Lacey arrived at The New Children’s Museum on April 9, 2011. She was estimated to be about 3 years old when donated. Unlike most chinchillas, who are all grey, Lacey is pure white with grey ears. Her unique coloration is a product of being bred in captivity. One reason for the captive breeding of chinchillas is for sale in the pet trade, the other purpose is to raise them for their fur to be used in the fur industry. Chinchilla coats were once very popular articles of clothing, unfortunately it took several chinchillas to make a single coat and as a result they almost went extinct in the wild due to poaching. When Lacey arrived she came with 5 other chinchillas who were all rescued from a fur farmer who was breeding them to be made into coats. Homes were found for the 5 other chinchillas, but Lacey remains at the museum to be used for educational programming.
10 Fun Facts about Chinchillas
- They are listed as Critically Endangered.
- To clean themselves and keep their fur soft, chinchillas will take dust baths. Using their tails they flick dust into their fur and roll around in it.
- Chinchillas are crepuscular animals, which means they are most active at dawn and dusk.
- Chinchillas are herbivorous in nature, meaning they only eat plant matter. Their diet typically consists of roots, bulbs and mosses.
- With their powerful back legs they can jump a height of 6 feet straight up into the air.
- Like all other rodents, their teeth continue to grow throughout their life. They need to chew on wood or bone to keep their teeth from getting too long.
- Their very large eyes allowing them to absorb more light, giving them very good vision when it is dark out.
- Hairs in the tail of the chinchilla are longer and stiffer than the hairs on the body. This allows them to maintain their balance, using their tail as a rudder, when running and jumping up mountain sides.
- Their popularity amongst pet owners has increased the amount of chinchillas available in pet stores, which has also increased the amount of chinchillas that are up for adoption.
- The large ears of the chinchilla give it the ability to hear very slight noises, alerting it to the presence of approaching predators or animals.