As a chinchilla owner, the first thing you do when you bring your new pet home is to provide your new pet with a name.
The question is, do chinchillas actually know their name? Or do they have no clue about the words that come out of our mouths?
In this post, we will take a close look at this very question and show you how it just might be possible to train your chinchilla to both know and understand their name.
So do chinchillas know their name? Chinchillas can learn to know their name over a period of time. They are more likely to learn to know and respond to their name if they associate it with something beneficial to them such as food. You can actively teach a chinchilla to respond to their name but both patience and repetition are required.
Read on to find out…
Do Chinchillas Know Their Name (More Info)
Chinchillas can actually learn to know and respond to their name over time.
Many owners report that their chinchilla will look up and even come running to them if they call out their name.
That can sometimes be unusual as chins are by nature shy and calm.
With this being said, it’s highly unlikely that a chinchilla will know and respond to their name in the same way that a human responds to their name.
For example, if a chinchilla responds to their name, it’s far more likely that they are responding to a sound that they are associating with something that is benefiting them such as food.
This means that if you say your chinchilla’s name every time you have some food or a treat for them, then they are likely to associate the sound of their name with food and treats.
After a certain period of time, whenever you say your chinchilla’s name they will automatically look up or come over to you to see if you have any food or treats.
Is it possible that chinchillas do actually understand their name like us do? Well there is a possibility, and this can’t be discounted completely until further research has been done, however, it’s far more likely that your chinchilla will respond to the sound of their name in association to something that benefits them.
Later in the post, you will see how it can be extremely important to teach your chinchilla to respond to their name.
How to Teach a Chinchilla to Know Its Name (Step By Step)
As we mentioned above, chinchillas like many other animals can learn to respond to their name if they associate the sound with something that is beneficial to them.
The easiest way to do this is to associate their name with food or treats.
To teach your chinchilla to respond to its name we have outlined a 4 step process that shares how you can quickly teach your chinchilla to know and respond to its name.
Let’s check out the 4 step method below…
The Call & Feed Method
The call and feed method is a technique that can be used for many different animals including chinchillas.
It may take a little longer for a chinchilla than some other animals because of the fact that chinchillas can’t be offered a lot of treat foods in one sitting due to their sensitive digestive systems.
For this reason, it’s important to use foods that are low in sugars and fats and are considered healthy for your chinchilla.
You can see our chinchilla diet guide here for a list of foods you can use for this method and also ones to stay away from…
Here’s how to use the ‘call & feed’ method (step by step)
Call Your Chinchilla’s Name – The first step in the method is to call your chinchillas name and then instantly show them some food/treat in your hand.
It’s important that you say their name first and then show the food instantly afterwards, rather than letting your chinchillas see the food first.
It’s also important to say your chinchilla’s name a few times afterwards so they get used to the association.
Repeat Process Until Meal/Treat Is Finished – You should repeat this process until you have given your chinchilla all of their treat for that sitting/day.
Repeated This Process Daily – You should repeat this exact process every time you give your chinchilla a treat. This could be once per day or once every 2-3 days depending on what you are feeding them.
Call Your Chinchilla’s Name Without Food – After 7 days try calling your chinchilla’s name without food. Some chins will pick up on the sound of their name and associate it with treats pretty quickly and others may take a little longer.
If your chinchilla doesn’t look up or come over to you after a few calls, then go back to the first step and repeat the process for another 7 days.
Remember, all chinchillas learn at different paces and some won’t catch on to this method at all, but it’s certainly worth giving a go as lots will and its very interesting to see this unfold.
Here are some tips for getting the best out of this method…
Consistent Commands – It’s highly important to keep the commands consistent when using this method.
For example, if your chinchilla’s name is ‘Peru’, then you should simply call the name ‘Peru’ and hot commands like ‘here Peru’ or ‘snack time Peru’.
The command simply needs to be your chins name with no other swords attached before or after. This will help them to associate the key word and make sure it doesn’t get lost in other words that aren’t relevant.
Tone Of Voice – Tone of voice is also very important to how well this method works. Your tone should always be consistent and friendly.
This will help your chinchilla to distinguish the sound and associate it in a positive way.
Repetition – Probably the most important part of this whole process is repeating this method on a consistent basis. If you are only going to do this from time to time then you probably won’t see any results and that’s a fact.
Are There Any Benefits to My Chinchilla Knowing Its Name?
At first, it may just seem like its a bit of a party trick and nothing more if your chinchilla knows it’s name, however, it can actually have some much more practical benefits than that.
Let’s take a look at 2 often-overlooked benefits of a chinchilla knowing their name…
Knowing Their name Can Keep Your Chinchilla Safe
As much as it may be hard to believe that if your chinchilla knows or responds to their name it can keep them safe.
This is because once they know their name, your chinchilla will likely come running to you once they are called as they will think you have food or treats for them.
Imagine if your chinchilla has managed to get lost somewhere in your home or is hiding in a place that you can’t get them out of.
(It’s always recommended to chinchillas proof your room)
All you would need to do is call their name and they will come to you in anticipation of food.
This actually works and is a great trick to have up your sleeve in case you ever need it.
We recommend you take a look at our easy to follow guide that shares how often chinchillas should spend time out of their cage and exactly how to chinchilla proof your room here…
Knowing Their Name Helps With Bonding
When your chinchilla knows and responds to their name it can actually improve the bonding between the both of you.
When your chinchilla comes running over to you it’s a great feeling and certainly helps to make you feel like you are loved.
Sometimes it’s the little things that mean the most and it can definitely help with the bonding process a lot.
With this being said, is the bonding process more for owners or is it equally as important for chinchillas too?
You can find out in under 3 minutes if chinchillas get lonely or if they are happy on their own in our new guide here…
Is It Wise to Change The Name Of Your Chinchilla?
To be honest, there isn’t a right or wrong answer to this question.
If your chinchilla is new to your home then there isn’t any reason why you can’t change their name daily if you so wanted.
If your chin has been with you for some time then it’s probably a good idea to keep their name as they might have some association with it for the reasons we have mentioned throughout this article.
You also need to consider that other members of the house might be used to your chins original name and might call them by this name and things could get confusing.
The bottom line is that changing your chinchilla’s name is totally up to you but make sure you consider any impact it may have before you make the decision.
Can Chinchillas Learn Any Other Words?
Honestly, the jury is out on this one. Chinchillas certainly do have the potential to learn other words but what makes it more difficult is that fact that if food isn’t involved then there is little incentive to learn and chinchillas are quiet and shy by nature.
Other words you might want your chinchilla to learn may include…
- Dust Bath
- Play Time
- Cuddle Time
You would need to get extremely creative to teach your chinchilla to know and respond to these words.
We haven’t seen anybody claim that their chinchillas know and respond to any of these or any other words but we have seen many owners state that their chins often know their name.
You can definitely try by using a similar method to the one we shared earlier in this post but again, without the use of food as an incentive it will be difficult.