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Long-tailed Chinchilla

The long-tailed chinchilla (Chinchilla lanigera), also called the Chilean, coastal, or lesser chinchilla, is one of two species of rodents from the genus Chinchilla, the other species being Chinchilla brevicaudata. Wild populations of C. lanigera occur in Auco, near Illapel, IV Region, Chile , in Reserva Nacional Las Chinchillas and in La Higuera, ca. north of Coquimbo

Chilean chinchillas were reported from Talca (3530S), Chile, reaching north to Peru and eastward from Chilean coastal hills throughout low mountains. By the mid-19th century, Chilean chinchillas were not found south of the Choapa river.

No fossils are known.


Chinchilla lanigera is smaller than Chinchilla brevicaudata, wild animals have body length up to . It has more rounded ears in length and longer tail its tail is usually about a third the size of its body (up to compared to in Chinchilla brevicaudata). Number of caudal vertebrae is 23 in Chinchilla lanigera (20 in Chinchilla brevicaudata). Average males weight and females weigh . PDF Domestic animals are larger than wild ones and more sexually dimorphic with the female weighing up to and males up to .

The word lanigera translates into "bearing a woolen coat", yet chinchillas do not have a woolen coat, but instead one consisting of hair. Hair is long, with gray, white, and black bands; it is silky, extremely soft, and firmly adhered to skin. Up to 75 wool hairs, in diameter, emerge together from a single skin pore. Vibrissae are abundant, strong, long , and emerge from single follicles. General color of upper parts is bluish or silvery gray, underparts are yellowish white. Tail has long, coarse, gray and black hairs on its dorsal surface that are long near the body, long near the tip, and form a bristly tuft that exceeds vertebrae by

In the wild they breed between October and December, which are the summer months in the southern hemisphere.


Three different types of C. lanigera are commonly recognized

The La Plata Type has better developed musculature and heavier bone structure than the other two types. They look more roundish or compact, with short, wide head, large distance from one ear to another, a relatively straight dorsal line. The shoulders are often as wide as the chest and rump. The ears are short and nearly round.

The Costina Type is weaker in musculature and bone structure with the most distinctive feature being the longer hind legs. The fore legs are shorter, placed closer together, and the shoulders are narrower. The vertebral column is more arched, the neck line sometimes very deep, forming a slight hump on the back of the animal. When viewed directly from the front, the head has a V-shape, the nose is pointed, and the distance between the ears is rather wide. The ears are long and positioned at an angle of about 45 degrees.

The Raton Type is reminiscent to the La Plata type in its body structure. The nose is pointed as in Costina and the ears are positioned very close together and rather horizontal. Animals are distinctively smaller.


Climate in the chinchilla's habitat is rather harsh with summer temperatures climbing during the day to up to 30 C in a shade and dropping to 7 C at night (or below freezing point in winter).

Pelt industry

See Fur industry

Conservation status

The Chilean chinchilla is endangered, with the second highest conservation priority among Chilean mammals.

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This article is licensed under the GNU Free Documentation License. It uses material from the Wikipedia article Long-tailed Chinchilla

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