Chinchillas
Small Pets
 

Chinchillas


Chinchilla information

Chinchillas hail from the Andes Mountains in Peru, Chile and Bolivia but can today only be found wild in Bolivia. The Spaniars who arrived to South America in the 14th century called these animals chinchillas after a native American people called the Chinca. There are

To survive the mountain cold, chinchillas have developed a dense, soft fur that keeps them warm.

Chinchillas grow to a length of 8-15 in (20-40 cm) and usually weigh 18-35 oz (0.5-1 kg).
The bushy tail is fairly long, from 3 to 6 in (7.5-15 cm), and accounts for about one third of the animal’s total length. The ears are also long and the eyes are comparatively large.

Chinchillas taxonomy

Kingdom:      Animalia
Phylum:         Chordata
Class:            Mammalia
Order:           Rodentia
Family:          Chinchillidae

There are two living species of chinchilla: Chinchilla brevicaudata and Chinchilla lanigera.
Domestic chinchillas are thought to come from Chinchilla lanigera.

Chinchilla care

Chinchillas make good pets, provided that you want a lively and energetic companion. If possible, regularly let your chinchillas put of the cage to get more exercise and a less monotonous life. When the weather allows, they love to tumble around in high grass and explore the outdoors. The cuddliness of chinchillas varies from individual to individual, and specimens who was given the opportunity to cuddle a lot with their human keeper when young usually continue to like it for the rest of their lives. In the wild, chinchillas live in small family groups which are part of larger colonies that can consist of over 100 chinchillas. It is therefore best to keep chinchillas in pairs or families in captivity, especially if you aren’t able to spend a lot time with your chinchilla each day.

Chinchillas are normally kept in indoor enclosures rather than small cages, since they are such active animals. The hind limbs of a chinchilla are long than the forelimbs and the animal is an excellent climber, so the enclosure needs to be climb and leap proof. Don’t place the enclosure in a drafty spot and always make sure the temperature doesn’t get to high (it can easily happen if the enclosure is placed in a spot that receives direct sun light). As mentioned above, chinchillas hail from the Andes and prefer a temperature around 15-25 degrees C (60-80 degrees F).

Wild chinchillas dig burrows underground or shelter under rocks, so your chinchilla will like to have a sleeping hut (e.g. a cardboard box) where it can hide out and feel safe within the enclosure. The bottom of the enclosure should be covered in absorbent bedding material. The material must be non-toxic since the chinchilla is likely to eat some of it. Animal waste must be removed on a daily basis and the bedding should be changes once a week. To prevent disease it is a good idea to regularly clean out the cage using bleach (rinse well!).

Place at least one block of wood in the enclosure for the chinchilla to chew on, since chinchilla teeth grow continuously. Chinchillas must also be given the opportunity to take a dust bath at least twice a week. You can purchase suitable dust in pet stores.

Feeding Chinchillas

In the wild, chinchillas feed on all sorts of Andean vegetation, including roots and tubers, and they should be kept on a fibre-rich diet in captivity. You can for instance use chinchilla pellets as a base and supplement with hay and grasses. Dried fruits can be given occasionally as treats.

As mentioned above, chinchilla teeth grow continuously and the animal must be given opportunity to chew them down.

Chinchillas should always have access to fresh water.

Breeding Chinchillas

Female chinchillas grow bigger than the males and will not appreciate having other females within their territory. Chincillas usually produce two litters per breeding season, with each litter consisting of anything from one single pup to up to six ones. The gestation period is roughly 110 days long and young chinchillas are suckled for 6-8 weeks.

Chinchilla Health

Stress will make your chinchilla susceptible to disease and it is therefore important to keep stressors to a bare minimum. Keep a watchful eye over chinchillas subjected to stress to notice signs of poor health at an early stage. Being introduced to a new home or getting to know other chinchillas are just two examples of events that can make a chinchilla sick. If possible, give your chinchilla time to gradually grow accustomed to new things, e.g. letting it examine a new sleeping hut before you discard the old one.  

A startled chinchilla may shed its hair; it is thought to be a form of defence mechanism.

If your chinchilla develops runny eyes you can rinse them using boric acid. If the problem persists for more than a day or two, contact a veterinarian because runny eyes can be a sign of underlying health problems.

Constipated chinchillas can usually be cured with raisins or prunes, while chinchillas suffering from diarrhoea can be given shredded wheat.

Chinchilla Facts

Chinchilla fact # 1
Several different colour forms have been developed for the pet trade, including black, white, blue-grey, beige, violet, and mosaic chinchillas.

Chinchilla fact # 2
When chinchillas eat, they sit up like a human and hold their food in their front paws.

Chinchilla fact # 3
A chinchilla coat has more fur per square inch than any other known mammal and about 60 hairs sprout from each hair follicle.  

Chinchilla fact # 4
In the wild, chinchillas take their dust baths in dust formed from fine ground volcanic rocks.

Chinchilla fact # 5
The chinchilla’s range of hearing (20 Hz to 30 kHz) and the size of its cochlear are similar to that of humans, so chinchillas are often used in auditory system research. 

Chinchilla lifespan

The average lifespan of a wild Chinchilla is 8 - 10 years, but captive specimens sometimes live for over 20 years.


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