manner that will keep them and you safe. A panicked chinchilla will tend to bite if your hand or fingers are in distance of those teeth. Also, you don’t want to hold your chinchilla in a way you may squash them if they try to flee.

Methods of handling or holding your chinchilla.

Tail and Scoop

Do this by holding the base of the tail, close to their rump. Not so close you get hold of their back end. With one hand holding the tail you then slip your other hand beneath your chinchilla’s body and lifting so that you support your chinchilla. Your grip on their tail ensures that if they struggle suddenly, you won’t drop him.

Tail only

This is done similar to the first method, but this should probably only be used with an aggressive chinchilla. If you have a chinchilla that likes to bite, you may want to use this method to get them from their cage to a carrier or your lap or table for grooming. This should not be used to carry your chinchilla around. You could hurt them by doing this. This method is a bit controversial in that some don’t think that a chinchilla should be picked up this way at all.


This method is just what it says. You can use both hands to clasp gently around your chinchilla’s body. If she panics get her feet under her and into your hands, that will assure her she won’t fall. As in all the ways you can pick up your chinchilla be careful that she can’t struggle and get free. She is small, and a fall could injure her severely or possibly kill her.


Restraint is used for checking your chinchilla over to be sure they are healthy, for grooming, or medical reasons. The first way is to grip their tail as in tail only handling. Place your chinchilla with their feet on a table or counter, keeping the tail held low. If you need to maintain your chinchilla a with a bit more restraint, you can use your other hand to grip one or both ears. Another way to restrain your chinchilla is to use a light towel or fleece blanket. Wrap the sheet or towel around your chinchilla snug enough to keep them from wiggling out, but not too tight. This is used if you have to force-feed, check ears, or teeth.

Free handling

This is for that calm, trusting chinchilla. This method is up to the chinchilla. You see in photos, people have their chinchilla on their shoulders, sitting on their hands with no holding their tails. This is because they’ve gained the trust of their chinchilla. Their chinchilla must be a very calm soul, indeed. As stated at the beginning of the article, chinchillas are prey animals and prone to the flee instinct most prey animals have.

You now know how to get your chinchilla used to you and being picked up. You know several ways to pick up your chinchilla. You know you should buy from a reputable breeder.

When you go to hold or pick up your chinchilla be sure to do it calmly and gently. They are still a rodent and have that innate prey instinct. The calmer and gentler you are the better they will respond.

With all that said, the one thing your chinchilla would instead do than being held is explore. Even if you’ve trained your chinchilla, you should give time to explore. Remember each chinchilla is an individual with their own personalities. Allow your chinchilla’s nature to bloom.

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