Like all animals, chinchillas display a range of different behaviors. How they behave can depend on their individual personalities or natural instincts. In many cases, it also reflects of how they are feeling. Two common chinchilla behaviors are barking and fighting. Here, you can learn more about what causes these behaviors and how you can stop your chinchilla from barking and fighting.
Why Do Chinchillas Bark?
In the wild, chinchillas bark if they feel threatened and need to warn other chinchillas of potential dangers. This is a natural behavior that domestic chinchillas have retained. The most common reason a chinchilla barks is because something has alarmed them. For example, a door has been slammed or somebody in the house shouts. They are more likely to shout if they share their cage with another chinchilla as they are communicating that there is a potential threat.
Another reason a chinchilla may bark is if they are in pain, but this has a slightly different sound to the warning bark. Again, it is their way of expressing themselves. If they are hurt or ill and you try to handle them, they may bark to let you know that it is causing them pain.
How to Stop Them from Barking
Barking is a perfectly natural behavior for chinchillas, so there is no need to try to stop them from doing this. It is simply a form of communication. However, if the noise is irritating you, the best way of preventing the chinchilla from barking is by not putting the chinchilla in a situation where they are alarmed or stressed.
Monitor what happens directly before they start barking so you know what causes them to make this sound. If it is loud noises in the house, just try to keep things a little quieter for them. If you believe that the cause of the barking is pain or distress, get your chinchilla checked out by a veterinarian.
Why Do Chinchillas Fight?
A common problem when keeping two or more chinchillas is fighting. When chinchillas fight, they pull each other’s fur, scratch, and bite. There are many possible causes for fighting and while some are not a concern, it is best to reduce the fighting as much as possible. The gender and the relationships between the chinchillas plays a significant role.
If you have a mix of males and females in a cage, the males will fight as soon as the female comes into season. This is natural behavior to decide dominance and who will mate with the female. This aggression is sometimes short-lived.
However, there is also the potential for them to do significant harm to each other during a fight and the worst-case scenario is that one of the chinchillas may die. They have exceptionally sharp and long teeth. They also have strong jaws. This means they can penetrate the skull or body when biting and this can cause damage to the brain or internal organs, leading to death.
A pairing of a male and a female is the most stable option as they are less likely to fight compared to two males or two females living together. However, hormonal changes in the female can cause her to attack a male.
Young chinchillas can also fight, but this is usually playful. When chinchillas breed, the female will generally give birth to two kits. If they give birth to three or four, feeding can become difficult and the kits will fight to get to the mother’s limited supply of milk first. They do not usually fight for long and is usually done in a playful manner.
How to Stop Them from Fighting
One of the best ways to stop chinchillas from fighting is to separate them for a short period. You can then reintroduce them and monitor the situation to see if they still display aggression towards each other or if they are getting along better.
If the chinchillas still do not get along, you may have to consider keeping them in separate cages to stop them from fighting. If you do this, keep the cages together so that the chinchillas can still communicate. This is important as they are social animals that live in colonies in the wild. Leave a couple of inches between the cages so hey cannot make any aggressive physical contact.
How Can You Tell if Chinchillas Are Fighting or Playing?
Sometimes, it may appear as though chinchillas are fighting when they are only playing. In kits, it is most likely that they are playing as chinchillas do not usually become aggressive until they reach puberty.
With adult chinchillas, you will need to watch their behavior to decide whether they are fighting or not. One of the clearest indicators that they are fighting and not playing is if they rear up on their hind legs. They do this to make themselves look bigger and more threatening. This is a clear sign that they have the intention to harm the other chinchilla. This is most common in pairings of adult males.
Tips for Better Bonding and a Healthy Relationship Between Chinchillas Living Together
Chinchillas are sociable animals that live in colonies in the wild. As pets, however, they do not always get along in a confined space. The early stages of their relationship are important and monitoring their relationship is important to prevent fighting.
One male and one female are the best pairing option and two male chinchillas are the worst pairing. Although two females will generally live well together, their relationship can deteriorate due to hormonal changes in either chinchilla.
When introducing a new chinchilla, keep it in a separate cage for 30 days. This is the quarantine period and allows the chinchillas to get used to hearing and seeing each other without physical contact.
There is no evidence that introducing chinchillas and then taking the new one away again benefits their bonding in any way.
If you are pairing young males together, trim down their whiskers first. There is evidence that this reduces aggression and the need for dominance.
A strategy that breeders use when introducing new chinchillas to each other is to dab vanilla extract on their noses. This makes them less sensitive towards a new arrival. This usually only works with young chinchillas.
When you first house chinchillas together, monitor their behavior towards each other.
Make sure you have a cage that provides plenty of room for the number of chinchillas it will house. They are less likely to fight if they can retreat to a different area of the cage.
Separate chinchillas if they are fighting and then reintroduce them after a few days. If they continue to fight permanent separation is the only solution.
You should only ever buy a second or third chinchilla if you have room to accommodate separate cages, even if you are planning on housing them together. You will need the second cage for the quarantine period and as standby, in case the relationship does not work out well.
Barking is not a problem in chinchillas as it is simply a natural form of communication for them. On the other hand, fighting is a bigger issue. Some chinchillas will live together successfully while other pairings or groupings will continue to have problems, and this can potentially lead to the death of one of your pets. If they cannot live together amicably, then separation is your only option.