"Standard" method of socialization

First of all it is important to emphasize that every animal is an individual and also this socialization method is not suitable for every chinchilla! If problems arise, you should contact an experienced keeper who will accompany you during the socialization - either on site or at least by phone or chat.

Some chinchillas have already been socialized too often or after failed VGs too short in a row or have suffered trauma due to missing or wrong socialization procedure. This makes a reunion more difficult, the standard method often does not work here. Either it must be modified and adapted or one must fall back on a completely different method. Here again there is no standard procedure, one must decide individually adapted to the animals (short cat box or guinea pig cage stays, short run phases, open guinea pig cage paired with run, box with run, cage-to-cage (rarely) and many other variants...).


The good news is: it is estimated that the standard method is effective in 80-90% of socializations!


It is also important not to be afraid of the reunion as an owner, because this is transmitted to the animals. In addition, it inhibits our ability to judge and make decisions. Of course, one should inform oneself in advance, for example, about which behavior is normal when socializing and at which one should intervene. Nevertheless, there is no reason to be afraid. Unfortunately, we experience again and again that owners make themselves totally crazy and do not even dare to socialize in advance, although the conditions are good. The probability that something bad will happen during the reunion is very low! In the worst case the animals bite each other, you go in between, separate them and have to go to the vet for wound treatment (smaller wounds can be treated well by yourself). The fact that an animal is killed never happens, if one constantly remains, on the behavior of the animals pays attention, trusts its feeling and informs itself beforehand about the procedure. Please read the following link carefully: Basic information on socialization


Once you have educated yourself on the subject, the time has come to purchase the necessary accessories:

  • Cat transport box (NOT a smaller box: The animals should be able to move and stand up, they should not sit in their excreta, nor should they panic).
  • guinea pig cage
  • a smaller, open bowl as sand bath for the box (salad bowl, plant pot, scale bowl...)
  • a big, open bathing bowl for the guinea pig cage
  • water and food bowl for the guinea pig cage
  • bathing sand

We recommend every owner to buy a cat transport box, because you can need it again and again (vet visit, moving etc.) and the purchase is simply worth it. Also a guinea pig cage is always useful e.g. for quarantine or if animals quarrel and you have to separate them. And just for socializing itself.


1st phase: The cat transport box stay

In the cat transport box comes litter or a fleece blanket, food, for longer stays a water nipple drinker, which is attached to the grid and a small sand bath, which is very helpful for stress relief and as a meeting place. You place this either at the very front of the grid or at the back of the box. Alternatively, you can also sprinkle the entire floor of the box with sand. However, you should make sure that the animals do not have to roll around in their urine if they pee a lot. I prefer to offer a separate sand bath.

Afterwards the animals are put into the box shortly after each other and the box is closed.

Some chins immediately go after each other, then you should stop.

If this is not the case, wait and watch the animals. Possibly they will pee on each other, clatter with their teeth, stand up and threaten each other, grumble etc.. Sooner or later comes the clarification of the hierarchy. Here the animals mount each other and groom each other, sometimes quite wildly. If the hierarchy is successfully clarified, there is mostly silence, in between maybe one animal still grumbles. Perhaps the animals mount each other a little further. Overall, however, there is calm, the animals eat together, cuddle or make joint escape attempts.

Unfortunately, it can happen that the hierarchy cannot be clarified. One notices it by the fact that again and again unrest prevails, the animals stand up on their hind legs, threaten each other and fight again and again (!). If this is still the case after hours, it makes no sense to continue the reunion. The animals simply do not fit together.


Now how long should the rodents stay in the box?

This question is not easy to answer. As a guideline, we would like to specify a minimum of 2 hours and a maximum of 12h. However, it should not be longer! A longer stay is also useless, because affection cannot be forced. Either the animals understand each other or not. Whether they stay 12 or 24h in the box: It doesn't change their antipathy or sympathy, it just stresses the animals a lot.

Whether the chins stay in the box for 2 or 12 hours is an individual decision. If you have a good feeling as a keeper, you can move the animals into the guinea pig cage. If there are problems, you can put the animals back into the box. Basically, it is important that you move the animals only after the hierarchy has already been clarified and peace and quiet prevails between the animals.

Sometimes it happens that the animals become restless after a certain time, because they sit too long in the box and are fed up. Then the behavior can sometimes turn into mutual aggression as an outlet, if you wait too long with the transfer.

2nd phase: The guinea pig cage stay

The cage should be between 80 and 120cm, but at best 1m wide. In one corner you should place a larger open sand bath, where they like to cuddle together and which serves to reduce stress and thus promotes socialization. Also a hiding place (house, shelter, cork tube) with at least 2 entrances/exits should be offered. Sometimes the chinchillas argue about the hiding place, then it should of course be removed and offered again at a later time.

At the same time the animals are now put into the cage. Here it can come briefly to renewed quarreling and other ranking gestures, which must keep themselves however in the framework. If there is sudden chasing, fighting, biting or the animals are always(!) sitting apart and are never together, grumbling when the partner approaches etc., you should put the animals back into the box.

How long the rodents stay in the guinea pig cage is again quite individual and varies between 1 day and 2 weeks. If you have a good feeling as a keeper and there is absolute silence in the guinea pig cage and the animals also sleep together, you can try the move to the main cage.

3rd phase: The transfer to the main cage

Ideally, the main cage is an enclosure neural for all animals. However, this is usually not the case, at least one of the chins already knows it. Then you have to clean the enclosure completely and wipe it out with apple cider vinegar essence. Remove the furniture and put in the cage only the sand bath, food bowls, water bowl and the hiding place from the guinea pig cage. Gladly accepted and also helpful in reducing stress is the offer of a running plate or running wheel, which should also be thoroughly washed. Of course, the owner must also be present at all times during the transfer to the main cage and observe the animals to intervene in time! During this step it can happen that suddenly chased each other, which must be stopped immediately by putting the animals back into the guinea pig cage. However, it may also be helpful to open the door of the cage for a while or even permanently for the time being and give the animals the opportunity to go out into the run. Here you go by your feeling and the animals. If the chins meet again and again peacefully in the cage, you can close the door of the enclosure again.

If the first night in the main enclosure is peacefully survived, you can put in two to three more furnishings on the 2nd day, then even more on the following day. Please always wash everything with the vinegar essence or give new things.

When the newly assembled group can get run, is quite different. Often it is even possible after a few days, only occasionally there are strongly territorial animals, which then attack the new partners in the run. In such a case, the run must be terminated immediately and the animals must be returned to the cage. If the quarrel continues there, you may have to put the rodents in the box or the guinea pig cage for a few hours.

Important: Chasing, whether in the guinea pig cage, main cage or run, must be stopped immediately! They can quickly escalate into a serious quarrel, after which, in the worst case, the animals never get along again!