Wednesday, July 18, 2018

Chinchillas: All About The Endangered And Inexplicably Adorable Pet

Chinchillas: All About The Endangered And Inexplicably Adorable Pet

Brewing a huge storm more than a decade ago in sunny Singapore, this small Pet type came at a cost that seemed a tad indulgent for its size. Owning a pet Chinchilla was a luxury that not many could afford, but it was undeniably tough not to be charmed by this little creature's adorable features. Said to be a challenge for an inexperienced hand, providing a safe and loving home for a Chinchilla goes beyond status-quo of ownership— learning all about them. 
Where do Chinchillas come from?

The Chinchilla

Native to the Andes Mountains of South America, Chinchillas are known as crepuscular rodents— active during twilight hours, between dawn to dusk. In the wild and native homes, herds of Chinchillas live in high areas as tall as 4270 metres (that's approximately half the height of Mount Everest!). The name Chinchilla was given by the Chincha Tribe of Andes, translating to mean Clay (one can only wonder why). Folks of the Chincha Tribe also wore coats made from the dense, velvety fur of Chinchillas for excellent heat insulation in the cold climates.
Chinchilla Andes
At the end of the 19th century, Chinchillas were deemed rare due to excessive poaching for their fur. The species we see as domestic Pets today are Chinchilla Lanigera (long tailed). Both species Chinchilla Chinchilla (previously known as Chinchilla Brevicaudata) and Chinchilla Lanigera are listed on the IUCN conservation guide as critically endangered. The drastic Chinchilla population decline of about 90% were contributed by human poachers.
Chinchilla fur products
Fun Fact #1      Chinchillas used to populate areas of Peru, Argentina, Chile and Bolivia. Today however, they can only be found in Chile.

The Appearance Of A Chinchilla

As mentioned, the species most commonly encountered as a domestic Pet is the Chinchilla Lanigera.

Size — A smaller built, slimmer neckline and longer tails as compared to their cousin in the wild. Their tail lengths range from 8 centimetres to 30 centimetres.

Features — Chinchillas resemble the likes of a rounder and larger Squirrel coupled with big eyes, long whiskers and circular ears. Shorter front legs enable them to hold their food while sitting on their hind legs to eat. Jumping and leaping is made easy with their strong hind legs.
Chinchilla Colours
Colours — the priceless coat of soft velvety fur is available in different colours like Standard Grey, Beige, and in variations of Silver and White Mosaic, Pink White, Black or Brown Velvet, Ebony, Violet and Sapphire.

HOT TIP      Chinchillas are born with stiff tails and their tails are of extreme importance in maintaining their overall balance— never hold or pick up a Chinchilla by the tip of their tails to avoid damaging it!

Chinchilla Care Tips

Hygiene — Chinchillas in the wild clean themselves by rolling in volcanic sand, and do not require water baths. Instead, provide them with special Chinchilla Bathing Sand and watch them roll to their content. While they shed once in every 3 months, it is not necessary to brush them. If need be, use a medium-wide tooth comb to comb off any dirt or excess loose fur before a sand bath.

Fun Fact #2      A Chinchilla's exquisite velvety fur is more than meets the eye— these fur coats also has the amazing ability to keep out fleas and parasites!

Housing — The love for heights, leaping and using walls to bounce off from calls for a decent tall cage with hiding spots. If you are using a wired/grill cage, ensure that the gaps measure smaller than 1 by 1 centimetres wide— you don’t want your Chinchillas to have their legs stuck while jumping about! Very susceptible heat strokes, place the cage in a well-lit area away from direct heat. Temperatures should be maintain at a cooling room temperature of 21°C.
Chinchilla Home
Food — Chinchillas are herbivores; a good diet consists of mainly fibre. In the wild, they thrive on plants, seeds, berries, fruits, greens and a variety of grass. For domestic pet Chinchins, commercial food pellets should have a range of 14 to 16% Fibre and Protein, with the main percentage on fibre. Quality Alfafa, Timothy, Orchard or Alphine Hay are great fibre options for Chinchillas.

HOT TIP      Check your Chinchillas home and replace fresh food and water daily. Be sure to dispose of old Hay that have been soiled or have gotten damp— this prevents growth of mold and your Chinchilla ingesting it.

Chinchilla Personality

Not unlike other small animals/pets, Chinchillas too have a wary naturer as part of a prey's instintive behaviour. This requires patience and effort to establish a trust with their human companions. Bonds built eventually grows to be a loving, fast, active and playful friendship. Exercise daily bonding by talking to them, and slowly introducing them to be accustomed to your handling and affection. 
Free roaming time allows your Chinchilla to familiarize itself with its surroundings. But be warned, they are extremely fast, so just be sure to keep the play area safe and enclosed. A comfortable and happy pet Chinchilla might even let you sneak in some scratches and kisses!

Fun Fact #4      Chinchillas have a defence mechanism called “Fur Slip”, during which they release patches of fur to escape grip. This is the result of poor handling, or abrupt grabbing.

Adopt A Chinchilla In Singapore

To be absolutely candid, we have yet to come across any Chinchillas up for adoption at shelters. But do not let this deter you, as always, check for available options at our local animal shelters or even Facebook groups that might have leads. At times, there could be cases of accidental breeding and their owners are then unable to accommodate all of them. You could always stand a chance to provide a comfy Forever Home for an adorable Chinchilla!

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