About the Chinchilla
Chinchillas are rodents that are native to the Andes Mountains in South America. They are related to guinea pigs and porcupines. With short forelimbs and long, muscular hind legs, chinchillas resemble rabbits, but their ears are much shorter and rounder. They have large, black eyes and bushy tails. They eat nuts, seeds, and berries. Chinchillas defend themselves by spraying urine and releasing their fur when under attack. They are often kept as pets and are also prized for their luxuriously soft fur and were nearly driven to extinction because of the demand. Chinchilla fur was originally mottled yellow-gray in the wild, according to The Merck Veterinary Manual. Through selective breeding, however, other colors have become common, including silver, yellow-gray, bluish-gray, white, beige and black. Chinchillas are crepuscular and nocturnal, which means they are very active at dawn or dusk and sleep during the day.
Location & Habitat
Chinchillas are found in the barren, arid areas of mountains at elevations of 3,000-5,000 meters. These animals den in crevices and holes among the rocks. They are currently only found in the mountains of northern Chile.
Chinchillas were nearly hunted to extinction for their luxurious soft fur. Chinchillas are now protected by law in their natural habitat, yet hunting of this animal for its fur continues in remote areas.
- The average top speed of a chinchilla is 15 mph
- Often kept as pets, chinchillas are also prized for their luxuriously soft fur and were nearly driven to extinction because of the demand
- First appearing around 41 million years ago, the chinchilla's ancestors were some of the first rodents to infest South America
- An American mining engineer named Mathias F. Chapman got special permission from the Chilean government to bring chinchillas to the United States in 1923.. Nearly every pet chinchilla in the United States today is a direct descendant of 11 chinchillas that Chapman brought to the country
- they are very sensitive to the heat and humidity and can overheat due to it
- The chinchillas teeth, like many other rodents, never stop growing; they constantly have to be grind down from the chewing on things like wood
- Chinchillas are known to have the softest fur of all land mammals.In fact they can grow anywhere from 50-80 out of one single hair follicle; this is a very large amount compared to us humans who can only grow about 2-3 hairs per follicle