Chinchilla Breeds: Types & Basic Characteristics of Chinchillas

Chinchillas are small, furry rodents that have long been popular as pets. They come in two distinct breeds: the Long-Tailed Chinchilla and the Short-Tailed Chinchilla.

Both varieties of chinchillas offer unique features and characteristics that make them engaging pets for various owners.

In this article, we’ll explore the different types of Chinchillas available today and discuss their basic characteristics so you can decide which one is right for you!

History of Chinchillas

Chinchillas are native to South America’s Andes Mountains. The nations of Chile, Bolivia, Peru, and Argentina made up their initial range. The long-tailed and short-tailed chinchillas are the two species of wild chinchillas.

 Chinchillas in the wild inhabit higher altitudes with arid, rocky terrain. They can create colonies of up to 100 rodents and make their homes in burrows or rock crevices. In their severe native environments, chinchillas in the wild rely on their renowned fur coats to keep them warm.

Two Different Chinchilla Breeds & their Characteristics

Short-tailed and long-tailed chinchillas are two different breeds. These breeds come in various hues and have a few differences.

The most significant distinction between the two is size, with short-tailed chinchillas larger than long-tailed ones.

The Long-Tailed Chinchilla

The Long-Tailed Chinchilla

The smaller of the two chinchilla breeds is the long-tailed kind, Chinchilla Lanigera. They have large vestigial pouches around their cheeks. This breed can endure temperatures below zero and thrives in cold climates because of its hot fur.

Long-tailed chinchillas can weigh up to a pound and range in length from 9 to 15 inches. Because of their agility, this breed can easily sprint and jump to dodge predators in the wild or engage in playful play with their owners. The weak claws of long-tailed chinchillas make them excellent pets for children.

Their fur is typically pearl, bluish, or brownish-grey, except for their tummies, where the fluff is yellowish-white. Their thick fur keeps them warm in the high altitudes of the Andes. They all have broadheads, enormous external ears, massive black eyes with a vertical split pupil, and vestiges of cheek pouches.

They have fleshy footpads known as pallipes, and, like all chinchillas, their feet have no fur on the soles. On their forefeet, they have four easily movable toes for grasping. Both sets of feet have weak claws. 

They are well-developed because their hind limbs are longer than their forelimbs. The family members frequently jump on two legs, but they mainly crawl. Long-tailed chinchillas can be found in the Chilean mountains between 3,000 and 5,000 meters (9,800 and 16,000 feet). 

Due to the chinchilla’s softness and density, its fur was highly prized. In the early 1900s, chinchilla hunting gained popularity, and the animals’ priceless pelts caused them almost to go extinct.

Characteristics of the Long-Tailed Chinchilla

  • Scientific Name: Chinchilla Lanigera
  • Lifespan: up to 20 years
  • Weight: 1-2 lbs
  • Height: 12-19 inches
  • Fur Color: Pearl, Bluish, or Brownish Gmray
  • Commonly Found in: (which country): Andes Mountains of northern Chile

The Short-Tailed Chinchilla 

The Short-Tailed Chinchilla 

The larger of the two chinchilla species is the short-tailed chinchilla. It also goes by the name Peruvian chinchilla or Royal chinchilla. This species, native to South America, is at grave risk of extinction. 

Before they were nearly hunted to extinction, they used to thrive in the Andes mountains. Chinchillas are prized for having exceptionally silky fur that is wonderful for cosmetic purposes.

Short-tailed chinchillas can weigh up to 2 pounds and range in length from 12 to 19 inches. These chinchillas are much larger than their long-tailed relatives, despite having shorter tails.

Strong hindlimbs and small forelimbs are characteristics of short-tailed chinchillas. The royal, Bolivian, or Peruvian chinchilla, sometimes known as the short-tailed chinchilla, is one of the endangered species of rodents because it is heavily exploited for its fur. Typically these chinchillas have tiny front legs and large, powerful rear legs that let them jump and climb. 

They come in a variety of colors, and each color has unique qualities. Grass, plants, and other vegetation in their ecosystem make up their diet. This diet is reported to include a variety of insects as a supplement.

To enjoy sunbathing, the Short-tailed chinchillas emerge from their dens between twilight and dawn. They have vibrissae, which let them navigate at night. Being highly social creatures, these rodents can form either tiny groups of a few individuals or big ones with more than a hundred.

Typically, cacti’s fruit and meat provide moisture. Chinchillas who live in arid environments can acquire the moisture they need from the morning dew.

Characteristics of the Short-Tailed Chinchilla

  • Scientific Name: Chinchilla Chinchilla
  • Lifespan: up to 15 years
  • Weight: 0.8-1 lbs
  • Height: 9-15 inches
  • Fur Color: bluish-grey
  • Commonly Found in: (which country): South America

Color Variations in Chinchilla Breeds

Dark blue-gray, a natural color, is the most prevalent chinchilla hue nowadays. You can nearly always find this color in pet stores.

The history of chinchilla colors reveals that this animal was originally yellow-grey before being subjected to selective breeding. After several generations of careful breeding, chinchillas of various colors were introduced.

This was done through genetics to create chinchillas of various colors. Through selective breeding, the recessive genes did not express themselves as clearly.

Most colors were expressed through the dominant gene. In essence, the color expressed better is the one with the dominant gene.

The Most Common Chinchilla Colors Are:

  1. Standard Gray
  2. White
  3. Black
  4. Beige
  5. Chocolate
  6. Sapphire
  7. Violet
  8. Blue Diamond
  9. Pink white
  10. Black velvet
  11. Ebony
  12. Goldbar
  13. Brown velvet

Final Words 

You may almost certainly be sure you will be able to find a lovely pet to enjoy as a friend with the wide variety of attractive chinchilla colors available.

However, the most important thing is that your chinchilla spends its entire life with you in good health and happiness.

You can learn a lot of interesting facts about chinchillas, which are intriguing creatures. Every living thing on earth has value, not just for that particular area but for the entire planet.