Usually no longer than a foot, including the tail, chinchillas are small rodents native to the Andes Mountains of South America. Their extremely soft fur is usually grey, brown or beige and they have large ears and long whiskers.
Habitat & Diet
Chinchillas live high above sea level in the mountainous regions of South America’s west coast. They live in burrows and rock crevices, and are most active at dawn and dusk. They live off of grasses and shrubs; whatever their arid environment can produce.
Wild chinchillas are very social and live in groups called herds of between 14 to 100 individuals. They socialize through group foraging and playing, but also live together in huge numbers for safety. While out of the safe shelter of their burrows, a lookout will stand guard and warn the others if one of their many natural predators is spotted.
Meet our Residents
- They may be little, but they have a few tricks up their sleeves! When under attack, chinchillas will spray urine and even release fur to escape a predator.
- Chinchillas clean their fur by rolling in dust and volcanic ash.
Status In The Wild
Chinchillas are considered Critically Endangered. This has been brought on by the gross over-hunting of the species for their ultra soft fur which can be traced back to the 16th century. Pelt hunting between 1895 and 1900 exceeded 2 million animals. Though their popularity as a pet has created a demand for breeding, the species will be threatened as long as they continue to fall victim to hunting.