When I tell people I have two chinchillas, a lot of the time they don't know what I'm talking about. Sometimes they go "eww" because all they know about chinchillas is that they are rodents. The most appropriate response I get when I mention this tidbit about myself is "DAWWW" because, I kid you not, these little creatures have to be the most adorable things in the world. Look.
Don't tell me I didn't warn you. I hope that you didn't suffer any cuteness related injuries.
The chinchilla on the top is Chibi, and the chin on the bottom is Pikachu. If you think they are cute now you should see them when they snuggle together, which they do constantly.
Chinchillas make for excellent pets. They grow affectionate of you, so whenever I walk into the room that I keep them in they will run up to the side of their cage to greet me. They are pretty quiet, so even though they are nocturnal they don't keep me awake. They are so fun to play with; they hop all over you like you are the perfect chinchilla jungle gym. They don't bite. They don't smell. They are just fantastic. Of course, every pet has its downside. Chinchillas are rodents, so they have a natural tendancy to chew on just about everything (but they won't bite you!).Chinchillas don't have external anal sphincters, so when they need to poop they just poop. Everywhere. If a chinchilla got lost, it could follow its poop trail back to wherever it came from with no issue. The poops are hard and don't smell though, so cleaning up after them isn't so bad. Alright that's enough poop talk.
The other thing about chinchillas that may be a deal breaker for anyone interested is that they frighten extremely easily. Chinchillas are natural prey animals, so they instinctively fear everything that moves quickly or makes loud noises. This makes it hard to handle chinchillas, because they think that the giant hand that is coming to pick them up is an eagle about swoop down and eat a chinchilla snack. However, if you make slow, deliberate movements around chinchillas they will feel more at ease and allow you to pet them. That brings me to the best part about chinchillas: their fur. Chinchillas are literally the softest thing I've ever felt, and you would be hard-pressed to convince me that chinchilla fur is not the softest substance known to man. Chinchillas have the highest density fur of any living animal, with each hair follicle containing around 70 hairs. Humans, on the other hand, only have one hair per follicle. Chinchilla fur is so dense that when they get wet all the water stays trapped in it, so like gremlins, chinchillas can't get wet. Instead of bathing in water, chinchillas bathe in volcanic dust (pumice dust) to clean out their fur. One major bonus about their fur (other than it being the softest fur in the world) is that it doesn't contain dander; in other words chinchillas are hypoallergenic.
Poaching chinchillas for their fur has dwindled the wild chinchilla population down to dangerously low numbers. Currently, wild chinchillas are critically endangered species in their native Peru. This may be surprising to hear since chinchillas are pretty common pets, but interestingly enough almost all of the chinchillas in North America are related! A man named M.F. Chapman took an expedition to the Andes Mountains in 1918 to captivate some wild chinchillas. Over three years he managed to trap 11 chinchillas, 3 of which were female, and he brought those chinchillas back to his native California. Apparently all of the chinchillas in North America are descended from these 11 chinchillas!
Alright, this long is getting pretty long-winded and I could talk about chinchillas forever, so I'll leave you with one final cute chinchilla picture.