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A Chinchilla Makes Strange Noises

Certain stimuli can cause a chinchilla to react vocally.

By Marty Hull
Posted: December 13, 2008, 5 a.m. EDT

Q: My chinchilla makes noise during the night. It’s usually right when I’m drifting off to sleep. She sounds like a squeaky toy. I have no idea what she’s trying to communicate, and it concerns me. I don’t know if she is scared, unhappy or something else entirely. Do you know why she makes these noises and what I can do to make it better?

A: If the sound is similar to a bark, we call it a warning. Chinchillas often make this sound to call out to others to be on alert. It can be triggered by a sudden change (turning off the lights), an unfamiliar noise in the distance (chinchillas can hear much more than the human ear can detect), a sudden movement in the household, an unfamiliar person entering a room or speaking or even a headlight’s ray passing across the window. Many times, when a chinchilla is in a new environment, it barks often because there are so many new sights, sounds and smells. The chinchilla is understandably frightened and is vocalizing this through the barks. But after the chinchilla becomes accustomed to its new home, the barks become more a way of alerting you that something is different and possibly strange. It wants you to be aware of this.
 
Another noise a chinchilla sometimes makes is a soft whimper — usually several in succession. A chinchilla makes this sound to see if other chinchillas might be in the vicinity to answer. It is a way of checking in. Mother chins make this sound frequently when calling to their kits, just as the kits make these sounds when calling to their mother from various places in the cage.

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Reader Comments
I found the flower rabbit!
Jäsper, North Kingstown, RI
Posted: 6/1/2012 2:31:00 PM
Found the rabbit!
Galadriel, Lothlorien, ME
Posted: 5/27/2012 1:12:21 AM
My male chinchilla makes the exact same noises in the middle of the night. I think he's 'barking' in his sleep. I can sit and watch him bark while he is sleeping and as soon as I say anything - he sits up as if startled, and gives me a "What?!?!" kind of look, as if I'M the one disturbing him. I have learned to ignore it, but it initially freaked me out a bit because I thought he might be dying.
Olivia, McAllen, TX
Posted: 4/19/2010 12:34:26 PM
Sometimes when my grandson visits he will move things around in my chins cage.That night Numchuck will make a lot of squealing noises. If I move things back to the original setup he stops fussing.
Vikki, Cincinnati, OH
Posted: 4/15/2009 4:04:38 PM
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