Chinchillas in The Wild [10 Questions Answered in 3 Minutes]

Chinchillas are the silent pet that’s much more popular than you think.

Let me explain. If you had 10 friends, you were speaking to and informed them you are contemplating adopting a chinchilla, several of them may not even know what a chinchilla is.

This is relatively shocking because they are much more popular than people believe. Heck, they are sold in most pet stores, and tons of breeders around the world make a living breeding different mutation of chinchillas.

How did it begin, and how do the chinchillas in the wild interact and go about their lives? Let alone, how do chinchillas even survive in the wild?

Luckily, I wanted to do something a bit different today and make this a fun, factual, and informative post for everyone who is curious about a chinchilla’s life, behavior, and survival tactics in the wild.

I promise to make it short and sweet as my title suggests and will attempt to inform you of everything, I know about a chinchilla’s life in the wild.

If you want to skip around, feel free to do so using the links directly below.


Here is the agenda and lesson plan for the day:

Like I mentioned previously if you want to skip around in this post, feel free to do so to save some time. Otherwise, relax for just a few minutes, and I’ll answer the most common questions I’m aware of when it comes to chinchillas in the wild.

Here are the details.

Chinchillas in the Wild Overview and History

Chinchillas are either considered a “chinchilla chinchilla” or a “chinchilla lanigera”.

Chinchillas are considered rodents.

Chinchillas in the wild live in colonies or large groups due to being very social animals in addition to providing extra protection for each other.

Chinchillas primarily lived in Bolivia, Peru, Argentina, and Chili at high elevations in the mountains around 14,000 feet.

Sadly, chinchillas aren’t found as commonly in any of the countries listed above due to poaching and hunting for that luxurious fur, we are all aware of.

Today, wild chinchillas are said to be still only alive and well in Chili, although some spottings have been made in the other countries mentioned.

While it’s sad that the domesticated chinchilla we all know as fantastic pets has had such a tough time surviving, it’s at least a breath of fresh air to see that they are now protected as an endangered species.

The chinchillas live on in large numbers due to domestic breeding.

Clearly, it’s not fun to think of them running for their lives, but at least we know plenty of individuals will always adopt one of these furry, adorable pets due to the hard work and dedication of our loyal domestic breeders.

10 Questions About Chinchillas in The Wild Answered

As promised, I’ve noticed that a lot of individuals have specific questions about survival tactics or even what chinchillas behave like in the wild.

Due to this, I thought it would be fun simply to list out all these questions in a question and answer format to fill you all in.

Here are the 10 most common questions I’ve come across along with brief explanations.

#1-How Many Chinchillas Are Left in The Wild?

This is a good question, and it’s common to ask since chinchillas are known to be and feared to be endangered.

Currently, it’s tough to put an exact number on the number of chinchillas left in the wild, but it’s said that roughly 10,000 chinchillas remain in the wild in the mountains in Chili.

The number has been known to be rapidly decreasing over the years due to poaching that can’t always be monitored in a chinchilla’s natural habitat.

The good news is that chinchillas continue to be domestically bred as pets successfully, and 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 intelligent rodents.

Chinchillas are also considered prey animals and are hunted by nearly all other species.

To combat this, chinchillas live in small crevices, cracks, and under rock cover in the mountains.

This is why something such as a nest box is always imperative to own and place inside of your chinchilla’s cage if you adopt.

It makes them feel safe and as if they have a dark safe place to retreat to if they feel stressed.

Chinchillas also run in herds or colonies of 15-100 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 and are considered protected by law in their natural habitats in the mountains of Chili.

While poaching and illegal hunting can’t always be stopped, a population of nearly 10,000 chinchillas is still known to populate the mountains in Chili.

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, we are all hoping they find a way to rebuild their population by breeding and by hunting getting stricter and more regulated.

#4-How Do Chinchillas Stay Dry in The Wild?

In Chili, 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 the dirt/volcanic ash to roll in to cleanse their fur and help keep oils at necessary levels.

Overall, chinchillas simply stay dry by remaining in natural habitats that significantly limit their chances of getting wet due to weather conditions.

#5-What Do Chinchillas Eat in The Wild?

Chinchillas are herbivores.

In the wild, a chinchilla will eat seeds, grass, and sometimes other vegetation.

This can include other plants and some fruits.

Chinchillas 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?

A clear answer can’t be provided 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 always not always 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 always happen from time to time.

#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 50-70 degrees.

This allows them to survive without overheating due to their dense fur and their inability to dry adequately if they did happen to get wet.

This is also why domesticated chinchillas always must remain at ideal temperatures.

This also includes low humidity levels and temperatures that always remain around 50-70 degrees.

Not following these basic guidelines when adopting and owning a chinchilla can result in illness or death.

#8-Do Chinchillas Run in Herds in The Wild?

Yes, chinchillas run in herds or colonies in the wild that can range from 15-100 chinchillas.

Chinchillas 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. Chinchillas in the wild are capable of breeding year-round.

Chinchillas have a gestation period longer than other rodents at 111 days.

Chinchillas 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 before. Chinchillas in the wild roll in a very fine ground up volcanic dust that allows them to absorb natural oils and prevent 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 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 a chinchilla soon, I highly recommend it.

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.

Nonetheless, chinchillas are a unique animal that can bring a smile to anyone’s face that 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.

Closely Related Chinchilla Topics You May Enjoy

Here are a couple quick reads that are closely related to this topic that you may enjoy!

Simply use the links below to navigate to my other post to learn more!

Josh Martin

My Name is Josh and this is my 4 year-old female chinchilla "Chili". We created Planet Chinchilla to share all the stories about owning a chinchilla that you need to know. I'm the Author of the eBook "The Ultimate Chinchilla Care Guide, From Adoption and On"

Recent Posts