In detail

The chinchilla - profile

The chinchilla - profile

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Surname: Chinchilla
Latin name: Chinchillidae
class: Mammal
size: 15cm - 50cm
mass: 0.5 kg - 7.0 kg
Older: 3 - 20 years
Appearance: blue-gray
Sexual dimorphism:
Nutrition type: Herbivore (herbivor)
food: Grasses, hay, herbs
distribution: Argentina, Chile, Peru
original origin: South America
Sleep-wake rhythm: nocturnal
habitat: Mountains, rocky landscape
natural enemies: Birds of prey
sexual maturity: about six months
mating season: monthly
gestation period: 100 - 110 days
litter size: 1 - 3 cubs
social behavior: Herd animal
Threatened with extinction: No
Further profiles of animals can be found in the Encyclopaedia.

Interesting facts about the chinchilla

  • Chinchillas describe a South American native family of medium-sized rodents living in the mountainous regions of Argentina, Bolivia, Chile and Peru. The chinchilla family includes the chinchillas as well as the viscachas and the rabbit mice.
  • The actual chinchillas are subdivided into long and short tailed chinchillas depending on the physique. They are found mainly in the Andes and the hilly coastal regions in western South America, where they live secluded in crevices and caves.
  • Chinchillas are not fussy when searching for food and feed as herbivores from the sparse vegetation of the mountainous regions.
  • To withstand extreme climatic conditions and temperature changes, chinchillas have developed a coat that is considered to be the densest of all living animals on Earth.
  • These predominantly nocturnal and twilight-active animals live in packs, which can cover a few to several hundred specimens. Within the groups females are the dominant sex and always behave extremely aggressively against rivals. The females are usually much larger than their male counterparts.
  • Chinchillas are very social animals. The communication of the chinchillas among each other takes place not only by characteristic sounds, but also by intensive physical contact as well as a rich repertoire of fragrance and body signals.
  • In the mating season between early summer and late fall bring female chinchilla usually two or three times offspring to the world. The young are hairy and fully developed immediately after birth and begin within the first week of life to take in addition to breast milk and solid food. After a maximum of two months young chinchillas are self-employed.
  • Chinchillas are very shy in the wild and are characterized by a pronounced escape behavior. When caught as a prey, they surprise their hunter by losing part of their coat and escaping. When they are in dangerous situations, chinchillas can effectively defend themselves by spraying the enemy with urine.
  • In many countries worldwide, chinchillas are extremely popular pets and are also bred on farms for the fur industry. Chinchilla fur is considered one of the most valuable and sought-after fur types ever. At the beginning of the 20th century they were almost eradicated by hunting in the wild. The stock has not fully recovered despite intensive protection programs, as their habitat is increasingly being destroyed. Therefore, both long and short-tailed chinchillas are still listed as endangered species.
  • The natural coat color of chinchillas appears in a distinctive bluish gray. Breeding efforts brought in recent decades, also black, blond and white copies.