Cheeky Chinchillas - How Big is A Chinchilla?
These beautiful creatures with their large eyes, long, thick fur and bushy tails are about 12 inches (30cm) long when fully grown.
The female is usually larger than the male. Chinchillas weigh approximately 500 - 700+ grams. This is just a rough guide as their weight can vary quite a lot.
To give you a better idea of the size, below is a picture of a chinchilla being held.
Chinchillas originate from the rocky mountain range of the Andes in South America.
Discovered by Spanish explorers in the 1500's, they were named after the Chincha Indians, who through necessity to keep themselves warm and have food to eat,
used them as a source of food and made clothing with their fur.
Later introduced to Europe, their soft luxurious fur became very popular and was sought after so much, it nearly caused their extinction,
as literally millions of chinchillas were killed for their pelts. It is very distressing to know that it
takes well over a 100 chinchillas just to make one coat!
Today, hunting the wild chinchilla is banned and they are protected by the Convention on International Trade of Endangered Animals.
Mr M.F. Chapman, is responsible for the domestication of the chinchilla. He worked as a a mining engineer in Chile.
In 1923, after finally getting permission from the Chilean Government, he transported 11 chinchillas to California.
They bred successfully and were originally sold to fur ranches and then later sold as pets. It is more than likely
that most of our pet chinchillas today are descended from Mr Chapman's original eleven
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