Useful Chinchilla Facts and Tips

Photo: dd_doubleclick (Flickr)

Photo by dd_doubleclick (Flickr)

Chinchillas are wonderful pets to have because of their lovely personalities and of course, their thick smooth fur. These little rodents are very playful and active, making them amiable to their owners. Apart from being pets, very little information is known about these animals. Get to know some of the interesting things about them by reading on these chinchillas facts.

Chinchilla Beginnings

Chinchillas are small animals that come from the Andes Mountains in Latin America. The name translates to “Little Chincha” named after the local people who hail from the mountain region of Andes. It should be noted that there are two different Chinchilla varieties; one is known as “Chinchilla Chinchilla” which is a short tailed variation of this mammal, and the other type is known as “Chinchilla Lanigera” which is a long tailedanimal. The two species have similar features, the short tailed type features wider shoulders, a fuller neck and as the name suggests, has a small tail.

Natural Environment of Chinchilla


Andes Mountains – Panoramic View. Photo by Paolo Costa Baldi. License: GFDL/CC-BY-SA 3.0

In the wilderness, chinchillas are known to live together in herds. They are generally found in burrows and stone cracks. For a small and not ferocious rodent, it has to stay away from a wide selection of potential predators such as dogs, snakes, birds of prey, skunks and many more. In case it is attacked, it protects itself from bigger animals by spraying urine, and releasing tufts of fur.

It should also be noted that wild chinchillas dine on fruits, plants, seeds and good sized insects.

They can choose to breed during any period of the year. Their pregnancy period lasts an impressive one hundred and ten days. It is longer than most other rodents. Due to the longer pregnancy, they are born with open eyes, and a body that has abundant fur.

Life Expectancy and Features

Chinchillas have a life expectancy of between ten to twenty years. The oldest specimen is believed to last between twenty seven and twenty nine years. They are blessed with an amazing ability to jump. They have been witnessed to jump over 6ft high. Their fur is very soft and the chinchilla is unable to sweat. It has to maintain a temperature of below 80 degrees, otherwise it may get overheated. It has to direct its warmth to its big ears through the circulation. They are also nocturnal rodents, this means that they are awake at nighttime and sleep throughout the day.

Chinchilla - photo by Daniel Hall

Photo by Daniel Hall (

They are very sensitive to noise and stress and that is why it is very important to avoid quick movements, especially when approaching them. Their traits almost stay the same and rarely change. For instance, if your chinchilla is naturally shy, he will remain shy for the rest of his life. These rodents need to gnaw so as to keep their teeth from getting too long. Throw in some chewing toys so as to save on water container and food dishes from being chewed.

They are also known for making sounds to express emotions. They squeak, squeal, and grant in accordance to these emotions. If everything is okay, they usually stay silent.

Weight and Puberty

The usual weight of an adult chin is about 400 to 500 grams for males, while females range from 400 to 600 grams. The puberty of these animals is also another interesting fact. It begins early as their 3rd month after birth. This stage lasts for about six to ten months. Infant chins are called kits. Instead of bathing in water, they bath in dust. In their natural environment, their bath in volcanic ash. They love to play while bathing, flipping, rolling, and digging.

They are weaned for six to eight weeks, after which they can begin mating. In a year, the normal chin will breed two times. These animals come in different colors ranging from white, beige, gray, ebony, sapphire, and violets. About 100 hairs grow in their follicle, which results to the immense thickness of their fur. Their fur is thick to the point that it is immune against fleas. Their teeth also do not stop growing, which explains why they chomp on wood since it wears down the growth of their teeth.

Chinchillas make for excellent pets. You will simply love their fur, and they are affectionate enough to let you pet them. They are also easy to care for, but you also need some to time investment so that you can give them the best care possible.

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