Chinchillas

Family: Chinchillidae Black Velvet Chinchilla Picture Black Velvet ChinchillaChinchilla lanigeraPhoto © Animal-World
Latest Reader Comment - See More
I raise and show chinchillas and, with attention, they do get along with other animals. I have one who sits on the back of my Seal-Point Himalayan cat and they... (more)  Linda Clark

   Chinchillas have great appeal, like cuddly little "balls of fur". Their exceedingly soft, dense coat has more fur per square inch than any other known mammal!

Chinchillas have the finest fur of all the mammals which makes them very soft. They are very clean with no noticeable odor and their dense fur keeps lice, fleas and other parasites from taking up residence!

They make good pets and are very lively. Keeko loves to go outside in the long grass (on a leash) to jump and play. Pippin is actually Keeko's father! Pippin likes to be left alone more than Keeko, probably because he was in a breeding situation for several years.

   The average lifespan of a Chinchilla is 8 - 10 years, though in captivity they have been known to live up to 20 years.

For information about Small Animals and their care visit:
Guide to a Happy, Healthy Small Animal

   See other Chinchilla color varieties below:


Geographic Distribution
Chinchilla lanigera
See All Data at Google Maps
Data provided by GBIF.org
  • Kingdom: Animalia
  • Phylum: Chordata
  • Class: Mammalia
  • Order: Rodentia
  • Family: Chinchillidae
  • Genus: Chinchilla
  • Species: lanigera
Chinchilla Dust Bath

Report Broken Video
A Chinchilla Taking a Dust Bath

My Chinchilla taking a dust bath; thats how they keep themselves clean and mat free. Enjoy:)

Scientific name: Chinchilla lanigera, Chinchilla brevicaudata

Background:    The Chinchilla was named after the South American Chinca Indians .by the Spaniards in the 1500's. There are about 6 species in the Chinchillidae family and all are found only in South America. Originally they came from the Andes mountains in Peru, Chile and Bolivia. Presently, they can only be found in the mountains of Bolivia.
   The Chinchillas seen today are the descendents of 11 little critters brought into California by Mathius F. Chapman in 1923 to be bred for their fur. All species have dense beautiful fur. The importance of the Chinchillas in the fur trade led to intense harvesting and today they are a relatively endangered as a wild species, though there are over 3,000 Chinchilla ranches in the United States raising the domestic species.
   There are two types of domestic Chinchilla, the Chinchilla lanigera and the Chinchilla brevicaudata.

Description:   Chinchillas are adorable animals with long ears, large eyes and bushy tails; they are also rodents.Their tail looks like a squirrels' tail and accounts for about one third of their length. The chinchillas' body is 22.5 - 38 cm (8 3/4 - 15 in) long. The tail is 7.5 - 15 cm (3 - 6 in) long. They can weigh anywhere from 18 to 35 ounces.
   The Chinchilla Lanigera is distinguished by a more pointy face, a longer tail, and a more slender body, while the Chinchilla brevicaudata is thicker in the neck and shoulders and has a shorter tail. Visually the C. lanigeria looks larger, but the stockier C. brevicaudata is actually a bigger Chinchilla. It is mostly thought that the pets are of the C. lanigera species.
   The hind limbs of the Chinchillidae are longer than their forelimbs, and the animals are good at running and leaping; they are also good climbers.
   Today there are different colored domestic chinchillas including blue-grey, white, beige, black, violet, and mosaic. Keeko and Pippin are called grey chinchillas.

Environment:    An indoor enclosure makes a perfect chinchilla home. In the wild where the ground is suitable, they dig burrows, but otherwise they shelter under rocks. The cage needs to be large enough for your pet to stand up on it's hind legs without bumping it's head, as well as being large enough to put in a little sleeping hut for the animals privacy (a cardboard box works great for this), a place for food and water dishes, and also have space for running around. Use absorbent bedding material on the bottom.
   Provide a good soft bedding that is clean, non-toxic, absorbent, relatively dust free and easily acquired. Use a natural bedding since the chinchilla will probably eat some of it, and make sure it doesn't contain paint, lacquer, or varnish resins! A good bedding is a pelleted litter which is is non-toxic, digestible, and draws the moisture inside leaving the area dry. Other litters include wood shavings and corncob. Avoid cedar or chlorophyll impregnated shavings as they have been associated with respiratory and liver disease.
   Chinchillas are a colder climate animal and cannot tolerate high heat. Keep the cage in a draft free place with a constant temperature between 60 to 80 degrees. Remove the animal waste everyday. Once a week change the bedding and disinfect the cage with bleach, rinsing it well.

Care and feeding:    Provide a water bottle with fresh water daily.
   Chinchillas feed on available vegetation in the wild, including roots and tubers. They sit up to eat, holding their food in their front paws. Their cheek teeth grow throughout life.They should be fed a Chinchilla pellet which provides most of their nutritional needs. Use a crock for its food as they are difficult to knock over and spill and they are hard to chew. They can be fed occasional greens, and they love dried bananna pellets for a treat.
   Chinchillas must be given access to a dust bath (available at pet stores) at least once every few days. Chinchilla teeth grow continuously so to keep them trim you must provide a block of wood for the chinchilla to chew on.

Grey Chinchilla Picture "Keeko"
Regular Gray Chinchilla - "Keeko"

Social Behaviors:    Social animals, they live in small family groups which are part of larger colonies of 100 or more. It is better to keep pairs or families in captivity.
   Chinchillas are very sensitive and highly suseptible to stress when introduced to a new environment or new companions. Introduce anything new slowly, giving them time to examine it before making a permanent change. When frightened they will shed hair as a defense.

Breeding/Reproduction:    Female Chinchillas are larger than males and are agressive toward one another. They breed in winter, usually producing two litters of 1 - 6 young. the gestation period is 111 days, and the young are suckled for 6 - 8 weeks.

Common health problems:    Here is what most breeders recommend for common health problems:
      Diarrhea: give the chinchilla shredded wheat. Those little cubed 1" square ones work great.
      Constipation: Feed the chinchilla raisins.
      Runny eyes: Use a boric acid rinse. This may be a sign of other problems or infections, so if it persists for more than a day or two take your pet Chinchilla to a veterinarian.

Availability:   Although kind of a specialty pet, you should be able to find a breeder or a pet shop that can order a Chinchilla for you if they don't keep them at all times.

Common Chinchilla Color Varieties

Black Velvet Chinchilla

Violet Chinchilla
Black Velvet
Violet
Mosaic Chinchilla White Chinchilla
Mosaic
3 Photos © Animal-World: Courtesy David Brough
White
Photo © Animal-World: Courtesy Shana Giron

Lastest Animal Stories on Chinchilla


Linda Clark - 2011-08-31
I raise and show chinchillas and, with attention, they do get along with other animals. I have one who sits on the back of my Seal-Point Himalayan cat and they watch TV. A cat and a rodent. Who would guess. I have one chinchilla, "Buddy" featured on YouTube "Buddy the Chinchilla Playing Dead" who is a certified therapy animal and goes to nursing homes, hospices, schools, etc. They can be wonderful pets with enough attention.

  • Rhonda Elliott - 2011-09-07
    Hi Linda Clark,

    It's me, Rhonda Elliott, the owner of the Peace Corps chinchilla, Zoey, that you are caring for. I tried emailing you at your cascadechins email address but it didn't go through. So hopefully, I can connect with you this way. It's been about a year since I was last in the Seattle area, I really miss Zoey. I'm sorry I haven't been able to email you until now. I hope she is doing fine and treating you and your other chinchillas well. If you have taken any recent photos of her I would love to see them. I really want to see how she is doing. I miss her soooo much! I hope you are also doing well and staying healthy there. I have a little over another year here in the Philippines. I keep myself pretty busy here with work. Anyways, look forward to hearing from you. Take care!
  • Linda Clark - 2012-04-05
    Rhonda,

    I don't even know how I found this. I've only been on this website once. I have looked high and low for your e-mail and could not find it. I don't know how to soften this, but Zoey passed away a few months ago. I'll look at my calendar and let you know the date. Okay, I can now almost see the tears in your eyes. She was everyone's favorite the way she would lay unside down on her wheel. I don't know what happened. She was always very healthy and loved in my care. She was fine one day and the next I noticed she didn't come for her treat. I picked her up and held her in my arms. She was lethargic. I think she may have had a stroke (not uncommon in chins). She did not die alone, she was in my arms and I told her that her Mom (you) loved her so much. She went quickly and peacefully. I am so sorry. She was a great chin. Please e-mail me at cascadechinchillas@msn.com. My heart hurts sending you this e-mail. I will find any pictures I have of her and keep them for you or attempt to send them to you. Let me know what your e-mail is.
    I am so sorry!!!!! She definitely loved you.

    Linda
  • nicci king - 2012-05-18
    i love chinchillas
  • Caz - 2015-05-26
    Awww that is such a sad story. At least the little chin was well loved and had a good life.
Reply
Anonymous - 2010-01-08
So cute! I want a chinchilla so bad, but I can't decide between a chinchilla or a bunny.

  • Anonymous - 2010-02-26
    Take the chinchilla. Bunnies are a pain!
  • emma - 2010-03-04
    Bunnys are good pets and are almost the same as a chinchilla, except chinchillas are way softer. I have had experience from both and if I had to chose I would pick the bunny. They like to cuddle and sleep in your arms and chinchillas don't. but it is your choice.
  • Cooper - 2010-04-06
    Get A Chinchilla. They Are A lot Cuter And They Love To Play. Don't Let Them Near Dogs Though. They Like To Get Out Of Their Cage Every Night To Play And Bounce Around
    (make sure all doors are closed before letting it out or it could be a struggle to find it)

    Also only let it in the living room (lounge) Chinchillas Like To Go Under The Sofa And Hop Up Onto The Sofa.
    Keep the cage door open so it is free to go into the cage at anytime it wants. (only keep it open when it is allowed out) :) hope i've persuaded you to get a CHINCHILLA! They are better than bunnies.
  • shan - 2010-07-11
    Get a chin... rabbits stink bad...but beware when letting him run around they chew everything,, furniture and mostly wires! Fire hazards...like tv cords! Keep a close eye on him specially if he is hiding.
  • Anonymous - 2010-12-05
    Get a chinchilla they are adorable!
  • Ramona - 2011-02-06
    Get a chinchilla. They are clean and do not smell like bunnies do. They also do not procreate as bunnies do. I have had both. You can litter train bunnies and let them run through your house. But hands down I would have my chinchilla Chuppa any day:)
  • eleanor clark - 2013-04-26
    Get both I have 2 rabbits 3 chinchillas 2 guinea pigs dog cat and budgie and the all get along fine the rabbits are in hutches in my shed and the chins and guinea pigs are in the house.
  • Milla - 2013-05-04
    I have a bunny and if you are intrested in how soft the fur is, then I know a type of bunny (well my bunny is that type) A 'mini rex' would be perfect for you! If you look at the bunny types on this website it will say 'mini rex.' Read about it and you will find out why I told you to get one (look out for how they describe the fur, it's true what they say!)....
  • Lydia - 2014-05-27
    TOTALLY GET THE CHINCHILLA! No questions asked, best decision you'll ever make!
  • Caz - 2015-05-26
    Bunnies are easier to handle and enjoy cuddles. Chinchillas are much more independent and you have to let them come to you and not force affection on them. They are a lot more fun to watch though, mine run around and jump onto walls like little furry ninjas, and after a while have started climbing onto my lap and sitting between my feet. They have realised I won't hurt them. Very rewarding pets if you are prepared to put in the time and effort.
Reply
Anonymous - 2015-01-25
our chinchilla has two babies. Within three weeks one got an eye infection now the second one has it and the vet has no idea what to do any suggestions?

  • Clarice Brough - 2015-01-25
    They can sometimes get infections it the eyes get scratched or irritated by hay, hair, dust, or other things in their environment. An exotics veterinarian should be able to take a culture to detemine if it is a bacterial or fungal problem, and then be able to treat it appropriately.  If there is a lot of discharge you can clean the eye with a warm, damp cloth. That will help but it may still need a treatment.  Less common are problems with the cornea ulcers.
Reply
Amber - 2014-10-14
Ok so today I was playing with my chinchillas I have one male and one female in a cage so my famale raised up and I saw two pink like balls by her front paws I don't know what there are someone please help

  • Clarice Brough - 2014-10-17
    From what I've read,  the skin on foot pads can simply dry out from time to time, creating a callous that's called 'bumblefoot.' They are dead skin and  can be removed by gently using a nail file. But they are closely attached to the live skin so they should not be removed by scraping or rubbing, as that can cause injury and may lead to infection.
Reply
Betty - 2011-09-11
Hello I wanted to get a chinchilla for pet since a year ago. I'm living in a apartment with carpet floor. I'm not sure if the environment is suitable for having chinchillas. Also, is there any nice breeders in Vancouver Canada? Thank you:)

  • Susan - 2012-05-17
    Hi, I don't live in B.C., but I am sure if you searched on the internet or asked a Petstore you would find a breeder. I am answering you about their environment as we have two chinchillas 5 years old.. they are sisters...as you see they love company and get along famously. They are for my younger daughter and oldest now 17 and 25...(oldest not at home) my youngest has them in her large room..they are housed in a very large cage that is off the ground...and with a high large pen/gate that goes around the cage...the cage sits on a bare floor...Chinchillas are wonderful, but chewers. So they are kept safe..have wooden landings inside the wired cage to comfort their feet as well as allow them to chew, as this allows their teeth to be kept sharp but not grow too long...(teeth are not white, but yellow- sign of health) they have lots of room to run up and down cage and a metal flying saucer to exercise on at night, although do use it in the day light... and for hiding I have tubular forms to sleep in...also have cold marble to allow them to chill...they cannot be in a draft or bright light by window also cannot be too hot..I feed them Oxbow hay, two kinds and Oxbow food, and they get one or two small raisins a week..sometimes a slivered almond, but they love their daily hay...they get hours outside the cage to exercise which is important and have plenty of object, fruitwood.....to chew and go and hide under. also have their dust bath which they enjoy daily....when younger have watch they don't have too many in a week in fear of their fur drying out, but depends on where you live and the climate... they can be picked up....ours are kept in my daughters room, housed with 4 budgies as well which came to our home this year. Primarily they like lots of company, that is why I say two and lots of room on a bare floor...maybe you could put something down for them over the carpet, as they will go to the bathroom on floor, and get the dust bath all over..they are so cute, and are friendly, takes time to gain their trust...well worth the effort..their water should be in a glass bottle and changed every day, same with food. I use a metal dish that is attached to cage...life span can be 20 years if they are healthy and happy.... I hope this helps....sincerely, Susan...
  • Cj Carolyn Hitt - 2012-04-25
    i dont know a breeder but chinchillas can wear dipers... they love the dippy
Reply