Everything you need to know about the domestic Chinchilla

By on 16-01-2017 at 18:18

Have you ever heard about this little animal? The Chinchilla is starting to become popular in households across the world, but what do you know about them? Let's discover it together.

Origins of the Chinchilla

The domestic Chinchilla is a nocturnal rodent native of the Andes. They belong to the Chinchillidaie family and live exclusively in captivity. They are a cross between the Lanigera Chinchilla and the Brevicaudata Chinchilla. 

 

They have been bred in captivity since 1923 and were selected for their dense and silky fur.

 

In the last 15 years, the Chinchilla has become a household pet and is no longer disappearing from the planet.

Physical characteristics of the Chinchilla

The male Chinchilla's body is slightly smaller, though the difference may not be immediately striking to the naked eye. Le corps du mâle est plus petit mais la différence entre mâle et femelle n'est pas forcément flagrante. They have squat bodies and do not tend to have markings on their head.

 

They measure between 20 and 35 cm not counting the tail which by itself can measure up to 20 cm. An adult Chinchilla will weigh between 400 and 800g. Their tail is thick and fluffy with the length varying from Chinchilla to Chinchilla. 

 

They have thick fur all over their body, the colour of which can vary. Their fur is one of the most dense on the planet.

 

Their heads can be bigger or smaller depending on their genetic origins. They have large, round ears that measure at about 6cm across and are nearly hairless. Their eyes, as befitting a nocturnal animal, are big and round, usually either black or red according to mutations and albinism.

Chinchilla's personality

The Chinchilla is a nocturnal animal. They will be more active during the night and will therefore need a quiet space to spend the day in. They are timid as animals but will still need to be socialised. They are sensitive to stress and enjoy their routines, therefore disliking changes in their environment such as moving away for holidays. Territorial, they will not enjoy the company of other Chinchillas unless they were brought up together. Avoid putting a male and female Chinchilla together as reproduction is a complicated affair for them.

Health and care of the Chinchilla

Chinchillas are fairly fragile creatures. They may faint if frightened and a traumatised Chinchilla is scarred for life. They are also prone to depression. Don't hesitate to let them out of their cage, but it is important to remember that they are very sensitive to draughts, heat, direct sunlight and other sudden changes in temperature. 

 

There are a few illnesses that Chinchillas are prone to: 

  • Dental malocclusion (misalignment of teeth)
  • Toxaemia (blood poisoning)
  • Scurvy (Vitamin C deficiency)
  • Digestive problems
  • Problems when giving birth
  • They can also chew their own fur when stressed, when malnourished or due to a hereditary problem

 

They will need quite a large cage, with levels that they can climb up and down in order to expend their energy. Non-toxic branches and dried flowers will make them very happy, but give sparingly because these are in essence sweets for them. Also prepare a food distributer, litter, a water dispenser, a hayrack and a specialised box of earth for the Chinchilla as well as a little shelter. 

 

Chinchillas are herbivores and will therefore live on hay and granules designed for Chinchillas.

 

Being a delicate animal, you need to do your research about how to adopt and look after a Chinchilla. They are therefore not recommended as a pet for children.

 

Would you like to adopt a Chinchilla?

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