10 Things That Prove Chinchillas Are Smart Animals

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Written by: Celestine Gomez
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In the last few years, people have become more interested in keeping chinchillas as pets. And why wouldn’t they? Chinchillas are easy and fun to care for, plus they’re great cuddling partners.

One of the things many chinchilla owners realize after spending some time with their pets is that chinchillas are pretty clever.

So, are chinchillas smart animals? In today’s article, we’ll be discussing this topic in detail.

Let’s get started!

Are Chinchillas Smart?

Yes, chinchillas are pretty intelligent animals. They have several skills that allow them to communicate with their owners, navigate their surroundings, and respond to commands. They also have incredible memories.

10 Things Chinchillas Do That Prove They’re Smart

I’ve had a few encounters with smart chinchillas while working in the shelter. So I figured the best way to show how smart chinchillas are is by listing some of their skills. Here are ten things chinchillas do that prove their high intelligence:

1.   They Have a Strong Memory

One of the things that boost chinchillas’ intelligence is their strong memory. These animals can quickly memorize their entire spatial surroundings.

When you put a chinchilla in a cage, you’ll notice how quickly she learns and memorizes its layout.

They can also memorize people’s faces and voices. They can easily identify their owners and show their excitement when they approach them.

This goes for anyone who offends them as well. So, expect them to hold a grudge for a long time.

2.   They Keep Their Cage Clean

Chinchillas only defecate in a specific corner of their cage away from their feeder. So even if you let your chinchilla out of the cage, she’ll return to it when nature calls.

This is one of the many reasons why we love having chinchillas as pets. It’s also proof of their remarkable memory capacity.

We spent adequate time potty-training cats and dogs, but chinchillas already know what to do from day one.

3.   They Can Identify Sounds

Did you know that chinchillas can identify sounds? It’s a skill that helps them survive in the wild.

That’s why they get excited when they hear you shaking their box of treats or when you tap on their dust baths.

4.   They Respond to Their Name

Cats and dogs aren’t the only pets that learn and respond to their names. Chinchillas do too.

They’ll stop what they’re doing and turn to you or get excited when they hear you calling their names.

Believe it or not, they can recognize other phrases and respond to them. This helps them answer commands.

5.   They Can Sense When Something Is Wrong

Chinchillas are prey in the wild; therefore, they’re incredibly vigilant. They can notice any subtle changes in their environment.

Besides, they can also sense when any of their cage mates is unwell. They’ll even mourn when one of their mates dies and might get into depression for a while.

6.   They Can Recognize Your Scent

Chinchillas are blessed with a good sense of smell that allows them to identify various scents. They can pick up on their owner’s scent and detect their presence only from it.

7.   They Can Differentiate Between Fresh and Old Hay

Chinchillas like to eat their hay fresh. When I say fresh, I mean that it hasn’t been out for more than 48 hrs.

They might even try to hide the remaining old hay from you just to trick you into filling their feeder with new, fresh hay. From a personal experience, getting fooled by a chinchilla is bad for your ego!

As annoying as it is, you can’t deny it’s pretty smart of them.

8.   They Bathe Themselves

Once you let your chinchilla know that her dust bath is ready, she’ll go to it right away and do her thing. You don’t need to do anything to help her bathe.

Chinchillas know what they need to do to keep themselves clean.

9.   They’re Highly Sociable Animals

One of the reasons why many enjoy owning chinchillas is that they’re highly sociable animals. They quickly gather the social skills to interact comfortably with their owners.

10. They Can Learn Some Tricks

By practice, chinchillas can learn several tricks and respond to commands. This is a great proof of how smart they are.

You can teach them to roll a ball, climb on your shoulder, or even grab something from your hand and give it back to you. By using the positive reinforcement strategy, you’ll be able to teach your chinchilla lots of tricks.


While chinchillas are no monkeys when it comes to intelligence, they’re way smarter than many rodents and pets.

Their strong memory and obsession with cleanliness are great proof of that. They can also identify different voices, sounds, and scents.

They easily identify their owners and respond to their names. In addition, they have excellent social skills where they trust their owners quickly and even mourn the death of their mates.


Here are the answers to a couple of frequently asked questions:

Do chinchillas care about their owners?

Yes, chinchillas care about their owners. They’re highly sociable animals with great wit. They bond with their owners and like to spend time with them.

Are hamsters smarter or chinchillas?

Chinchillas are known to be brighter than hamsters. They can respond to their name and answer commands, which are things that hamsters can’t do.

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Celestine Gomez

I'm Celestine Gomez, worked for 5 years in an animal shelter in Los Angeles, California. Having noticed the inherent passion and zeal in me to care for pets, I took a step further to create a team of I and like-minded individuals to provide an informative resource in order to broaden the knowledge base of a regular pet owners.