Sunday, January 26, 2014
Creature Feature #100: Chinchilla
The Chinchilla may have found international popularity as a pet, but in her native home, the Andes, she perches on the edge of extinction. This charming rodent lives in a social group, known as a herd, and can breed at any time of the year. The gestation period is 111 days, longer than most rodents, and the babies are born fully furred. She is most active at dawn and dusk, coming out of her daytime burrow to dine on plants, roots, seeds and insects. Here she is under threat from snakes, owls, foxes and other carnivores, but the biggest threat has been human kind. Chinchilla have a plush pelt - ideal for their alpine habitat - that has proved popular in the fur industry. It takes 150 chinchilla to make one fur coat. They are still farmed, and illegally hunted, for this purpose today.