- Class: Mammals,
- Order: Rodents,
- Suborder: Porcupines,
- Superfamily: Chinchilloid,
- Family: Chinchilla,
- Genus: Chinchillas.
All chinchillas can be divided into 2 types: small long-tailed (Latin Chinchilla Lanigera) and large short-tailed chinchilla (Latin Chinchilla Brevicaudata).
In nature, chinchillas inhabit the mountains and foothills of Chile, Peru, Mexico and some parts of South America. They live in large flocks from 10 to 35 individuals, with a pronounced matriarchy. The whole flock is ruled by one female, who has several successors. Males occupy a lower position in the flock, and if there is a lack of food or during difficult climatic conditions, they are expelled from the flock or can be killed by females.
Due to the rather harsh climatic conditions of living in nature, the body of the animal is covered with a sufficiently thick and long hair. Due to the fact that chinchilla fur was highly valued throughout the world, the hunt for these rodents over time turned into their barbaric extermination, and, at the moment (in most countries of South America), it is considered poaching.
The chinchilla was domesticated, first of all, precisely because of its fur, and to this day is kept on fur farms around the world, precisely as a valuable fur-bearing animal. Only at the beginning of the XIX century, with the appearance of various coat colors, did these animals become acquired by humans as a pet.
The structure of the body of the chinchilla resembles a squirrel, it has a curved spine, short front and well-developed hind hocks, which determines the movement of this rodent by jumping and allows you to develop significant speed. With a body length of 15-20 cm, they can have a tail length of 5 to 10 cm. The hair on the tail looks like a brush, but, unlike degus and gerbils, it covers the entire length of the tail.
The head of the animal is triangular in shape, low set, neck is almost absent. On the head there are well-defined auricles, practically not covered with hair. Eyes are mostly black, less often red. The chinchilla has 20 teeth (16 chewing and 4 incisors), which grow throughout the life of the animal and require constant grinding. If there is insufficient amount of roughage in the diet or in its absence, teeth grind poorly and pathological regrowths (“hooks”) form on them, which subsequently, when eating food, injure the mucous membrane of the tongue and cheeks. In nature, such animals die quickly, and domesticated chinchillas require long-term treatment by a specialist. Dental diseases in rodents are quite common, so you should carefully monitor their condition.
Chinchillas bear offspring 1-2 times a year, the gestation period is 110-130 days, from 1 to 5 cubs in a litter. Chinchillates are born with open eyes, a coat and an embryo of teeth.
To keep these rodents in apartments, you need a spacious cage or showcase. When choosing a place for the cage, it must be taken into account that the chinchilla is afraid of both drafts and overheating. Drafts can lead to serious rodent respiratory illness, and overheating can lead to death. The normal body temperature of a chinchilla is 36.6 ° C, but when direct sunlight enters the habitat of this mammal, its temperature can rise to 39 ° C, and this is dangerous by the development of heat stroke and cardiac arrest.
Chinchillas are predominantly nocturnal. Putting their cage in the bedroom is not recommended. Rodents will actively move in the cage, make various sounds, and thereby interfere with the owner’s sleep.
It is necessary to ensure the presence of a large number of shelves and moves, so that animals can jump and move about for pleasure. It should also be equipped with a hay feeder, several feeders and a drinking bowl. Although in nature these animals like to hide in holes, special houses or shelters are not necessary for this in the cage, however, if they are present, chinchillas will certainly settle in them. Running wheels for animals are not needed, as they can be injured while running.
At the bottom of the cage, fill the filler and place the tray. The act of defecation in chinchillas is involuntary, so it’s almost impossible to accustom them to the toilet. However, these animals celebrate small need in one, at most in two corners of the cage, where it is necessary to place the tray.
When chinchillas are kept together, the male’s sitting on the female should be very careful, as there have been many cases when female chinchillas maimed and even killed the males that were planted to them. First, the animals must be housed in individual cages located nearby, and observe their behavior, and only then placed in one cage under strict control.
The diet of these animals consists of dry foods. 50% is hay and dry grass. Hay should always be present in the diet of these animals, but it should not be scattered throughout the cage, but be in the hay feeder, since the dust present in any hay can cause an allergic reaction in rodents. Various herbs can be used (mainly dandelion, plantain, nettle and clover), the main thing is that they are not poisonous and toxic.
The remaining 50% comes from dried fruits and specialized feed. Dried fruits can be used almost everything, but always completely dried. Currently, the choice of feed for chinchillas in the market is very wide. This is mainly mixed feed consisting of cereals, nuts and herbal ingredients.
Also, the diet of these rodents may include bark and young shoots of any fruit trees.
Chinchillas are very important to clean their long and thick coat. Since water procedures are forbidden for these animals, rodents should regularly bathe in special fine sand, thereby cleaning their coat. The filler in the tray and the litter in the cage must be changed as they become dirty. Drinking water and feed in the feeder must be updated daily. Hay in the hay feeder replenish as you eat.
Chinchillas are very mobile rodents. They need to periodically walk around the apartment, but to admit it without supervision and restrictions is undesirable, as they like to gnaw furniture and wires, which can lead to obstruction of the gastrointestinal tract and burns to the oral cavity. It is best to carry out walks in special walking balls. In them, the rodent quickly orientates in space and develops sufficient speed. The main thing is to cover the ball as transparent as possible.
Prerequisites for going to the doctor with a chinchilla are excessive salivation, refusal to feed, lack of urination and bowel movements, inactivity of the animal, characteristic moaning sounds and pressing ears to the head. If at least one of the above symptoms is present, the owner must urgently show the chinchilla to a specialist ratologist.
© Shchugorev Maxim Andreevich, veterinarian-herpetologist
Moscow city veterinary care
Calling a doctor at home: (495) 995-06-32, (495) 747-77-05.
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