Trying to figure out what a chinchilla is, but can't quite put your thumb on it? They are actually a member of the rodent family, but they are more closely related to guinea pigs than to their more distant cousins like mice and rats. Below are some interesting chinchilla facts to help you learn about your little buddy.
They have really thick, soft coats because they will grow up to 60 hairs out of one hair follicle. As a pet, they can live to be 20 years old (that's a fact!) while in the wild, they usually top out around 15 years. Learn more about chinchillas as pets.
Chinchilla Facts: Where'd They Come From?
Back in the early 1900's chinchillas were widely hunted for their luxurious fur. They would kill about 80 or 100 chinchillas just for one fur coat. So many were killed that they almost went extinct. But some were brought to the United States to be pets and were protected.
Chinchillas, like many other rodents, are nocturnal creatures. This means that they sleep mostly during the day and are awake at night when it's dark out. Since they are sleeping while we're awake, you'll want to be careful about making too much noise since they are sensitive to it and will get stressed out from lack of sleep. (seriously!)
A chinchilla's temperament can vary a bit but they are mostly known to be intelligent, mischievous and social. Their personalities seem pretty firm so whatever they act like when you first get them, they will probably be like that forever. You can help them be more social however, it just takes love, time and patience.
More Chinchilla Facts To Keep In Mind
Most chinchillas are shy when you first bring them home and won't immediately jump into your arms. You have to work with them and love on them to build trust so they know you are a friend and not a predator. This is why it's important to spend time with your little guy every day. As a general rule, most chinchillas don't like being held and cuddled too much, but they will let you hold them. When you do pick them up, hold them with two hands and up against your body so they feel secure.
Because of the way they keep clean and their thick fur, they don't make very good pets for people with fur allergies or dust allergies. They also may not be the best pet for real little kids because they like to run away and are fragile.
Like other members of the rodent family, chinchillas like to chew on stuff, and for good reason! They need to do that in order to keep their teeth healthy and filed down. It's important that you don't let them chew on their cages or food bowls. To do this, just provide something that's better to chew on (like specially made wood blocks).
You'll probably notice that your chinchilla makes a lot of noise. Learn more about chinchilla noises here.
But aside from the climbing, jumping, eating, and exercise wheel noises, they will also squeak. Although they don't make vocal squeaks too often, they will do it if they are happy, threatened, interested, mad, or other emotional states.
Chinchillas truly do make great pets, they are adorable and very soft. When you work with them properly they will also become quite social. They don't get sick or need veterinarian care very often, but they do require a bit of bonding time from their owners so it's important to learn as much about chinchilla care as you can.