Chinchillas are unique rodents.
Many factors distinguish them from members of their family. We tried to collect in one article the most interesting facts about chinchillas that will help you better get to know these wonderful animals.
- Chinchilla is a mammal and belongs to the rodent family. This is the smartest member of his family.
- Chinchilla fur is very beautiful, delicate and thick. One hair follicle contains more than 50 hairs (for comparison: a person has only 1-3)
- Chinchillas live from 12 to 20 years, which is an exceptionally long lifespan for rodents.
- Pregnancy of females lasts about 110-120 days.
- All chinchilla teeth are constantly growing, their pussies are constantly grinding.
- Chinchillas do not have claws, like most rodents (however, there are nail plates that are vaguely reminiscent of humans).
- Chinchillas are clean, hypoallergenic and odorless.
- They are extremely active at night, because are twilight rodents.
- They are very agile and can jump up to 1.5 m in height.
- They do not sweat, so high fever is disastrous for them.
- Chinchillas do not tolerate heat and moisture. The maximum temperature for them is 23 - 25 ° C, and humidity - up to 70%.
- Chinchillas come from the Andes of South America, where the climate is cool and dry.
- Chinchillas have a very sensitive digestive system. They feed on plant foods - mainly herbs, seeds and roots.
- Chinchilla needs about 200 calories a day!
- Their standard color is gray. To date, breeders have additionally bred about 250 varieties of colors: white, purple, beige, sapphire, black velvet, black, etc.
Chinchilla - description and external characteristics
In appearance, the chinchilla resembles a large squirrel (they weigh from 300 to 800 g, moreover, males are smaller than females), but rather a rabbit by the way of movement. They have a very thick, thin and soft coat, large dark eyes and large ears. Ears - the only organ of chinchillas that can reduce body temperature - they are covered with a dense network of capillaries.
The length of the body of the chinchillas is from 22 to 38 cm, the tail is 10-17 cm. The hind legs are longer than the front, due to which their movement resembles the jumping of a rabbit. Number of fingers: four on the hind limbs and five on the forelimbs. The front paws can make grasping movements.
The number of teeth reaches 20, and they grow throughout life. Therefore, it is very important for chinchillas to be able to bite something.
Where do chinchillas live in the wild?
Wild chinchillas are found in the dry mountainous regions of Bolivia, Argentina and Chile. In these zones, the temperature in the summer does not exceed +24 C about, and in winter it drops to -20 C about. The climate is dry, windy and cold. Thanks to such living conditions, chinchillas have very valuable and thick fur.
The vegetation in the territory where wild chinchillas live is rather scarce. Mostly cacti, shrubs, some cereal plants and herbs grow there. These living conditions have affected the diet of these animals. Their incredibly long intestines make it possible to isolate nutrients from fairly scarce foods. In an adult animal, the length of the small and large intestines reaches 3.5 m. Wild chinchillas feed only on plant foods: branches and bark of shrubs, succulents, dry herbs and leaves.
Chinchillas live in groups and live a nocturnal lifestyle. Up to hundreds of animals can live in one group. During the day, they hide in natural shelters, such as crevices in rocks or in burrows dug by other animals. To protect against predators, there are always “observers” in the colony who warn the whole family about the danger with loud sounds.
Chinchillas are nocturnal animals, their large eyes and long sensitive whiskers (vibrissae) allow them to move unmistakably in the dark.
Under natural conditions, chinchillas form pairs. One offspring is brought in a year. There are usually 2-4 cubs in the litter.
Unfortunately, at present, the number of wild animals is very small, only about ten thousand. In 2008, the long-tailed chinchilla was recognized as endangered. A short-tailed chinchilla, unfortunately, is an endangered species.
Chinchillas reach puberty at the age of eight months. If possible, they create monogamous pairs. Pregnancy lasts quite a long time - 105 - 110 days, so females can give birth no more than two to three times a year. Usually 2-4 almost fully developed babies are born. They have open eyes, erupted teeth, they are completely covered with wool and are able to move independently.
What sounds do chinchillas make
In nature, chinchillas live in groups and have developed a way to communicate with sounds. Their range ranges from soft and quiet rumbling to a sharp whistle:
- the male’s mating rumbling calls for mating, the squeak of babies - the demand for attention of the mother or food, the protest - the sharp sounds that the chinchillas make when quarreling or warning of danger, the very sharp and high sounds of the chinchilla make in a rage, in a state of great fright or when you feel pain.
How many years does a home chinchilla live?
Chinchillas are extremely mobile animals, they really like to jump, run and play. Life expectancy in captivity depends on how they are kept. How long can a chinchilla live at home? If you carefully pay attention to food, keep animals in a spacious cage, give them the opportunity to communicate and move, then they can live long enough: eight to ten years or more.
By the nature, chinchillas are very affectionate and tame, they almost never bite. The animal can only bite in a state of severe fright. All chinchillas are different, some like to be caressed, and others not, and these qualities of character need to be respected. What chinchillas do not tolerate is violence. In order to achieve mutual understanding with the animal, you need to show patience and perseverance, to respect the features of his character and behavior.
After acquiring a chinchilla, she needs to be left alone for about a week, let her get comfortable in a new place. Then, unsteadily you need to reach out to her hand with a treat. If the chinchilla wants to, she herself will come, take a treat and climb into her arms. If not, you need to continue to tame it day after day until the animal gets used to you.
Chinchillas very well manage to manipulate the owners. They know exactly what needs to be done to get what they want: they will sit in the corner and look at you with sad eyes, or will jump on their hind legs to get a yummy treat or go for a walk around the room.
The second way: first let the animal go to the toilet on the entire litter at the bottom of the cage, but gradually decrease it every day. When there is a small patch, replace it with a small tray. The main thing is to change the litter every day so that the cell is always dry.
The natural color of chinchillas is gray, but not uniform, they have a dark back and a white tummy. Color can vary in saturation from light gray to almost black.
Amateurs have deduced numerous color variations: white, black, beige, brown and others. There are also purple chinchillas, although their color is not completely purple, but gray with a gray or light purple hue. In total, there are about 240 different shades of home chinchillas.
How to distinguish a male from a female chinchilla
Despite the fact that males are usually smaller than females, it is rather difficult to distinguish them from each other. In nature, females are larger and more aggressive than males, but at home they practically do not differ in behavior or color. The only way to determine the gender of the animal is to simply look at its genitals. In boys, the distance between the anus and the urethra is about 3-4 mm, and in girls there is no such pronounced gap.
Chinchillas are quite delicate animals, and their diet at home needs to be selected very carefully. What do chinchillas eat? The main food for them is dry hay (it must be properly dried, with a pleasant smell of herbs).
In addition to hay, chinchillas are fed with special feeds, and as complementary foods: cereal flakes, dried leaves, herbs or roots, corn and flax seed, dried pieces of vegetables. These animals with pleasure gnaw branches of fruit trees and bushes: apple trees, cherries, raspberries or currants. The main thing is that everything is dry and free of moisture.
Chinchillas need to be given water. Keep the water always fresh.
At home, keeping chinchillas and caring for them is not difficult. But there are some important conditions that must be adhered to. Chinchillas need spacious, wide cells, preferably tall, similar to aviaries, animals are very active and have to move a lot. For one animal, a cage of the following sizes is suitable: 100 cm high, 80 cm long and 50 cm wide.
Chinchillas like to climb to a height, so it is advisable to give them this opportunity by installing wooden shelves in a cage. Ladders for connecting floors are not needed, since chinchillas are very fond of jumping. In addition to shelves, it is advisable to install in a cage: a spacious wooden house, hammocks, tunnels and a running wheel.
Toys for biting are also needed. It can be: small branches, wooden blocks, salt or chalk stone.
In addition, the chinchilla needs to be let out of the cage for a couple of hours a day, but at the same time watch it, because they like to nibble everything that comes in their way, including wires and furniture.
The bottom of the cage can be left clean without filler, and in the corner of the cage you can install a tray where the chinchilla will go to the toilet.
A container of sand can be put in a cage and next to it several times a week. You do not need to leave it for a long time, as, from too frequent bathing, chinchillas can dry out the skin.
If there is no filler at the bottom of the cell, then daily the cell needs to be swept out with a small broom, removing excrement. It is advisable to wipe the shelves daily with natural detergents.
A healthy adult animal should weigh at least 500 g. You also need to pay attention to the color of the teeth. If teeth begin to turn white, losing their orange color, this is the first sign of a lack of calcium. The fur should be smooth and shiny.
People often ask if a chinchilla needs special care. Special care is not needed, but it is better to consult a veterinarian if you notice that your animal is:
- refuses food, languid and passive, tumbles to one side.
Interesting facts about chinchillas
- Their feature is that without sweat glands, there is no unpleasant odor from them. They do not have claws; instead, they have soft nails on their fingers. Chinchillas in case of danger can shed hair. As a means of protection, females use a stream of urine. They release her standing on their hind legs. The high density of chinchilla wool protects them from parasites.
Chinchilla can jump to a height of 2 meters!
The chinchilla animal is distinguished by an ashen color and a white belly, however, depending on the species, the fur can have beige, brown, black, gray and even sapphire colors. In nature, there are 240-250 shades of color.
The size of an adult is 23-38 centimeters. Weight - 700-800 grams. Females of such animals grow larger.
Rodents have bulging eyes that allow them to navigate perfectly in complete darkness. The ears of the animals are round and rather large, reaching up to 6 centimeters in length. Due to the special membrane, the animals are able to close their ears when buried in the sand. This action allows you to avoid getting small particles into the ears, protects the ear canal from damage.
Scientists distinguish the following types of chinchillas:
Small long-tailed (coastal). Features:
- have a fluffy tail, 17 cm long,
- with larger ears
- the average body size is 22-28 centimeters in length.
Short-tailed (large). Features:
- distinguished by powerful hind legs,
- have a small tail and small ears,
- the neck is short and wide.
Also among the varieties there are many mutational individuals resulting from breeding with rodents of other species.
The primary features of the chinchilla family include:
- Skeleton, capable of shrinking if necessary. As a result, the animal easily creeps into any cracks, the width of which is several centimeters.
- Highly developed cerebellum, giving them excellent coordination.
- Strong hind legs for high and fast jumping.
- Orange teeth.
Note: cubs are born with snow-white teeth, which change their color over time.
Where and how many chinchillas live?
South America is considered the birthplace of such rodents. Mostly animals are found in the Andes mountain range, in countries such as Bolivia, Chile, Ecuador, Argentina and Venezuela.
Chinchillas live 10-15 years, but on condition that they have good nutrition, and also have all the necessary conditions for a familiar life and reproduction.
Rodents, in their natural habitat, prefer to settle in places 1500-5000 meters higher than sea level. In such elevations of animals attract:
- cold winds
- arid climate
- the maximum air temperature in summer is not more than 22-24 degrees of heat,
- opportunities to hide in rocky crevices from predators.
Wild rodents live in colonies, numbering up to 100 individuals. Family life gives animals the chance to more easily survive the harsh climate, and most importantly, it is easier to defend themselves from predators, such as birds, snakes or foxes.
In the colony there is one or more animals that act as observers. In the event of a clear threat, they warn the rest of the individuals about the danger.
Females are characterized by increased aggression. In the colonies, they are assigned a leading position, as a result of which, during the onset of abnormal cold weather or during hunger, they can expel some males from the pack or even kill them.
Chinchilla Home Maintenance
Chinchillas are fastidious rodents that need proper care, certain conditions. In these cases, they perfectly take root at home and do not lose their ability to reproduce.
Such decorative individuals require:
- A spacious cage, the size of which should not be less than 40 cm in width and 50 cm in height. The most comfortable cage size for one rodent is considered to be 60 * 50 * 90 (length, width and height).
- 24-hour access to food and clean water.
- Constant maintenance of temperature in the range of 18-24 degrees. Since their origin comes from regions characterized by harsh climates, temperatures above 25 degrees Celsius are considered deadly to animals. If the room is hot, veterinarians recommend:
- install air conditioning
- take 1-2 bottles of water and remove for 1-1.5 hours in the freezer, and then put them next to the cage,
- to hang windows with blackout curtains if the sun's rays heat the room.
- Dry air.
- Lighting. In a constantly dark room, animals do not survive. For full development, it is important to provide good lighting in the daytime. For example, you can put 2-3 lamps in the room whose light is not directed directly at the cage.
On cool and sunny days, you can take the cage to the balcony so that the animals can take sun baths.
For the full development of chinchillas, constant care is important, including:
- Maintaining the right diet.
- Regular cleaning of the cage.
- Walks.Rodents need to periodically walk around the house or apartment. However, letting them go freely is quite a dangerous activity, as animals can ruin furniture or gnaw wires. It is better for these purposes to purchase a special ball that allows you to safely move indoors.
- Bathing. Held 1-2 times a week. Animals can not be washed in water, but the adoption of sand baths for them is a prerequisite. To do this, pour in river or sea sand into a container measuring 30 * 30 centimeters and put in a cage. The main thing is that the chinchilla is not in the bath for more than 30 minutes, otherwise their fur will not be so fluffy.
Neglect of any of the rules on maintenance and care can lead to the death of the animal or make it susceptible to various diseases.
Cell equipment: how to keep clean?
A special role is given to the cell. If it is insufficiently equipped or not kept clean, then chinchillas feel in danger, become passive and begin to hurt.
For such rodents, it is important that the cage is equipped with:
- At least 2-3 shelves for jumping.
- Hanging drinker and feeder. It is optimal to select metal drinkers and feeders, so that the animal could not gnaw them.
- A retractable tray, which allows you to remove the old litter at any time and add new filler.
- A small house where the animal can relax or hide.
- Small stones for grinding teeth.
- Toys, for example, wooden cubes.
When the female gives birth, it is important to make a special fenced area in the cage, in which the rodent can calmly feed the babies.
To maintain the health of the pet, you must regularly clean its cage. In this question it is recommended:
- Daily remove food debris, change the litter and thoroughly wash all bowls for water or food.
- Once a week, wash and disinfect the entire cage, and if necessary, replace wooden toys with new ones.
During the general cleaning, the chinchilla is transplanted into another cage, and returned when the first is completely dry.
Diet and diet
A healthy diet and a properly composed diet are important for any animal. Every day for a rodent requires:
- Food in the amount of 2 tablespoons. It should be at least 70% of the total diet. There are a lot of names for chinchillas, before choosing a food you should consult your veterinarian.
- Hay (1 teaspoon), which ensures the normal functioning of the gastrointestinal tract.
- Cereals (1 teaspoon) giving energy to the pet.
- Chalk (2-3 grams), replenishing the body's mineral reserves.
- Goodies, up to 10% of the daily diet. You can treat the animal with such products:
- green apples
All power for the chinchilla must meet the following specifications:
- to be fresh
- do not contain salts, preservatives or spices,
- be low-calorie, otherwise the animal may appear obese, and problems with the cardiovascular system may begin.
You need to put food in the feeders every day, and it is better to do this in the evening.
In rodents, various diseases are diagnosed, which are most often the result of:
- illiterate diet
- deficiency of vitamins and minerals in the body,
- improper content, for example, when the room is hot or humid,
- poor care.
For such a pathology is characteristic:
- hard tummy
- lack of appetite,
- lethargy or irritability.
Diseases of the gastrointestinal tract progress at a high speed, so the animal needs an urgent examination by a veterinarian.
- discoloration of teeth (the teeth become pale yellow)
- increased salivation
- refusal of food
- weight loss.
Drooling is important to diagnose in the early stages, since in the advanced version, pathology is not always treatable.
The main symptoms are:
- increase in body temperature to 38.5-39 degrees,
- runny nose
- poor appetite.
With colds, you need to immediately begin drug therapy, which is selected by the veterinarian. Otherwise, the animal develops bronchopneumonia, in which a long and complex treatment is required.
This problem is faced by 60-70% of rodents, especially those found in dirty cells. The main symptoms of the disease include:
- leakage of pus from the eyes,
- redness of the eyes.
Conjunctivitis impairs the vision of the animal, therefore, treatment of chinchillas must be dealt with immediately as soon as the pathology is diagnosed.
Any disturbing symptoms or changes in the behavior of the pet should not be ignored. You should immediately show it to the veterinarian so that a specialist diagnoses the disease and prescribes competent therapy.
Chinchillas are finicky rodents, but they can be kept at home. To do this, you need to know some of the subtleties and rules regarding care. In this case, the animal will live for a long time and will delight the playful behavior of all family members.