Chinchilla playtime and getting them back in?

currysawcc

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Dec 18, 2020
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Hi everyone, I brought home two beautiful male chinchilla kits last Sunday. They are called Onyx and Dio! ☺ I am a new Chinchilla owner but have had much experience with various rodents and rabbits in the past. Already I can see the vast differences in their care regime and how wonderful pets they are! I am, naturally, really worried about their welfare and if my care is 'good enough' for them.

I have seen online that chinchillas require playtime and exercise outside of their enclosure, but I have also read that they should grow up a little before having too much playtime as they exert so much energy, overheat, and get stressed out or unwell etc. They have only been home for six days and I haven't let them run around properly yet, mostly due to the fact they are still really timid and adjusting, and also the age thing I mentioned. They are both nearly 4 months old. Do you think I should introduce them to playtime just yet, or still let them adapt? They don't seem overly bored as I hear them chattering when they are active, playing with their toys, chewing their chews and jumping on all levels of their enclosure (not a running back and forth motion, just exploring). They have four different levels to explore as well as bridges, hammocks, tunnels and hides, so I believe there is ample space and entertainment for them both for now.

Dio is a lot less timid, and already he has climbed onto my shoulder and is happy to sit on my hands for a few seconds. There has been a couple of times he has gotten onto the floor when I've opened the door when he is active, but I closely watch him and manage to get him back in. However, I always feel so so bad when I do so. Twice I have had to pick him up and he lets out a single loud squeak, and another I was unable to, so had to persuade him into his carrier and shut the door so I could safely transport him back. I hate when this happens as I obviously would love to let him explore (the room is safe, no exposed wires etc) but I find it difficult to get him back in, and my heart absolutely breaks when I attempt to pick him up. I know he is naturally scared and it is horrible to hear, but I am also so worried about hurting him. Does anyone have any advice on how to safely get them back into their enclosure whilst also trying to build trust? Again, they are adjusting, so I doubt they will be overly trusting for a long while, but I don't want to hinder any progress. The bottom floor of the enclosure is also raised, so they are unable to just hop back in when they feel like it.

Thank you all so much! Please don't leave any negative messages, I am eager to learn and make sure the boys are as happy and as comfortable as they can be! ☺
 

Amethyst

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It's best to wait until they are at least 6 months to have out of cage playtime. Kits can over heat quickly even in a cool room, as well they don't control their blood sugar as well as adults so over doing it can cause a dangerous sudden drop in blood sugar. At most 5-10 minutes is ok, but that is total, not 5-10 minutes then try to get them to go back for several minutes 😉 . In general though, even when old enough, I suggest waiting until you have at least started building a bond before letting them out to play, that way you aren't having to chase them around to get them to go back. Depending on how high up the cage is you can also make steps or a ramp for them to get back in the cage. If I don't feel like taking them to another room I have a fence set up around the cage and a old wood house and ramp set up so they can come and go as they please.
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A few ideas how to get them to go back is, use the dust bath, most chins will happily jump in the bath, but some do figure it out quickly so it may only work for a short time. If you really need to catch him you can also throw a blanket over him and scoop him up. You can also try scooping them up with a small box. If you do the fencing around the cage you can also put fresh food, toys, chews, or something in the cage when it's time to go back, to get them to want to go back on their own. I like to hide new things (like small chews and treats) around their cage when they have out of cage time anyway, that way going back to the cage isn't such a bad thing.
 
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