Chinchillas are becoming more and more common as household pets.
Unfortunately, their numbers in the wild are steadily dwindling.
The two are not related though.
Pet ownership is not the reason they are now endangered in the wild.
We’ll cover the reason for that below.
We’ll also cover the top 10 most common questions we get about chinchillas in the wild.
Keep reading and you are sure to learn some interesting facts about these fascinating and adorable little rodents.
- 1 Chinchillas In The Wild: Overview And History
- 2 Wild Chinchillas: 10 Top Questions Answered
- 2.1 #1: How Many Chinchillas Are Left In The Wild?
- 2.2 #2: Can Chinchillas Survive In The Wild?
- 2.3 #3: Are Chinchillas Still Found In The Wild?
- 2.4 #4: How Do Chinchillas Stay Dry In The Wild?
- 2.5 #5: What Do Chinchillas Eat In The Wild?
- 2.6 #6: Do People Still Kill Chinchillas For Fur In The Wild?
- 2.7 #7: What Temperatures Do Chinchillas Live Through In The Wild?
- 2.8 #8: Do Chinchillas Run In Herds In The Wild?
- 2.9 #9: Do Chinchillas Breed In The Wild?
- 2.10 #10: How Do Chinchillas Bathe In The Wild?
- 2.11 Become A Chinchilla Advocate And Enthusiast
- 3 Wild Chinchillas: Final Thoughts
Chinchillas In The Wild: Overview And History
Chinchillas are rodents. They are grouped into either two categories: a “chinchilla chinchilla” or a “chinchilla lanigera.”
Chinchillas in the wild live in colonies or large groups. They are very social animals, plus a larger group provides extra protection for each individual.
Chinchillas originally came from Bolivia, Peru, Argentina, and Chile, at high elevations in the mountains, around 14,000 feet (4267 meters).
Sadly, chinchillas no longer live in all of those areas. Poaching in order to get at that luxurious fur has reduced their numbers in all of the above countries.
Today, wild chinchillas are only common in Chile, although the occasional spotting have been reported in the other countries mentioned.
While it’s sad that the chinchilla we all know and love as a fantastic pet has had such a tough time surviving in the wild, the good news is that they are now protected as an endangered species.
And chinchillas will always live on in large numbers due to domestic breeding.
Obviously, it’s not fun to think of these cute little creatures running for their lives, but at least we know plenty of owners will continue to adopt one of these furry, adorable pets, due to the hard work and dedication of our loyal domestic breeders.
Wild Chinchillas: 10 Top Questions Answered
I’ve noticed that a lot of people have specific questions about chinchilla survival tactics or even what they behave like in the wild.
That’s why I am going to list out all these questions in a question and answer format. Let’s get started.
#1: How Many Chinchillas Are Left In The Wild?
This is a good question, and a common to ask, since chinchillas are endangered.
Unfortunately, it’s tough to put an exact number on how many chinchillas are left in the wild. But the common estimate is that roughly 10,000 chinchillas remain in the wild in the mountains in Chile.
Sadly, that number has been rapidly decreasing over the years, due to poaching, which is something that is impossible to monitored and regulate in the chinchilla’s natural habitat.
Is it just poaching, or why is the chinchilla endangered?
Poaching plays a role, but the biggest culprit is habitat destruction. We destroy the few places they have left in the world with our farms and mines, primarily.
The good news is that domestic breeding of chinchillas as pets continues successfully. Anyone looking to adopt a chinchilla shouldn’t have too many issues finding a local breeder in their area.
#2: Can Chinchillas Survive In The Wild?
Chinchillas are prey in the wild and are hunted by a large number of species. Luckily for them, they are intelligent rodents.
They have come up with numerous strategies to avoid becoming food. They live in small crevices, cracks, and under rocks in the mountains.
Chinchillas also run in herds or colonies of 15 to 100 other chinchillas for socialization and additional protection. Lastly, chinchillas have defense mechanisms they can use, such as fur slips or spraying urine.
#3: Are Chinchillas Still Found In The Wild?
Yes, chinchillas are still found in the wild. They are now protected by law in their natural habitats in the mountains of Chile.
While poaching and illegal hunting can’t be stopped completely, a population of nearly 10,000 chinchillas is still known to populate the mountains in Chile.
How long will this continue? Who knows?
Chinchillas in the wild can, however, breed any time of the year.
If you are anything like me, you are hoping they find a way to rebuild their population by breeding and due to hunting getting stricter and more regulated.
#4: How Do Chinchillas Stay Dry In The Wild?
In Chile, in the mountains, at high elevations of 10,000 plus feet, chinchillas do not encounter much precipitation, which is one way they remain dry in the wild.
Additionally, chinchillas use dirt/volcanic ash to roll in to cleanse their fur and help keep oils at necessary levels.
Overall, chinchillas simply stay dry by living in natural habitats that significantly limit their chances of getting wet due to dry weather conditions.
What happens if a chinchilla gets wet in the wild? If they do get wet, it’s not good. Their fur will take a long time to dry and there is a good chance they could get fur fungus or get sick from being wet and cold.
#5: What Do Chinchillas Eat In The Wild?
Chinchillas are omnivores. In the wild, a chinchilla will eat seeds, grass, and sometimes other vegetation. This can include other plants and some fruits. But they also eat animal proteins at times. Read “What Do Chinchillas Eat In The Wild?” for more information on this.
These nimble little rodents also can climb and jump with precision, so accessing vegetation and food sources isn’t an issue for a chinchilla in the wild.
#6: Do People Still Kill Chinchillas For Fur In The Wild?
I can’t provide a clear answer for this question. By law, chinchillas are now protected in their natural habitat.
However, due to chinchillas living in the mountains at 10,000 plus feet, illegal poaching for a chinchilla’s fur is not easy to regulate and monitor.
While I can’t say with any certainty if wild chinchillas are still hunted, I’d venture to say it does still happen from time to time. Chinchilla fur fetches a high price and it takes a lot of chinchillas to make a coat.
Some people also eat chinchillas, though this is such a rarity these days that it does not have an impact on overall numbers.
#7: What Temperatures Do Chinchillas Live Through In The Wild?
In the wild, chinchillas are accustomed to low precipitation, low humidity levels and temperatures ranging from roughly 50 to 70 degrees Fahrenheit.
This is also why domesticated chinchillas must remain at ideal temperatures. This also includes low humidity levels and temperatures that always remain around 50 to 70 degrees.
Not following these basic guidelines when adopting and owning a chinchilla can result in illness or death for your pet.
#8: Do Chinchillas Run In Herds In The Wild?
Yes, chinchillas run in herds or colonies in the wild that can range from 15 to 100 chinchillas. They run in herds for additional protection and due to their social nature.
#9: Do Chinchillas Breed In The Wild?
Yes, chinchillas breed in the wild. They are capable of breeding year-round in the wild.
Chinchillas have a gestation period longer than other rodents at 111 days. They typically give birth to two kits, or baby chinchillas, at a time.
#10: How Do Chinchillas Bathe In The Wild?
We touched on this previously. Chinchillas in the wild roll in a very fine ground up volcanic dust that absorbs natural oils and prevents fungus and bacteria from building up in their fur or on their skin.
Become A Chinchilla Advocate And Enthusiast
Chinchillas are fantastic domesticated pets. One of the best if you ask me.
While measures have already been taken to protect chinchillas in their natural habitat, I’m sure there is more we can collectively do to spread the word about how great these animals genuinely are.
If you don’t own a chinchilla and you’re considering adopting one, I highly recommend it.
Wild Chinchillas: Final Thoughts
Well, there you have it, my friends. That’s a quick fact sheet about some of the behaviors and survival tactics that chinchillas use in the wild.
Maybe it even helped you understand why chinchillas are the way they are as a family pet. They are a unique animal that can bring a smile the face of anyone who owns this furry and soft pet.
Share any knowledge you have about chinchillas in the wild.
What further knowledge can you share about chinchillas in the wild?
What other interesting information was left out of this post?
Be sure to share those thoughts, concerns, and stories by dropping a comment below.
As always, Chili and I appreciate you stopping by and reading. Thanks again, and we will see you next time.