Chinchillas can make fun, enjoyable pets. The chinchilla is a rodent related to the guinea pig; they originate from South America where they live in the Andes Mountains. In addition to their popularity as pets, they are also raised commercially for their soft, luxurious pelts. Chinchillas can exhibit "fur slip"; part of the fur can be shed if the pet is handled roughly or the fur grasped too tightly. Their average life span is about 10 years. They are nocturnal animals and are often more active at night, preferring to sleep during the day. Chinchillas do not hibernate. As with any pet, they do occasionally get sick, and their illnesses are often severe. All pet chinchillas should be examined by a qualified veterinarian within 48 hours of purchase, and at least annually thereafter. This "new pet" exam is critical to detect signs of disease and help new pet owners get off on the right foot. So many problems are caused by misinformation; the first veterinary visit can help prevent well-intentioned owners from doing the wrong thing and ultimately contributing to the pet's early death.
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