Having originated from the high mountain regions of South America and later bred in captivity for their pelts, Chinchillas have become increasingly popular as a clean and odorless pet.
The following are some chinchilla facts to give you a little more knowledge about your furry little friend, and possibly help you take better care of your pet while having fun:
1. Chinchillas have an average life span of 8-10 years, but can live up to 18 years.
2. Chinchillas got their name from a South American Indian tribe – Chincha people – meaning “little Chincha”.
3. Chinchillas have a body temperature of 97-100 degrees Fahrenheit, but owing to their adaptation to the extremes of living in mountainous regions, they are comfortable living in an environmental temperature ranging from 60 – 75 degrees Fahrenheit.
4. Chinchillas have a fur density of about 20,000 hairs per square cm, which is the highest among land animals. This basically means that chinchillas have 50 hairs per follicle, compared to humans who grow one hair from each follicle. In fact, their fur is so dense that common skin parasites, like fleas cannot possibly survive due to high risk of suffocating.
5. The fur of chinchillas is claimed to be thirty times softer than the hair of human beings; hence, the claim that it is the softest fur in the world.
6. Owing to their high fur density, chinchillas cannot sweat. In order to dissipate heat, they have to route blood to their big ears.
7. With a body length of 25-35 centimeters (10-14 inches) and a 12-15 cm (5-6 inches) tail, Chinchillas weight only 0.9-1.3 kilograms (2-3 pounds)
8. Chinchillas do not have a dander, which is said to be the main cause of pet related allergies.
9. Chinchillas avoid water due to their dense fur, which prevents normal air drying. In order to stay clean, they instinctively take dust baths containing fine pumice. In their natural habitat, their dust bath comprises fine, ground volcanic rocks.
10. Chinchillas are agile jumpers with the ability to jump 5 – 6 feet high.
11. Chinchillas can assume any sleeping position: upright, on their sides, or even upside down. This is an adaptation to their natural sleeping habitat: small holes and crevices.
12. Chinchillas are crepuscular. This means that they become extremely active at dawn and dusk. They sleep during the day.
13. They are highly intelligent and playful, and require a large cage with an adequate number of toys for their entertainment, especially those for chewing.
14. Chinchillas need to chew on sticks. This is because their teeth grow continuously, and need to be worn down so they can feed.
15. While their main breeding season is between November and May, Chinchillas can breed throughout the year. The females have irregular estrous cycles varying from 30 to 50 days, and a gestation period of 111 days.
16. The litter size of Chinchillas ranges from 1-5, with an average of 2 kits.
17. A kit or chinchilla baby is born with its body fully covered with fur, and eyes open.
18. The weaning age of Chinchillas is 6-8 weeks
19. Female chinchillas are known to be aggressive towards the male, which requires breeders to place a collar around the neck of the female, and make a small exit hole for the male to climb through. The female wearing a collar cannot escape.
20. Only one male is required for breeding with several females, but 20% of the females will not breed due to incompatibility with the male. You can increase the rate of conception by changing the male.