(male), about 7 years.
Chinchillas and their relatives viscachas are small, nocturnal mammals
native to the Andes mountains in South America and belonging to the family
Chinchillidae. In Chinese, they are called "long(2) lao(1)", which literally
Chinchilla fur is considered the softest in the world and is thirty times
softer than human hair. Chinchillas must regularly bathe in dust or volcanic ash
to remove oil and moisture that gathers in their thick fur. In fact, they have
the highest fur density of any land animal with more than 20,000 hairs per
square cm (see sea Otter). Their fur is so dense that skin parasites (such as
fleas) cannot live on one lest they suffocate. Where humans grow one hair from
each follicle, a chinchilla has more than fifty hairs from a single follicle.
Ebony Velvet Mutated
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The international trade in chinchilla fur goes back to the 16th century. The fur
from chinchillas is in demand in the fur trade due to its highly soft feel,
which is caused by the growing of 60 hairs from each hair follicle on average.
The colour is generally very constant which makes it perfect for small clothing
or the lining of large garments, though some large garments can be made
completely from the fur.
A single, full-length coat made from chinchilla fur
may need as many as 150 pelts, as chinchillas are comparatively small. This fact
led to the destruction of one species, and put significant pressure on the other
two. Though it is unlawful to hunt wild chinchillas, the wild animals are now on
the limit of becoming extinct because of the illegal hunting that carries on.
Domestic chinchillas are still bred for this use.
In their native habitat, chinchillas live in burrows or crevices in rocks.
They are agile jumpers and can jump up to five feet above their head. Predators
in the wild include hawks, skunks, felines, and canines. Their diet consists of
plants, fruits, seeds, and small insects.
In nature, chinchillas are gray, while other colours have been developed in
captivity. For example white, mosaic (white with gray or black patches), beige
(very light gray), violet, black velvet, brown velvet and Panda colours have been
seen. The gene for white is dominant, but lethal in the absence of a recessive
gene of another colour. Red eyes are not only a sign of albinism but associated
with beige coloured-chinchillas.
In nature, chinchillas are monogamous and live in pairs. Unusual for mammals,
chinchilla females are significantly bigger than males. Chinchillas can breed
any time of the year. They have a very long gestation period for a rodent of 111
days. Due to this long pregnancy, chinchillas are born fully furred and open
their eyes soon after birth. Litters range from one to seven babies, although
the average litter size is two. In the case of a miscarriage, the fetus is
frequently absorbed into the body of the mother, resulting in further sterility.
Chinchillas as Pets
Chinchillas make charming pets, but they are naturally skittish and are not
considered to be good pets for small children as they have delicate bones and
generally do not like to be held. However, some enjoy snoozing in laps and
posing for pictures as well as being held, petted and gently scratched. As with
most creatures, temperament depends largely on upbringing and to a degree genes.
Intelligent creatures, chinchillas may be taught tricks (rolling over, sitting
up, etc.) with enough patience, using clearly spoken verbal cues over time in a
quiet room. Each chinchilla has a distinctive personality, even from birth. Some
like being held more than others, some prefer certain types of food, and some
are more sleepy and lazy than others.
Generally male chinchillas are more likely to enjoy being held and groomed
than their female counterparts.
In captivity, chinchillas often live past twenty years, and grow to about one
foot in length, but they usually do not live for more than ten years in
countries with a climate to which they are not adapted. Chinchillas raised on
ranches tend to have longer life spans than those kept as pets. Differences in
diet, environment, and housing may contribute.
In 1923, Mathias F. Chapman brought the eleven wild chinchillas he had
captured to the U.S. for breeding. Only three of these were female. Since the
mid-1960s, chinchillas have become increasingly popular as house pets. This
peculiar rodent is also studied by linguists due to its aural range of
perception. It is considered the closest to that of a human's.
Chinchillas should be kept in a large cage, about 80 cm × 50 cm × 80 cm
(length x depth x height) minimum per animal. If there is any possibility of a
pregnancy, cage bar spacing should not exceed (1/2" × 1"), as small chinchillas
are good climbers and can easily squeeze through small holes (their fur makes
them look larger than they are). Cages should also avoid walking surfaces made
of metal fencing as chinchillas can catch a limb under the metal and suffer
Chinchillas enjoy ledges, boxes, sticks, and other perches, as well as
exercise wheels, which must be chosen with safety in mind. In particular,
exercise wheels should be at least 15 inches in diameter (anything smaller can
hurt chinchillas' backs), and if mesh is used, the mesh must be sufficiently
fine to prevent limbs or digits from being caught. It is much better to have a
solid running surface, as they cannot get toes or legs stuck in mesh.
Chinchillas should not have wheels that have support bars ( bars going from top
to bottom on the wheel), as these can amputate chinchilla fingers and toes and
break chinchilla's necks if they hop out of the wheel while it is still rolling.
Chinchillas cannot sweat, and therefore are prone to overheating, even
fatally. An overly warm chinchilla is characterized by veins prominently visible
in the ears, warm feet, and lethargy. Heat stroke can lead to death. Chinchillas
should be kept in an air conditioned space in climates where temperatures never
exceed 26 °C (80 °F), and should always have ample air circulation.
Animals of the same sex live peacefully together in a single cage with
sufficient space, and a male can usually be kept with one or more females. Male
chinchillas will fight each other for a mate and therefore no more than one male
should be kept with a female. If living space is too small, chinchillas will
become extremely territorial. However, chinchillas will mate with members of
their own family, so male babies cannot be left for too long in the same cage as
Chinchillas clean their fur by rolling in a dust bath. Fine dust cleans most
effectively, but specially processed sand made from pumice avoids the problems
of fine dust. The fur of a chinchilla should never be allowed to get wet.
Chinchillas have no guard hairs, so the underfur can retain water, creating a
warm moist environment for growth of the fungus ringworm, (known as athlete's
foot). A wet chinchilla should be dried with a towel, bracken, or a hair blow
dryer with no heat added.
Many chinchilla owners prefer to provide playtime out of the cage, although
this is not essential to the animal's health. An exercise time in a special
"chinchilla-proofed" room is optimal, as a wheel or similar exercise device in
the cage is not enough. They enjoy leaping from furniture and running around.
They must be watched at all times, as they can escape from even a well-prepared
room. If provided with nothing else, they will chew on wood, wire (electrical or
otherwise), and anything else they can find. To prevent this, items such as
paper towel tubes or wooden chew toys should be provided both during the
exercise time and in the cage.
Some chinchillas are prone to cuts and scratches, especially on the nose. It
is important that this be dealt with quickly to avoid infection. A first-aid
topical antibiotic ointment is generally the best option, though if the problem
area is on the nose it is crucial that it does not block the nostrils. Most vets
do not take chinchillas, so you will need to find a special exotics vet that is
experienced in chinchillas and will assist you if your chinchilla is hurt or
|Natural area of the wild Chinchilla Lanigera in Chile
Chinchillas have quite delicate digestive systems and so have special dietary
requirements. It is usually easiest to feed them specially formulated chinchilla
food. Rabbit food does not meet the nutritional needs of chinchillas and
frequently makes them fat, as does too much rusk or raisin. Hay is an essential
part of their diet, and should be fed at all times. If you have an alfalfa based
pellet, then you need timothy hay, and if you have a timothy based pellet, then
you need alfalfa hay. Perhaps as a treat they may have dandelion leaves if they
are washed clean, or a cheerio or rose hip. Treats should be fed at the very
most once a day, and it is better if they are fed less than even that.
Chinchillas need to have a water bottle, as water in a dish or bowl will be
quickly soiled and develop algae, which can be very bad for chinchillas..
As with many rodents, Chinchillas emit a constant series of small droppings,
particularly when they're excited or after they've eaten. This includes when
they're out of their cage playing; however, most chinchillas will only urinate
in their cages, unless they feel threatened.
Red cedar bedding is toxic to chinchillas because it has a chemical substance
called phenols in it and should not be used. Pine shavings are acceptable, but
if they are too fine they can cause eye infections or irritate the animal's
airways. Pine shavings must be kiln - dried though, because the kiln drying
process takes away phenols in the wood. The bedding, should be changed at least
once a week, and the food, water and hay changed and refilled daily.
Prone to excited sounds, chinchillas will also emit chirps and calls
according to their mood. Over time an owner will hear a multitude of these
orations – all indicating the animal's personal state. A soft cooing might
indicate playfulness and comfort. A very quiet chirping can be heard while the
chinchilla is exploring a new place. Some sounds will originate from the
grinding of teeth, which they will sometimes do after eating. They do sneeze
audibly, sometimes from the fine dust in their bath. If a chinchilla feels
threatened, a high and loud bark will be heard, much like a squirrel can bark. A
last resort will involve the chinchilla standing on hind legs and emitting both
a bark and a stream of urine. Sometimes, chinchillas will emit a series of loud,
hoarse barks that serve to warn other chinchillas of potential danger. They
nearly always use this vocalization if they feel nervous, rather than in
response to a specific threat. Many will make this noise in response to bad
dreams or even loneliness.
As with all rodents, chinchillas have a natural compulsion to gnaw, and often
will explore new items by gently nipping or gnawing at them (this includes new
people). Chinchillas should be provided with wooden blocks at all times;
however, some woods, particularly citrus and redcedar woods, may have resins
that are toxic to chinchillas. Cardboard will occupy a chinchillas time (and
satisfy their seemingly endless desire to destroy things), but will not wear
down their teeth, and so must be supplemented with harder woods. The best
readily-available wood to use is untreated pine wood, but grapevine, manzanita,
pear, willow, mulberry, and cottonwood are also safe.
The Paw of a Chinchilla
The featured grey chinchilla at the top image is definitely
overly fat. I have owned and bred several, and none looked like that despite
frequent treats and heaps of alfalfa and grains. Chinchillas will also get fat
like that if the cage is too small or too bland.
it is so sweet
it is good
lovely picture looks show quality perfect shape. If anyone
knows anything about chins they are supposed to be like balls with no necks.
The other person doesn't know what there talking about overfed haa haa haa
chinchillas aren't like that. That poor thing has been