Preventing A Chinchilla From Humping

Is it possible to prevent a male chinchilla from humping an owner’s arm when he or she reaches into its cage?

Q: My male chinchilla, Turbo, is around 5 months old. He has recently started humping people’s arm when they stick their hands in his cage to pet him or pick him up. My boyfriend and I have been removing him when he does this in order to not encourage this behavior. However, he keeps humping our arms. How can we get him to stop doing this? I researched some information about neutering online, but what I read said that neutering is very dangerous for chinchillas. Is this true? What do you recommend?

A: What you describe is not unusual behavior for some solitary male chinchillas. It is more common if a female chinchilla in the same room is in heat. Often you receive a little warning because the chinchilla tends to become more animated, vocalize and swishes its tail back and forth. Then, in their excitement, they grab your forearm with their paws when you open the cage door and begin humping away. It is their way of relieving frustration and satisfying the urge.

Neutering a chinchilla should end this behavior, but the surgery can be dangerous. Some veterinarians are well-versed in chinchilla anatomy while others are not. Over the years, we have received several e-mails from chinchilla owners whose male chinchillas died after the surgery because the urethra was cut and urine emptied into the abdominal cavity. Some chinchillas respond well to the surgery and recover completely. Other chinchillas may become physically depressed and refuse to eat if they are in pain. If this happens, the chinchilla must be hand-fed until he starts eating on his own.

There might be another option. Many chinchillas do not like certain smells such as citrus, peppermint, meat, chicken or fish. If an unpleasant odor is detectable on our hands, the chinchillas will not take food from us or climb up onto our hands. You might try a scented lotion or other odor as a possible deterrent. This tactic may or may not work, depending upon the persistence of the chinchilla. We have several single males that sporadically exhibit this behavior. We have been unable to persuade them otherwise. Sometimes a young chinchilla will grow out of this as he ages or is paired up with a female.

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Article Categories:
Chinchillas · Critters