A small member of the rodent family, which contains golden agoutis, guinea pigs and many others, that originates high in the Andes mountains in Peru and other South American countries. They have very thick coats that protect from harsh weather, large, mouse-like ears, and a generally have a "cute and furry" look to them.
There are two or three types of chinchillas, the lesser known being the short-tailed variety, which isn't seen in domestication. It is believed that the chinchillas in domestication today are ones salvaged after the turn of the turn of the 20th century and brough to the US for domestication. These are the "King" type. They come in the typical silver/white/black coats, a brownish color, a darker gray/black, and also white.
Originally, they were hunted in made into coats, and this is probably still a practice today, although they are nearly extinct in the wild. As pets, they are usually kept in ferret-style cages, at least 3 stories. They love to climb and hop up and down, and it is recommended by pet specialists and hobbyists that you take them out once a day to let them have more space and socialize.
Chinchillas are damn cute. I do feel guilty for having one in a cage, but it is an unfortunate reality, human domestication of pets for our novelty pleasure, while they are probably just staring at us everyday and thinking, "bastards... but as long as he brings me those berries... mmm... yeah."
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