WHAT LONG-TAILED CHINCHILLAS LOOK LIKE
Long-tailed chinchillas are large fur rodents. They’re about the size of a squirrel. They can weigh in at up to a pound. They have broad heads with large ears and eyes. Strong thick whiskers protrude from their cheeks. They have small bodies with thick plush fur. They are silky soft and are usually a bluish-grey color with a white underside. They have long puffy tails and are about a foot long. They live about ten years in the wild. They can live about 20 in captivity.
Long-tailed chinchillas have changed a little bit over time. Their fur coats have undergone some beautiful variations over the last century. Domesticated long-tailed chinchillas have been bought and sold and bred with others to achieve specific colors. Their natural color is a rich grey. They can be white, almost black, and even. A rare gold bar color has emerged along with other beauties like violet and sapphire.
Male and female chinchillas mature at about eight months. Long-tailed chinchillas pregnancies last about 112 days. That’s a long pregnancy for such a small mammal. They usually have two babies called kits. They can have up to six kits in a litter. They’re born with fur and teeth. They have their eyes open and can already walk at birth. Long-tailed chinchillas in the wild have lots of predators to watch out for because of their size. Large birds and foxes can easily eat them. They can eat solid food after about a week but still rely on their mother’s milk for about eight weeks before they can be separated from her.
History of long-tailed chinchillas
Long-tailed chinchillas are fascinating little animals. They’re an endangered species in the wild. They have beautiful, soft coats that make them targets for fur hunters—even the ancient Incas prized chinchilla pelts. Long-tailed chinchillas are medium-sized rodents. Over time they have been successfully bred and raised in captivity. They have been domesticated and can make delicate house pets. You have to invest the time to give them plenty of care and attention. They’re intriguing, beautiful creatures.
The name chinchilla comes from the people who wore thick furs and lived in their natural habitat long ago. It means ‘little Chincha.’ The areas that long-tailed chinchillas live in have become limited. They are native to the northern central regions of Chile. They come from cold and dry, barren regions. They dig burrows and form social colonies. Before harvesting became extreme and depleted the population so severely, they usually dug huge colonies of around 100 chinchillas. Their burrows are commonly dug around garden plants. These are corky, woody cacti found in the rocky Andes mountains. This may be a source of nourishment to the long-tailed chinchilla as it is a succulent form of cacti.
Long-tailed chinchillas have some similar systems and nerve connections to those of humans. The structure of their middle ear is much like a person’s. They have been valuable in auditory research over the years. Their manageable size and their long length of life made them ideal research subjects.
Long-tailed chinchillas used to have a massive population in South America before hunters started a massive harvest during the 1800s. Their fur has been traded for centuries. Millions of pelts were sold over the years before the species became protected. Overharvesting depleted the population badly. Long-tailed chinchillas were nearly extinct in the wild. Around the year 1900, breeders started trying to keep chinchillas in captivity. By the 1920s, protective measures were taken to conserve their numbers. Sadly, they’re bred on chinchilla farms for fur. By the 1960s, people were keeping long-tailed chinchillas as domestic pets.