Unfortunately, chinchillas have always been quite expensive. The higher cost of chinchillas, compared to, say, rabbits, is not due to the complexity of their content, but to the low productive capacity, long gestation and few offspring. For the same reason, breeding the animal on the skin is also unprofitable. But as a pet, this cute “ball with ears” is worth the cost. Chinchilla is a very cute, meek, gentle and playful animal. One of the main advantages is that in a charming eared and big-eyed head hides intelligence, powerful enough for a rodent.
Chinchillas are not only easy to tame, but even amenable to some training, able to respond to the nickname. In addition, they live, with good care, up to 20 years, which can not but rejoice the future owner. But especially girls and women love these animals. After all, they are so sweet! I know for myself and my friends how difficult it is to resist the unimaginably tender fur coat and lively perky face of its owner. Chinchilla looks like a small soft toy. Moreover, its size, due to “increased fluffiness” is much smaller than it seems. In the hands of the animal is felt as something weightless and very defenseless, requiring special care. Chinchilla belongs to the order of rodents, the family of chinchilla. Two species of chinchilla are distinguished: short-tailed or large chinchilla (Chinchilla Brevicaudata), inhabiting the Andes of southern Bolivia, Northwestern Argentina and, possibly, Northern Chile; and the small long-tailed or coastal chinchilla (Chinchilla Lanigera), whose range is currently limited to a small area of Coastal Cordillera Chile. Since the last species, Chichilla Laniger Mlina, is bred in captivity, we will get to know him.
Chinchilla was brought to us from South America. In nature, they live in the highlands of Peru, Bolivia, Chile, along the coast of the Pacific Ocean. In their homeland, chinchillas are practically exterminated. Because of their beautiful fur, they have been the object of hunting since ancient times. They were hunted even by the Indians before the arrival of the European conquerors. They first tried to keep them in captivity. Like most ancient peoples, the Indians before the arrival of the Europeans treated natural resources quite carefully, and, despite the active hunting, the numbers of chinchillas still did not threaten. The real predatory extermination of chinchillas began in the late XIX-early XX centuries, when the fur of animals became in Europe and North America a symbol of high position in society. Currently, animals are listed in the red book.
Features of biology. Standard body weight is 400-800 g long-tailed chinchilla, body length 22-38 cm, tail 7-15 cm. Head large, eyes large, ears rounded 5-6 cm, vibrissae 8-10 cm. Hind limbs four-fingered, twice as long as the front ones five-fingered, fingers on the front paws are prehensile. Teeth 20, including 16 molar, growing throughout life. The ears of chinchillas have special membranes with which the animals close their ears when they take sand baths, thanks to which the sand does not get in. The color of the fur varies on the back and sides from light gray to dark gray with a bluish tinge white. The fur is surprisingly soft and durable, very thick – up to 25,000 hairs per 1 square centimeter. If ordinary fur-bearing animals grow one hair from one hair bulb, then a chinchilla has 60-80 hairs that are as thin as a spiderweb and 12-14 microns thick. Animals take care of their fur in a peculiar way, bathing in fine dry volcanic dust. It is this unusual fur that is the main advantage and enemy of chinchillas. Chinchilla moult happens once a year in the warm season. In nature, animals live in pairs, but they form colonies. The harsh climate of the highlands and the lifestyle of the animals influenced their appearance. The famous very thick and silky fur is designed to protect the animal from low temperatures and winds, which are not uncommon in these places. Downy hair in a fur coat is almost equal in length to covering hair. This feature, as well as the fact that the individual covering hairs are split into thin threads, gives the fur extraordinary softness and density. Compact addition and rounded shapes also help to maintain body temperature. The animals are more active at dusk and at night. Big eyes, ears and long mobile whiskers vibrissae allow you to navigate in the dark and on dangerous scree. Well-developed hind limbs, which somehow remind us of kangaroos or jerboas, are naturally most intended for jumping over steep rocks. The front legs are short, with their help, the animal captures food when eaten. Claws on the legs are very small, dull, sometimes it seems that they are absent in chinchillas. In addition, chinchillas have several more interesting features. Their torso can be compressed in an upright position, which allows them to seep through any narrow crevice in the rock (or the gap between the bars of the cage!). Another feature is autotomy: the ability to separate hair from skin. In times of danger, a chinchilla can leave hair in the enemy’s teeth and escape. At present, many other varieties of chinchilla color are bred in captivity. There are colors called black velvet, white wilson, beige tower, purple, sapphire, ebony, pastel, etc. All sorts of exhibitions of these rodents are actively held, both on the amateur and professional level.
In nature, these animals do not build nests, content with the shelters provided by rocks and mountain vegetation, or use the burrows of other animals. Females have a long enough pregnancy in 105-120 days. Chinchillas do not belong to the prolific rodents. Seasonal and sexual dimorphism is absent. The female gives birth 1-3 times a year, an average of 2 cubs (possibly from 1 to 6). Chinchillas are monogamous. The chinchilla has three pairs of mammary glands, but only one pair functions normally, therefore even the third baby may lack milk.
In captivity, it is possible to feed babies and nurse more numerous offspring. Chinchillas are born well developed, pubescent, able to quickly run and escape from enemies. They are very similar to their parents, differing from them only in slightly different proportions of the body. Newborns have incisors and three molars on each side. The fourth molars erupt 25-30 days. From the first days they begin to try their parents’ feeds, but continue to eat mother’s milk for up to 2-3 months Teeth, like all rodents, grow and grind off throughout life. Samts help in the care of offspring and animals live together as a family, except in those rare cases when feminist females aggressively drive off their spouses.
Digestion. Chinchillas are herbivorous rodents. In nature, roots, bulbs, lichens, cacti, bark, various fruits and seeds are used as food. Can bite and insects. Like all herbivores, chinchillas have a well-developed large intestine, containing a large number of cellulose-splitting bacteria, especially in the cecum. Physiological data: body temperature: 36-37.5 ° C, pulse 100-150 / min.
The ideal air temperature for chinchilla content is 14-18 ° C, without drafts and high humidity.
What problems can arise when keeping a chinchilla in captivity? Many people are afraid to start chinchillas, claiming that this is a very capricious animal. “With these rodents is always like that.” Today he looks completely healthy, jumps and jumps, and the next morning – only tears! ”. This is only partly true. Chinchillas are actually very strong and unpretentious animals, rarely get sick. In order for a pet to live to the age of 20 and not experience any problems with it, you just need to know about certain features of its physiology. The vast majority of the diseases that chinchillas suffer from occur due to content errors. The truth here is that all small animals have a higher metabolism than people or even a cat and a dog, respectively, all the pathological processes they also develop faster. Compare: if a dog is seriously ill for about a week, then it is the same as for a person, exaggerated, to lie in reanimation for a month. In rodents, everything happens in a matter of hours. Owners often notice diseases in small animals when it is in full swing or even in the last stage. Therefore, measures should be taken in case of any noticeable indisposition: disheveled wool, poor appetite, poor mood. It is necessary to remember that a light diarrhea or a small swelling of the intestines in a dog can be cured with a decoction of chamomile, but for chinchillas these are severe ailments that require a serious approach. Do not be afraid to keep chinchillas, you just need to study them and be careful! One of the advantages of chinchillas is that they do not have specific infectious diseases. Cats have a dangerous disease – panleukopenia, in dogs and ferrets – a plague of carnivores, in rabbits – myxomatosis and VGBK. An animal-specific disease can get sick, even if it creates the most optimal conditions for it. Chinchillas happily avoided such a fate. This does not mean that they do not suffer from infectious diseases, but the overwhelming majority of them belong to “illnesses of poor content.” Salmonellosis, pasteurellosis, various bronchopneumonia occur most often in case of disturbances in the maintenance and feeding of animals, or in immunodeficiencies.
If we talk about infectious diseases, then it should be noted that chinchillas are very sensitive to ringworms (versicolor, flexible, etc. skin diseases). Dermatophytoses is the common name for animal diseases caused by microscopic fungi that affect not only the skin and fur coat, but also the internal organs of an infected animal. Chinchillas suffer from lichen no more than other rodents. The greatest possibility of outbreak depriving is from May to September, usually this disease is common on large farms, but deprive of it can also appear when keeping single individuals. The cause of lichen may be a decrease in immunity, stress, high humidity, lack of vitamins. Determine whether it is not difficult. At the earliest stage, you can notice on the background of intact wool flaking, dandruff. In the future, the main symptom of the disease appears – bald spots, covered with crusts and sparse broken hairs. Initially, the spots are regular rounded, then they become oval. Merging, they can form spots of various sizes and shapes. Some fungal diseases in chinchillas can pass without characteristic external signs: without desquamation, skin irritation. The only external sign of this disease can only be hair loss.
The largest percentage among all the illnesses of chinchilla accounted for diseases of the gastrointestinal tract. Like many other herbivorous animals, the digestive system is a weak point for many reasons. Microorganisms that process fiber are very sensitive. They can die with a sharp change of diet, feeding unsuitable feed, stress, giving antibiotics. And without them, the animal simply ceases to normally absorb food. In addition, in herbivorous animals, the intestine is very long; its feed mass passes longer than in other species. Therefore, such animals react more acutely to fermenting and putrefying processes in the gastrointestinal tract and to the presence of various toxins in the diet. In carnivorous animals, food is faster and toxic substances are absorbed to a lesser extent. For the same, in order to cause these same processes in the intestines of the animal, it is enough to give it to gnaw a tainted apple or a moldy delicacy. Therefore, be careful when choosing a diet for animals! Details about feeding chinchillas are written in the section. ” Feeding “. It is also necessary to monitor the constantly growing teeth. The chinchilla must have something “gryzopodoeemoe.” Some animals may have a congenital defect in the arrangement of the teeth, which is why they grind wrongly and the teeth are constantly shortened in a veterinary clinic, otherwise they injure the gums and cause stomatitis and prevent the animal from eating the food normally. Such a violation is hereditary and these animals should not be allowed to breed. “Beauty requires sacrifice”. Exquisite chinchilla fur coat deserves special attention. No, chinchillas do not require to be combed every day. This may be required unless before the exhibition (i.e., chinchilla grooming is carried out). Chinchilla wool almost never falls. In addition, the animals are very clean and carefully take care of their fur. They constantly comb his paws. But any skin disease, such as eczema, can ruin the appearance of the animal fur coat for a lifetime. Next will be mentioned under what conditions skin problems may occur.
Sand baths are very important for wool and well-being. Thin delicate chinchilla fur very easily absorbs moisture. To keep it in good condition, to dry and protect yourself from parasites, animals in nature bathe in dust and fine volcanic sand. It is important to provide them with the opportunity in captivity. If the animal does not take a sand bath regularly, its fur quality suffers greatly, it becomes susceptible to skin diseases, parasites and easily catches cold. The sand must of course be very fine (river sand is not suitable for this). Large grains of sand can damage wool. It is very good to add fungistop (an antifungal agent and a wool disinfector to it, it provides prevention of skin diseases). It is also advisable to purchase a special closed bathing, so that your apartment does not turn into one big sand bath!
A little trouble and you will enjoy the unforgettable spectacle. Sand treatments give a chinchilla a lot of fun. One has only to put the container on the other end of the cage, like a small animal’s eyes light up, for one second big ears are pressed to the head, and through the other – something gray flashes before your eyes and it is like a small propeller with a funny snort in the sand. You do not even have time to notice how he was in the sandbox. Males often have hair rings around the penis, which prevents them from fulfilling their masculine role. It is necessary to ensure that they do not appear.