This soft-furred little critter is a native of the Andes Mountains, located in the Northern part of Chile. Chinchillas are classified as rodents and many families love having them as pets. However, chinchillas were recently on the brink of extinction because of the high demand to take them out of their natural environment and keep them as domestic pets.
When chinchillas were still free and wild, they had a mottled yellowish and grey colored fur. However, after the demand to keep them as pets increased they underwent selective breeding and the majority of chinchillas found today will have a mixture of different colors including silver, blue-grey, beige, white, and even black. Interestingly enough, every single hair found on a chinchilla, whether it is white or yellow, will be dipped with a black tip.
When did They First Appear?
The first records of Chinchillas date back a staggering 41 million years. Researchers and scientists believe that these rodent’s ancestors were the first to land on South American soil. Due to their unbelievably soft fur, chinchilla fur becomes increasingly popular, with demand peaking in the 1700s. By the time the 1900s came around, the little rodents had been driven to a point of extinction, but luckily the majority of South American leadership did their job by placing a ban on the hunting of these wild critters. In the 1900s, countries Chile, Bolivia, Peru, and Argentina had implemented this ban, effectively preserving the Chinchilla species.
The Chinchilla Chronicles states that, in 1923, American Mathias F. Chapman approached the Chilean government and received permission to bring eleven Chinchillas into the United States. Chapman was a mining engineer and the man responsible for the thousands of Chinchillas loved as pets in North America today.
Check out these 9 interesting facts about your loved little Chinchilla:
1. Famous for their fur
As already mentioned, Chinchillas became famous for their soft fur. But, a Chinchilla’s fur is not only soft; it is pretty dense as well. Each hair follicle has a whopping 60-90 individuals hairs that grow out of the follicle. To put this in perspective; a human usually has just one hair per follicle. This dense fur is designed to keep them warm in the cold temperatures of the Andes mountains.
2. Highly Tuned Hearing
A chinchilla’s ears are typically very large and they have highly sensitive hearing. This is so that they can hear predators that are on their way to hunt them. The Chinchilla is a nervous critter and can be easily startled by sounds. So, be sure to create a nurturing and quiet environment for your chinchilla, and make sure that you have the best chinchilla supplies so that they have a place to hide if they get startled.
3. They Have a Strong Grip
Because Chinchillas are native to rocky and mountainous areas, they have foot pads without any hair- allowing them amazing agility and heightened grip so that they can quickly jump across rocky surfaces with agility.
4. Strange Sleepers
If you stumble across chinchillas in the wild (although this is highly unlikely), you will find that they like to sleep bundled up. In the wilderness, they will find an extremely small space, like a rock crevice or crack, to squeeze into where they can safely sleep. So, to create a good environment for your pet chinchilla, get them several small spaces that they can squeeze themselves into when they tuck in for the night.
5. High Jumpers
Even though the Chinchilla is a small creature, their hind limbs are long in contrast to their body. These long hind limbs help them to be agile and quick jumpers, helping them get out of a predator’s fatal grasp. From standing still, these tiny critters can jump up to a staggering 6 feet.
6. Chinchillas are Chatterboxes
If you want to be a kind and good human being, they never have just one Chinchilla as your pet. Always keep at least two chinchillas together. Chinchillas love to chat, even though they are a quiet and timid species. They communicate through high pitched, though soft, sounds like grunts, barks, squeals, chirps and even a sort of hiccupping noise.
7. Sand Bath Lovers
We have already covered the fact that Chinchillas have soft and luxurious fur coats. And it is possible that they are quite aware of their beauty because they love to keep this coat in tip-top condition by giving themselves daily sand baths that can last an average of 20 minutes. For this reason, be sure that you have the correct Chinchilla sand for your lovable pets. Furthermore, to provide proper care for your pet you should use a dish that is 10cm deep and only use specialist chinchilla sand. Any other regular sand can damage your pet’s fur and cause them pain.
8. Cute Eaters
When Chinchillas eat, they look incredibly cute! They usually prop themselves up on their hunches, and they hold the food in their forepaws. In the wild, a chinchilla will usually gather food from bark, leaves, seeds and even plant stems. This shows us that chinchillas typically require a diet of a very high amount of fiber. Therefore, if you have a chinchilla as a pet, you will probably start to feed your chinchilla hay. This gives them fiber and therefore help to keep their digestion in check.
9. They Live Long for Their Size
If you are thinking of having and keeping a Chinchilla as a pet, you need to realize that a Chinchilla can stay with your family for up to fifteen years. This means that it is a decision that you will need to commit to for that length of time.
Even though a pet is considered a type of property, a pet of any kind is still an animal- and responds well to love and care. Therefore, before you rush out to buy your child a pet Chinchilla, bear in mind that these little critters will stay with your family for many years, beyond your child’s younger years.
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*This is a guest post