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Chinchilla Facts

A Chinchilla is a type of rodent that weighs between 18 and 20 ounces and is about 12 inches long.

The scientific name for a Chinchilla is Chinchilla lanigera. If you are interested in or considering keeping one you should get some chinchilla facts straight.

Chinchillas live in the Andes Mountains in South America. Large birds, skunks, wild dogs and snakes prey on them in the wild. Their defense mechanism against these animals is their ability to shed clumps of fur onto which their enemy is attached or to spray their enemy with urine. Wild Chinchillas live in small groups called herds and feed on fruits, plants and small bugs.

Unfortunately these animals were almost made extinct by man. They were slaughtered and the fur used to make coats or boots. One fur coat requires the fur from about 100-200 Chinchillas and so many Chinchillas were slaughtered over a period of time.

Certain people also like to keep Chinchillas as pets. It is necessary to know all about Chinchillas before taking the decision to keep one.

The typical life span of a Chinchilla is about 15 years although some live for 18-22 years. Their tail is about 5-6 inches in length. Chinchillas are very active and playful. They have gentle temperaments. It is possible to rear a tame Chinchilla if it is handled gently from the beginning itself. These then go on to form strong bonds with their owners. Chinchillas are playful and active but dislike being cuddled and held. It is not necessary to keep a pair of Chinchillas. They get along with others of the same sex, if both are brought into the house at the same time. They are nocturnal animals and are active during the evening or night. They tend to sleep all day and should be kept away from noisy surroundings. Their cages should be roomy (for exercise) and with shelves as they like to climb. Wooden toys can be put into the cages. Avoid plastic at all costs and mesh too as it is harmful for these animals. Ensure that the Chinchilla is kept cool and not over heated; the cage should have good circulation. Give your Chinchilla a dust bath once a week. Never use water as they cannot dry themselves internally and wet fur will grow mould on it.

Chinchilla diet
should consist of plenty of roughage and mainly of good quality grass hay. Moderate the amount of treats. These can include grapes, apples, sunflower seeds, carrots etc. Keep the above information in mind if you are thinking about Chinchillas as pets.

  Submitted on May 24, 2010