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Chinchilla Calls: What Do They Mean?

Chinchilla calls and what they mean

What do chinchilla calls mean? What is your chin trying to say? Just like any other living creature, chinchillas make a variety of sounds. These range from gentle chirps as they explore new things to grunts when you give them a cuddle or pick them up, loud barks when they feel threatened, and extremely shrill shrieks that are made when your chin feels in danger. Knowing the difference between these chinchilla calls is important to allow you to better communicate with your chin.

Generally, chinchillas are fairly quiet. They don't shout the house down when the doorbell rings, like dogs. They don't purr like cats. They're not completely silent, but you won't hear them making a lot of noise either. The noises they do make are most commonly the low chirps they make when going about their usual business. They make these noises among other chins as a way to chat. They also make this noise when they are happy and content. When they come across a buddy or feel like playing, they get a bit more squeaky with excitement. Give your chin a special treat and you'll hear this noise! When they're happy, they may also make a sound like grinding teeth. Don't get confused by the sound of teeth chattering, however – this means that your chin wants you to back away. Spitting, barking, and screaming are also all signs that your chin is feeling angry, scared, or threatened.

To help you get some idea of how these noises are used, we've put together a guide on chinchilla calls and their meanings. 

Think about communication. As humans, we use different stress words, tones, pitches and sounds to let each other know what we’re really thinking. Well, believe it or not, because animals are so similar to us, they do the same. (They're similar to us in many ways. I mean, I don’t necessarily think I look like a chinchilla... even though I wish I did because they're SO BEAUTIFUL.)

Chinchilla's are no exception. They, too, use different stresses, tones, pitches and sounds to communicate. Chinchillas have four distinct call types: exploratory, contact, bark and alarm, and each call is used to communicate in a different way.  So what are these chinchilla calls?

chinchilla on white background

Chinchilla Calls


The exploratory call is low, gentle, and sounds kind of like a chirp. From time of birth, chinchillas commonly use this call to let other chins know they’re there. It’s also a sign of being comfortable. So, if you hear your chin chirping, that’s good! Excited curiosity seems to be the most common behavioral marker of this call. Hey, they may have encountered something really interesting and want you to check it out, too. 


Hearing rapid, gentle grunts from your chinchilla? The sounds you’re hearing are likely their contact call and most always occur at the time of some type of encounter. The encounter may be with a desired treat or object, with a loving owner or another chinchilla. This call means that your chinchilla is expressing to the group (other chinchillas and/or people) that they’re pleased and content. Good job, chin moms and dads!


As the name implies, the bark call is a harsh, highly intense, noisy call. The bark call serves as a defensive alert to others and is present when the chinchilla is agitated and feels threatened. This call is usually directed toward the aggressor or the threat. Chinchillas often use the bark call to warn others that there is danger or fighting. It’s common chinchilla behavior, after hearing this call, to hide and wait before re-assessing the situation. They’re pretty smart little creatures, those chins. 


Similar to your alarm clock, the chinchilla’s alarm call resembles an ear-piercing squeal or shriek. Alarm calls are actually rarely produced. However, although they’re not produced often, this call, in a domestic setting, most often occurs when the animal is cornered, which makes sense, as the purpose of these calls is to communicate to predators. If the chinchilla is in pain, it’s possible that they’ll produce an alarm call, too. 

Interesting, isn’t it? Four different calls mean four different things. As you develop your relationship with your chinchilla and continue spending time with your pet, you’ll get to know them on a more personal level and begin to better understand what their individual vocal sounds mean. And this will grow your relationship even more as you start to realize if they need something... or they’re just super happy to see you.

Interested in learning more about chinchillas? Check out these articles! ⬇️⬇️⬇️

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Does My Chinchilla Need a Bond Mate?

Diabetes in Chinchillas

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