A list of my favorite images of chinchillas.
Chinchillas are two species of crepuscular rodents - Short-tailed Chichillas (Chinchilla chinchilla) and Long-tailed Chinchillas (Chinchilla lanigera) - slightly larger and more robust than ground squirrels.
They are native to the Andes mountains in South America and live in colonies called "herds" at high elevations up to 4,270 m (14,000 ft).
Historically chinchillas lived in an area that included parts of Bolivia, Peru, Argentina and Chile but today colonies in the wild are known only in Chile. Along with their relatives, viscachas, they make up the family Chinchillidae.
The chinchilla has the second-densest fur of any land mammal, exceeded only by the sea otter and is named after the Chincha people of the Andes, who once wore its dense, velvet-like fur.
By the end of the 19th century, chinchillas had become quite rare due to hunting for their ultra-soft fur. Most chinchillas currently used by the fur industry for clothing and other accessories are farm-raised.
In their native habitats, chinchillas live in burrows or crevices in rocks. They are agile jumpers and can jump up to 6 ft (1.8 m). Predators in the wild include birds of prey, skunks, felines, snakes and canines. Chinchillas have a variety of defensive tactics, including spraying urine and releasing fur if bitten. In the wild, chinchillas have been observed eating plant leaves, fruits, seeds and small insects.
In nature, chinchillas live in social groups that resemble colonies, but are properly called herds. Herd sizes can range from 14 members up to 100, this is both for social interaction as well as protection from predators. They can breed any time of the year. Their gestation period is 111 days, longer than most rodents. Due to this long pregnancy, chinchillas are born fully furred and with eyes open. Litters are usually small in number, predominantly two.
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