Chinchillas: Their History and Personalities

Chinchillas are part of the crepuscular rodent category. They are somewhat bigger than ground squirrels and are inhabitant to the Andes mountains in South America. The name “chinchilla” literally means “little chincha” and came from the Chincha people of the Andes. Although chinchillas were usually used for their fur, they are becoming known as house pets, as well.

Chinchillas are somewhat nocturnal and do not necessarily like to be disturbed during the day. This, in turn, can make them less desirable animals to have as pets. They can be skittish and don’t always like to be held but they can become very attached to their owners. When they become comfortable around their owners, chinchillas can be quite friendly.

By nature, chinchillas are highly curious creatures. Therefore, it is recommended to let them out of their cages to explore their surroundings daily. Chinchillas can be found in a variety of colors such as the standard gray, beige, white and ebony. These animals take dust baths at least twice a week. A chinchilla will instinctively clean their fur by rolling around in fine pumice. They do not take water baths because their dense fur prevents air-drying. If a chinchilla should become wet, they should be immediately dried with towels and a no-heat hair dryer. The advantage of chinchillas having thick fur is that it is so dense that it repels parasites (such as fleas).

Chinchillas are often used as animal models for researching the auditory system. This is because chinchillas are close in hearing range and cochlear size as a human.

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