How Smart Are Chinchillas?


Chinchillas are undeniably one of the cutest among rodent pets. Their charming appearance is visible to all who look at it. However, when it comes to their intelligence, most people wonder if Chinchillas are as smart as they’re cute.

Chinchillas are inquisitive, perceptive, and intuitive and are considered the smartest among smaller animals.

Are Chinchillas Smart?

Rodents are particularly not known for their intelligence. Nonetheless, Chinchillas are considered smart animals.

It would be a little bit unfair to compare their intelligence to bigger animals like dogs and cats but among smaller animals, Chinchillas are the cream of the crop.

If there are three words that best describe Chinchillas, it would be inquisitive, perceptive, and intuitive.

Chinchillas are enquiring creatures, and they like to play around with random things they encounter. Hence, their owners are always reminded to keep their house Chinchilla friendly.

Whenever Chinchillas are let out of their cages to play, they tend to chew on different things out of curiosity. This might be dangerous for them.

Not only perceptive, but Chinchillas also like to observe their surroundings. They also give you, their owner, a good examination! They study your habits and behavior to understand what you are trying to communicate to them.

Chinchillas are intuitive. They like to respond to you based on what they think you were relaying to them. Chinchillas also can grasp situations in their environment and are able to react to them.

Aside from these traits that are evidence of their intelligence, Chinchillas also can recognize voices, know their names, learn basic commands, and many other things.

Chinchillas can acquire these abilities through repetition. Experts believe that these little creatures are naturally fast learners.

How Do Chinchillas Communicate?

Chinchillas can communicate with humans –in quite a unique way. You must remember that each Chinchilla has a distinct personality and thus their way of communication may vary.

Nevertheless, Chinchillas have general characteristics that they use to convey their emotions and what they want to do.

• Chinchillas Stand or Bark Whenever They Want to Get Your Attention. 

Usually, when Chinchillas stand on their hind legs with their paws on the cage, they want you to fill their food bowl/water bottle again.

Or there is something wrong inside their cage and they want you to fix it.

When Chinchilla’s bark, it could mean that they want to call your attention to something that is bothering them outside their cage.

Loud noises such as television and change in temperature are likely scenarios as to why they bark. As their owner, you should also be perceptive to their needs and respond accordingly.

• Chinchillas Shake When They Feel Uncomfortable.

As cuddly as Chinchillas seem to be, they mostly do not like being held or cuddled.

Chinchillas voluntarily shake their bodies when they feel uncomfortable with a human touch especially with those people with whom they are not familiar.

A Chinchilla may allow you to hold it but only for a very short time.

They not only shake due to discomfort but also owing to fear and apprehension.

The best thing to do when they are shaking is to be by their side and soothe them. It is also important to remove from their sight the object of their fear and discomfort.

• Chinchillas Release Odors When They Are Afraid.

Aside from shaking, Chinchillas may release a certain scent out of their anus when afraid.

The scent released from their anal gland serves as a protective mechanism against their enemies.

Some say it’s not very smelly, but it’s intended to repel – and it does! It can be smelled within two to three feet – so keep your distance.

• Chinchillas Wink and Smile.

You cannot see them doing it often, but Chinchillas do wink and smile. It can be a sign of friendliness and trust to you. It could also mean they are appreciative of your efforts as their owner.

• Chinchillas Display Their Happiness by Bouncing and Jumping. 

Owners call it “wall surf” when Chinchillas bounce off the walls and “happy dance” when they jump mid-air and twitch. These actions are indicators of excitement and happiness.

• Chinchillas Use Varied Vocalizations to Convey Different Messages. 

A high-pitched whimper from Chinchillas could mean that they are not yet familiar with you or that they think they are in trouble for something they did.

A soft cooing may indicate comfort, while quiet chirps mean that a Chinchilla is exploring a new area.

As previously mentioned, Chinchilla’s bark and use their loud voice when they feel nervous or threatened.

How To Communicate with Your Chinchilla

Pets learn to communicate with their owners through repetition.

The same logic applies to Chinchillas as you also need to be consistent with how you communicate with them.

This is so that they become familiar with it and understand you. Below are some tips to better communicate with your Chinchilla.

• Speak Their Names Regularly and With Context.

You must constantly address your Chinchilla by their name for them to get familiar with it.

In doing so, it is better to look them in the eyes while speaking it so that they would make the association between the word and its meaning.

Do not use long and complicated words for their names but choose a simple one, preferably a two-syllable word.

Make sure to find the right name for them as some of them do not respond when they do not like the name you gave them.

• Use Short Words and Match the Tone of Your Voice In Speaking To Them For Effective Verbal Commands.

Through time, Chinchillas are going to understand the ‘command’ words “no”, “stop”, “come”, “playtime” and many others when you regularly say these to them with context.

It is important to match the tone of your voice to the words you speak.

For instance, use a deep and serious tone when speaking words like “no” and “stop” and use a light and high-pitched voice when speaking positively like “good girl/boy”.

• Do Not Use Treats to Train Them.

Chinchillas have sensitive digestive systems so do not use this method to tame them. Be patient. In time, your Chinchillas are naturally going to learn things on their own.

• Do Not Punish Your Chinchilla When They Misbehave.

Again, you cannot force your Chinchilla to obey you the first time. Never physically or verbally abuse them out of frustration.

Remember that you must earn their trust and punishing them would only make them distance themselves from you.

Final Thoughts 

Chinchillas are smart. They are extremely curious, perceptive, and intuitive creatures which makes them one of the smartest among smaller animals.

Although each one of them is unique in terms of personality, most of them share a set of characteristics that tells you their emotions and wants.

Be patient and observe your Chinchilla well. It is always a trial-and-error process at the beginning.

You might have followed common advice from experts but still do not get the desired results for your Chinchilla.

This means that your Chinchilla is unique and thus you must find your own technique to tame them and communicate better with them.

Communication is a two-way process. Now that you know Chinchillas are intelligent creatures, you as their owner should also be perceptive to try and understand your pets.

Consistency is the key to success. Be consistent with your actions and words. Chinchillas are very intelligent, so in no time, they will be able to memorize and respond to you correctly.

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