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From my own experience, Chinchillas are gentle, friendly, inquisitive, curious creatures. I believe it is these features that make them such wonderful pets. However, their behaviour can also lead to problems on occasion, and so a better understanding of their characters should help any owner or potential owner to care for them to the fullest.

My two chinchillas, are both male, and of a similar age, but are completely unrelated. Infact, one was born in Portishead near Bristol, and the other was born in London. Let me give you a brief discription of each of their characters.


Our standard grey, came to live with us in August of last year. He was 3 months old when he joined us, and right from the start he was friendly, gentle, and VERY inquisitive! Since then, his character has really developed. Mungo is a very playful animal. When he runs about in the living room on an evening, he will rush at us, and jump off a spot near us and bounce away, his way of trying to get us to play chase, a game he seems to love playing. This involves him sitting just out of reach until we try and catch him, at which point he bounces off. If we dont attempt to catch him, he edges closer, chirping until we react. The other week he played chase with my fiance, and rushed behind the sofa. Once at the other end he stretched out to see where Andy was and waited until he got right to him before rushing off again. Since we have had Mungo he has never bitten or even attempted to bite anyone. His gentle character made it even more sad that he couldnt be integrated to live with the Degus, as was originally planned. The only solution was to bring home a friend for Mungo.


Ripley joined us at the start of December, and is a gorgeous ebony Chinchilla. It took only a week to get him living with Mungo in the same cage, and they have never once fought. Ripley's character is rather different to Mungo's. At the start, with advice from his breeder, it was agreed that Ripley would not be allowed to rush around the room like Mungo until he was 5 months old. That meant 2 weeks of confinement! So each evening that Mungo was out, Ripley would come out for a cuddle. He got so used to this happening that frequently he would cuddle up and go to sleep for at least half an hour. Since Ripley has been given the freedom of the living room however, his desire to cuddle has greatly diminished. Indeed, its the very last thing he wants to do. He has however maintained his rather lazy nature, and seems to have no great desire for bouncing about for any longer than about 20 minutes. Once this time has elapsed, he is at the door to the next room to be allowed back to his cage. He has naturally picked up this talent, and as you can see from the video, he is rather good at going home on his own!

General Chinchilla Characteristics

To summarise, for those of you reading this and still not sure if a Chinchilla is the right animal for you, a Chinchilla is:

  • Placid
  • Intelligent - they learn fast, especially when treats are involved!
  • Sometimes shy - it will take time to build up trust with your Chinchilla
  • Able to fit into small gaps
  • Agile - they jump about on all fours when excited or enjoying greater freedom