|Weight:||Up to 12 pounds|
|Temperament:||Passive, good-natured, cooperative|
|Best Suited For:||Families with children, single rabbit owners, first-time owners|
|Similar Breeds:||Standard Chinchilla, Giant Chinchilla, Rex|
One of three Chinchilla breeds recognized by the American Rabbit Breeders Association, the American Chinchilla falls somewhere in between the smaller Standard Chinchilla and the oversized Giant Chinchilla. Its complex coat color is said to resemble its namesake animal—a wild tapestry of greys, whites, blacks, and blues that seems to change every time you look at it.
We’ll be looking at the history and origin of this middle size of the Chinchilla breed family, as well as giving you helpful hints and tips for keeping one as a pet. They’re widely regarded as excellent companion animals, so if you’re thinking of keeping one as a pet, read on to learn more about them!
History & Origin of the American Chinchilla Rabbit Breed
The Chinchilla rabbit breed, in one form or another, has been around in America since the first decade of the 1900s. What is now called the “Standard” Chinchilla would be selectively bred to produce a larger, hardier rabbit; better capable of producing larger quantities of meat and fur.
What these breeders didn’t know, of course, is that the complex interbreeding that would result in a larger rabbit with more plentiful fur and meat would also make them excellent pets and show animals! That’s why, as early as 1924, the ARBA recognized the American Chinchilla as a breed, perfectly suited for exposition in rabbit shows.
Unfortunately, World War II put an end to the American Chinchilla’s growing popularity. That’s why today, it’s one of North America’s most endangered breeds of rabbit. Except for availability from a few enthusiasts scattered across the country, you’ll be hard-pressed to find American Chinchillas for sale. As well, organizations such as The Livestock Conservancy have a mission to protect this and other American endangered breeds from extinction.
Larger and bulkier than the Standard Chinchilla, but not quite so large as the Giant Chinchilla, this middle-of-the-road rabbit is perfectly well suited for keeping as a house pet. Their stocky bodies, large heads, and abundant musculature make them hardy and adaptable to all sorts of environments.
Of course, the most characteristic trait of any of the three Chinchilla breeds is its fur. With complex bands of black, white, blue, and pearl over a grey-blue undercoat, you’ll not find any other breed with a coat to match. What’s more, their fur is incredibly dense and soft—and they love being groomed!
Nutrition and Health
Being on the larger side of house rabbits, it’s doubly important to make sure that you always have sufficient quantities of timothy hay and filtered water for an American Chinchilla to make the most of its diet. Supplement these with kibble and greens on a daily basis, to add necessary vitamins and minerals to your rabbit’s diet as well.
Larger rabbits like the American Chinchilla need more than enough room to stretch out and move around in their enclosures and really do best when allowed to roam a whole house. If you have a backyard where you can set up an indoor/outdoor enclosure in, this is the best option for their overall health and well-being.
The thick, lustrous coat of every Chinchilla breed requires a bit of extra time, attention, and care to keep it in tip-top shape. Plan on at least twice weekly brushings for most of the year, and significantly more frequent grooming during their spring shedding season.
It’s hard to find a more agreeable rabbit than the American Chinchilla. Their passive attitudes and good-natured playfulness, combined with their sturdy bodies, make them a favorite of families with children as well as single pet owners.
While they’re far from being easy to find for sale, American Chinchillas really do make excellent pets. Their friendly natures, adaptable personalities, and beautiful coats all give a lot to love.
Thank you for reading today! We hope we’ve answered all of your American Chinchilla questions…But for even more information, please do see Lynn M. Stone’s Rabbit Breeds: The Pocket Guide to 49 Essential Breeds and Bob D. Whitman’s Domestic Rabbits and Their Histories. Both are excellent books in their own right and have provided much of the information in this article.