History and origin
The Chinchilla rabbits originated in France where M. J. Dybowski bred them to standard using the Beverens, Agoutis, and Himalayans. These rabbits were first shown in Paris, France in 1913, went to the UK in 1914, and they later found their way to the United States of America in 1919.
Their popularity was owed to their pelts that matured faster than other rabbits making it sought for by many and had great commercial success.
There are three ARBA recognized Chinchilla rabbits, the Standard, American and Giant Chinchillas. They got their name due to the resemblance of their pelt to that of South America’s Chinchillas. However, Chinchillas are rodent species while rabbits are lagomorphs and cannot interbreed.
Chinchilla rabbit color
Only one color is accepted, the agouti color where the rabbit displays different colors along the length of their fur. Pets4Homes notes that their “under color, which is nearest the skin, is a deep slate blue, the middle color is a pearl white, and the tips are grey.” Also, the coat will appear ticked since there are black guard hairs scattered throughout its coat.
Their chinchilla color is because of a genetic mutation of the yellow pigment in the hairs of wild agouti rabbits. Let us look at each of these three ARBA recognized breeds.
Weighing between 5.5 and 13 lbs., these medium to large size rabbits are the original version which breeders used to develop the other two larger versions. They have a compact body type with their coat covered by a rollback fur that is dense and silky.
Their ears are relatively short and in an upright position (erect).
The American Chinchilla
Initially, American chinchillas were known as Heavyweight Chinchilla, they are larger than the standard ones, have the same rollback fur but a commercial body type making them ideal for meat as well as fur. They can also be used for showing (show animals) or reared as a “stocky, hard pets.”
To get their large body size, two large Standard Chinchilla are bred getting a breed that provides more meat.
A buck or male one weighs about 9-11 lbs while the female or doe is slightly larger, weighing 10-12 pounds. According to Wikipedia, their top line has a “slight curve to their medium length bodies, beginning at the nape of their necks and following through to the rump,” with upright erect ears.
If you are breeding them for the show, their pelt is the essential Standard of Perfection attribute, and they are shown in six classes, i.e., the buck and doe juniors, intermediates and seniors.
When overweight, intermediate and junior American Chinchillas may be shown in classes that do not belong to them. Those under six months, with their weight below 9 pounds are considered juniors, and those in the intermediates class are aged 6-8 months.
The Livestock Conservancy has listed these rabbits as critically endangered. However, they are excellent breeders with their average litter having 6-9 kits, and they require minimal grooming.
As the name suggests, giant chinchillas are giant-sized rabbits developed by crossing Chinchilla and Flemish Giant rabbits. Their country of origin is the US, and they are bred mainly for meat.
Chinchilla rabbit care
Like any other bunnies, they require the right rabbit foods comprised of high-quality hay such as Kaytee Timothy Hay and pellets as well as leafy greens that are rabbit friends and occasional treats of fruits and vegetables. Also, provide enough clean water.
You can opt to have them as indoor rabbits or outdoor. Both their indoor enclosures and outdoor must have a sleeping area, be the correct cage size to allow the rabbits to stand upright, hop and stretch. The exact size will depend on which specific Chinchilla you go for since they vary in size.
Any droppings should be removed daily while the cage must be cleaned thoroughly once a week. Remove their bedding during the thorough cleanup.
If you opt for outdoor cages, they must be raised and secure from predators, and protect your bunnies from extreme weather conditions and direct sunlight. Placing it under a shade where there is free air circulation will be ideal.
Grooming will involve brushing their fur once a week or as it may be required, cutting their nails, and spot cleaning them if they are dirty. Do not bathe your bunnies.
Finally, ensure you have a safe place in your backyard where you can take them out to play. Do not just put them in their cages, give them food and forget them. They are social animals and would like to spend time with you.
If they are allowed to move freely indoors, ensure you rabbit-proof your house to avoid them chewing cables, wooden furniture, wires, clothes, shoes, etc., and have a place to escape to whenever they need to be alone such as a dog crate.
Besides the standard vaccinations available in some countries, there are no illnesses that specifically affect Chinchilla rabbits. However, check for overgrown teeth, hairballs, mites, ticks or fleas which may arise due to inadequate care and husbandry.
Also, flystrike may arise if their cages are not well cleaned and they often get soiled especially on their bottoms and underside areas. Finally, inform your veterinarian of any ill health symptoms.
Temperament and behavior
The Chinchillas are calm and docile. They are curious, energetic and love attention. If introduced slowly, they can get along with other pets including your dogs and cats.
Also, these bunnies can enjoy the company of children if they are introduced to them while they are still young. However, owing to their larger size, children must be taught how to handle them to avoid them being skittish.
Finally, they are playful and would enjoy playing with cat toys especially the noisy ones, gnaw toys as well as jumping over small barriers.
Chinchilla rabbits for sale
The average prices of the Chinchilla rabbits will range from $40 to 100+, with the pedigreed and show quality costing more.
If you want to buy them, search for any ARBA recognized Chinchilla rabbit breeders, in rabbitries, or rescue centers. You may have to travel a few miles to get them. They are not readily available everywhere. However, you can quickly locate them by searching online for any sellers near you.