Viscacha ( Lagostomus maximus)

  • Actual chinchillas ( Chinchilla )
  • Rabbits mice ( Lagidium )
  • Viscachas ( Lagostomus )

The Chinchillas ( Chinchillidae ) are a family of rodents living in South America. This includes three genera. Besides the well known as a fur supplier and pet chinchillas authentics there are the rabbits and mice Viscachas with a total of seven species.


Chinchillas are medium-sized rodents that are characterized by a slender body with a dense, soft fur and a long, bushy tail. The coat is gray or gray-brown, the underside is lighter. Her head is large and has a broad muzzle, the eyes are large and elongated ears. The front legs are short, the forefeet have four toes. The hind legs are much longer and more muscular and end in three ( Viscacha ) or four ( rabbits and mice Actual chinchillas ) toes. These animals can reach a body length 23 to 65 centimeters and a tail length of 8 to 40 centimeters. Your weight is between 500 grams and 8 kilograms.

The dental formula is as in all guinea pig relatives I1 -C0 -P1- M3, for a total of 20 teeth. The cutting teeth are formed, as in all rodents incisors, but relatively small, the molars are also without roots.


Chinchillas are native to the western and southern South America, their range includes southern Peru, Bolivia, Argentina and Chile.

Way of life

Actual chinchillas and rabbits mice are residents of mountainous regions, while Viscachas have flat grassland habitat. All species are more active at night, serve them as a shelter caves, rock crevices, or in the case of Viscachas self-dug burrows. All species live together in groups ranging in size from a few animals can vary up to several hundred. All species are herbivores. The chinchilla can spray urine in dangerous situations and also lose its fur, the enemy remains then only a tuft of hair.

Chinchillas and humans

Actual Chinchillas are widely used as a pet and as a supplier of chinchilla fur and are also kept on farms. In the wild, the population of the species have been decimated by habitat destruction and hunting. The short-tailed chinchilla is considered to be threatened with extinction.


Outer systematics

The chinchillas are counted within the rodents to the guinea pig relatives. Due to external similarities, it was formerly held the chinchilla rats ( Abrocomidae ) for close relatives of the chinchillas, but recent studies contradict this. Similarities in the tooth pattern and molecular genetic studies suggest, to consider the Pakaranas ( Dinomyidae ) as next of kin of the chinchillas.

Inside systematics

The chinchillas are divided into three genera with seven species:

  • Actual chinchillas ( Chinchilla ) with two species,
  • Rabbits or mice mountain Viscachas ( Lagidum ) with four species,
  • Viscacha ( Lagostomus maximus).

Actual chinchillas and rabbits mice are more closely related to each other and are sometimes united in the subfamily Chinchillinae, the opposite is the Viscacha ( Lagostominae ).