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Chinchillas are crepuscular rodents (meaning they are ‘nocturnal’ mammals who are highly active from dusk to dawn) that are native to the Andes Mountains of northern Chile. Prized for their soft fur, they take dust baths as a way of self-cleaning their coats and eliminating extra oils and moisture.

Here’s five fun facts about chinchillas with questions in parentheses you can research:

  1. There are two chinchilla species: the long-tailed or Chilean Chinchilla lanigera and the short-tailed Chinchilla chinchilla. (Which type of chinchilla is listed as “endangered” by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN), and why are they endangered?)
  2. Wild chinchillas are very social and live in family groups that can form colonies of more than 100 animals. (What is a colony of chinchillas called?)
  3. Unlike other rodents, male chinchillas will stick around and “babysit’ the offspring. (How many litters can a chinchilla have each year?)
  4. If a chinchilla is threatened or under attack, it may do a “fur slip” and leave the predator with empty clumps of fur. (What animals prey on chinchillas?)
  5. A chinchilla’s behavior is an indication of its mood; for example, standing very straight and still indicates that it has sensed a smell or noise that is unfamiliar. (What does it mean when a chinchilla hops around on all four legs?)

For more information about chinchillas, visit the Chinchilla Chronicles web page.