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CHINCHILLA

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Below: Male "Iggy" Above: Female "Mitzi"

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SCIENTIFIC NAME:  Chinchilla lanigera
HOUSE NAME: 
Male "Iggy" Female "Mitzi"

HABITAT:  A wide variety of habitat from forest, to mountain, semi-deserts, and brush lands of most of North America from Southern Canada through Central Mexico.

CONSERVATION STATUS:  Domestic: Least Concern
                                                      Wild: Critically Endangered

CONSERVATION RESOURCE: 
AZA Chinchilla SAFE

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FUN FACT:   Living in the cold temps of high elevations, chinchillas avoid wet baths (licking or otherwise).  Instead, they roll in silica sand (AKA chinchilla dust), a grey baby powder-like substance.  It absorbs oils on the fur, and loosens dirt, thereby cleaning the coat without causing the chinchilla to become wet.  Clean fur insulates better than dirty.

DESCRIPTION:  Head and body length is 9-15 inches, while the tail is 3-6 inches long.  Adult females weigh up to 28 oz. while the smaller male usually weighs around 17 oz.  In the wild, fur ranges in color from bluish, pearl, to brownish gray on the top (usually with a black tip) and buff color on the underparts.  In captivity, chinchillas have been bred with colors ranging from white to black and everything in between.  The fur is very silky and soft with 60-100 hairs per follicle.  The fur is at least 1” long (so dense, fleas cannot penetrate it).  The tail is completely furred, and the top section of the tail has coarse guard hairs.  The head is broad with large external ears.  The inner ear canal is extremely large and acts as a resonating chamber to improve hearing underground.  The large black eyes have a vertically slit pupil.  Vestigial cheek pouches are present.  Both the short forepaw and the narrow hind foot have four digits each.  Hind legs are long and strong, giving good jumping agility.

FIND ME IN THE ZOO:

 

*Chinchillas are education animal ambassadors, their habitat is not viewable to public as they require privacy when not on program.

 

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