What Is a Chinchilla?

Topics: Chinchilla, Fur, Andes Pages: 3 (1060 words) Published: April 11, 2009
Body What is a chinchilla? The Chinese word for chinchilla means “dragon cat”. Chinchillas are exotic animals and are hard to describe. They look like a cross between a rabbit and a squirrel. They come from South America and have big ears, tiny front paws, dense fur, and a curled tail. They also have the softest fur on earth. Chinchillas are mammals and come from the Rodentia family and have a long life span. Their wild ancestors originated in the mountains of Argentina, Bolivia, Chile, and Peru. They typically live ten to fifteen years but can live up to twenty years. There are three species of chinchillas: the brevicaudata, which has a short tail, coarse coat and a large blocky appearance and weigh more than 24 oz., the lanigera, which has a long tail and is smaller and leaner with a silkier coat and weighs 16 ' 24 oz., and the costina, which has longer ears and is slim with short fur and weighs less than 20 oz.. They come in several color variations with most chinchillas being standard grey though they can also be black, white, tan and variations of each. Some colors such as violet, blue, sapphire, and chocolate are rare. Chinchillas have a very long gestation period lasting 111 ' 119 days which is longer than a dog or cat. A chinchilla will usually have 1 to 2 babies but on occasion can have 3. And they usually have 1 or 2 litters a year. Chinchillas are herd animals and it is often a good idea to have 2 chinchillas for companionship. Chinchillas lived in large herds that could number up to 100 and were originally hunted for their fur until about 1910 when the governments of Argentina, Bolivia, Chile, and Peru outlawed the trapping of wild chinchillas. A chinchilla’s natural defensive reflex is to run. They are very fast, very quiet and can jump several times their body height. And if they are grabbed they can blow their fur out to escape capture. Chinchilla’s...
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