Chinchillas have a rounded body with mouse-like ears, long tails, short legs and small forepaws. Their thick coat of fur can be blue-gray, black, white, gray or beige and can have as many as 60 hairs per follicle. A chinchilla has big eyes that can be black, light red or dark red.
A chinchilla usually weighs between 1 to 2 pounds, and the females are larger than the males. Baby chinchillas weigh 2 to 2.5 ounces at birth. At full maturity, chinchillas can be 10 inches long and have a tail that is 6 inches long.
Chinchillas are named after the Chincha tribe who hunted them for their fur. Chinchillas are members of the rodent family and are related to rats, squirrels and guinea pigs. In nature, they are found in the high altitudes of the Andes Mountains in South America. Living in the Andes Mountains has made them adept to climbing, jumping and darting to hide. Chinchillas defend themselves by spraying urine and releasing their fur when attacked. They feed on nuts, seeds and fruit, and communicate with each other through a series of chirps, cackles and peeps. Cougars, owls and foxes are the chinchilla's main predators. They live a solitary lifestyle that averages between 10 to 18 years.