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Chinchillas – Introduction

(Last Updated On: 31/01/2017)

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Introduction to Chinchillas

Chinchillas are rodents which look very much alike rats, hamsters and guinea pigs, ground squirrels and bunnies. These rodents are mainly found in South America and live in colonies or herds at high altitudes in the mountains. These rodents were named after the people of the Andes, known as Chincha. In the previous times, these people used to make velvet soft fur coats from their coat to protect themselves from extreme cold temperatures in winters. In the 19th century, these rodents became rare because of excessive hunting for their fur coat and so were banned from being hunted. Still some private organizations raise Chinchilla on their farms and breeding centers to make luxurious coats from their fur. The most common and economical use of chinchilla is providing their fur to make several garments. This business is illegal in many countries but still these types of businesses are being run and it should be strictly dealt with.

Physical Description

They have round and larger ears as compared to rats and are larger and more robust as compared with ground squirrels. Chinchilla has thick fur, usually in bluish gray color that keeps them from cold, parasite attack and other environmental dangers. They have short legs and long tail.

Today, Chinchilla are found in several colors like black, white and beige shades, apart from their natural or standard color which is bluish gray. There are around 27 colors of chinchilla today.

Types of Chinchilla

There are about two major species of chinchilla known as Chinchilla Brevicaudata and Chinchilla Lanigera or long tailed Chinchilla.

Chinchilla Brevicaudata are larger, have a denser fur as compared to Chinchilla Lanigera. Their fur is of wavy texture and coarse.

Chinchilla Lanigera has longer tail, ears and thinner heads. Brevicaudata has wider heads but shorter tails.

Chinchilla Lanigera are slim whereas Brevicaudata are round and plump.

Chinchilla Lanigera is found in the midlands of UK whereas Chinchilla Brevicaudata is found in the higher regions.

Chinchilla Lanigera are still found in the wild in reasonable numbers but Brevicaudata is found in very small numbers and is nearly extinct. The Chinchilla kept as pets are mostly Chinchilla Lanigera that are bred in several colors.

Natural Habitat

In the wild, these rodents live in colonies which are built through burrows in mountain rocks and are excellent jumpers because of their feet shaped like rabbits. Chinchilla lives in places with extreme temperatures so they could bear daytime heat and night time freezing temperatures as well.

Chinchilla eats plants or insects in the wild. Chinchillas are small animals so their dietary needs are also little.

Another interesting factor of chinchilla is their dust bath. They clean their extensive fur by rolling into dust. Chinchilla doesn’t like to get wet because their fur is thick and it doesn’t dry fast.

Chinchilla likes to live in group because they are highly social animals. They should be provided their desirable environment if they are to be kept as pets. Chinchilla likes to jump and they could jump over pretty high walls or fences as well, so special care should be given when chinchilla are in captivity.

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