While some people are happy to have a pet they can watch, others prefer a pet they can handle and share interaction. If you prefer the latter, then it is important to know whether the type of pet you are considering is likely to bite. As chinchillas are a pet that fits into the handling category, it is essential to understand their biting habits.
Do Chinchillas Bite?
Most animals with teeth will bite at some point and this is certainly the case with chinchillas. While some chinchillas will rarely bite, it is always a potential concern. To some extent, the amount a chinchilla bites depends on their individual personality, but there are many other factors that can cause biting.
What Do They Bite?
Your main concern is probably whether they will bite you, and this is a possibility in various circumstances. However, it is not only their owners they may bite. A chinchilla may also bite their cage, any accessories in their cage, and any other chinchillas sharing their cage.
Why Do Chinchillas Bite? – Common Reasons for Biting
There are many different causes of chinchilla biting. Some of the most common are the following:
- Fear- When a chinchilla is frightened or feels threatened in any way, it is a natural form of self defense for them to bite the perceived threat.
- Pain- A chinchilla can also bite as a reaction to pain. For example, they may have stomach pain from eating the wrong foods. When you handle them, it makes the pain worse and they may bite to let you know they are hurting.
- Dominance- Biting is a way for male chinchillas to exert their dominance. This is a common problem if you have two males paired together. They want to let the other male chinchilla know not to mess with them and will bite, scratch, rear up on their hind legs, and pull out their opponent’s fur.
- Playfulness- Kits and younger chinchillas will often bite in a playful way. If you have ever played with a puppy or a kitten, they will also give a playful bite. This is normal behavior for younger animals.
- Wearing their teeth- A chinchilla’s teeth grow continuously, and they must wear them down to prevent overgrowing. While some of their food helps to wear down their teeth, they may also gnaw on other items, such as the end of their water bottle or any toys in their cage.
- Stress- Chinchillas can easily suffer from stress and this may cause changes in their behavior. A chinchilla that has never bitten before may suddenly start biting if they are suffering from stress. A stressed chinchilla may also bite other chinchillas in their cage.
How Can You Avoid a Chinchilla Biting?
Receiving a bite from a chinchilla is unpleasant as they have long, sharp teeth. Therefore, you will want to prevent this from happening, if possible. It is also best to try to stop chinchillas biting each other. The following tips can help:
- Have the chinchilla checked over by a vet to make sure they are not in pain.
- Approach the chinchilla slowly and handle them with care to reduce fear.
- Start handling them at a young age so they are used to human contact and not fearful.
- Separate chinchillas that are biting each other to prevent injury.
- Give them toys to play with in their cage that allow them to wear their teeth down.
- Feed them a healthy diet that wears their teeth down naturally and avoid foods that will cause them pain.
- Avoid causing the chinchilla stress with changes to their environment or food.
Biting is a normal chinchilla behavior that has many causes. It is unlikely that you can stop a chinchilla biting completely as it is often a reaction to pain, stress, or fear. However, there are steps you can take to reduce the likelihood of your chinchilla biting.