Chinchilla: Wikis


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From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Fossil range: Recent
Scientific classification
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Class: Mammalia
Order: Rodentia
Family: Chinchillidae
Genus: Chinchilla
Bennett, 1829

Chinchilla lanigera
Chinchilla brevicaudata

Range of Chinchilla lanigera and Chinchilla brevicaudata.

     Chinchilla brevicaudata      Chinchilla lanigera

Chinchillas are crepuscular rodents, slightly larger than ground squirrels, native to the Andes mountains in South America. Along with their relatives, viscachas, they belong to the family Chinchillidae.

The animal (whose name literally means "little Chincha") is named after the Chincha people of the Andes, who once wore its soft and dense fur.[1] By the end of the 19th century, chinchillas had become quite rare due to hunting for their fur. Most chinchillas currently used by the fur industry for clothing and other accessories are farm-raised.[2]


Native environment

Andean Chinchilla habitat in Chile.

In their native habitat, chinchillas live in burrows or crevices in rocks. They are agile jumpers and can jump very high, up to 6 ft (1.8 m). Predators in the wild include birds of prey, skunks, felines, snakes and canines. Chinchillas have a variety of defensive tactics including spraying urine and releasing fur if bitten.[3] In the wild, chinchillas have been observed eating plants, fruits, seeds, and small insects,[4] though this diet could irritate the digestive system of a domestic chinchilla whose diet should be primarily hay-based.[5]

In nature, chinchillas live in social groups that resemble colonies but are properly called herds. Chinchillas can breed any time of the year. Their gestation period is 111 days, longer than most rodents. Due to this long pregnancy, chinchillas are born fully furred and with eyes open. Litters are usually small in number, predominately twins.[6]

Chinchilla species

Comparison of Chinchilla species

There are two living species of chinchilla, Chinchilla brevicaudata and Chinchilla lanigera. There is little noticeable difference between the species except that the Chinchilla brevicaudata has a shorter tail, a thicker neck and shoulders, and shorter ears. This species is currently facing extinction.[7] The Chinchilla lanigera species, though rare, can be found in the wild.[4] Domestic chinchillas are thought to come from the lanigera species.[8]

Fur industry

Chinchilla fur coat and accessories

The international trade in chinchilla fur goes back to the 16th century. The fur from chinchillas is popular in the fur trade due to its extremely soft feel, because they have about 60 hairs sprouting from each hair follicle. The color is usually very even, which makes it ideal for small garments or the lining of large garments, though some large garments can be made entirely from the fur. A single, full-length coat made from chinchilla fur may require as many as 150 pelts, as chinchillas are relatively small.[9] This fact led to the extinction of one species, and put serious pressure on the other two. Though it is illegal to hunt wild chinchillas, the wild animals are now on the verge of becoming extinct because of the illegal hunting that continues. Domestic chinchillas are still bred for this use.[10]

Chinchillas as pets

The first scientific study on chinchilla sounds in their social environment was conducted by Dr. Bartl DVM in Germany.[11]

Chinchillas require extensive exercise and should have a large exercise wheel (over 15 in (380 mm) in diameter) with solid surfaces. Chinchilla legs and toes can easily get caught in a mesh running surface and tails can get caught in spokes. Chinchilla teeth need to be worn down as their teeth grow continually and can prevent the chinchilla from eating if they become overgrown.[12] Wooden sticks, pumice stone and chew toys are good options, but conifer and citrus woods (like cedar or orange) should be avoided because of the high content of resins, oils and phenols that are toxic for chinchillas. Birch, willow, apple tree, manzanita or kiln-dried pine are all safe woods for chinchillas to chew.[13]

The chinchilla lacks the ability to sweat; therefore, if temperatures get above 25°C (80°F), the chinchilla could get overheated and may suffer from heat stroke. Chinchillas dissipate heat by routing blood to their large ears, so red ears signal overheating.[14]

Chinchillas can be found in a variety of colors including the standard gray (the only color found in nature), beige, white, ebony, and many others.[15] They instinctively clean their fur by taking dust baths, in which they roll around in special chinchilla dust made of fine pumice. In the wild their dust is formed from fine ground volcanic rocks. The dust gets into their fur and absorbs oil and dirt. These baths are needed a few times a week. Chinchillas do not bathe in water because the dense fur prevents air-drying, retaining moisture close to the skin, which can cause fungus growth or fur rot. A wet chinchilla must be dried immediately with towels and a no-heat hair dryer. The fur is so thick that it resists parasites such as fleas. The fur also reduces loose dander, making chinchillas hypo-allergenic.[16]

White Mosaic Chinchilla with dark gray marking

Chinchillas eat and digest desert grasses and cannot efficiently process fatty foods, high protein foods, or too many green plants. A high quality, hay-based pellet and a constant supply of loose hay will sufficiently meet all of their dietary needs. Chinchillas have very sensitive GI tracts that can be easily disrupted so it is important to maintain them on a healthy diet.[17] Avoid chinchilla feed that includes a mixture; chinchillas may avoid the healthy high fiber pellets in favor of items like raisins and seeds. Fresh vegetables and fruit (with high moisture content) should be avoided as these can cause bloat in a chinchilla, which can be fatal. Sweets and dried fruit treats, such as raisins should be limited to one or two per day. Chinchillas also eat and drink in very small amounts, therefore, overfeeding is easy.[18] This can lead to diarrhea, or in the long term, diabetes. Nuts should be avoided due to their high fat content. High protein foods and hay (such as alfalfa) can cause liver problems and should be limited.[19]

In scientific research

The chinchilla is often used as an animal model in researching the auditory system, because the chinchilla's range of hearing (20 Hz to 30 kHz) and cochlear size is close to that of a human, and the chinchilla cochlea is fairly easy to access.[20] Other research fields in which chinchillas are used as an animal model include study of Chagas disease, Gastrointestinal diseases, Pneumonia, Listeriosis, as well as of Yersinia and Pseudomonas infections. The fetal anomaly of hydrops amnion has not been reported in chinchillas.

See also


External links

1911 encyclopedia

Up to date as of January 14, 2010

From LoveToKnow 1911

CHINCHILLA, a small grey hopping rodent mammal (Chinchilla lanigera), of the approximate size of a squirrel, inhabiting the eastern slopes of the Andes in Chile and Bolivia, at altitudes between 8000 and 12,000 ft. It typifies not only the genus Chinchilla, but the family Chinchillidae, for the distinctive features of which see RODENTIA. The ordinary chinchilla is about io in. in length, exclusive of the long tail, and in the form of its head somewhat resembles a rabbit. It is covered with a dense soft fur 4 in. long on the back and upwards of an inch in length on the sides, of a delicate French grey colour, darkly mottled on the upper surface and dusky white beneath; the ears being long, broad and thinly covered with hair. Chinchillas live in burrows, and these subterranean dwellings undermine the ground in some parts of the Chilean Andes to such an extent as to cause danger to travellers on horseback. They associate in communities, forming their burrows among loose rocks, and coming out to feed in the early morning and towards sunset. They feed chiefly on roots and grasses, in search of which they often travel considerable distances; and when eating they sit on their haunches, holding their food in their fore-paws. The Indians in hunting them employ the grison (Galictis vittata), a member of the weasel family, which is trained to enter the crevices of the rocks where the chinchillas lie concealed during the day. The fur (q.v.) of this rodent was prized by the ancient Peruvians, who made coverlets and other articles with the skin, and at the present day the skins are exported in large numbers to Europe, where they are made into muffs, tippets and trimmings. That chinchillas have not under such circumstances become rare, if not extinct, is owing to their extraordinary fecundity, the female usually producing five or six young twice a year. They are docile in disposition, and thus well fitted for domestication. The Peruvian chinchilla (C, brevicaudata) is larger, with relatively shorter ears and tail; while still larger species constitute the genus Lagidium, ranging from the Andes to Patagonia, and distinguished by having four in place of five front-toes, more pointed ears, and a somewhat differently formed skull. (See also VISCACHA). (R. L.*)

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Up to date as of January 15, 2010

Definition from Wiktionary, a free dictionary




Proper noun

Wikipedia has an article on:



  1. a taxonomic genus, within family Chinchillidae - the chinchillas
Wikispecies has information on:


See also

  • See Wikispecies for species



Chinchilla n. (plural Chinchillas)

  1. chinchilla (animal)
  2. chinchilla (fur)


Up to date as of January 23, 2010

From Wikispecies



Main Page
Cladus: Eukaryota
Supergroup: Unikonta
Cladus: Opisthokonta
Regnum: Animalia
Subregnum: Eumetazoa
Cladus: Bilateria
Cladus: Nephrozoa
Cladus: Deuterostomia
Phylum: Chordata
Subphylum: Vertebrata
Infraphylum: Gnathostomata
Superclassis: Tetrapoda
Classis: Mammalia
Subclassis: Theria
Infraclassis: Placentalia
Ordo: Rodentia
Infraorder: Hystricognathi
Infraordo: Caviomorpha
Familia: Chinchillidae
Genus: Chinchilla
Species: C. brevicaudata - C. lanigera


Chinchilla Bennett, 1829


  • Chinchilla on Mammal Species of the World.
    Don E. Wilson & DeeAnn M. Reeder (editors). 2005. Mammal Species of the World. A Taxonomic and Geographic Reference (3rd ed).

Vernacular names

Česky: Činčila
Ido: Chinchilo
עברית: צ'ינצ'ילה
Lietuvių: Šinšiliniai
日本語: チンチラ属
Polski: Szynszyla
Русский: Шиншилло

Simple English

Fossil range: Late Oligocene - Recent
Young wild Chinchilla lanigera
Scientific classification
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Class: Mammalia
Order: Rodentia
Family: Chinchillidae
Bennett, 1833
Genus: Chinchilla
Bennett, 1829

Chinchilla lanigera
Chinchilla brevicaudata

The Chincilla is a small rodent. They live in the Andes in South America. They are active during dusk and dawn. Such an activity pattern is called crepuscular. Together with the Viscacha, they form the Chinchillidae family.

In their usual habitat, chinchillas live either in burrows, or in crevices of rocks. They are good jumpers, and can jump very high. Chinchillas live in colonies. The females are much bigger than the males. Predators in the wild include hawks, skunks, felines, and canines. Wild chinchillas seem to feed on plants, fruits, seed, and small insects.[1]

Chinchillas have been domesticated and are sometimes kept as pets. Their diet is mostly based on hay. Chinchillas make a variety of vocalizations, including chirps, squeaks, and barks.[2] They can be found in a variety of colors and mutations. [3]

Chinchilla species

There are two species of chinchilla, Chinchilla brevicaudata and chinchilla lanigera. The difference between the two species is small. Currently, Chinchilla brevicaudata seems to be facing extinction. [4][5][6] Chinchilla lanigera can still be found in the wild, but has become rare.[7] Domesticated chinchillas seem to come from the lanigera species.[8]


The following references are not necessarily in simple English:


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