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April 2017’s Animal Of The Month – Chinchillas

By April 28, 2017 No Comments

They’re small, soft and taking their final bow as our Animal of the Month for April.  We hope you enjoyed the time we spent this month featuring the chinchilla on Twitter @ExoticPetVets. Did you miss any of our tweets? Well, here’s a summary! Did you know?:

  • Chinchillas are small rodents who have large ears, big black eyes and bushy tails.
  • Chinchillas look similar to rabbits, but are actually closely related to guinea pigs and porcupines.
  • There are two existing species of chinchillas – Chinchilla chinchilla and Chinchilla lanigera.
  • C. chinchilla is short-tailed while C. lanigera have long tails and is the chinchilla species we see in captivity.
  • In the wild, chinchillas are now only found at high elevations in the Andes mountains in Chile.
  • Chinchillas were found in the Andes in Peru, Argentina, and Bolivia but may have been hunted to extinction in these areas.
  • Chinchilla populations in the wild have been – and remain – under tremendous threat by human activity.
  • Chinchillas were relentlessly hunted for their incredibly soft fur.
  • Some sources say that between 1840 and 1916, more than 21-million chinchillas were slaughtered for their fur.
  • Because of their small size, more than 100 chinchillas are used to make one full-length coat.
  • Both chinchilla species are listed by the IUCN Red List as critically endangered in the wild.
  • Wild chinchillas are now protected but numbers still drop due to poaching, habitat destruction and other human activity.
  • Nearly 100 years ago Chile gave U.S. engineer Mathias F. Chapman permission to catch wild chinchillas.
  • Chapman wanted to start his own chinchilla herd in the U.S.
  • It’s believed nearly all chinchillas in captivity are descended from 11 who were brought to the U.S. by Chapman in 1923.
  • Chinchillas have a unique defense mechanism known as “fur slip.”
  • Fur slip is when a chinchilla releases large clumps of fur when handled too roughly as a means to escape from predators.
  • Spraying urine is another defense mechanism chinchillas use against predators.
  • In addition to humans, chinchilla predators include mountain lions, snakes and birds of prey.
  • Chinchilla fur is considered to be among the softest and most dense of all land mammals.
  • To compare, humans have 1-3 hairs per follicle; whereas, chinchillas have about 50-60 hairs per follicle.
  • Chinchillas need dense fur to protect them in the harsh mountain climate to which they’re native.
  • In captivity, chinchillas can be great pets but they’re not for everyone.
  • While chinchillas rarely bite, they are quiet and shy animals and are inappropriate pets for young children.

This marks the second time we have featured chinchillas as our Animal of the Month. Check out our blog post from June 2014 to see our tweets about chinchillas the first time they were in the spotlight!

Lifelearn Admin

Lifelearn Admin

S. Fontana is a LifeLearn author.

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