Considering all of the unique critters on the planet, which ones are the warmest, cutest, furriest, cuddliest, most entertaining and affectionate pets of all? Well, I suppose if you ask ten different pet owners, you’ll likely get ten different answers. For me, it’s hard to beat the incredible little critter from high up in the Andes Mountains of South America, the chinchilla. And, that’s especially true of the adorable chinchilla baby. Chinchillas as pets were imported, or more likely smuggled into North America nearly a century ago, these adorable dynamos have evolved into one of the world’s most cherished pets.
The name chinchilla means “little chincha”, a name associated with the Chincha people of Peru, a group who relied heavily upon the once abundant rodent populations for both food and fur. Unfortunately, the arrival of Spanish conquistadors in the 16th century ushered in the eventual demise of the larger king chinchilla and the subsequent endangerment of the remainder of the entire wild species, as the chinchilla fur trade offered an irresistible opportunity for wealth.
Thankfully, that group of a dozen or so chinnies, who were discreetly transported to California at the turn of the century, are given credit, by some experts, as having propagated the entire population of North American chinchillas. Sadly, the numbers left behind in South America have struggled for survival and while they may be protected as an endangered species, the populations appear to lack the necessary growth to offer any substantial hope for the immediate future.
The coolest thing about the species, which happens to be the softest and thickest fur of any animal on the planet, is also the one thing that’s contributed to its near extinction. The demands of the fur market, for this high priced pelt, inspired an inexhaustible army of …Read more