Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Chillin' with chinchillas

Yesterday we spent an enjoyable few hours with our friends the Rode-Christoffersens, whom we know from school and church. After tea, I pried our children away from the exciting collections of Lego and Playmobil to come and have a look at the R-C's pets ... chinchillas.

So what's a chinchilla?

(I'm sure Colin Buchanan could make up a joke about putting one's chin in the freezer, but for the sake of my more intellectual readers I will refrain.)

Basically they are a kind of rodent. They reminded me a bit of sugar gliders or bush-babies. As chinchillas are illegal to own as pets in Australia, it was our first time seeing them up and close.

Chinchillas are nocturnal and herbivores. These ones seemed very clean and their cage was practically odourless.

According to the R-C's, their lifespan is around 15 years. These chinchillas recently had two babies, which was a surprise to their owners as the R-C's were told they had bought two male chinchillas!

Apparently, they can't bathe in water because their fur is too dense and doesn't dry properly, leading to fungal infections. Instead, they roll in special sand to keep their fur soft.

Rodents or not, they are extremely cute little animals. However, I noticed that my kids and my fearless husband declined to have a cuddle with the chinchillas.

When I googled chinchillas, I discovered that they are enormously popular as pets in many countries around the world. There is even a humorous range of Chinchilla Art from this site (see below).

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