Merck Manual

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Introduction to Chinchillas


Thomas M. Donnelly

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

Katherine E. Quesenberry

, DVM, MPH, DABVP (Avian)

Last full review/revision Jul 2011 | Content last modified Nov 2016

Chinchillas are members of the rodent family. Their scientific name is Chinchilla lanigera. They originated in the Andes mountains of South America. During the eighteenth century, chinchillas were hunted for their fur and faced extinction until laws banned hunting them. Today there are about 3,000 ranches throughout the United States and Canada that breed chinchillas, and chinchillas are increasingly popular as pets.

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