Do Chinchillas Need to Be in Pairs? 1 Or 2 Chinchillas?


Chinchillas are rodents that are relatives of guinea pigs and porcupines. They are without a doubt one of the cutest pets to own. If you are planning on owning a Chinchilla or two, you should determine first whether or not they need to be in pairs.

There is no need for Chinchillas to be in pairs. They do very well alone, on condition they receive optimum attention from their owners.

Do Chinchillas Need to be Kept in Pairs?

Although Chinchillas are highly social creatures, they do not necessarily need to be in pairs:

I bought from a Breeder there is a higher chance of compatibility between two Chinchillas. You could try with a pair.

I bought it from a Pet Shop, buy one only. There is little chance of them bonding. Fights will most probably break out.

Normally, human nature dictates. People expect you to keep at least a pair of Chinchillas – regarding mating. Those expectations are unrealistic.

When you learn the nature of the Chinchilla, you will understand that keeping one only as a pet will be just fine.

The reason is simple: Chinchillas behave differently and so constantly disagree and fight. Whereas a single Chinchilla demand and receives maximum attention from its human owner.

Chinchillas are social creatures, but not sociable. They have a hard time connecting to each other – which often leads to fights.

Thus, it’s better to keep a single Chinchilla to avoid a stressful environment for them.

Reports say that Chinchillas from pet stores usually have a hard time adjusting to fellow Chinchillas especially when those you are trying to pair came from the same store.

Their unsociable behavior may be due to their overexposure to other Chinchillas since birth.

Chinchilla enthusiasts, most of the time, recommend buying Chinchillas directly from breeders as they are more social than those from the pet stores.

Is Keeping Same-Sex Pairs Better Than Male-Female Pairs of Chinchillas?

It depends on your goal as the owner of these Chinchillas:

•  If you don’t plan to breed them, then it’s ideal to get same-sex pairs, either all male or female pairs are fine.

•  If you’re planning to breed them, getting a male-female pair would be suitable for you.

If you want a pair of opposite-sex Chinchillas but don’t intend to breed them, have them neutered or desexed.

Normally, the male Chinchillas are the ones neutered as it’s a simpler process than that required for the female. Make sure you organize the neutering as early as possible. Having a pregnant Chinchilla that you didn’t want would mean additional expense and other problems.

Chinchillas are Social But Not Sociable Animals

Chinchillas, whether domesticated or wild, are social  but not sociable creatures:

In the wild, Chinchillas live in colonies called “herds”. They socially interact with each other against predators to strengthen their defense but are stressed.

Domesticated Chinchillas are said to be less stressed and more active.

Chinchillas are quite shy at first with humans, so it will take you more time and effort for them to become friendly towards you.

Generally, they don’t like being cuddled or held. Once you feel their discomfort, release them immediately, or they will bite you.

How to Take Care of a Single Chinchilla

Now that we know Chinchillas don’t need to be in pairs, let’s learn how to take care of them.

You’re keeping a single Chinchilla either because it can’t bond with another one, or you haven’t yet introduced it to another.

Chinchillas are social with themselves but not friendly and welcoming with each other. They require a lot of attention from their owners on a constant and regular basis.

Yet, they don’t like their human owners to touch or hold them, but instead, they let you watch them at play.

Hence, owning a single Chinchilla needs a lot more effort on your part because they need to be showered with affection as they are not used to living alone.

You must make sure it interacts and plays with you enough to keep it from feeling lonely.

Cases of depression among single Chinchillas have been reported due to the lack of sufficient interaction with their owner for long periods of time.

How to Introduce Two Chinchillas to Each Other 

If you decide to keep a pair of Chinchillas, you must make sure that they are ready first before letting them interact with each other, or it would be a disaster.

It’s advised to have separate cages for each Chinchilla for certainly the first week or more.

In the following weeks, you can move the cages closer together and move their beds so that they are sleeping next to each other from separate cages. You can also switch their dust bath for them to be more familiar with each other’s smell.

The goal is to get them accustomed to each other’s scent, noise, and presence. Apply these slow introductory steps for a few weeks before officially introducing the two.

Once they appear to be ready, you can let them out of their cages to play with each other.

Choose an area that is neutral territory so that neither considers it their own. Limit the Chinchilla’s playtime to 20 minutes and immediately separate the two when a fight starts to brew.

When you feel like they are comfortable with each other already, you can buy a new cage, preferably a bigger one, for the two of them to share.

Their bonding, however, is not a certainty. If they don’t connect then expect to keep them in their individual cages in the future.

A Short Guide to Keeping Chinchillas

With their small bodies, large dark eyes, rounded ears, and thick, soft furs, the Chinchillas surely spark the interest of many pet lovers out there.

There is no perfect way in caring for Chinchillas but here is a general guide to taking care of them:

1. Have Enough Resources.

There is no other way to say this but owning Chinchillas is expensive. You need to be able to provide them with supplies such as food, water, nest boxes, and hiding stations per individual to ensure their health and good living condition.

2. Supervise Them Constantly.

Always keep your eyes on your Chinchillas when you let them out of their cages. Be careful in letting them near humans or other animals like cats, dogs, and birds.

They will immediately feel threatened and stressed. Most Chinchillas do not like being cuddled or held so it is better to let them be on their own.

3. Make Sure They Have a Companion.

 For them to have a stress-free environment, your Chinchillas should bond well with each other.

If you have a single Chinchilla, make sure to spend enough attention on it daily as you are its human companion.

As previously mentioned, Chinchillas are said to be social creatures.

Not receiving proper affection from their companion can lead to psychological issues that can even lead to their death.

 What is a Good Living Environment for Chinchillas?

1. Chinchillas should be kept indoors with a well-ventilated and dry room. Hot, humid, and dirty rooms can bring diseases to Chinchillas.

2. Chinchillas prefer a calm and silent environment. Do not expose them to noisy and crowded situations as they are easily stressed by it.

3. Provide a hazard-free environment for Chinchillas. Make sure that they will not harm themselves around your house when they are let out of their cages.

Chinchillas usually run around the house when free and they use their mouth to bite random stuff, therefore, make sure everything they encounter in your house is safe for them.

4.Clean their cages regularly. Uncleaned urine and wastes can a source of bacterial diseases.

5. They should have good quality beddings to warm them up. Fluffy beddings that can easily separate into thin cotton wools when scratched are discouraged as they pose a serious risk to the Chinchillas when eaten.

6. Chinchillas should have a spacious cage to move around. As athletic/agile creatures, Chinchillas love to jump and run around, therefore, you must provide platforms of different levels for them to jump and rest on.

7. Their nest boxes should always be filled with hay for them to rest and sleep on. Hiding places should also be present in case they want to hide from their companion.

Chinchillas Being Crepuscular and Its Downsides

Crepuscular animals are those that are active during dusk and dawn. Chinchillas having a crepuscular sleeping pattern has their own downsides.

You must position their cages in places where the normal day/night cycle is experienced.

Chinchillas will get irritable due to confusing sleeping patterns. Hence, you cannot put their cages inside your bedroom because they are active during dusk and dawn. You would be wakened by their noises if you do.

You must be silent during the day so as not to disturb them in their sleep.

Also, because of the opposing sleeping pattern, kids would not be able to take care of their Chinchillas because, by the time the Chinchillas are awake, the kids are asleep and vice versa.

You don’t have to worry about leaving them during the day for work because, being nocturnal, they sleep during the day. When you arrive in the evening, they are ready for playtime.

Is Chinchilla the Right Pet for You?

Chinchillas are not ideal pets for children. In fact, a Chinchilla is not a pet for everyone. They are better with adults taking care of them but, it requires a huge amount of responsibility and dedication.

It isn’t like our customary pets such as dogs and cats that are usually low maintenance.

Chinchillas are very sensitive to their environment and one single mistake can lead to their demise.

The attraction you might feel towards Chinchillas shouldn’t be the only reason for keeping them. You first need to know a lot of information about them before raising them in your home.

Final Thoughts

If you surf the internet, you will most likely encounter answers that say yes, Chinchillas need to be in pairs. There’s nothing wrong with these responses since Chinchillas are social creatures and thus, they need to have companionship.

There are many instances whereby Chinchillas display aggressive behavior and won’t bond with other Chinchillas. In such cases, rather keep a single Chinchilla than a pair.

If you choose to have just one Chinchilla, you must realize that you are its human companion. Therefore, you will be spending a lot of time giving your Chinchilla daily attention to keep it happy and healthy. An hour a day is nowhere near enough.

Should you decide to have them in pairs, make sure you follow the tedious process of introducing the two Chinchillas to each other – as detailed above – with no expectations.

Don’t rush the process as it will only complicate their relationship as companions. Remember that unless you want to breed the two Chinchillas, pick a same-sex pair.

In the end, the right answer to the question, ‘do Chinchillas need to be in pairs?’ all depends on the behavior of the Chinchilla you select. Observe its conduct for a while and assess whether it will accept a fellow Chinchilla as a companion or not.

A separated pair of Chinchillas can be managed if their owner is sufficiently dedicated to caring for them.

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