Northern Chilean Andes.
Barren and rocky mountainside areas of the Andes, at altitudes of 3,000 to 5,000 feet.
They live in rock crevices and may be seen scrambling over rocks or in the entrance to their burrow during the day, but their habit is largely nocturnal or crepuscular. Chinchilla fur is valued for its quality and density. In addition, chinchillas have no parasites and no perceptible body odor; they are considered to be very clean animals. Hairs are said to be finer than the filaments of a spider web and individual hairs are claimed to be invisible to the naked eye. The coat is silver grey in the wild. At the end of each toe is a large, soft pad with only the vestage of a claw.
The chinchilla is not a climber or digger. They collect a variety of materials (bones, sticks, and stones) lying loose in their surroundings and heap them in piles above the entrances to their burrows.
They are strictly monogamous and mate for life. One to 6 young are born in a bare nest after 108-125 days of gestation (it varies with altitude). One litter per year is produced in the wild while two litters per year are common in captivity. However, reproduction in captivity is difficult. The young are precocious, born with eyes open and a full set of teeth. They are able to run within an hour after birth. Both parents care for their offspring which are weaned in 42 to 56 days. The young become sexually mature at 7 months of age.
Chinchillas are very sensitive to high temperatures, and may suffer severely from heat stress. 80°F degrees is uncomfortable, and temperatures over 90°F degrees for any extended time could kill a chinchilla.
This animal is endangered only in the wild.
|Did YOU Know?|
|It takes 100 of these creatures to create a full-length fur coat. Over hunting is the main reason they are endangered in the wild.|
|Length:||10 inches; tail: 7 inches|
|Wild Diet:||They feed on roots, tubers, bulbs and mosses; any available vegetables.|
|Predators:||Man; having hunted the animal nearly to extinction in the wild for its fur.|
|USFWS Status:||Not Listed|
|CITES Status:||Not Listed|
|Where at the Zoo?||Off Exhibit: Education Animal Facility|