Chinchilla Breeds, Types & Colors

Chinchillas are very small rodents which are natives of South America. They usually live in the arid and rocky areas in mountains. They are very naughty and active creatures. The chinchillas get well tamed if they are handled very gently from the younger ages. They also get well bonded with the owners. These pet animals do not behave like cats and dogs who cuddles the owners. They express their affection towards their owners through varying means than how the cats and dogs express their affection. If two chinchillas are brought up together from a young age, chinchillas get along easily with each other.

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Chinchillas are nocturnal in nature and so they will be very active at night. They are commonly known as crepuscular. They should be kept in a quiet area throughout the day. They feel comfortable if there is a consistent routine in feeding and handling them else there are chances for them to get stressed out. They are very active and love to play around. Chinchillas need a spacious cage to play and carry out their mischievous activities. It may take longer time for the Chinchillas to develop trust on the owner. The owner has to spend a lot of time in taming the Chinchillas with great care and a lot of kindness. Chinchillas may need a lot of time for getting used with the hands of the owner. Some of the chinchillas may not really prefer to be held. These creatures usually prefer exploring and they climb on the owner and will not like to get restrained. While taming the Chinchillas, stay calm, patient and move slowly. Chinchillas are available in different types and breeds.

Breeds and Types

The long-tailed Chinchilla and the short-tailed chinchilla are the most common breeds of Chinchillas available with their distinctive characteristics. Anyone who has an idea for buying Chinchillas as a pet should know more about the available breeds to make the right choice.

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Long-tailed Chinchilla (Chinchilla lanigera)

Long-tailed Chinchilla

The Long-tailed Chinchillas are usually available with fur that is brownish, bluish or pearl gray except on the stomach that has the yellowish white color. The coat is very dense and soft and the hair has black tips. The thick fur of the Chinchillas helps them to stay warm in higher altitudes. They have very large black eyes that have the vertically split pupil, larger external ears, vestigial cheek pouches, and broadheads.

The soles of the feet of these Chinchillas are not furry and even have foot pads that are very fleshy, known as pallipes. The forefeet have four toes which are used for grasping. Their claws are very weak. The well-developed hind limbs of these creatures are much longer compared to forelimbs. Most of the long-tailed Chinchillas move on the four limbs.

Size: The long-tailed Chinchillas have bodies that are 9 to 14 inches long and the bushy tails which are 3 to 6 inches long. Females of this breed weigh to about 1.76 pounds and males weigh to 1 pound.

Native Habitat: This is the breed of the Chinchilla which is found on Andes Mountains of northern Chile. They are found in the mountainous and rocky areas from 9800 to 16400 feet.

Food Habits: Longtailed Chinchillas are herbivorous. They feed on veggies like leaves, roots, mosses, lichen, grass, and seeds. They also feed on smaller insects and eggs.

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Social Structure: The long-tailed Chinchillas usually live in the colonies that have about hundreds of the creatures. The females are dominant in nature. They are much aggressive towards each other and also towards the male. Even though they are very aggressive, it's very rare to find them fighting. These Chinchillas express the threats through the chattering of the teeth, growling and urinating.

Reproduction & Development: Chinchillas usually breed during the winter season. The female chinchillas are monogamous in nature and every year they will have two litters. The litters of the longtailed Chinchillas usually comprises two to three babies. The parent Chinchillas nurse the babies only to about 6 to 8 weeks. This breed of chinchillas are nocturnal in nature and they are very active during the night. Chinchillas live to about 10 years in the wild and over 20 years when they are under human care.

Short-tailed Chinchilla (Chinchilla Brevicaudata)

Short-tailed Chinchilla

The short-tailed chinchilla is also known as royal, Peruvian and Bolivian Chinchilla. It is one among the endangered species of the rodent. They are found mostly in the Andes Mountains of Argentina, Bolivia, Peru, and Chile. These rodents are highly exploited for their fur.

Characteristics: These rodents usually measure 28 to 49 cm in length and 38 to 50 ounces in weight. They come with shorter front legs and very powerful and longer hind legs which help in jumping and climbing. The short-tailed Chinchillas are characterized by their thicker shoulders and necks. Their tails are shorter.

Ecology: The chinchillas burrow undergrounds or rocks for the shelter. They are usually found in the colder climates and their body's nature is to suit this climate. They feed on vegetation. They are very social animals and they live in herds or colonies. They give birth to litters consisting of 1 to 2 babies.

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Commercialization: Many of the Chinchillas are kept in the captivity for the fur which is very dense and fine. They are of very much higher demand in the fur industry. The commercial hunting of the short-tailed Chincillas started in the year 1829 and it increased with time to about half a million skins every year. Hunting of Chinchillas was considered illegal in the year 1929. The laws related with the hunting were not very effective till the year 1983.

Conservation: The short-tailed Chinchillas almost met with extinction when the conservation measures started getting implemented in the year 1890s in Chile. These were unregulated measures. The 1910 treaty that existed between Peru, Argentina, Bolivia, and Chile came up with the international efforts for banning commercialization and hunting of short-tailed Chinchillas. This effort to stop the exploitation of the Chinchillas have led to much increase in the price of these pets. The successful protection law was first passed in Chile in the year 1929. Both the long-tailed and the short-tailed Chinchillas come under the category of endangered species in Chile.

Colors

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Chinchillas are found in different colors and one should know more about these creatures and the uniqueness of the colors of their furs. The Chinchillas are available in Grey, Brown, Purple, Beige, White, and Black in colors.

White Chinchilla

White Chinchilla

The white gene is incomplete and should be combined with some other color. The white Chinchilla need to be bright white in color and has no yellow casting in it. They also come with darker patterns on the darker ears and the fur. These rodents bear unique patterns that are silvery in color. It is not advised to breed white chinchillas together as there are issues with the gene. There are even various types of white Chinchillas which are TOV mosaic, white mosaic, white violet, white tan, and White Ebony.

Black Chinchilla

Black Chinchilla

Black Chinchillas have dark colored veiling and the sides are light colored. The belly is usually bright white. These Chinchillas even comes with black stripes on the paws. Their bellies are crisp white. The fur of this Chinchillas is velvet in nature. These Chinchillas are even called Black Velvet. The cross breed of black velvet Chinchillas with another color creates a breed called TOV violet.

Beige Chinchilla

Beige Chinchilla

The beige violet chinchilla is the one which can be called as the combination of the violet and the beige gene. It has a lighter champagne color. The belly has a bright white tone. This is the breed that even comes with purplish eyes.

Purple Chinchilla

Purple Chinchilla

The purple Chinchillas are the ones with the fur that is very grey in color on the whole belly. These Chinchillas come with a violet gene with the combination of an ebony gene. The heritable characteristics are very prominent. It is not recommended to breed the violets with each other as the color is very recessive.

Brown Chinchilla

Brown Chinchilla

The brown Chinchilla is the one that usually has black and beige parents. The legs and the hands of the brown velvets are of brown color and underside of it is bright white color. The brown velvets are available as homozygous or as heterozygous.

Grey Chinchilla

Grey Chinchilla

The standard grey is the natural color of the grey Chinchilla. Grey color is dominant in these Chinchillas and they are even seen in different shades of grey. The grey Chinchillas usually has crisp or bright white colored bellies.

Pink White Chinchilla

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The pink white Chinchillas are the cross between the beige and white chinchillas. The color of the Chinchilla is predominantly white and has some creamy beige patterns on them. They have a pink nose and the lighter ears. Pink white chinchilla is available as hetero pink white colors or as homozygous color. This Chinchilla is mistaken as albino due to its colors.

References and further readings:

  1. New World Encyclopedia, Chinchilla
  2. sensAgent, Short-tailed Chinchilla
  3. Chinchillas.com, Chinchilla Breeding Herd Foundation Guidelines
  4. ChinCare, Origins and Wild Chinchillas Today

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