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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:

Kingdom:Animalia

Class:Mammalia

Family:Chinchillidae

Genus:Chinchilla

Species:Chinchilla Lanigera

Common name:Chinchilla

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.

  • General Mix - It is by far the easiest to feed your Chinchilla a specially formulated chinchilla food. Rabbit, hamster and other rodent food does not meet the nutritional needs of chinchillas, and so can cause problems in the Chinchilla long term. For those that have come to this site via the Degu World site, keep in mind that Chinchillas, like the Degu, are sensitive to sugars and can develop diabetes from obesity.
  • Hay - Hay is an essential part of any Chinchilla's diet, and should be available to the Chinchilla at all times. If their diet consists of an alfalfa based pellet, then they need timothy hay, and a timothy based pellet needs alfalfa hay, a Chinchilla can never eat too much hay.
  • Treats - I would recommend that when feeding treats, while it is fun to offer lots, keep to a limit of no more than 1 raisin every few days. Perhaps as an alternative treat you can offer dandelion leaves, a sugar-free piece of cereal, a piece of vegetable such as carrot if they will accept it, or a rose hip. Treats should be fed at the very most once every other day, but it is better if it is actually less than that, and used purely as a reward system when they are out of the cage.
  • A water bottle - water in a dish or bowl will quickly become dirty. If you are unsure of the bacteria or chlorine levels in your tap water, use distilled water. Chinchillas are more susceptible to contaminants than people are.

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.