Have you seen one of those cool chinchilla enclosures and you are now wondering if you should get such a pet for yourself? If that’s true, then here you will find the types of chinchillas you can choose from. We’ve compiled the list below to make your life easier, especially if you’ve never owned one before.
Before going into the details, let’s take a moment and talk about chinchillas in general. These are small rodents, natives of South America, and they are generally very active animals. They can become tamed and very good pets if they are gently handled from a young age, while the bond they create with the owner is a strong one.
They also need a spacious cage in which they can play, while ensuring a consistent routine is important for their healthy development, especially when we’re talking about feeding and handling. Otherwise, they might get stressed out.
Chinchillas can also take a bit longer to develop trust in their owner before being fully comfortable. In the following lines, you’ll discover two main breeds of chinchillas and different varieties of colors so that you have a better idea of what you can choose from.
Long-tailed chinchillas are naturally found in the Andes Mountains of Northern Chile and they feed on leaves, mosses, grass, lichen, seeds, or roots, being herbivorous animals. They can also eat eggs or smaller insects if available.
Members of this breed live in large colonies of hundreds, and the females are dominant, thus being more aggressive toward males or each other. However, they are rarely seen fighting since they mostly express themselves through growling or chattering their teeth.
As pets, they might seem hyperactive compared to other rodents, which means they might not be as suitable for very young children. On the other hand, they are very intelligent and can be taught to play with family members.
Also mostly found in the Andes Mountains of Peru, Chile, Bolivia, and Argentina, short-tailed chinchillas are heavily exploited for their fur which classified them among the endangered rodent species. They feed on vegetation and usually burrow underground, but they are also sociable animals that live in rather large colonies.
Although hunting these small rodents become illegal as early as 1929, the laws were not enforced until 1983 which made matters a lot harder for the breed. Also known as royal chinchillas, their fur is considered one of the finest in the world.
Luckily, if we can say that, large colonies are kept in captivity today which takes some pressure off those living the wild.
Beige and white
Since we’ve gotten to the colors part of different chinchilla types, we’ll start with the beige ones. These lovely rodents have fur which includes two colors, beige and violet, and the results resemble a light champagne color. Since it’s only natural for the colors to be different across the body, the belly has a brighter white tone.
This color also got translated into the eyes, and beige chinchillas have purplish ones, while the ears can be freckled as if anything else was necessary to make them even cuter.
As it’s the case with many other types of animals, the white gene comes with some issues as well because it’s incomplete, so it should be combined with other colors. White chinchillas have darker patterns around the ears, and the rest of the fur can have a unique silvery appearance.
Those who own more than one chinchilla should not breed white individuals, as the genes might come with additional issues. The type of whiteness can also differ, from white mosaic to white violet or white tan.
Black and purple
Black chinchillas usually have dark colored fur but light colored stripes can also be seen. Their belly is most of the times white, and the stripes can also be seen on their paws. Some breeders combine black individuals with those featuring other colors in order to create a breed also known as TOV violet.
Purple chinchillas, on the other hand, have grey fur on their belly, while the violet color on the rest of their bodies is actually a combination of an ebony gene. From a genetic point of view, this color is recessive which means that you should not breed two violet chinchillas.
Brown and Grey
Brown chinchillas are usually the result of beige and black parents. Besides the brown color across their bodies, they also have brown paws. Most of the times their fur and colors also include white around the belly or the paws.
Grey, on the other hand, is one of the main natural colors chinchillas come in, and it’s a dominant one, which means that it has the chance of appearing in baby chinchillas more often than the others. Of course, the shades and types of grey can differ from one individual to another, and their bellies and paws can also have white or bright fur.
Choosing your chinchilla
If you are determined to get a new chinchilla as a pet, but you don’t have that much experience with these beautiful rodents, then keep reading to see how you can make sure that the one you choose is healthy. Of course, the first step would be to buy one from a reputable breeder, but even if you go to a pet shop, keep these in mind as they might save you from troubles.
First of all, chinchillas are highly active and sociable animals, so you need to look for one that is quick to respond to sounds. The eyes should be bright and clear, and the ears should be clean without irritations or excessive amounts of wax.
Check the nose, eyes, mouth, genital area and anus for any abnormal discharge that might indicate a disease. Other injuries or sores across the body can also be an indicator of potential diseases. In terms of personality, spend a bit of time with the chinchilla to make sure it’s friendly, as opposed to being aggressive or trying to bite.