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About Chinchillas. . .

Chinchilla Brevicaudata and Chinchilla Lanigera are the two officially recognized species of chinchilla.  Both species come from the Andes Mountains in South America, which stretch over the countries of Argentina, Bolivia, Chile, Columbia, Equador, Peru, and Venezuela. The Brevicaudata makes it's home higher in the mountains, has a blockier build and smaller ears than the Lanigera which is found at lower altitudes and has a narrower, more wedge shaped build and bigger ears.  Most of our pet chinchillas are some combination of these two officially recognized species, and may show qualities of either or both species.  


Due to their dense fur which is exceedingly soft and warm, chinchillas were hunted nearly to extinction in the wild during the 16th and 17th centuries.  In the early 1900s laws were passed with the goal of protecting the chinchilla from extinction, but they were nearly too little, too late.  If the stories are correct, we owe many of our pet chinchillas today to the ventures of one Mathias F. Chapman, a mining engineer working in Chile in the early 1900s who fell in love with the little furballs and spent three years trying to collect enough to bring back to the US and begin breeding for the fur industry.  He was able to find only eleven chinchillas worthy of breeding over three years with 23 men helping!  Assuming this is correct, nearly all chinchillas in the US can be traced back to Chapman's original eleven! 


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