Chinchillas are rodents from the chinchilla family. The natural habitat of these animals is the Andes mountains in South America. Moreover, they are able to live at an altitude of 4, 000 meters. Chinchillas use crevices in rocks as natural shelters, and if they cannot be found, they dig holes for themselves. Chinchilla fur has always been highly valued, therefore, their number in the wild is rapidly declining due to intense hunting.
Breeding on farms became a salvation for chinchillas. This animal was domesticated only a hundred years ago, in 1919 the American Mathias Chapman began to catch chinchillas in the Andes. But it turned out to be not so easy to do this, in three years only 11 animals were caught - 8 males and 3 females. After receiving permission, Chapman took them to the United States, where he organized a chinchilla farm. Chinchillas adapted to life in captivity quickly enough. And in natural conditions, chinchillas can now be found only in Chile. But even there there were no more than 10, 000 of them left. Chinchilla is listed in the International Red Book.
We can say that Chapman has found a "bonanza", as the number of chinchilla skins in the world market was rapidly declining. For example, in 1912, about 350, 000 skins were imported and sold to Germany alone, and after a few years they became very rare.
The chinchilla's fur is very dense. Therefore, the animal does not tolerate heat well. If the air temperature rises above 25 degrees, chinchillas become lethargic, they refuse to eat. In addition, they lack sweat glands. For owners who keep chinchillas, this must be taken into account, and the temperature regime must be monitored so that the pets do not die.
The first documentary mention of a chinchilla dates back to 1553. The Spanish priest and geographer Pedro Cieza de Leon mentioned it in his work "Chronicle of Peru". "Chronicle of Peru" is a real encyclopedia of geography, history, zoology of South America. It was thanks to this work that Europeans first learned about such a popular culture in the Old World as potatoes.
Chinchillas are very clean, but you cannot bathe them in water, the animal can catch a bad cold. In the wild, chinchillas use volcanic dust to clean their fur, in which they enjoy swimming. And at home, special sand is used for these purposes. Surprisingly, unlike other animals, the chinchilla lives much less in captivity than in the wild. If in natural conditions the animal lives up to 30 years, then in captivity it is usually no more than 20.
A chinchilla fur coat is the dream of many fashionistas. One such product takes about 100 skins, which is what caused the number of animals at the turn of the XIX-XX centuries. began to decline rapidly. There is a legend that clothes made of chinchilla fur were very popular among the Chinchil Indians. Hence the name of the animal itself. And chinchilla meat was used in the treatment of such a terrible disease as tuberculosis.
An article on the chinchilla can be found in the Brockhaus and Efron dictionary, which was published in Russia in 86 volumes at the end of the 19th - beginning of the 20th centuries. The dictionary even lists the price of chinchilla fur: "for a dozen skins they pay from 10 to 12 rubles with our money."
In the wild, chinchillas have a lot of enemies. Therefore, the animals have an amazing feature - they are able to get rid of, in case of danger, part of their fur. If a predator grabbed a chinchilla with its teeth, it simply sheds part of its fur, thereby saving its own life. After a couple of months, the damaged area is overgrown.
Chinchillas are nocturnal and prefer to sleep during the day. Moreover, they retain this feature even when kept in captivity. Chinchilla sleep is very sensitive, even the slightest noise can awaken them. The animal's vision cannot be called ideal, but this is more than compensated for by excellent hearing. The chinchilla hears the approach of the enemy at a considerable distance.
Like many other rodent species, chinchilla teeth grow throughout life. The chinchilla has 20 very strong teeth, with the help of which it is able to gnaw hard enough materials.
Chinchilla is quite easy to train. Almost every pet can be taught how to execute simple commands. It is easier to do this if the animal is alone, then it is more willing to make contact with the owner. Training is best done in the evening, with the onset of dusk, then the animal becomes much more active than in the daytime.
Treasure hunters are sure that with the help of a chinchilla, you can search for treasures. For example, the Indians argued that it was necessary to dig for gold where these animals were found. And on the beaches, a chinchilla can be trained to find jewelry in the sand. There is even such a sign - the chances of finding the treasure will increase significantly if you just take the chinchilla with you in search as a talisman.