Longtailed chinchilla

Chinchilla lanigera

TAXONOMY

Chinchilla lanigera (Molina, 1782), Coquimbo, Coquimbo Province, Chile.

OTHER COMMON NAMES French: Chinchilla laniger.

PHYSICAL CHARACTERISTICS

Average total length of 14.4 in (365 mm), tail length 5.6 in (141 mm), and weight 0.9 lb (0.4 kg). Appearance is rabbit-like with larger ears than C. brevicaudata and a longer brushy tail. Dorsal fur is gray and black. Tympanic bullae are inflated.

DISTRIBUTION

Mountainous regions of Chile.

HABITAT

Arid to semi-arid, montane regions between 9,840-16,400 ft (3,000-5,000 m). Prefers rocky habitats with sparse vegetation.

BEHAVIOR

Either nocturnal or crepuscular, excellent leapers, and colonial. Colony size can be several hundred individuals organized into smaller subgroups. Highly vocal with females apparently dominant sex displaying higher levels of aggression.

FEEDING ECOLOGY AND DIET

Female chinchillas are mostly monogamous. Predominantly herbivorous feeding on grasses and seeds, yet will eat insects. Eats while sitting on hind legs and holding food with front paws.

REPRODUCTIVE BIOLOGY

Produces two litters per year, and females experience postpar-tum estrus. Gestation averages 111 days, and litter size is two on average.

CONSERVATION STATUS

Listed as Vulnerable with a high risk of extinction by IUCN. Chilean government lists both species as Endangered. According to a 1996 account, C. lanigera is almost extinct in the wild, with the last official citing in 1953. Commercial hunting resulted in the decimation of populations, with almost seven million pelts exported from Chile prior to protection.

SIGNIFICANCE TO HUMANS

Prized for pelts. Captive stocks are maintained for the fur industry, and these stocks are the result of cross breeding. ♦

Common name /

Scientific name/

Physical

Habitat and

Conservation

Other common names

characteristics

behavior

Distribution

Diet

status

Short-tailed chinchilla

Upper coat bluish, pearl, or gray with

Mountain shrub and

Andes of southern

Primarily herbivorous,

Critically

Chinchilla brevicaudata

black-tipped hairs, underside yellowish

grassland at elevations of

Bolivia, southern Peru,

but occasionally eat

Endangered

French: Chinchilla á queue

white. Soft, dense fur. Head and body

9,800-4,775 ft (3,000-

northwestern Argentina,

insects.

courte; Spanish: Chinchilla de

length 12-13 in (30-33 cm) , tail length

4,500 m). Nocturnal and

and northern Chile.

cola corta

5-6 in (12-15 cm), weight 17.6-28.2 oz

vocal animals. Live in

(500-800 g).

colonies from a few

individuals to over 100.

Southern viscacha

Upperparts gray to brown; underparts

Dry, rocky, mountainous

Western Argentina,

Herbivorous, primarily

Data Deficient

Lagidium viscacia

white, yellow, or pale gray; black tail tip.

areas with sparse vegetation.

southern and western

eating grass, mosses,

English: Mountain viscacha;

Soft, dense fur; coarse hair on tail. Long

Diurnal; most active at dusk

Bolivia, northern Chile,

and lichens.

Spanish: Viscacha montesa de

ears. Head and body length 12-18 in

and dawn.

and southern Peru.

Cuvier

(30-45 cm), tail length 7.8-15.7 in

(20-40 cm), weight up to 6.6 lb (3 kg).

Wolffsohn's viscacha

Upperparts gray to brown; underparts

Dry, rocky, mountainous

Southwestern

Herbivorous.

Lower Risk/Near

Lagidium wolffsohni

white, yellow, or pale gray; black to

areas with sparse vegetation.

Argentina and southern

Threatened

Spanish: Viscacha montesa del

reddish brown tail tip. Soft, dense fur;

Diurnal.

Chile.

sur

coarse hair on tail. Long ears. Head and

body length 12-8 in (30-45 cm), tail

length 7.8-15.7 in (20-40 cm), weight

up to 6.6 lb (3 kg).

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