Chinchilla chinchilla/Chinchilla lanigera
Chinchillas are rodents that belong to the Chinchillidae family. They are native to Chile and Peru in South America and live in small herds at altitudes of up to 14,000ft (4270m).
They are listed as critically endangered in the wild due to the severe loss of population over the last 15 years. This is due to them being hunted for their fur. The majority of chinchillas that are used for fur in the clothing industry are now farmed specifically for this purpose.
There are 2 species of chinchilla and these are the Chinchilla chinchilla and the Chinchilla lanigera and there is little difference between the 2. It is thought that the former species could be facing extinction but the latter, despite being very rare, are still found in the wild.
Chinchillas are herbivores by nature and eat hay and mixed food specifically for chinchillas. In the wild, they have a high fibre diet of leaves, bark, stems and seed.
In captivity, they must be provided with a dust bath daily in order to keep their fur and skin clean and in good health. This must be sand/dust specifically for chinchillas. In the wild, they roll in fine dust formed from volcanic rocks.
They are highly athletic and social animals.
Lifespan – 10-20 years (Captivity)
IUCN Conservation Status – Critically Endangered