There are a lot of things that you probably want to know before getting a chinchilla, such as how intelligent they are.

 While you might think that these animals are pea-brained, the truth might actually surprise you. We are going to take a look at just how smart chinchillas really are.

How Smart are Chinchillas?

It’s hard to say just how intelligent chinchillas are, as you can’t exactly give them an IQ test. These animals do, however, have a reputation for being quite sharp. They are capable of basic problem solving as well as learning new things, which makes them very adaptable creatures. There are a number of chinchilla behaviors that will give you a pretty good idea as to their overall mental capacity.


One of the major indications of a chinchilla’s overall intelligence is their ability to learn new things. These animals can be trained to use a litter box with relative ease. You might need to be a little patient when training your fluffy friend to do this, but it is important for a number of reasons.

Some people have even trained their chinchillas to do tricks, such as stand up on their hind legs when prompted to do so. You’d be surprised at what your pet can accomplish with the proper motivation. While there is a limit to this animal’s training abilities, they are amazingly good at picking up on things fairly quickly.

chinchilla making cheese

Your Chinchilla’s Memory

Chinchillas have a remarkably good memory, especially when it comes to things like recognizing voices and even faces. This is why these animals often get visibly excited when they see or hear their owner. It doesn’t take very long for them to completely memorize where everything in their cage is. This is part of their uncanny adaptability that has served them so well throughout history.

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Another good example of the chinchilla’s impressive memory is that they will choose one spot in their cage to urinate, returning to it each time to relieve themselves. They can also recognize aromas, which is why your pet may know that you are nearby even if they cannot see you.

One of the great things about having a chinchilla is that you don’t have to worry too much if they get out of their cage. They will likely be able to find their way back without much trouble. They can find their cage by honing in on its smell, as well as by using visual cues.


When you put a chinchilla in a dust bath, they will actually clean themselves without any help. You will see them instantly begin rolling around in the dust. Most chinchillas love taking dust baths, so it is not something that they view as an unpleasant chore. This also makes your job much easier, as you don’t need to do much of anything. Just let your furry companion do its thing until it is time to take them out of the bowl.

Rejecting Old Food

If you leave hay in your chinchilla’s cage for too long, they might refuse to eat. Many of these animals do this because they know it is not fresh. They probably learned this from experience, and it only takes one time for it to stick in their memory. This will serve as a helpful reminder to keep only fresh hay in your pet’s cage for them to eat. Despite what some people think, chinchillas are not just mindless eating machines.

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They Understand Routine

It is very likely that your chinchilla is very aware of their daily routine, which includes when they are fed, taken out of the cage, and given baths. The better you are about following a routine with your fluffy friend, the more likely it is that they know when just about everything is going to happen.

Many chinchilla owners have noticed that their pets’ behavior changes when it gets close to feeding time. They might wait anxiously near the cage door, or even stand up on their hind legs. This is something that is pretty common with household pets, including cats and dogs. 

If their routine suddenly changes even in a small way, it can be very disorienting for them. This is why it’s so important that you try to do everything around the same time on a daily basis. It will keep your pet from getting stressed out.

chinchilla white background

Responding to Their Name

If you think that cats and dogs are the only pets that respond to the names you give them, you are completely wrong. The fact is that chinchillas can and often do respond to their names. They will stop whatever they are doing and look around when they hear their name. This is pretty impressive, especially when you consider that not all rodents do this.

Mourning Over Deceased Cage Mates

The behavior of your chinchilla will most likely change dramatically if one of its cage mates dies. This can take the form of not eating for a while, or pacing around its cage anxiously. These animals might not completely grasp the concept of death, but they can definitely tell when something is not right.

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  • Chinchillas are actually very smart animals, especially when compared to other common household pets of a similar size.
  • It is possible to train these animals to use a litter box, as well as to do simple tricks.
  • These animals have a very impressive memory. They are capable of recognizing faces and even voices.
  • It doesn’t take very long at all for a chinchilla to memorize the entire layout of their cage.
  • When you put your chinchilla into a dust bath, they will clean themselves out of sheer instinct. This makes your job a lot easier.
  • A lot of these animals will reject food that has been in their cage for more than a day or so. They understand that it is no longer fresh.
  • Your chinchilla will learn its routine quickly, memorizing when it is time to eat, play, and take a dust bath.
  • If you get a chinchilla, there is a good chance that it will start responding to the name you give it within just a week or two.
  • These animals have been known to exhibit mourning type behavior when a cage mate dies, which indicates an ability to sense when something isn’t right.
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Hi! I'm Anna and I´m a certified cynologist (KAU, ACW). Expert, blue cross volunteer, owner of Chinese crested kennel "Salvador Dali" and breedless friend called Fenya. "I can't imagine my life without dogs and I totally support the idea #AdoptDontShop".