Where Do Chinchillas Come From? (& Other Fun Facts)

Chinchillas are easy pets to look after. They have wonderfully soft fur and docile personalities.

But where do chinchillas come from?

In this article, we will be discussing the origins of this bushy-tailed pet and will share all the wild and wacky facts about this species with you.

Key Takeaway:

Chinchillas are native to the Andes in South America. Originally, they inhabited parts of Chile, Bolivia, and Peru, but because of extreme hunting, their numbers have dwindled close to extinction. You will only find them now in parts of Chile.

Where are chinchillas from originally?

Coming up next in this article, we are going to discuss the humble beginnings of this pet and also open up our treasure trove of super cool chinchilla facts for you to look at.

Let’s get started.

chinchillas come from

Where Do Chinchillas Come From?

Chinchillas are awesome mammals that are popular for their extremely dense fur and docile nature. You will often find pet chinchillas in homes around the world.

But where are chinchillas originally from?

Chinchillas originated from the Andes mountain range in South America.

Originally, wild chinchillas inhabited parts of Chile, Bolivia, and Peru. Nowadays, you will only find them in Chile.

Wild chinchillas are not afraid of heights as they live at high elevations of about 14,000 feet.

Chinchillas are part of the Rodentia family and the Chinchillidae genus.

Long-tailed Chinchilla Species

One of the two living species of chinchilla is the long-tailed chinchilla (Chinchilla lanigera) also known as the Chilean chinchilla. It is an endangered species as it is constantly hunted for its thick fur.

Chinchilla lanigera originated from parts of Chile and Peru. Nowadays, you will find them in the Andes Mountains in Chile.

Long-tailed chinchillas are the easiest to spot in the following environments.

  • In burrows
  • In rock crevices
  • At high elevations between 9,800 and 16,400 feet

Short-tailed Chinchilla Species

The short-tailed chinchilla (Chinchilla chinchilla) (also called Chinchilla brevicaudata) is the other known species of chinchilla. It is also an endangered species as the result of habitat loss and the illegal hunting of its lusciously thick coat.

Short-tailed chinchillas originated from parts of Chile, Peru, northwestern Argentina, and Bolivia, where the Andes Mountains are. Nowadays, you will only find small populations of them in Chile.
short tailed chinchilla

You are most likely to find these chinchillas in the following environments.

  • In the burrows, they dig themselves
  • In rocky areas and crevices
  • Near shrubs, grasses, cacti, and succulent patches (which provide the chinchillas with something to eat and drink)
  • In mountainous grasslands and barren areas
  • In arid climates
  • At elevations between 9,800 and over 16,000 feet

Where to Find a Chinchilla Pet

Chinchillas have a very loving nature. They are easy to look after and feed and are a great option for families with children.

Do you want to get hold of a chinchilla as your next family pet?

Then you’re not alone; they’re brilliant little home companions. You will find a chinchilla in one of the following places.

  • In-person pet stores. At pet stores, you will be able to choose the chinchilla you like. You will also be able to ensure its welfare.
  • Online pet stores. Some online pet stores will do home delivery of chinchillas. You simply choose a sex, and your pet will be on the way to your home in just a few days.
  • Reputable breeders. It is also good to support your local reputable breeder where possible.

To ensure the chinchilla you choose is well, ensure the fur around its tail is not wet, as this could indicate diarrhea.

It should be inquisitive. Its eyes should be clean, and its fur must be smooth and not patchy.

Fun Facts About Chinchillas

Chinchillas are such fascinating animals, and there are so many intriguing things to find out about them.

Have you ever wondered where did chinchillas originate, what they eat, and how do they survive in the wild?

Then you’re in luck as up next, we are going to share with you the most mind-boggling facts about these critically endangered animals. Let’s dive right in.

Fantastic Chinchilla Origin Facts

Chinchillas live as pets in homes all around the world.

But where did they get their first start?

Let’s find out.

  • You used to be able to find herds in Peru, Bolivia, Chile, and Argentina, but nowadays, you will only find these rodents living in Chile.
  • They were first kept as pets by the Incas, who also hunted the animals.
  • Nearly every pet chinchilla in the US is a direct descendant of 11 chinchillas that were brought to the US in the early 1900s.

Awesome Facts About Wild Chinchillas Defending Themselves

Despite hunting, there are still small populations of chinchillas living in the Andes Mountains in South America today.

How do these critically endangered animals defend themselves against predators?

Let’s see.

  • Chinchillas must hide away from hawks, eagles, skunks, and snakes. As a defense mechanism, a chinchilla will begin spraying urine if it sees a predator and feels threatened.
  • In an attempt to scare away predators, a chinchilla will stand on its muscular hind legs to make itself look bigger. This might not seem like much to us, but to a predator, this is threatening.
  • Wild chinchillas can use a defense tactic called a fur slip. The chinchilla can escape from the bite of a predator by releasing fur and getting away safely. These predators get really disappointed when they end up with a mouthful of fur instead of a chinchilla!
  • These mammals can run up to 15mph to escape their predators.

Interesting Facts About Chinchillas Avoiding Predators

Apart from using these defense methods, these animals will behave in a certain way in the wild to avoid their predators altogether.

How do they prevent becoming an easy meal for hawks, eagles, snakes, and skunks?

Here’s what they do.

  • Chinchilla populations in the wild live in groups called herds. These large numbers help them to avoid their predators. Each herd is made up of 14 to 100 chinchillas. Fancy going everywhere with up to 100 of your friends at a time!
  • Chinchillas are not nocturnal; they are crepuscular rodents active at dusk and dawn to find food in their natural habitat. At these times of the day, the rodents can go about unnoticed by their predators. This is what we like to call sneak-eating.

Tasty Facts About a Wild Chinchilla’s Diet

In captivity, chinchillas eat commercial food pellets that contain all of the fiber and nutrients these small mammals need.

chinchilla diet

But what do chinchillas eat in the wild?

Let’s investigate.

  • In their natural habitat, chinchillas will eat insects as well as grass, plant leaves, seeds, and even bird eggs.
  • They are omnivores and will occasionally snack on insects. These include moths and grasshoppers. Probably not your idea of a great meal, but these rodents love them.

Intriguing Facts About Pet Chinchillas

When chinchillas live in captivity, they need special care so they can adapt to their new environment.

How must these mammals live as pets?

These following pet facts will give you a couple of clues.

  • Chinchillas must stay clean, but you must never wash them in water. They take dust baths in volcanic ash to distribute the natural oils on their coats and remove dirt from their fur. Dust baths also help to keep their coats soft.
  • If you have a pet chinchilla, you must allow it to take a dust bath 2 to 4 times a week. 100% pumice is a great natural material for your pets to roll around in. As crazy as rolling in dust sounds as a method for cleaning, it is very effective on these mammals.
  • These pets must live in a temperature-controlled environment as they cannot sweat and will quickly die if they overheat. Make sure they are not in direct sunlight, and keep them away from drafty doors and windows.
  • If your pet chinchillas begin to chew their fur or one another’s fur, they might feel stressed. Make sure they are healthy and that they have enough to eat and keep busy inside their enclosure.
  • Domestic chinchillas need a lot of dental care throughout their lives as their teeth never stop growing.
  • Domestic chinchillas must live in pairs or small groups because they are very social animals. They would get along if they were from the same litter.
  • Pet chinchillas love the company of other chinchillas and their owners. Make sure you spend time with them every day.
  • Most chinchillas in captivity are double the size they would be in the wild.
  • Chinchillas bred commercially must eat a diet consisting of food pellets and low-calcium grass hay.

Sobering Facts About Their Biological Conservation

Chinchilla fur is very popular in the fashion industry, and people hunt these animals to skin them and then sell the fur.

How many are there left in the world?

Let’s take a closer look at the sad reality of this species.

  • It is a very threatened species as there are only 10,000 chinchillas left in the world, and despite bans, people constantly hunt chinchillas for their coats.
  • The current conservation status of chinchillas is threatened, according to the IUCN.
  • The average litter size of the chinchilla is 2. A chinchilla might have up to 6 pups at a time, but this is extremely rare. Because of this, their population struggles to rise, and they are considered low-offspring animals.

Fluffy Chinchilla Fur Facts

What makes a chinchilla stand out amongst other rodents is definitely its dense, silky fur that you will not find in any other land mammal.

What makes its fur so special?

We’re about to find out.

  • Chinchilla fur is the most dense of all other land mammals.
  • It has around 50 strands per hair follicle, whereas most animals have only 1.
  • Chinchilla fur has 20,000 hairs per square centimeter. Aside from awesome fur, these mammals also have great bushy tails.

Breeding a Chinchilla Facts

The chinchilla has a unique way of breeding.

What must you know about how these mammals procreate?

We’re about to let you know.

  • The gestation period for these land mammals is 111 days. This is a longer gestation than most rodents.
  • In the Northern Hemisphere, the breeding season begins in November and ends in May. In the Southern Hemisphere, it begins in May and ends in November.
  • Females tend to go into heat every 25 to 50 days.
  • Female chinchillas are normally monogamous and mate for life.

Chinchilla Pup Facts

The chinchilla is such a sweet, loving pet. There’s nothing more endearing than chinchilla babies.

What are some of our favorite facts about these tiny balls of fluff?

Allow us to share them with you.

  • Baby chinchillas are precocial. They are born fully furred. They can run almost immediately after birth. They are also born with their eyes open. Yup, these pups are certainly advanced!
  • Baby chinchillas will need to stay with their mother until they are six to eight weeks old.
  • Some male chinchillas will help the female look after the kits when they’re born. They do this by providing all-important body heat to the newborns. Now, aren’t they considerate fathers?!

General Chinchilla Facts

Chinchillas are very interesting rodents. There doesn’t seem to be an end to all the jaw-dropping things there are to find out about them.

Why else do we love them?

Find out with the help of the following facts.

  • Wild chinchillas live for 8 to 10 years. Domesticated chinchillas in human care live a lot longer. Their lifespan is 20 years.
  • Chinchillas are closely related to chinchilla rats.
  • There are two species of chinchillas in existence today. They are long-tailed chinchillas (Chinchilla lanigera) and short-tailed chinchillas (Chinchilla chinchilla).
  • The easiest way to tell the difference between the two species of chinchillas is by looking at their tails, necks, shoulders, and ears. Short-tailed chinchillas have shorter necks, tails, and ears. Their shoulders and necks, however, are thicker.

The Origins of the Chinchilla

Where are they from? What country do chinchillas come from?

This article has helped us to answer these questions about the origins of our favorite pets. Chinchillas are native to the Andes Mountains in South America.

Although populations in the wild are dwindling, you will find these rodents living in crevices of rocks and barren places at about 14,000 feet in the Andes in Northern Chile today.

Did you find this article interesting?

At Oddly Cute Pets, we always strive to provide you with the best articles about chinchillas, hamsters, guinea pigs, and other animals. For more information on how to look after these small pets and what to feed them, check out our website.

Thanks for reading!

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