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Background information for Chinchillas

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Free-ranging chinchillas live in caves under rocks in the South American Andes Mountains. They thrive in low temperature and low humidity environments. Chinchillas have been raised domestically for fur for many decades. Chinchilla fur is considered the softest in the world. The fur is so dense that skin parasites, such as fleas, cannot live and the pet industry is supplied by hobby breeders. The most common species in captivity is Chinchilla lanigera. Chinchillas are rodents and are more related to guinea pigs than to rabbits. They are characterized by their large hind feet, chubby round bodies, soft dense fur, large eyes and ears, long whiskers and squirrel-like tails. The original silver-gray color now shares popularity with color mutations, such as black, white, charcoal, beige and tan.


Credit: Used with permission of the Zoological Education Network.
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