What are Chinchillas?
Chinchillas belong to the largest order of mammals, namely rodents. Unlike rabbits who have 2 pairs of upper incisor teeth, chinchillas have only one pair. This makes their closest relatives porcupines, guinea pigs(cavies) and agoutis. There are 2 generally recognized species, namely the lanigera (long tailed) and the brevicaudata (short tailed). The one of concern to us is the lanigera.
Chinchillas can live up to 20 years in captivity if well cared for. We estimate our oldest pair is now 14 years old and still going strong. The oldest living chinchilla is in the UK and is 27 years old. For rodents this is very old. They are also very intelligent and makes excellent pets for working people because they become active at dusk after sleeping the whole day. Chinchillas are not aggressive by nature and will only bite as a last resort. This does not mean they will not try to taste anything you stick into the cage, including fingers!
They obtain a body length of 22 to 38 cm with a tail length of 7 to 15 cm. A healthy weight for a chinchilla of 2 years or older is 550g to 1kg. They normally reach puberty between 4 and 8 months. There are many different opinions on this but it would be safe to work on 6 months.
Chinchillas are very clean animals and don’t cause a smell if their cages are kept clean. They are not carriers of ticks and fleas and very few external parasites can live on their skins.