Handling and Temperament

Chinchillas vary distinctly in temperament, and this should be taken into consideration as they are handled or purchased. Chinchilla temperament is mostly inherent, so it is important to start your herd with reasonably tempered chinchillas. No amount of handling will make a mean or high strung chinchilla pleasant. Breeding ill tempered chinchillas to a good tempered mate also does not insure good temperament in the offspring. You get what you start with to a large degree. Temperament is more apparent in older chinchillas, and less easily assessed in kits. If you see a lot of standing up and chirping, mouth open wide, or spraying by the females, this is a sign you are not off to a good start. Some chinchillas will sit quietly when held if you support their back legs in one hand, and support their front feet slightly higher than the back with the other hand. They feel safer held up against you than with your hands outstretched. It is safe to hold a chinchilla temporarily by the base of the tail. Be careful not to grasp the fur where the tail connects to the body or you will have a handful of fur and a damaged coat. If they are frightened when you are holding them, they might slip their fur, or lose an area of fur down to the skin, as a defense mechanism. They might also bite if hurt or extremely frightened. Be careful not to squeeze them too tightly because their ribs are very easily broken.

Young children should be supervised very closely when allowed to handle a chinchilla. It is common to have fingers bitten when children and adults stick their fingers through the cage wire and the chinchillas mistake this for an offering of food.

 

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