13 Chinchilla Facts About These Tiny But Lively Animals

Published March 25, 2021
Grey chinchilla outdoors

Chinchillas are some of the cutest exotic pets in the world. Their small, compact, furry bodies and sweet faces melt the hearts of people everywhere. Chinchillas are so much more than simply adorable. They are pretty incredible creatures, as proven by these fun and interesting chinchilla facts.

One Cool Animal, Two Breeds

Not all chinchillas are created equally, meaning that there are actually two primary breeds of the animal. There is the short-tailed chinchilla and the long-tailed or Chilean chinchilla. The long tailed-version is more common among people owning the animals as pets.

Aside from tail length, there are many other differences between the two breeds. The short-tailed chinchilla tends to be stouter and have thicker hair. This could be due to the fact that this variation of the animal is native to the higher altitudes in the Andes Mountains.

Chinchillas Are Noisy Fellas

Chinchillas are known as little chatterboxes. While small in physical size, they are large in their loudness. It is thought that the chinchilla can produce up to ten different sounds, all specific to what is occurring in their environment.

Chinchilla eating

Long Live the Chinchilla

Chinchillas live much longer than many of their rodent cousins. In the wild, these hearty little guys have been known to live well into their teen years with some even reaching twenty years old. They have a shorter life span in captivity, typically due to the fact that their diet is different in captivity and their teeth never stop growing and eventually don't do their job.

Chinchilla's Like the Cold

Chinchillas prefer colder temperatures to warmer ones. Native to the high altitudes of the Andes Mountains, these animals are built to endure frosty temperatures. The animal is encased by incredibly thick fur, which keeps them toasty when the temperatures of their natural habitat drop below zero.

They have so much fur packed into their tiny bodies; it is hard to put it into perspective. A human hair follicle has 2-3 hairs per follicle. In comparison, a single hair follicle on the chinchilla can have up to 50 to 75 hairs sprouting out of it!

chinchilla outdoor

They Enjoy a Good Dust Bath

All animals have their own unique way of keeping up with their hygiene. The chinchilla doesn't bathe in water. Because of its extremely thick fur, drying completely can be a chore. Prolonged dampness might also encourage mold to grow beneath the thick surface hair on the animal. Hence, the little chinchilla bathes in dust! The little animal will roll around ferociously in dust so to remove loose fur and grease from its heavy coat.

Bathing is quite a process for the chinchilla. Typically, there are three phases to the cleaning process. First, the chinchilla brings dust to its body. Next, it rubs it all over the facial area. Lastly, it rolls around in the dust until it is satisfied that there is no more lingering dander, grease, or unwanted debris on the body.

Social Beings

Chinchillas love good company. While lots of animals prefer to fly solo, the chinchilla enjoys being around other chinchillas. In the wild, chinchillas live in colonies of up to 100 members, although smaller groups are more likely to be found in the wild.

couple of cute gray chinchilla

Busy Bodies

The chinchilla is not exactly known for chill vibes. They are very busy animals, always on the go. Chinchillas tend to be active at night, as they are nocturnal. They have an inquisitive nature and enjoy exploring all that surrounds them. Chinchillas are quick and agile rodents. They are able to jump an astounding six feet into the air!

Chinchillas Are Natural Mommies

Chinchillas normally produce two litters per year, with each litter consisting of 1 to 6 kits, most often resulting in 2 babies at a time. Aside from being little breeding machines, they have a nurturing instinct that many animals do not have. Female chinchillas have been known to adopt and care for abandoned chinchilla babies that are not their own kin. They are loving and caring mothers. Female chinchillas are not the only good parents, the males stick around to do some child-rearing as well. While other species eat their young or take off once the babies are born, chinchilla mommies and daddies get the Parents of the Year Award in the animal kingdom.

Girl Power!

When it comes to dominance, the female chinchilla reigns queen. Between the male and the female chinchilla, the female is both larger and stronger. When the breeding season rolls around, watch out! The female chinchilla is not to be messed with. She can become agitated, aggressive, and won't hesitate to bare her teeth and cause a ruckus.

Incredible Hearing

The chinchilla has an amazing sense of hearing. Those large ears of theirs help the small animal detect all that comes near. Supersonic hearing is a double-edged sword, however. Chinchillas will notice even the smallest sounds and rustles, which makes them quite skittish and jumpy.

Baby white chinchilla

Secret Prey Power

The chinchilla is loved by so many, but that doesn't mean that it doesn't have a natural enemy or two. When the chinchilla has to evade a predator, it has a secret superpower to help it survive. When a predator gets its claws on the chinchilla, the little animal does what is known as a "fur slip." Its body releases the large patch of hair in the predator's grasp, leaving the chinchilla with a bare spot and a chance at escaping and the predator with a clump of hair, but no chinchilla.

Forever Growing Teeth

Chinchillas rely on their teeth to help them break food down, and thankfully, those teeth of theirs never stop growing. In the wild, there is plenty of material available for the chinchilla to grind its pearly whites down on, so they stay at a reasonable length. In captivity, owners must be cognizant of this fact and provide plenty of chew items for chinchillas to wear their teeth down on.

Unique and Interesting Animals

The chinchilla is an interesting and unique animal for sure. While many people write them off as a fancy rabbit or guinea pig, that could not be further from the truth. They are fascinating, exotic creatures to learn about.

Trending on LoveToKnow
13 Chinchilla Facts About These Tiny But Lively Animals