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WHAT ARE THE FACTS?
To give you a quick breakdown on what you need to know, here are the basic facts:
Habitat:Wild Chinchillas can be found living in burrows and crevices in the rocks of the Andes Mountains of Chile, Peru
Reason for Domestication:Initially the Chinchilla was hunted for its dense fur, and wasnt domesticated in serious numbers until M.F. Chapman successfully brought a herd of 11 healthy specimens to California. The Chinchilla has since become a popular household pet since the mid 1960s when their increasing numbers meant they were more affordable to purchase.
Life span:In captivity, it has been known for a Chinchilla to reach 20 years if cared for correctly, and all of its needs met. However, also keep in mind this is the same as a 100 year old human, possible but not all that common! The average age a domesticated Chinchilla reaches is dependent on the size home they have, their diet, exercise, if they are used for breeding or not and much more. Therefore the average age can range from anything between 12 and 15 years commonly.
Gestation:111 days - a very long gestation compared to other rodent species. Breeding can occur at any time throughout the year.
Diet:The first point to consider is that Chinchillas have quite a delicate digestive system, so they therefore have special dietary requirements.
Compatibility:Chinchillas of the same sex will live together peacefully in a single cage where there is sufficient space. A male can usually be kept with one or more females, although I should stress that same-sex pairs should be encouraged to ensure that the population of captive Chinchillas is controlled. Further to this, if considering keeping opposite sexes together, keep in mind it will lead to reproduction. I would therefore recomment that only experienced breeders should pair opposite sex chinchillas together. If keeping a group of chinchillas, you will also need to be aware that male chinchillas will fight each other for a mate. As a result no more than one male should be kept with a female. Also, two females together needs extra caution as they may fight. Finally, if the living space is too small, the Chinchillas will become territorial.
General notes:in the wild, the Chinchilla is a common grey colour. It is only since domestication that other colour mutations have developed as people want more distinctive pets. The main colour mutations found are: white (incomplete dominant), beige (dominant), ebony, violet and sapphire (recessive). Variations of these mutations also occur. E.G, a silver specimen is a variety of white in which the fur is tipped with silver. The white gene has an "incomplete dominance," (not completely dominant over the natural allele "standard" gray) can result in a large variety of white fur, including the mosaic variety.
chinchillas can make good pets, although not always for Children as they do not particuarly enjoy sitting still for cuddles and such.
If all these points are followed, the Chinchilla kept as a pet is a wonderful, friendly and intelligent companion.