Chinchillas are some of the cutest little animals around. While some people have them as pets, many don’t know much about them. This is why we made a list of 25 interesting and weird facts about chinchillas that you should know.
1. Chinchillas are nocturnal rodents that are most active around dawn and dusk, meaning that they’re crepuscular.
2. They’re usually about 10 to 14 inches, or 25 to 35 centimeters, long with another 5 to 6 inches, or 12 to 15 centimeters, of tail. They weigh around 2 to 3 pounds, or 0.9 to 1.3 kilograms.
3. Chinchillas come from the South American Andes, but now they’re mostly from Peru and Chile.
4. They’re very sociable animals and hate being alone. Their colonies consist of 100 or more chinchillas and they can be found in altitudes as high up as 15,000 feet or 4,270 meters.
5. Due to their affinity to living in high altitudes, their blood is thicker with extra red blood cells so that they carry more oxygen. They also have a dense and soft coat to cope with the cold. The fleshy pads on their paws allows them to climb rocks with ease.
6. Chinchillas were named after the Chincha people of the Andes, who wore their fur. The name literally means “little Chincha.”
7. Their fur comes in many different colors, such as silver-grey, beige, tan, violet, sapphire, white, black and any combination of these.
8. There are only two species of chinchilla that are still living, the Chinchilla Chinchilla, which has a shorter tail and ears and a thicker neck and shoulders, and the Chinchilla Lanigera, which is the domesticated kind.
9. Due to their thick fur, it can resist attacks by parasites such as fleas. They’re also hypoallergenic due to having looser dander.
10. Chinchillas are prey to many predators and due to this, they’ve developed “fur slip,” which is a defense mechanism where they can lose a large patch of their coat when grabbed by a predator.
11. They can jump to heights of up to 1.8 meters, or 6 feet. This means that they could jump from the floor to an average person’s shoulders.
12. In order to keep their coats in good condition, they have to take “dust baths,” where they roll around in baths of fine pumice, which is ground volcanic rock.
13. They take these dust baths several times a week in order to absorb the oils in their fur and clear out any dirt.
14. Due to the denseness of their coat, chinchillas hate water. Their fur won’t drive on its own, since the air can’t get in, so the dampness on their skin can stay for days and cause rot and fungal infections.
15. If you own a chinchilla and it gets wet, you have to towel dry it immediately, otherwise it will get sick.
16. Chinchillas love to chew on things. Like rabbits and beavers, their teeth grow continuously and if they keep growing without check, they can become extremely painful.
17. They can overheat very easily. Anything above 25 degrees Celsius, or 80 degrees Fahrenheit, can give them heatstroke.
18. Chinchillas make grunting, barking, squeaking and chirping noises. Their hearing range is also very similar to ours.
19. Chinchillas eat while sitting up on their haunches so that they can hold the food in their front paws.
20. They don’t eat a lot and they don’t like having a rich diet. They’re used to a much simpler diet because that’s all that’s available at their mountaintop habitat.
21. They can breed at any time and have very long pregnancy periods for their size, which is 111 days. Because of this, the offspring are usually twins, born with their eyes open and already fully furred, so that they’re ready to deal with the cold on the mountaintops.
22. Chinchillas live to be 16 years old on average. On rare occasions, they can live to be 20.
23. Chinchillas were heavily hunted for their fine fur, however, it can take up to 150 pelts to make a single full-length coat.
24. They take rests during the day, while hidden in the crevice and tiny holes in rocks.
25. Outside of humans who hunts them for their fur, the main predators of chinchillas are snakes, canines, felines, skunks and birds of prey.