Home Exotic Pets Why Does My Chinchilla Nibble Me?

Why Does My Chinchilla Nibble Me?

by Lucy

Chinchillas aren’t for everyone. They’re a rare and exotic animal that comes from South America. They’re critically endangered in the wild.

Moreover, if you know anything about chinchillas, you’ll see that they are crepuscular creatures active at dusk or twilight. So, if you’re a morning bird, it’s best to adopt a pet that can synchronize with your way of life. But, for animal lovers whose leisure time is in the evening, cuddling a fluffy little friend is the perfect way to end the day.

Chinchillas don’t adapt quickly to new environments or changes in their routine. However, if you manage to adopt a baby chinchilla and socialize it early, then you’ll have a soft, fluffy, and cuddly pet on your hands. But, some chinchilla parents notice a weird little habit from their chinchillas: nibbling.

So, why does your chinchilla nibble you? If a chinchilla nibbles your fingers, they’re not trying to eat you. Chinchillas usually nibble as a way of showing affection, but there are a few other reasons for this as well, including grooming behavior and a form of exploration.

Read on to find out more about why chinchillas behave in such peculiar ways.

Why Do Chinchillas Nibble?

Chinchillas have some strange behaviors, like dust bathing, that can confuse potential owners, but they have their reasons.

There are two different types of chinchillas. One is the Chinchilla Brevicaudata, with a thick neck and shoulders, shorter tail, and smaller ears. The other is the Chinchilla Lanigera with more prominent ears and a thinner body frame and shoulders.

The Chinchilla Brevicaudata is close to extinction, whereas the Chinchilla Lanigera is the one that is available through domestic breeding.

But, as both these subspecies of chinchillas are rodents, they have common characteristics. They chew, bite, and nibble. Naturally, they chew and bite to eat, mostly. You may find your fluffball chewing on toys as well.

But nibbling is different from chewing and biting. You see, nibbling involves smaller, gentler bites. And, a chinchilla can nibble for many reasons.

1. Exploration

Chinchillas explore their world around them through nibbling. They learn about their immediate environment by gently nibbling and discovering the things around them and where they are.

So, if you’ve just brought in a baby chinchilla to your home, it’s going to nibble at everything around it, including you, to find out more about its habitat. 

Sometimes, your chinchilla kit may nibble on you with a little more force than is required. But, that can be accredited to the folly of youth rather than a mean streak. You see, it is only through socialization and training that your Chinchilla will learn to adapt to your presence as well as to its new life with you. 

But, you need not think that you’ll have a long and hard time training your chinchilla kit, as they are super smart animals. And, yes, chinchilla babies nibble far more than adult chinchillas. However, training and socialization of an adult chinchilla will take longer than you might have expected.

2. Grooming

Chinchillas are very social creatures that live in herds. And chinchilla grooming involves small nibbles all across the fur, whiskers, and face of another chinchilla. Your adult chinchilla may find adjusting to its new life difficult, but if you bring in a mate, it’ll turn over a new leaf. 

The most adorable aspect of chinchilla grooming includes the grooming of another chinchilla. So, when you have two chinchillas in a cage, the one that is the superior (chinchillas have ranks in their herds) will groom the subordinate. 

The subordinate Chinchilla may even find its whiskers trimmed far more than necessary at times. But, this is a standard chinchilla grooming procedure. And chinchillas have amazingly soft and plush fur. So, you’ll find that your Chinchilla is often nibbling on itself or its junior. 

3. Love And Affection

If your Chinchilla has grown accustomed to your presence, it may even nibble on you. Now, chinchillas don’t live solitary lives. So, yes, your Chinchilla will learn to love your closeness to it. One of the first things it may do to understand who and what you are is to nibble on you. Secondly, it may even nibble to groom you. 

You may find your Chinchilla grab your fingers or nails, and nibble away on them. But, just as nibbling is for grooming. Your Chinchilla may well nibble on you as it appreciates your presence. If that is the case, you won’t find your chinchilla protesting much to be handled or held.

How Do Chinchillas Communicate?

Chinchillas are very perceptive and brilliant creatures. They are very good at picking up tricks and can communicate quite well with their humans. But, for a new chinchilla parent, you have to be careful about the nuances of your furbaby’s behavior.

You see, a chinchilla isn’t going to learn to roll over or sit. But, it’ll tell you reasonably clearly when it wants to be put down. It’ll nibble on you. And, if you are trying to pet it, and it doesn’t want to be touched, then it’s simply going to push your hands away.

And, when it is happy, it’s going to wink and smile at you like there’s no tomorrow. Wall surfing, tail wagging, and popcorning are standard chinchilla happy mode mannerisms.

When your Chinchilla is zooming across its cage at ground-breaking speed, it means that it’s excited. When it jumps straight up into the air and twitches at the top of the jump, you’ll know your fluffball is ecstatic. 

Furthermore, when your Chinchilla notices a potential love interest, it’s going to wag its tail from side to side. And, you’ll realize that it may never do the tricks your pup can, but it is as invaluable and precious to you as any of your family members.

Related Questions

As chinchillas are unique in every way that precious pets can be, many new chinchilla parents find themselves a little out of their depth. So, you can continue to read on to find answers to some of the frequently asked questions.

Are Chinchillas Friendly?

Chinchillas are naturally active and very playful creatures. But, they can also be quite skittish when taken away from what they are used to. In short, when you get an adult chinchilla into your home, don’t expect it to be happy with the changes.

It’s a beast that likes to take its time. So, it’s wisest to bring in a kit chinchilla and socialize it. Or, if you must adopt the adult chinchilla that you’ve fallen in love with, be prepared to give it the time and attention it needs to feel at home.

And, once your adorable little buddy does feel like it’s comfortable with you hanging around it, it’ll allow you to get close to it.

Your beloved pet may even send a little smile your way. Soon, you may even be welcome to hold your Chinchilla snugly in your arms. So, yes, chinchillas can be very friendly. But, they don’t believe in forced friendships!

Are Chinchillas Dangerous?

A chinchilla’s primary weapons are its teeth. These long, sharp incisors are the only things that can cause you any damage. But, you have to understand that chinchillas are rodents.

They are tiny creatures with small body structures. And, we are far more likely to do damage to our chinchillas than a chinchilla is to harm us.

Chinchillas aren’t aggressive by nature. They are docile beings that like to live their private lives in peace. But, if you adopt an adult chinchilla into a completely new environment, then you will encounter its wrath.

Yet, even the sharpest bite of a chinchilla feels more like a paper cut. The bites of a chinchilla hardly ever draw blood. But, there is always the possibility that you may contract an infection if you don’t treat the wound.

Also, people out there claim that chinchillas can be dangerous around babies or younger children. When you have not raised your chinchilla, and your children don’t know how to handle petting or holding a chinchilla, then the chinchilla is best kept at a distance till it is socialized.

Do Chinchillas Laugh?

Chinchillas make a whole series of sounds to communicate with their mates, herd, or humans. Chinchillas have superior intelligence, and changes in their environment do not go unnoticed by these observant creatures.

They make a ‘kacking’ sound when they are intensely angry. And, many female chinchillas even spray urine at their predator. And, yes, a Chinchilla makes other sounds too.

Chinchillas sometimes seem to be laughing. But, these are rather vocal sounds that some experts say can be a cry for help. You see, when a chinchilla notices an unfamiliar sound in its environment or encounters an unknown presence close to its habitat, it will laugh to alert its herd. 

But, the laughing sound may come from a lone chinchilla in its cage too. In such circumstances, the chinchilla makes the noise to alert its human family of approaching danger.

Up Next: Can Chinchillas Eat Guinea Pig Food?

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