MSD Manual

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Pet Owner Version

Description and Physical Characteristics of Chinchillas


Thomas M. Donnelly

, BVSc, DVP, DACLAM, DABVP(ECM), The Kenneth S Warren Institute;

Katherine E. Quesenberry

, DVM, MPH, DABVP (Avian)

Reviewed/Revised Jul 2011 | Modified Oct 2022
Topic Resources

Chinchillas have a very thick coat of fur (as many as 60 hairs per follicle) that was originally a blue-gray in color; however, today chinchillas have been bred with coats that are black, gray, white, beige, and combinations of each. Their thick fur not only keeps them warm, it also protects them from fleas, lice, and predators. Chinchillas have a rounded body, large mouse-like ears, short legs, and a long tail. A healthy baby weighs 2 to 2.5 ounces (60 to 70 grams) at birth. A mature chinchilla’s weight ranges from 1 to 1.5 pounds (450 to 680 grams). Females are usually larger than males. They can grow to be 10 inches (25 centimeters) long, with a tail that can add another 6 inches (15 centimeters) when they fully mature. They have an average lifespan of 10 to 15 years, although some have lived as long as 20 years in captivity.


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