What do you get if you cross a rabbit and a chinchilla?
You get a viscacha!
Ok, not really. But it certainly looks that way.
The truth is, the viscacha is not related to the rabbit at all. But it is related to the chinchilla.
That means many similarities when comparing the viscacha vs chinchilla.
But there are also some key differences. And they make one of these animals much better suited as a pet than the other.
Keep reading for an in-depth comparison of the chinchilla vs the viscacha. It will help you figure out which is the right pet for you.
- 1 Viscacha Vs Chinchilla
- 1.1 What Is A Viscacha?
- 1.2 What Is A Chinchilla?
- 1.3 Differences Between Viscachas And Chinchillas
- 1.4 Similarities Between Viscachas And Chinchillas
- 1.5 Advantages Of The Viscacha
- 1.6 Advantages Of The Chinchilla
- 1.7 Who Should Get A Viscacha?
- 1.8 Who Should Get A Chinchilla?
- 2 Chinchilla Vs Viscacha: Final Thoughts
Viscacha Vs Chinchilla
We will begin our chinchilla vs viscacha comparison by looking at each individual animal, before diving into the major differences and similarities. Then we will cover the advantages of each and which type of person would be best off with either one as a pet.
What Is A Viscacha?
The viscacha is part of the South American rodent family and belongs to the chinchilla species. You would, however, be forgiven for thinking they are a part of the rabbit family.
Thanks to their long ears, front teeth, and whiskers, they do have many rabbit attributes at first glance. Viscachas have long, hind legs and shorter front ones, which they love to use as a method to burrow themselves into the ground.
You’ll also struggle to miss their long, bushy tails, which will be low and curled around themselves if in a happy mood.
Just like me, and most other humans, they love to laze around in the sun. You’ll most likely find them with a sleepy expression on their face, dozing on a smooth rock in the Andes mountains or the Argentinian plains.
What Is A Chinchilla?
Similar to the viscacha, the chinchilla is also part of the rodent family and the chinchilla species. Like the viscacha, they also have those large ears, fluffy tails and long hind legs.
The chinchilla is a South American native and can grow up to fourteen inches and live for over fifteen years.
Known to be social animals (making them great for pets), you can find chinchillas living in herds of around one hundred in the wild. Now that’s a lot of chinchillas!
Differences Between Viscachas And Chinchillas
If you are trying to decide between these two animals and you want to know more about the differences between the viscacha and the chinchilla, here are the major characteristics that set them apart.
The first difference is the appearance of the two animals. Viscachas are much bigger than chinchillas and have those rabbit-like features. They are also longer-eared than chinchillas. Chinchilla ears appear rounder, while viscacha ears are much longer in length.
Another common difference in their appearance is their fur color. You’ll be able to spot a viscacha by its reddish-brown fur, while a chinchilla’s fur is usually a mixture of dark and light grey.
A viscacha’s fur is the perfect color for blending into those South American rocks on which they like to spend the majority of their time, the perfect camouflage for keeping away those pesky predators.
Height And Size
Continuing with the appearance, another major difference between a viscacha and a chinchilla is their height and size. Even though they come from the same chinchilla family, they still differ enormously in this category.
The viscacha is much larger than the chinchilla. The typical weight of a viscacha comes in at around three kilos, while a chinchilla is usually only two.
Their weight is another reason chinchillas are more commonly chosen as a pet. They are much lighter and easier to handle.
There is also a difference when it comes to their height, with the average viscacha being more than double the height of a chinchilla. The average height of a viscacha is 17.7 inches (45 cm), while the average chinchilla is just 7.7 inches (18 cm).
Chinchillas are commonly kept as pets, whereas viscachas are not. There are many reasons for this. The main one is that chinchillas are just more sociable animals.
Their friendlier nature makes them more suitable for children to handle, and their smaller size means they are easier to take care of and to keep in smaller homes.
Similarities Between Viscachas And Chinchillas
Since they are both members of the chinchilla species, it only makes sense that there would be a lot of similarities between these two animals.
Even though their height and weight are quite different, there are still plenty of similarities when it comes to the physique of viscachas and chinchillas. The viscacha is an animal that strongly resembles the chinchilla.
Both animals have strong hind legs and smaller legs on their front. This is another reason why viscachas are sometimes mistaken as being a part of the rabbit family.
Chinchillas can even jump a whopping six feet on their little hind legs. If you’re considering one as a pet then it’s best to move those expensive ornaments out of the way!
Both animals have very soft and silky fur. It’s even been described as being the softest fur in the world, and is thirty times softer than any human hair. No matter how much conditioner you use!
A chinchilla’s fur is even so soft and dense that it repels water. As a way of cleaning themselves, they instead have to take a dust bath, which serves to remove any excess oils and moisture that comes from their fur.
Viscachas and chinchillas have short fur, which comes in handy if you are looking to have one as a pet. The short fur means any shedding won’t be as bad as longer-haired pets.
Both of these animals are herbivores, which means they don’t eat meat. Chinchillas and viscachas live off a plant-based diet with their foods including different grasses, mosses and lichens.
With chinchillas and viscachas being a part of the rodent family, their teeth constantly keep growing. As a pet owner, you’re going to want to keep on top of this and the best way to do it is to give your chinchilla or viscacha twigs to gnaw on.
The hardness of the twig will work at keeping your animal’s teeth at a healthy size, while also doubling as a special treat for them.
Because the chinchilla is usually more domesticated than the viscacha, they can sometimes have a little more variety in their diet.
In addition to chinchilla hay and special chinchilla pellets, which are jam-packed with all the special nutrients that your chinchilla needs to make sure it stays healthy, you can also feed it the occasional treat..
Other treats your chinchilla will enjoy include foods such as dried nettle (just be careful with the nettle!), dried chamomile, dry rolled oats, or small pieces of wheat biscuit.
Advantages Of The Viscacha
I like viscachas because of their sleepy facial expressions. Google “viscacha” and what will you find?
Plenty of photos of their chilled out, half-asleep faces. Their relaxed facial features, along with their long rabbit-like ears make them a go to choice when it comes to cuteness.
A viscacha would also make more of a unique pet. Being less domesticated than the chinchilla, they aren’t as well known. A viscacha would be great if you’re after something a little different.
Advantages Of The Chinchilla
I like chinchillas because they are the smaller option out of the two. Being smaller, a chinchilla is easier to look after as a pet. They require less room in a home, need smaller cages, and won’t go through as much food, which would also make them more cost-effective.
Chinchillas are also more readily available than viscachas. You can’t buy viscachas from places like your local pet shop, or breeders online. A viscacha would require a little more research into where you can purchase one.
Another advantage of the chinchilla is that they’re more sociable animals. A chinchilla is more likely to be comfortable around younger children, or larger families.
Who Should Get A Viscacha?
Because the viscacha isn’t an animal usually kept as a pet, I think you should only consider purchasing one if you have plenty of experience with either viscachas or the general chinchilla species.
If you own a home with plenty of land, then a viscacha is going to be a good option. Viscachas like to roam on plains, jump around mountains, and burrow in the dirt. If you have land or a large garden, then they’ll be able to keep themselves thoroughly entertained throughout the day.
But the biggest reason to get a viscacha over a chinchilla is simply for the novelty. In all honesty, chinchillas are still pretty novel as pets, but if you want something almost no one else has, then a viscacha is better for you.
Who Should Get A Chinchilla?
A chinchilla is perfect for any first time pet owner. Chinchillas are smaller, easier to look after and there’s plenty of information on places like the web (e.g. this website) and animal charities in regard to how best to care for them.
Chinchillas are also a great choice for anyone who works during the day. They are most active early in the morning around dawn and in the evening around dusk. They sleep a lot during the day.
This means you won’t have to worry about what they’re getting up to, because they’ll mostly be sleeping. Then when you come home in the evening, they’ll be wide awake and ready for you to give them plenty of attention.
If you have kids, especially hands on kids that want to pet their new family member a lot, the chinchilla is also the better choice.
As a sociable animal, and being used to a large herd, the chinchilla will love all the attention from the kids and will be in a more excitable mood when it gets to come out to play.
But it does take a while for your chin to trust you, so give it time in the beginning. Don’t force it.
Chinchilla Vs Viscacha: Final Thoughts
The chinchilla and the viscacha have a lot of similarities, but they differ in some key aspects. The two most important are their size and their suitability as pets.
Chinchillas are smaller and they make the better pets by far. A big part of that is that they are simply more common as pets. I mean, have you ever heard of anyone keeping a viscacha as a pet?
If you’re looking for another small animal that could make a great pet, the hedgehog can be a good choice for many people. Read my chinchilla vs hedgehog comparison for more.