What’s your pet chinchilla saying? From barking to squeaking, here are 7 sounds you need to know

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  • A vet explains what your fluffy-tailed friend might be trying to tell you through the noises it makes – whether it is happy or needs help
Doris Wai |

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Have you ever heard your chinchilla make these noises?

With their famously soft fur and cute ears, it is no wonder that chinchillas are a popular pet. Luckily for us humans, these fur babies have quite a few ways to communicate. Kris Koh is a veterinary surgeon at Vet Affinity in Singapore, and she explains what you need to know about your fluffy-tailed friend.


Unlike a dog’s bark, a chinchilla’s harsh, urgent call signals there is danger lurking around the corner. If you have a new chinchilla at home, get ready for a few days of barking as it adjusts to its new home. Male chinchillas (also called boars) bark at each other when they are about to fight, so separate them immediately if you see them standing on hind legs and barking.

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This is a sure sign that your rodent is happy and all is good. Chinchillas coo to greet one another or even to let their owners know they are loving life. If your chinchilla coos as soon as it sees you, it is probably ready for play time or some treats.

Quiet grunting

This soft grunt is common when a mother chinchilla is chilling with her babies, which are called kits. If you’re lucky, you might even hear them communicating. A mother chinchilla grunts quietly while licking her baby, who squeaks in response. Adult chinchillas also grunt to each other to say hello.

Mother chinchillas have their own way of communicating with their kits

Low, gentle squeaking

This usually indicates that your chinchilla is feeling safe and content. If it squeaks while you are touching it, that is a sign of its trust. Keep up the good work!

Continuous squeaking

This is a sign of excitement and happiness, especially when your pet sees you or a familiar chinchilla. They may even do this simply because it is feeding time.

If a boar gives off a series of squeaks while wiggling his bottom and wagging his tail, love might just be in the air. His behaviour is a way to get the attention of a velvet (that’s what female chinchillas are called).

However, if the continuous squeaking becomes persistent, do check on your chinchilla to make sure it is not injured or in distress.

If your chinchilla squeaks when it sees you, that is usually a sign it enjoys being around you

Teeth grinding

Another sign that these critters are having the time of their lives, grinding their orange teeth shows they are happy or simply enjoying a yummy treat.

However, if your chinchilla is grinding its teeth all the time and not eating well, it could be having some dental issues. Chinchillas’ teeth grow throughout their lives, and if they are not eating enough hay, their teeth might be overgrown. This is a serious condition, so you should take your pet to see a vet as soon as possible.

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This sharp spitting or coughing noise usually indicates that a chinchilla is annoyed. Stay away, as a hacking chinchilla may charge or bite if further provoked. If it does not stop hacking even after you give it space, something else may be wrong.

If you notice a mother chinchilla doing this to her kits, it most likely means they are being reprimanded for misbehaving – even chinchillas discipline their kids!

Click here to download a printable worksheet with questions and exercises about this story. Answers are on the second page of the document.

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