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What exactly is a Chinchilla?

Chinchillas are moderate sized members of the rodent family, slightly larger than a guinea pig.  They have been extensively raised for the fur industry, thanks to their extremely soft fur coats.  The most common color variation is grey/silver, but there are a variety of color mutations from white to black.  They live about 15 years, although pets up to 25 or older have been reported.

Chinchilla belongs to the family of rodent. A chinchilla has been defined as a furry animal with wiry tail.  What make them extremely loveable are their big eyes, round ears, thick and silky fur, and not forgetting their persistent and undying curiosity.  These qualities make them really cute and charming.  However, because of their beautiful fur, chinchillas are also being breed by the fur industry.  Sadly, one will need over a hundred chinchillas to make a fur coat for one person.

They have a length of about 10 inches that is not including the tail. The weight is about 1-2 pounds. It has soft, dense fur usually silver gray and has large eyes, long whiskers and bushy tail. It also has a large hind feet and small front legs where the females are larger than males. You may be wondering why their coat is so dense, as they have numerous fine hairs grow from each single hair follicle.

They are herbivorous, crepuscular. They lives in social groups ranging from 14 100 animals. They preyed upon by small mammals, snakes and birds of prey. There are different types of Chinchillas, namely Lanigera, Costina and Brevicaulda. Most chinchillas come from Lanigera.  The other types come about due to the effort of breeders and natural mutations.  Some said that Costina and Brevicaulda are Lanigera that adapted to different altitudes.





It has straight, blunt nose with medium size ears and long tail.


It is larger and more chunky than Lanigera. It has blunt nose with short round ears and tail.


This is smaller and slimmer than Lanigera. It has a narrow and rat-like nose with bigger ears and longer tail.


There is THREE kinds of rodents based on our skull structure:

       i.          SCIUROMORPHS

      ii.          MYOMORPHS

     iii.          HYSTRICOMORPHS


Let us concentrate on the HYSTRICOMORPHS first, now one of the HYSTRICOMORPHS family is called the CHINCHILLIDAE. Is it beginning to sound familiar now?  Well, it doesn't stop there, we now have to break this family CHINCHILLIDAE down further. Believe it or not the CHINCHILLIDAE family is broken down into SIX species which are:

        FOUR are 'VISCACHA'

        TWO are 'CHINCHILLA'

Here is a picture of one of the 'viscacha' family - known as the 'plains viscacha'


This is the LAGOSTOMU MAXIMUS ( try saying that with a mouthful of raisins )

They live on the plains of the Argentine pampas, have coarse gray hair and black and white stripes across a blunt rat like face

Now lets forget about the ugly viscacha family and lets go into a little more detail about the cuter ones - the CHINCHILLA!

There is two types of chinchilla:



The chinchilla 'brevicaudata' is the 'short-tailed' one, see this drawing below


Looks more like a guinea pig with a short bushy tail - this one is practically extinct!

Well, let's face it - why buy an expensive one of these when guinea pigs come cheap!


That's us! and here is a picture of a real wild one - bet you haven't got one of these!


Both the lanigera and the brevicaudata chinchillas were brought into the USA for breeding, but the brevicaudata didn't do very well as the lanigera guys so the breeders kicked them out and concentrated on the lanigera chinnie