Chinchilla unhappy after cage upgrade

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New member
Nov 30, 2021
I'm not sure what would be best to do here - put him back in his old cage, vs. keep him in his new cage for a little longer?

My 16 year old chin was recently moved into a ferret nation double unit after spending his entire life in a cage comparable in size to a single unit (but a little smaller & hand-built with a wire floor). I thought I'd be giving him a retirement castle, but I think I've made the situation much worse for him.

He rarely goes into the top levet unit at all, he hasn't figured out a comfortable sleeping area yet and is constantly in different spots or awake in the daytime, despite putting his old sleeping house in his new cage - I think I saw him jump in it once for a few seconds. He stopped running on his flying saucer wheel after the first night in there. He does seem to be eating, but it's been hard to monitor the amount because I gave him extra options with the move. But he just doesn't seem to be himself anymore and just sits there with a depressed look, lethargic and inactive. Even when I take him out to hold he seems paralyzed for the first 10 minutes or so, whereas prior he'd become hyper/exploratory almost immediately.

I feel like he looks at me like I betrayed him now. I'd gladly move him back into his old cage if that would be best for him. Or should I give it more time?

The other thing that probably doesn't help that perhaps is a mistake on my part... I moved him into this new cage less than a week after we had to evacuate for 2 days to my parents' house during Hurricane Ian. Luckily everything turned out fine in that regard, the storm missed us as it hit south, but we spent the 3-4 days straight leading up to it packing up the house in a panic and moving everything to a storage unit across town. During that timeframe, he started chewing off his tail fur - something he's never done prior. But he has had ongoing fur chewing issue much of his life, albeit limited to the sides of his back legs prior to this. Never his tail.

Looking for recommendations on what my next steps should be. I've had 5 different chins over the last 29 years, two of which I had for over 20 years, so I'm not new to them, I just never had an issue like this. He's the only chin I've had who's never had to go the vet or needed medicine for illness. I don't know if it's commonplace yet to medically treat chinchillas for mental illness like dogs are these days. I suppose also seeking advice there if anyone has experience with that.

Thanks in advance.


Super Moderator
Staff member
May 7, 2012
Since he was use to a much smaller cage I would close up half the cage, and just give him access to one unit for now. It does take most chins atleast a week to settle in to a new home, which for some chins does apply new cage too. See if giving him less cage helps, since it can be overwhelming for some chins, and especially for him since this all happened after a stressful event it might all just be too much. If he settles down in the smaller cage space you can open up the rest of the cage. However if after about a week he is still acting off I would try putting him back in his old cage for a week or two and see if that helps. Obviously as I'm sure you know if he is acting really off like not moving, not eating or drinking, or his poops aren't right I would get him to the vet (stress does lower the immune system making it more likely to get sick). Also just put the pellets in one spot for right so you can better monitor his food intake.

If you live in a place like the US or Canada taking the chin to the vet is becoming more commonly recommended for annual check ups to check the teeth, weight, and stuff like that, but I have not heard much about mental health care. There are herbal remedies you can give, Stress and Anxiety Remedy for Rabbits, Chinchillas, Guinea pigs but that is really all I know of.