Fun Short-tailed Chinchilla Facts For Kids

Moumita Dutta
Oct 20, 2022 By Moumita Dutta
Originally Published on Aug 06, 2021
Fact-checked by Katherine Cook
Short-tailed chinchilla facts are very interesting.

There is a rodent species residing in the crevices of rocks and burrows in South America's Andes Mountains, particularly in the range of south Peru, Bolivia, Chile, and the northwest part of Argentina. The name of this timid and shy creature is the short-tailed chinchilla (order Rodentia, family Chinchillidae).

These extraordinarily intelligent and nocturnal rodents are often spotted to take a sunbath during the dawn and dusk of a sunny day!

Apart from the short-tailed chinchilla, there is another type of chinchilla species known as long-tailed chinchillas. Short-tailed chinchillas have a tail of length 4 in (100 mm) while long-tailed chinchillas have a tail of length 5 in (130 mm).

Short-tailed chinchillas are social creatures who live in colonies that may range from a few to 100 in size. They eat herbs and grass in their range, although they may also eat insects on occasion.

According to the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) Red List, this rodent species is unfortunately Endangered due to their declining population. They have been killed for their beautiful and silky chinchilla fur which is highly valued in the global fur market.

Continue reading for more intriguing facts about this fascinating species. If you like this article, do check our other articles on lesser Egyptian jerboa and harvest mouse.

Short-Tailed Chinchilla Interesting Facts

What type of animal is a short-tailed chinchilla?

The short-tailed chinchilla is a type of small rodent that is a member of the Chinchillidae family.

What class of animal does a short-tailed chinchilla belong to?

This species of chinchilla is a member of the Mammalia class. They are also known as Peruvian chinchillas, Bolivian chinchillas, or royal chinchillas.

How many short-tailed chinchillas are there in the world?

There is no information about the population of short-tailed chinchillas present in the world. There are two types of chinchilla species.

They are the long-tailed chinchilla (Chinchilla lanigera) and the short-tailed chinchilla (Chinchilla chinchilla). These two species were commercialized but the short-tailed chinchilla was more demand due to its higher quality fur and larger size.

They have also been exported for the pet trade and the burning and harvesting of algarrobilla shrubs pose a threat to their habitat. As a result, they are currently endangered and on the verge of extinction.

Where does a short-tailed chinchilla live?

The geographical range of this endangered species is restricted to the arid areas of the Andes Mountains of South America, particularly in the south of Peru, northern Chile, Bolivia, and the northwest part of Argentina, at an elevation of 9800-16400 ft (3000-5000 m) above sea level.

Their population has been recovering, and they have been seen in two new areas in the Atacama desert in northern Chile.

What is a short-tailed chinchilla's habitat?

The habitat of this endangered species is in the dense grasslands and mountain shrubs at an elevation of 9800-16400 ft (3000-5000 m) above sea level. This wild species takes shelter in the holes and crevices of rocks during the day.

Who do short-tailed chinchillas live with?

These wild chinchillas are highly social creatures who live in colonies ranging in size from a few to 100.

How long does a short-tailed chinchilla live?

Wild chinchillas live approximately for eight to 10 years. However, domestic chinchillas who live in captivity have a longer lifespan of 15-20 years.

How do they reproduce?

This monogamous species is observed to mate twice a year. Once every four weeks, females go through their estrus cycle, during which their usually closed reproductive organ opens. After copulation, the gestation period of these animals lasts for 128 days after which the females give birth to one to two young ones.

They are weened for up to 42-56 days. Male chinchillas also look after them when the females are out to bring food. The young ones are sexually mature somewhere between five and a half to eight months.

What is their conservation status?

These wild rodents are classified as Endangered throughout their range by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) Red List. This is because this species has been hunted for their exquisite, soft fur and skin.

Despite the fact that they are lawfully protected, these endangered rodents are still illegally exported to be bred in captivity for their dense fur, which is highly valued in the global fur market. If appropriate steps are not taken, the population of this species may continue to decline, eventually leading to their extinction.

There is an organization in the United States known as Save the Wild Chinchillas which helps to raise awareness of the two chinchilla species, promote research, and protect their wild population.

Short-Tailed Chinchilla Fun Facts

What do short-tailed chinchillas look like?

Short-tailed chinchillas have a bluish-gray or pearl-colored coat with yellow or off-white underparts which is extremely dense and smooth, due to 60 black hairs sprouting from each follicle. The dense fur helps them to remain comfortable in the cold climate of their habitat.

They have a shorter tail but are larger in size in comparison to their relative species, the long-tailed chinchilla (C. lanigera).

These rodents have well-adjusted large feet with weak claws and large pads to walk comfortably over the rocks without slipping. These nocturnal animals have large eyes with vertically slit pupils which help them to have a better vision at night.

This species has a bluish-gray or pearl-colored coat.

* Please note that this is an image of a long-tailed chinchilla. If you have an image of a short-tailed chinchilla, please let us know at

How cute are they?

These rodents are extremely adorable with their soft fur and cute button eyes. It is such a wonderful sight to watch them enjoy a sunbath at dusk or dawn on a sunny day.

How do they communicate?

If these animals face any danger, they make an aggressive warning sound by rattling their teeth which resembles a whistle from a distance, thus alerting other members of the group. They may also urinate while making this growling warning call.

During mating, they hiss and spit and emit a soft 'cooing' sound. These nocturnal creatures have highly developed vibrissae on both the ends of their upper lips which helps in their tactile sense.

How big is a short-tailed chinchilla?

These animals range in size from 11-19 in (28-49 cm), more than twice the size of an adult house mouse.

How fast can a short-tailed chinchilla run?

There is not much information about the speed of the short-tailed chinchilla. However, on average, species of this family are lightning-fast and travel at a speed of 15 mph (24 kph).

How much does a short-tailed chinchilla weigh?

This species of chinchilla weigh around 2-3 lb (1.1-1.4 kg).

What are the male and female names of the species?

A male chinchilla is called a boar or a bull while a female chinchilla is called a velvet.

What would you call a baby short-tailed chinchilla?

The baby of a short-tailed chinchilla is known as a kit.

What do they eat?

This omnivore species feeds on herbs and grass in their range but occasionally may prey on insects. They eat with their front legs while sitting on their powerful rear legs. When there is plenty of food, these animals are known to overeat.

Are they dangerous?

This rodent species is not dangerous to humans at all. In fact, if the creature does not feel threatened, it will not hurt you, and if properly tamed, it is known to be quite fond of its owner.

Would they make a good pet?

These are wild and endangered species and therefore it is illegal to domesticate them. However, they are unlawfully bred in captivity for the soft chinchilla fur industry which is in high demand. They are also kept as pets as they are easy to maintain once you train them efficiently.

Did you know...

In arid regions, these chinchillas drink morning dew as well as the fruit and flesh of cacti to quench their thirst.

They have the ability to leave a clump of body hair in the mouth of their predator and flee. This is an interesting method of self-defense which is also known as 'fur slip'.

No parasite can survive for long on the bodies of these rodents because their fur is so dense. They frequently suffocate and die if they attempt to enter their dense coat.

How high can short-tailed chinchillas jump?

This species has short front legs and powerful long hind legs which help them to jump up to 5-6 ft (1.5-1.8 m) in the air.

What is a short-tailed chinchilla's sleep pattern and shelter?

This species takes shelter in the burrows under the ground or crevices of rocks in the range of the Andes Mountains, particularly in the south of Peru, Bolivia, and Chile. They have thick fur which helps them to be comfortable in a cold habitat.

Here at Kidadl, we have carefully created lots of interesting family-friendly animal facts for everyone to discover! For more relatable content, check out these harvest mouse facts and gopher facts for kids.

You can even occupy yourself at home by coloring in one of our free printable short-tailed chinchilla coloring pages.

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Written by Moumita Dutta

Bachelor of Arts specializing in Journalism and Mass Communication, Postgraduate Diploma in Sports Management

Moumita Dutta picture

Moumita DuttaBachelor of Arts specializing in Journalism and Mass Communication, Postgraduate Diploma in Sports Management

A content writer and editor with a passion for sports, Moumita has honed her skills in producing compelling match reports and stories about sporting heroes. She holds a degree in Journalism and Mass Communication from the Indian Institute of Social Welfare and Business Management, Calcutta University, alongside a postgraduate diploma in Sports Management.

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Fact-checked by Katherine Cook

Bachelor of Arts specializing in Geography

Katherine Cook picture

Katherine CookBachelor of Arts specializing in Geography

A geography graduate from the University of Exeter, with a passion for exploring the world around her. Katherine spent her third year studying at the University of Wollongong in Australia, where she immersed herself in the local culture and adventure activities.

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