When owners are struggling to connect with their chinchillas they often begin to feel discouraged. Owners will simply give up on reaching a bond with their pet's and stick to the basics... But what if I told you there was another chance? Try blanket bonding.
What is blanket bonding? Well, it's really simple. It's a method that helps make you and your pet more comfortable. Chinchillas being prey animals are by nature afraid of predators and large spaces. Humans are predators. Playtime is generally had in a large room or in a spacious bathroom... no real quality connections can be made quickly during this time.
Blanket Bonding is a method I have developed for bringing Chinchillas and their owners closer together. It’s something I have been doing for years before I even made the connection between what I was doing, and what it resulted in. I did some light research but didn't find anything that really matched what I had been doing, so I called it blanket bonding and started sharing. If someone else does something similar, that is great!
Generally, to "blanket bond" you need:
a pet - this is not chinchilla specific
a blanket, snuggie, cuddle pouch, etc
and safe treats - optional
With a blanket I would throw part of it over my shoulder and drape the rest across my arm, and form a basket or hammock with my free arm. That is where your chinchilla will go. Chinchillas generally are not fond of being handled and this forms some security... The prey animal is not being directly held ( captured ) by a predator, they can securely place their feet on the blanket and feel as though they're in control and they can burrow in the blanket to feel safe too. It's important to never restrain your chinchilla in the blanket or pouch though. This will have a negative affect. Your pet should be able to come and go as they please.
It may take some time for your chinchilla to get comfortable with the blanket bonding, short sessions will eventually develop into longer sessions. You can create some positive reinforcement by giving a healthy treat when your pet is in the blanket and when your pet comes to the blanket on his or her own.
Have I tested it out to form statistics and all that fun mumbo-jumbo? No. I haven’t. I can just tell you why I think it works, and let you know how it worked for us.
After a few days up to 2 weeks of doing this at play time, try it periodically throughout the day for a few minutes here and there. As time passes you’ll notice your chinchilla is much calmer when being held, and cuddled. All of my chinchillas have gone through this process with me. I can now carry them around without the worry of one squirming away. I can have Odin on my shoulder, while holding Darrell in my arms for over an hour and not worry that they will be stressing about being out. Snow White will come up to me when I have a blanket and nuzzle into it to take a nap, and Aurora feels secure having the blanket around her body.
Do not wrap your chinchilla tightly in a blanket. That is not blanket bonding. That is swaddling. Your chinchilla MUST be able to move freely. Allowing them to move freely, while being on/in the blanket builds their trust IMO. By restricting them, you are controlling them, and most chinchillas despise that. Swaddling will increase your chances of your chinchilla suffering from a heat stroke. Loosely like in my video will prevent this. Another saftey step would be to only attempt this if it is cool enough in your home. Signs of heat stress will be a lethargic chinchilla, with bright pink /red ears. If your chinchilla expresses these warnings it is best that you return them to their cage with a cool cooling stone for them. I have never encountered any heat issues with this method, but I want it to be clear that you will over heat your chinchilla if you do swaddle him/her.