10 Types of Chinchillas – Species and Color Varieties

Prevalently known for their playful and active nature, Chinchillas are fascinating rodent pets initially from South America. Naturally, it is common for Chinchilla pets to display extreme aggressiveness to owners and cage mates. However, if introduced to gentle handling in the early stages, they become relatively tamed and relate better with others.

Currently, they are two common Chinchilla breeds; short-tailed and long-tailed. Before making your final choice on a Chinchilla pet, it is essential to learn about their various color disparities. Keep reading as we define some of the most common Chinchilla breeds in the market.

Short-Tailed Chinchilla

Short-tailed breeds are also referred to as Bolivian or Peruvian Chinchilla. Although there are few short hair species remaining, you can still find some in Chile, Peru, Bolivia, and Argentina.

Unfortunately, the main reason behind near extinction is the commercialization of Chinchilla’s beautiful fur. Despite hunting Chinchilla becoming illegal in the 1920s; it has taken centuries for the battle to bear meaningful results.

Overly, short hair Chinchillas weigh 38-50 ounces and measure 28-49 cm long. Likewise, they have long back legs and short frontal ones, which aid in climbing or jumping. Not to forget that they also have short tails and thick neck areas.

In the wild, Chinchillas love burrowing, especially during cold climates. They are very communal and live in colonies and herds. Mainly, they survive on green vegetation and give birth to one or two younglings.

Long-Tailed Chinchilla

Long-tailed Chinchilla thrives around Andes Mountains in Northern Chile. Compared to other breeds, they have soft fur in pearl gray, bluish and brownish color. The dense coat has black tips, which make it amazingly striking and warm in cold weather.

Moreover, long-tailed Chinchillas have broad heads, vestigial pouches around the cheeks, and large ears. Although they are thickly covered in fur, their footpads remain bare and fleshy.

Additionally, they have more muscular hind limbs in contrast with the front legs. On average, they grow up to around 14 inches and weigh about 36-40 inches. They also follow a strictly herbivorous diet on leaves, seeds, lichen, roots.

Sometimes, pet owners can offer eggs and insects as snacks. Every year, female Chinchillas give birth to two litters, each containing 2-3 babies. In captivity, a healthy long-tailed Chinchilla can enjoy a long life of about 15 to 20 years.

Color Variations on Chinchillas

Thanks to selective breeding, Chinchilla’s colors have remarkably changed from yellow grayish to diverse variations. Here are standard Chinchilla colors you can find with your local breeder.

– White Chinchilla

White Chinchillas are a common mutation easily found in the local breeders. You can also find other white variations like white tan, white mosaic TOV mosaic, white ebony, and white violet. Although they are pretty adorable, experts discourage inbreeding with a similar color to avoid inferior mutations.

All in all, pure white Chinchillas fur coats have exceptional patterns covered in silvery hue, which mainly darkens around the ears.

– Black Chinchilla

Black Chinchillas are also referred to as black velvet because of their shiny dark fur. Mostly, they have darker veiling compared to their sides and black stripes around the paws. Likewise, they have crisp white bellies, which make them highly stunning. When interbred with other colored Chinchillas, the union creates an offspring known as TOV violet.

– Sapphire Chinchilla

Indisputably, sapphire Chinchillas are exceptionally fine-looking and adorable in their gray silver color. This is one of the much-sought Chinchillas because of their appeal.

As a by-product of gray species and other genes, the diluted gene becomes less apparent. In the end, this resulted in a grayish-blue color on Chinchillas’ coats. In reality, to be considered a pure sapphire Chinchilla, each parent must have the recessive gene.

– Agouti Chinchilla

Agouti coloration is the natural coat that Chinchilla has without mutation. Basically, this means that there is no recessive or dominant gene mutation on the animal. Mostly, agouti Chinchilla has bluish-gray color around the back, shoulders, and neck. Sometimes, these areas also appear black or grayish. These color variations are usually classified in dark, medium, extra dark and light grey.

Unfortunately, breeding grey animals are more likely to cause several flaws compared to other colors. One effective solution is to interbreed animals with dense fur and enhanced color quality.

Reliable breeds you can cross with include white, grey, beige, black pearl, violet, sapphire, ebony, and many others. That said, it is prudent to breed back to agouti after a couple of generations to maintain impressive natural fur density.

– Beige Wellman Chinchilla

After several mutations, Beige Wellman Chinchilla is one of the potentially extinct breeds. Remarkably this breed has brighter coloration compared to the dominant beige Chinchillas. Nonetheless, the yellow-orange color is not as bright as homozygous beige animals.

Regrettably, it is almost impossible to find recessive beiges with breeders. Altogether, we cannot rule out the presence of recessive beige across the world. Probably, with enhanced technology, experts may manage to pinpoint this beautiful mutation soon.

– Purple/ Violet Chinchilla

Sometimes, these Chinchillas are categorized as Sullivan violet, lilac, afro-violet, or lavender. Primarily, violet coloration ranges from purple to gray. Other than that, some animals have a solid velvet color or patterned violet and white belly.  Note that the color is greatly influenced by lighting, where one can quickly figure out if the animal has a lilac hue.

Essentially, violet chinchillas have gray ears, black noses, and dark eyes.  Interestingly, purple variations are also noticeable in sapphire, beige, white, standard, and ebony breeds. Like sapphire Chinchillas, breeding experts often merge parents with purple color genes to produce pure violet offspring.

– Pink White Chinchilla

Pink white is a mutation between tower beige and Wilson white genes. Due to the mutation process, they may portray several pattern variations. This condition is known as mosaicism, where specific cells carry genes from either side resulting in pure white or another base color mutation. Often, most people mistake pink white with albinos.

Nonetheless, albinos are considered unhealthy, and experts rarely use them for breeding purposes. Overall, pink whites have a snow-white coat, red eyes, and pink ears. Similar to other white animals, if not bred well, they may develop swirly or kinky fur. Other defects include creaminess or yellowing on the soft hair.

– Blue Diamond Chinchilla

A blue diamond mutation is a combination of black velvet, Sullivan violet, and Larsen sapphire. Most of them have periwinkle color around the face, shoulders, neck, head, and backside. However, with time, the concentrated blue color may fade and display a blue diamond hue. Also, they have grey pinkish ears, a white belly, and black eyes.

Common flaws with blue diamond Chinchillas are low fur density and conformation deficiencies. Avoid this by ensuring that breeding happens on healthy and densely furred animals only.

Luckily, blue diamonds are some of the mutations that can successfully blend with others well. Possible mutations that can bear healthy offsprings include white, violet, ebony, beige, sapphire, black pearl, angora, and many others.

– Chocolate Chincilla

Which Type of Chinchilla Should You Get?

Before investing in a Chinchilla, it is essential to note that this active animal may never exhibit emotions like cats or dogs. Nevertheless, you can manage to enjoy a rewarding experience with your little friend with patience and positivity.

Importantly, avoid buying Chinchillas from pet stores as it is more likely to get unhealthy animals there. Instead, contact a reliable breeder who will guide you on proper care tips. Above all, check on vital health signs like clean ears, alertness, glossy skin, etc.

Final Words

There is always a major cause of concern on whether various colored Chinchillas breeds differ in behavior, eating habits, and breeding. In a nutshell, coat color is only aesthetic and does not trigger specific behavioral characteristics. All said, ensure that you give your Chinchilla pets an enhanced quality of life through proper feeding, care, and breeding.

avatar Jane
Jane is an experienced animal care specialist with a focus on rodents and small mammals, with over 10 years of experience in the pet industry. Her articles provide practical guidance on choosing the right pet and managing common health issues. Jane is an advocate for animal welfare and supports organizations dedicated to protecting wildlife. read more...

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