Chinchillas Information

Chinchillas are crepuscular rodents, slightly larger than ground squirrels, native to the Andes mountains in South America. Along with their relatives, viscachas, they belong to the family Chinchillidae.

The animal is named after the Chincha people of the Andes, who once wore its soft and dense fur. By the end of the 19th century, chinchillas had become quite rare due to hunting for their fur. Most chinchillas currently used by the fur industry for clothing and other accessories are farm-raised.

In their native habitat, chinchillas live in burrows or crevices in rocks. They are agile jumpers and can jump very high, up to 6 ft . Predators in the wild include birds of prey, skunks, felines, snakes and canines. Chinchillas have a variety of defensive tactics including spraying urine and releasing fur if bitten. In the wild, chinchillas have been observed eating plants, fruits, seeds, and small insects, though this diet could irritate the digestive system of a domestic chinchilla whose diet should be primarily hay-based.

Wikipedia, Chinchillas, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Chinchillas (as of Apr 1, 2010)

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