The other day while I was visiting a pet superstore, I overheard an older lady asking the in-store colleagues for advice on how to introduce a new Chinchilla to her current one. They had absolutely no idea what they were talking about and the advice they gave her was incorrect, hence I decided to write a guide for other Chinchilla owners who are currently in the same situation.
I got my first male Chinchilla, Bandit, when he was 5 months old. At first he was fine with having a cage all to himself and enjoyed being a mummy’s boy, but after a few years I noticed he seemed to be a bit ‘stressed’ and, in my eyes, lonely. So I made the decision to get a companion for him. I originally intended to get another male, as to avoid some Chinnie slap n’ tickle! However I ended up with a female – although not intentionally!
I got my second Chinchilla, Ollie, from a rescue centre. I was told Ollie was a neutered male – however after a few days at home and giving Ollie a ‘check over’ myself, I realised she was actually female and the so-called vets at the centre had sexed her wrongly. This threw all of my plans up in the air; I couldn’t keep them in the same cage as I didn’t want Ollie to get pregnant, but I wasn’t going to take Ollie back and I still wanted them to be able to live together. I had no choice but to get Bandit neutered. It was not something I decided on lightly. I was absolutely heartbroken, but I knew in the long run that it would be for the best. Thankfully, Bandit’s operation was a success with no complications.
(EXTREMELY old mobile phone pic, please excuse the quality!)
Bandit and Ollie now live happily together in the same cage and have done so for years. I will now explain how I gradually introduced them to one another. Follow these tips and you should hopefully have two bonded and happy Chinnies in no time! This process took me around two weeks to complete and can not be rushed. If your Chinchillas still don’t seem to be getting along after the two week period, simply start from the beginning and do this for another two weeks.
Things you will need:
● Two cages with accessories
● A sand bath with bathing sand
● A small pet carrier
● A wired play pen
1. Two cages during the introduction is a MUST
Under no circumstances should you just throw two Chinchillas in the same cage and expect them to get along. Chinchillas are very territorial and will fight to the death. Bandit and Ollie had seperate cages, both the same height and width so there was no ‘playing favourites’. I placed the cages side by side, just enough so they could smell, see and hear each other but not close enough that they could touch each other. Placing the cages too close together will result in bites and you don’t want to end up with a Chin missing a toe! Keep the cages side by side for the entire two week period.
2. Switch food bowls and water bottles
Every day, switch the food bowls and water bottles of each Chin and place them in the other’s cage. Then switch them back again the next day. This allows them to get used to the others scent. Keep doing this back and forth for about one week.
3. Let them share the same sand bath
After one Chinnie has used the sand bath, place it in the other’s cage and allow them to do the same. This allows their scents to be ‘mixed’. Keep doing this back and forth for about one week.
4. Place them in each other’s cages, seperately
Take one of the Chinchillas and place them somewhere safe, such as a pet carrier. Then move the other Chin into their cage. Do the same with the other. Keep them in each other’s cages for a whole day, then move them back into their original cages. This again allows their scents to be ‘mixed’. Do this every day for about one week.
5. Place one Chin in the other’s cage, safely
Take a small pet carrier and place one of the Chins in it. Now place the pet carrier into the other Chin’s cage. This allows the Chins to smell and investigate each other without the risk of a fight. Supervise this and DO NOT leave the room. Keep the small pet carrier in the cage for about 15 minutes. Now do the same with the other Chin, placing he or she in the pet carrier instead and into the other’s cage. Do this every day for about one week.
6. Allow them to meet and greet, safely
Get a small wired animal play pen and place one of the Chins in it. Allow the other Chin to free-roam outside and around the pen. This again allows them to smell and investigate without the risk of a fight. Do this for about half an hour, and then switch the Chins’ positions. Place the second Chin in the play pen instead and allow the first Chin to now free-roam outside and around it. DO NOT leave the room and supervise this. Do this every day for about one week.
7. Face to face introduction, safely
Place one of the Chins in the wired play pen. Now get in the play pen with the other Chin, holding it on your lap. Allow the first Chin to come over and investigate. If there are any signs of aggression, step out of the play pen taking the Chin you are holding with you. If there are no signs of aggression, allow the Chin you are holding to move from your lap and engage with the other Chinchilla in the play pen. DO NOT leave the play pen and supervise both Chins at all times. Allow them to play together in the play pen for about half an hour. Do this every day for about a week.
8. Place them in the same cage
Place both Chins in the same cage. DO NOT leave the room and supervise both Chins at all times. If there is no sign of aggression, allow the Chins to be in the same cage for around half an hour then remove one and place it back in it’s original cage. Do this every day for about one week.
Gradually, you can increase the time they spend together and eventually they will have bonded enough to be together for longer periods of time. Bandit HATED Ollie when she first arrived, but after the techniques I used they are now inseparable and Bandit is extremely protective of Ollie! Patience is a must as every Chinchilla is different. Some may bond quicker, some may take longer. But above all, always put the health and safety of both Chins first. DO NOT put them in any situations which may cause harm. Always monitor the behaviour and body language of both Chinchillas.
I hope these techniques help you in some way!