are indigenous to the high, arid regions of the Andes Mountains in South
America. They were first introduced to the United States
in 1923 by a mining engineer by the name of M. F. Chapman. He caught eleven chinchillas and shipped them to the United
States where they gained popularity and numbers as they descended.
are members of the rodent family, but unlike most rodents they have a long gestation period of 111 days. The kits are born
with full coats and their eyes open. The life expectancy is up to 18 - 20 years. They are very social creatures and are happier
with a cage mate than on their own. Being that Chinchillas are a colder climate
animal and cannot tolerate high heat, they are most comfortable being kept in a draft free place with a constant temperature
between 60 to 79 degrees Although the wild Chinchilla (referred to as a standard) is grey, due to selective breeding, pet chinchillas are now available in a multitude of colours.
you will find a listing of some colour categories of mutations.
note: "Heterozygous" means that the chinchilla is a carrier of more than one type of gene but that only one of the genes,
the dominant one, is being expressed. This type of chinchilla can produce offspring however, that look very different from
it because the recessive genes could be passed in breeding. "Homozygous", on
the other hand, possess two dominant genes or two recessive genes that express a color trait. Standard grays have two recessive
gray genes and homozygous beige possess two dominant beige genes.
Gray: It is closest to the original wild species with fur ranging from very light gray to a dark charcoal gray. Standards
as a rule have white underbellies, black eyes, black paws and ears. A standard gray with somewhat blackish
is an ebony carrier.
Velvet: They are characterized by very dark heads that gradually turn to gray toward the underside. They have black eyes and
ears, and white undersides. They have black stripes on their paws.
Beige: They have a cream colored coat, ranging in hue from light cream to a darker beige color. They have red eyes, pink ears,
white paws and undersides.
They have pink ears and noses, black eyes and a blue hued coat.
Beige: They are offspring of black velvets and beige and have a light or dark beige tone with a deeper brown head that gradually
gets lighter toward the underbelly. They have reddish eyes, pink ears and a white underside.
White chinchillas that do not possess even coloring but instead have patches of color not uniformly distributed are called
Ebony / Charcoal: Characterized by dark, black coat on top with a gradual lightening of the coat toward the stomach, usually
showing some gray here. The stomach is dark however, usually a blackish, gray mix. They have dark eyes, ears and paws.
Named for their light gray, purplish coat and a white underside.
(also known as Wilson White): Their coat is pure white and they produce offspring that can be either white, mosaic (mixed)
or silver (white with gradual gray tips). Whites have black eyes and gray ears, with white paws and underside
Wilson whites that have enough gray hairs present in an even fashion about the
head and tail are called silver.
White: Instead of dark ears and eyes, pink whites have pink ears and red eyes. If it has patches of beige, it is known as
a beige/white mosaic or Starlight.
look very similar to hetero beige but are generally a lighter cream color. Their eyes are not as deep a red as with the heterozygous
beige and there is more of a white iris visible in the eye.
Ebony: This mutation is jet black all over, including the stomach.
A source of fresh water should be available for chinchillas at all times. A bottle is recommended rather that a bowl, as it
is much more sanitary. A bottle that hangs from the side of the cage is the best method to provide water.
Chinchilla pellets are the staple food of chinchillas, which provides the nutrition needed for healthy pets. Although other
pet foods, such as rabbit or guinea pig food may be made of the same ingredients, it is important to use only chinchilla food
as it has been formulated specifically for these animals
Though pellets provide the nutrients necessary for a healthy chinchilla, it is hay that provides the fiber that their system
requires. Timothy hay must be available on a daily basis. Hay should be stored in a dry place to prevent it from going moldy.