chinchilla

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chinchilla

(chĭnchĭl`ə), small burrowing rodent of South America. It lives in colonies at high altitudes (up to 15,000 ft/4,270 m) in the Andes of Bolivia, Chile, and Peru. One of the costliest of all furs, its soft gray pelt has been valued since the days of the Inca. The wild chinchilla was nearly exterminated before protective laws were passed. At one time over 200,000 pelts were exported from Chile. Wild chinchilla coats have cost as much as $100,000. Chinchillas are now raised on farms in South America and the United States, and this has resulted in lower prices for the skins, which are still considered among the most valuable. Chinchillas are classified in the phylum Chordata, subphylum Vertebrata, class Mammalia, order Rodentia, family Chinchillidae.

Chinchilla

 

a genus of rodents of the family Chinchillidae. The body length is 22–38 cm, and the tail length 7–15 cm. The head and eyes are large, the ears orbicular (5–6 cm), and the whiskers long. The four-toed hind legs are twice as long as the five-toed fore legs. There are 20 teeth, including 16 molars that grow throughout the animal’s life. The soft, thick fur reaches 3 cm in length. The coloration is white on the abdomen and blue-gray with dark overtones on the back and sides. Seasonal and sexual dimorphism is absent. There are two species—the long-tailed (C. laniger) and the short-tailed (C. brevicaudata).

Chinchillas are found in the arid mountainous regions of the Chilean, Peruvian, Bolivian, and Argentinian Andes. They live in colonies in crevices of cliffs; they are nocturnal throughout the year. Chinchillas feed on grasses, shrubs, and cacti. One to three litters are produced yearly, with an average of two young in each (a litter may contain one to six young).

By the early 20th century chinchillas had almost been hunted to extinction for their valuable fur. The animals are now protected by law and bred in small numbers on farms in many countries. In the USSR chinchillas have been bred since 1960 on the test farm of the All-Union Research Institute of Hunting and Fur Farming near Kirov; the animals are also being raised by amateur breeders in 40 oblasts. Experiments on acclimatizing the animals in the Pamirs and Transcaucasia are in progress.

I. B. KIRIS

chinchilla

[chin′chil·ə]
(vertebrate zoology)
The common name for two species of rodents in the genus Chinchilla belonging to the family Chinchillidae.

chinchilla

one of the costliest of furs, made into luxurious coats. [Western Culture: Misc.]
See: Luxury

chinchilla

1. a small gregarious hystricomorph rodent, Chinchilla laniger, inhabiting mountainous regions of South America: family Chinchillidae. It has a stocky body and is bred in captivity for its soft silvery grey fur
2. the highly valued fur of this animal
3. mountain chinchilla any of several long-tailed rodents of the genus Lagidium, having coarse poor quality fur
4. a breed of rabbit with soft silver-grey fur
5. a thick napped woollen cloth used for coats
References in periodicals archive ?
Humans have one hair per follicle but chinchillas have a staggering 60-100 hairs per follicle on average.
I had two pet chinchillas for 9 years and loved every minute of it
TARGET Some of the pets CUDDLES Mandy Graham with one of the now soot-covered chinchillas at Marvellous Monsters in Blaydon Precinct in Gateshead
Jane, 46, a painter, and her husband Chris, 40, a financial adviser, have a total of eight chinchillas as well as other pets including birds, fish, terrapins and a dog.
Die skryfster is reeds bekroon vir haar kinderboek, Maaneiers (1995), en kortverhaalbundel, Om te vlerk (2001), en die goed versorgde teks van Chinchilla getuig daarvan dat dit nie haar allereerste skryfpoging is nie.
Among them were Mirfield youngsters Emily Glew and Amy Butters who were able to cuddle a chinchilla.
Willoughby told the audience about the 4-month-old chinchilla.
A variety of Chinchilla known as Squirrel became extinct.
Living caviomorphs include guinea pigs, chinchillas, and capybaras, which at 50 kg weigh in as the largest living rodents.
And I have seen these passionate souls chain themselves to department store entryways in hopes of saving sables and seals and chinchillas everywhere.
The couple keep a painted gypsy caravan on their front lawn and have pet chinchillas in an enclosure at the back.
THEY both originate from South America and weigh less than a kilo, but that's where the similarity ends for guinea pigs and chinchillas.