New Chin Owner and Playtime

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Chilly

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Mar 29, 2021
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Hi everyone. I recently got my Chinchilla last week...I read about how they need an hour or so of playtime a day but somehow missed the memo about bonding w them in cage first. He’s sweet so far will come out, sniff, allow for a little petting before going back under my dresser! But it’s a serious process trying to get him back into his cage. I actually found this page when googling “why can’t I get my chinchilla back in his cage?” 🤦🏻‍♀️ Now that I know he’s not ready to be let out and I need to build the bond how long before trying to let him out again? And any other advice would be super helpful...thanks I’m advance!
 

Amethyst

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They don't need an hour of out of cage time a day as much as they need a at least an hour of interaction a day, most can be done in the cage. Things like sitting by the cage and talking, reading aloud, singing (if you can sing) or playing and instrument (if you play), playing with him in the cage like petting him, hold chews for him to chew on, letting him climb on you, and hold him. You can also hand him something every time you come near the cage, could be a treat, a toy, a chew stick, or a bit of hay or pellets, that way he associates you coming to the cage with getting something good. How long the bonding process will take is hard to say, could take weeks or months, but for the most part it takes most chins at least a week to settle in to a new home and start to trust, up to a month is not uncommon though. That means a week to a month before they even start to trust not a week to a month before they trust you. Full trust takes years in most cases, but I would say expect up to a month before you can try playtime again.

Once you get a bond forming it's best to do playtime in a chin proofed area, like a room without anything he can get under or a playpen. There should be nothing he shouldn't chew accessible as well as nowhere he can go that you can't get him. You can block off areas using cardboard boxes or critter fencing, or use it to make a playpen area or block off an area for play. You can also use fencing around the cage and so the chin can come and go from the cage on his own, when it's time for playtime to end if he hasn't gone back himself you can make the pen smaller so it's easier to catch him or he goes back in the cage. Another trick is to use the dust bath to catch him, most chins will run to the bath and then you can scoop him up in it, most chins catch on quickly to that trick though.

Keep in mind that chins do hold grudges, so if you end up chasing him that is only hurting the bond, and could be proving to him you are not to be trusted.
 

Nan

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Jul 28, 2020
Messages
17
Hi everyone. I recently got my Chinchilla last week...I read about how they need an hour or so of playtime a day but somehow missed the memo about bonding w them in cage first. He’s sweet so far will come out, sniff, allow for a little petting before going back under my dresser! But it’s a serious process trying to get him back into his cage. I actually found this page when googling “why can’t I get my chinchilla back in his cage?” 🤦🏻‍♀️ Now that I know he’s not ready to be let out and I need to build the bond how long before trying to let him out again? And any other advice would be super helpful...thanks I’m advance!

Thank you so much. This is extremely helpful!
Hi! I just wanted to mention that I put our chin in a great playpen while I clean his cage (his dust bath is also in there), and then I sit in there with him so we can play (well, so he can climb on my lap and I can give him scratches, which he loves). It’s called a Jespet soft-sided playpen, and I got the large one from Chewy.com. It‘s open on both ends, but has a canvas cover for the bottom and a mesh zipper-top (I don’t bother with the top since I sit in it with him, and he hasn’t yet been able to jump out of it.) It, and his cage, are both in a small room, so if he does escape, as he did when I accidentally left a cage door open, he was still contained. Just wanted to tell you about the playpen, because it’s a great way to play with him outside his cage for 10 or 15 minutes. And I do what the other poster suggested, and play with him through the bars whenever I see that he’s awake. I hope you love your chin experience!
 

Nan

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Jul 28, 2020
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17
Hi! I just wanted to mention that I put our chin in a great playpen while I clean his cage (his dust bath is also in there), and then I sit in there with him so we can play (well, so he can climb on my lap and I can give him scratches, which he loves). It’s called a Jespet soft-sided playpen, and I got the large one from Chewy.com. It‘s open on both ends, but has a canvas cover for the bottom and a mesh zipper-top (I don’t bother with the top since I sit in it with him, and he hasn’t yet been able to jump out of it.) It, and his cage, are both in a small room, so if he does escape, as he did when I accidentally left a cage door open, he was still contained. Just wanted to tell you about the playpen, because it’s a great way to play with him outside his cage for 10 or 15 minutes. And I do what the other poster suggested, and play with him through the bars whenever I see that he’s awake. I hope you love your chin experience!
(P.S. I’ve had the playpen for a few months now, and he has not chewed through the mesh sides - although he has tried.)
 

Chilly

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Mar 29, 2021
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Oh awesome thank you so much. I will definitely look into this...this is so helpful!
 

jackie925

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@Nan
Omgosh! I just ordered that playpen!
Now, I know chins need playtime out of their cage; I’m just not sure what to do with or give to Linus to do while he’s in it!
Do I let him romp around alone in there? Do I get in with him? 😅. I absolutely should put chews in with him. What else? Dust bath? His potty, I would think? Should I get some hides (like fleece covered pvc pipes or 1/2 pipes) for him to bounce in & off of?
Hmm, I’m not thinking of anything else…
Any help or advice on this is greatly appreciated!
 

Jawramik

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Nov 3, 2021
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@Nan
Omgosh! I just ordered that playpen!
Now, I know chins need playtime out of their cage; I’m just not sure what to do with or give to Linus to do while he’s in it!
Do I let him romp around alone in there? Do I get in with him? 😅. I absolutely should put chews in with him. What else? Dust bath? His potty, I would think? Should I get some hides (like fleece covered pvc pipes or 1/2 pipes) for him to bounce in & off of?
Hmm, I’m not thinking of anything else…
Any help or advice on this is greatly appreciated!
You can get creative! I usually put some chew toys (sticks and balls), some hay, a tunnel or two, a litterbox, and a hidey house or two that she can also climb on top of. Some people even make or buy big chinchilla jungle gyms for them to play on (look on Etsy if that idea appeals to you but you're not confident in your woodworking abilities). You can totally get in the playpen with them! In fact, that can be a great way to bond with them. If you get in there with them, you don't really need a jungle gym, because they'll often just use your body as a jungle gym. :) Just be careful not to let them use your body as a jumping off point to escape the playpen!
 

jackie925

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How is bonding with your chinchilla? Hope it's going well. Thanks.:)
Not very well. 🥺. I accidentally banged his litter box into the wire frame of his cage (really hard & it was loud enough it startled my dog too) and now he’s terrified of me every time I open the door. 😖. Trying to re-establish our bond now. 🙏 he doesn’t hold onto this fear for too long.
I never even got him into the playpen once before this, either.
 

Jawramik

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Not very well. 🥺. I accidentally banged his litter box into the wire frame of his cage (really hard & it was loud enough it startled my dog too) and now he’s terrified of me every time I open the door. 😖. Trying to re-establish our bond now. 🙏 he doesn’t hold onto this fear for too long.
I never even got him into the playpen once before this, either.
I've done similar things, so don't feel too bad, it happens. My chin seemed to get over it pretty quickly, even in the early days of our relationship. Nowadays when I bang something into her cage, she startles for a moment and then gets over it almost instantly.

Though I will say that my chin has a pretty bold personality. It's possible a more timid chin might take longer to move past those sorts of scares, but they should still move past it. It might just take more time if they're more timid and shy.
 

Chinmin

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Not very well. 🥺. I accidentally banged his litter box into the wire frame of his cage (really hard & it was loud enough it startled my dog too) and now he’s terrified of me every time I open the door. 😖. Trying to re-establish our bond now. 🙏 he doesn’t hold onto this fear for too long.
I never even got him into the playpen once before this, either.
So you're pretty much starting over?:( Hope re-establishing the bond is easier.
 

jackie925

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So you're pretty much starting over?:( Hope re-establishing the bond is easier.
Yeah. This happened Wednesday and today I have to clean his cage. I’m seriously nervous and anxious about it. I know I’m going to further terrify him and do more damage because I’m going to have to chase him to get him out. Anyone have any advice?
 

Jawramik

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Yeah. This happened Wednesday and today I have to clean his cage. I’m seriously nervous and anxious about it. I know I’m going to further terrify him and do more damage because I’m going to have to chase him to get him out. Anyone have any advice?
Do you have a two-level cage? If so, you could block off the access hole between the levels, containing him on one level while you clean the other level. Then open up the access hole and block it off again once he enters the level you just cleaned, and clean the other level. When you're finished with the second level, open the access hole back up and give him free range of the entire cage again. This way you don't have to remove him from the cage at all, so you don't have to chase him.

If that's not an option with your setup, you could try trapping him in his dust bath, tunnel, or hidey house to remove him from the cage. Just wait for him to go inside, them block off the entrance(s) and remove the object from the cage with him inside. (Put it and him wherever you keep him for cage cleanings, like a playpen or holding cage.) Though be warned that chins tend to get wise to this tactic after you've used it a few times, so it won't work forever, but it can still be helpful in the short term, reducing or eliminating the need to chase him around while you're still building trust.
 

jackie925

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Do you have a two-level cage? If so, you could block off the access hole between the levels, containing him on one level while you clean the other level. Then open up the access hole and block it off again once he enters the level you just cleaned, and clean the other level. When you're finished with the second level, open the access hole back up and give him free range of the entire cage again. This way you don't have to remove him from the cage at all, so you don't have to chase him.

If that's not an option with your setup, you could try trapping him in his dust bath, tunnel, or hidey house to remove him from the cage. Just wait for him to go inside, them block off the entrance(s) and remove the object from the cage with him inside. (Put it and him wherever you keep him for cage cleanings, like a playpen or holding cage.) Though be warned that chins tend to get wise to this tactic after you've used it a few times, so it won't work forever, but it can still be helpful in the short term, reducing or eliminating the need to chase him around while you're still building trust.
Thank you! I’ve been putting cleaning off til some idea broke through! Going to go try right now! ☺️
 

Jawramik

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Thank you! I’ve been putting cleaning off til some idea broke through! Going to go try right now! ☺
I'd recommend just containing him on one level of the cage if that works with your setup. It'll be the least stressful for him, since you don't need to handle him or trap him in a small space. Just make sure whatever you use to block off the access hole is safe and secure. I use my chin's litterbox (which is a heavy glass baking dish). I empty it and clean it, then flip it upside down and put it over the access hole. It's too heavy for her to move, so it sits securely and doesn't run the risk of shifting and squishing her toes or any other body parts. :)
 

jackie925

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I'd recommend just containing him on one level of the cage if that works with your setup. It'll be the least stressful for him, since you don't need to handle him or trap him in a small space. Just make sure whatever you use to block off the access hole is safe and secure. I use my chin's litterbox (which is a heavy glass baking dish). I empty it and clean it, then flip it upside down and put it over the access hole. It's too heavy for her to move, so it sits securely and doesn't run the risk of shifting and squishing her toes or any other body parts. :)
Linus’ cage is only one level. He’s missing a paw, so the breeder advised me to take off the upper level for his safety.
But! I successfully caught him in his dust bath then was able to transfer over to his travel cage.
He was very eager and willing for me to pick him up and return him home. 😊
Thank you for your advice!
 

Jawramik

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Linus’ cage is only one level. He’s missing a paw, so the breeder advised me to take off the upper level for his safety.
But! I successfully caught him in his dust bath then was able to transfer over to his travel cage.
He was very eager and willing for me to pick him up and return him home. 😊
Thank you for your advice!
Yay, glad it worked! Though as I said, he's probably going to get wise to it after you've used it a few times, so just be prepared for that. They get more wary of getting in the dust bath if they know you're watching, and they'll get a lot faster at hopping out if they hear or sense you making a move towards it. They're pretty smart little buggers.

You might be able to extend how long you can use it by being sure to have times where you offer the dust bath and DON'T trap them in it, so they won't necessarily be on such high alert all the time while using it. But hopefully now that you've been able to pick him up and he saw that nothing bad happened, that will give you a good foundation to build on with handling, and you may not need to use the dust bath so much going forward. :)
 
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