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Definition: chinchilla from Philip's Encyclopedia

Genus of small, furry rodents native to South America. Chinchillas were hunted almost to extinction. They are now bred in captivity for their long, close-textured and soft fur, the most expensive of all animal furs. Length: 23-38cm (9-15in); weight; 450-900g (1-2lb). Family Chinchillidae.


Summary Article: chinchilla from The Columbia Encyclopedia

(chĭnchĭl'Ә), small burrowing rodent of South America. It lives in colonies at high altitudes (up to 15,000 ft/4,270 m) in the Andes of Bolivia, Chile, and Peru. One of the costliest of all furs, its soft gray pelt has been valued since the days of the Inca. The wild chinchilla was nearly exterminated before protective laws were passed. At one time over 200,000 pelts were exported from Chile. Wild chinchilla coats have cost as much as $100,000. Chinchillas are now raised on farms in South America and the United States, and this has resulted in lower prices for the skins, which are still considered among the most valuable. Chinchillas are classified in the phylum Chordata, subphylum Vertebrata, class Mammalia, order Rodentia, family Chinchillidae.

The Columbia Encyclopedia, © Columbia University Press 2017

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