Chinchilla attacking my partner - help!

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Flibble

New member
Joined
Dec 22, 2021
Messages
1
Hi all,
I've had my Chinchilla, Simba, for 3 years now and made the decision from the outset not to have him neutered, because he is super energetic and all of my sister's chinchillas lost that when they got neutered.
He is super friendly and cute most of the time. He has never been agressive with me apart from when I pick him up to put him in his cage, then I occasionally get a grump noise and a gentle bite.
My partner loves Simba just as much as I do. Simba often runs around the room, bouncing off us both or stands on his head or feet.
The issue comes when my partner either walks into the room or gets up to go somewhere. Simba will charge at his feet, sometimes running straight past, and sometimes biting, usually drawing blood. Once he has sat down, Simba tends to calm down, but occasionally he will still jump up to bite him, once he gets that bite done, he will calm down again. Simba often waits until his back is turned to run at him, if he turns around Simba stops. It doesn't always happen, but it does happen a lot and it's becoming an issue. When I see it, I'll tell him "no", and he will usually run and hide for a few seconds before going again. I've tried putting him back in his cage etc but nothing seems to help. He is fine with most people being in the room, so I don't think it's a territory thing. Simba greets most people jumping up for strokes even, this biting behaviour only seems to happen with my partner.
Can anyone offer any advice that might help stop this behaviour?
 

Jawramik

Well-known member
Joined
Nov 3, 2021
Messages
148
I've heard of similar situations with other animals. Usually it's dogs and cats, but I've also heard of it happening with rabbits, rats, guinea pigs, and even large animals like horses. The animal exhibits aggressive or otherwise undesirable behaviour towards the romantic partner of their human caretaker. The most plausible explanation I've heard offered is that the animal perceives the partner as a rival for the attention and affection of "their human," and/or they feel the partner threatens their place within the hierarchy of the household (which the animal likely perceives as their herd or pack). Given that chinchillas are social, emotional, and intelligent creatures, it's not all that surprising that they'd exhibit such behaviour.

I don't really have any brilliant advice for a quick fix. I've never directly dealt with anything like it myself, but the advice I've usually seen given to those who are dealing with similar situations is to have your partner try to forge a bond with Simba that's independent from you. Have him spend time interacting with Simba when you're not around, or at least not right there next to him. He can start by interacting with Simba in the cage, talking to him through the bars, offering treats, hay, chew toys, etc., so Simba associates him with good things. He can open up the cage and put his hand in there to let Simba sniff him and climb on his hands and arms. Basically, have him approach Simba as if they were strangers, and try to have them build a bond from scratch that doesn't revolve around you. Just be sure that you also give Simba lots of one-on-one love as well during this time, so that he doesn't feel like he's losing you in any way. The goal is to have Simba view both of you as a source of love, security, food, and other good things, so that he understands your partner is a friend and part of the "herd" without Simba feeling like he has to compete with your partner.

It will probably take some time to see results (as in, weeks or months), but that's really the only thing I can think to suggest. I've seen this method work reasonably well with a dog, a couple cats, and a horse, but I don't know anyone who has had to try it with chins. It seems like it could help, and it certainly wouldn't hurt, so it seems worth a try, at least.

I'll be interested to see if someone with more relevant experience has any other suggestions.
 
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