Chinchillas are crepuscular rodents, slightly larger and more robust than ground squirrels, and are native to the Andes mountains in South America. Along with their relatives, viscachas, they make up the family Chinchillidae.
The animal (whose name literally means “small 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 fur. Most chinchillas currently used by the fur industry for clothing and other accessories are farm-raised.
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