Chinchilla still seems unused to me


New member
Jul 13, 2021
Hi all! I can’t elaborate too much rn at the time of posting as I’m on my way to work lol but I have two chinchillas, Penelope who I got in about mid May, and Ophelia who I got in early June. Ophelia is super sweet and she doesn’t mind being held or around people for the most part, and she’s very quiet and keeps to herself. Penelope, though, is still extremely skittish. She sometimes greets me when I enter my room by standing at the front of her cage with Ophelia, whom I think helped her get out of her shell a bit for sure, but she’s still definitely skittish and unsociable. She barks and bites when my hand is in their cage to clean or change food, and I was wondering what should I do to get her less afraid of me? I provide them with new toys every other week to help avoid boredom, and they always have clean food and water available. Any advice besides that? They’re such adorable sweethearts and I wanna make sure they’re as happy as they can be! Thank you so much in advance!


Staff member
May 7, 2012
Depending on the personality and what their life was like before you got them it is not uncommon for chins to take months or even years to trust you. Most chins do not like to be held, and if she was mistreated or neglected before you got her it will take time to prove you are ok since humans have proven untrustworthy in the past.

Chins also vary in personality just as much as humans, some are more shy and unsocial, others are more outgoing and very social, and everything in between. You can even have two chins that have had the exact same upbringing and end up with them being totally different. I had two boys and one was very laid back, I could pick him up and pet him, sadly he passed away a couple weeks ago. His twin brother on the other hand is much less social, he tolerates being held but you can tell he doesn't really like it, and he is much more demanding and grumpy then his brother.

Mostly just give her time, you can try handing her something every time you come in the room, like a chew toy, stick, treat, bit of hay, or even a pellet if she will take it. The idea is to get her to connect you coming in the room with something good. You can also sit and talk to her. Sometimes seeing the other chin getting held and petted can help show the more skittish one that you are safe. It does take time though, and you can't really rush it. Also if possible try not to pull your hand away when she bites, it is just teaching her that biting gets what she wants, which is for you to go away. If you need to try wearing a thick glove, that way it doesn't hurt when she bites and she'll learn biting doesn't work anymore.