Chinchillas are native to the Latin America where they usually live in distinct colonies of up to a hundred in the mountains. They’re cute little creatures that belong to rodents. There are two main species of chinchilla: long-tailed and short-tailed chinchillas.
These animals inhabit Andes, South America and they are adapted to the life in the rocky habitats and mountains, at altitudes above 12,000 feet.
Chinchillas are named after the American Indian tribe known as “Chincha” that used the fur of the chinchillas in the past to make clothes. Chinchilla can reach 10-14 inches in length. They are characterized by very soft, thick fur, bushy tail and large, round ears.
They can communicate with each other using grunting noises, barking and chirping along with squeals. When eating, they tend to sit on their haunches and hold their food using front paws.
Chinchilla’s tail is often five to six inches long. On average, chinchilla weighs about two to three pounds. They’re extremely agile animals and can jump up to 5 feet in the air!
In the previous century, people hunted the chinchillas nearly to extinction due to its soft, dense fur. They’re still classified as critically endangered species. Chinchilla can live 15 to 20 in the captivity and 10 to 14 years in the wild. Below are more interesting facts about chinchillas:
- Chinchillas don’t have a specific mating season; they can mate throughout the entire year. Female’s pregnancy lasts longer than in other rodents (111 days). At birth, babies are fully developed. A young chinchilla is ready to mate four months after their birth.
- Chinchillas use a distinct mechanism to escape from predators. When caught, chinchillas release part of its fur to free themselves from the predator’s claws. In the end, the fur removed will re-grow after some time. This technique is referred to as “fur slip.”
- A parasite can’t survive in the chinchilla’s fur due to its density. Even the fleas will eventually die due to suffocation inside the fur.
- Chinchillas eat various types of shrubs and grass. While eating, they sit on its rear feet and use its front feet to hold food.
- Chinchillas are extremely social animals. They usually live in groups of about a hundred members. Also, they’re extremely vocal animals that produce squealing, chirping, barking, and grunting sounds in communication.
- Chinchilla’s fur is the thickest fur of all land animals with fifty hairs growing from one follicle. 1 cm2 of chinchillas’ skin contains about 20 000 hairs.
- Chinchillas sleep in blocks of time throughout the day, often hidden in the small holes in the rocks and crevices. They can sleep in an upright position.
- They’ve open-rooted teeth meaning they keep on growing throughout their lives. Therefore, ensure to provide a sufficient number of chew toys for your pet. Just like in any other rodents, the teeth of chinchillas grow continuously. Frequent chewing of sticks and twigs causes teeth wearing.
- Chinchillas are in usually put in dust baths to remove any moisture or oil from their thick fur; this will also assist in maintaining the softness of their fur. You shouldn’t bathe them in water since this may result in a significant loss of fur.
- The fur of a chinchilla is considered the softest in the world: thirty times softer than the human hair! Also, they’ve fifty or more hairs per follicle compared to human beings, who’ve only one.
- Chinchilla’s red blood cells can hold more oxygen than any other rodent because of their adaptation to natural living conditions at high altitudes.
- Chinchillas ‘see’ with their whiskers. Although they’ve huge eyes, their eyes aren’t fully developed, making them not see well with it. However, they’ve long whiskers that can grow half the length of their body to assist them ‘see’ or rather feel things around them.