What has large button eyes, the body of a rabbit, large ears of a mouse and tail of a squirrel? While the descriptions help one to visualize a chinchilla, these do not give credit to the world’s most adorable creature.
The Chinchilla is a member of the rodent family originating from the Andes Region of South America. Chinchillas are the most exotic rodents in the world because of their dense and soft fur and hence their pelts are very popular for fur coats.
There are basically 2 species of chinchillas, Chinchilla brevicaudata and Chinchilla lanigera. Both species have long hind limbs, short forelimbs, four toes and flexible digits. The C.bevicaudata is thicker in the neck and shoulders and has a shorter tail. C.lanigera has a more pointy face, elongated ears, narrower neck and more slender body.
Both species were originally brought to the United States to be bred as fur producers. Since C.lanigera adapted better to captivity and reproduce better, C.brevicaudata was eventually dropped from most fur-farming ranches. The Standard Grey is the original color but when chinchilla trade grew, demand for variety gave rise to a new trend – color mutation. Colors available are Beige, Silver or Pink White, Black Velvet, Brown, Tan, Sapphire, Mosaic, Violet. Initially, culls and other poor fur specimens were offered as commercial pets. However, as chinchillas’ popularity soared, most were bred as domestic pets. Wild chinchillas are currently on the U.S. Endangered Species list.
Chinchillas make good pets as they are small, quiet and clean. Being nocturnal animals, they must be given a quiet and dark place to rest during the day. They are not the pet of choice for owners who want a daytime companion.
Sandra Kwok is the author of “By the Fur of my Chinny Chin Chin” Ezines. Her love for Chinchillas has led her to create a website exclusively for Chin owners. Subscribe to her FREE Ezines and get expert tips on everything you need to know about chins: www.chin-r-us-com