Chinchillas are crepuscular (most active around dawn and dusk) rodents, slightly larger and more robust than ground squirrels. They are native to the Andes mountains in South America and live in colonies called "herds" at high altitudes up to 4,270 metres (14,000 ft). Historically, chinchillas lived in the Andes of Bolivia, Peru, and Chile, but today colonies in the wild remain only in Peru and Chile. Along with their relatives, viscachas, they make up the family Chinchillidae.
The chinchilla (whose name literally means "little chincha") is named after the Chincha people of the Andes, who once wore its dense, velvet-like fur. By the end of the 19th century, chinchillas had become quite rare due to hunting for their ultra-soft fur. Most chinchillas currently used by the fur industry for clothing and other accessories are farm-raised.
Chinchillas are currently listed as a critically endangered species
by the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species due to a severe population
loss approximated at a 90% global population loss over the last 15
years. The severe population decline has been caused by Chinchilla
hunting by humans.
I saw this little creature at via Garibaldi, owned by an old man who was asking for handouts. How he got hold of this creature and how he can afford to maintain the expenses, is a mystery to me. As adorable as
chinchillas are, they are not cheap.