The Chinchilla rabbit is known for the color of it’s coat which is, unsurprisingly, the color of an actual chinchilla! These medium rabbits are well-known in the United States, although are not commonly seen. They do, however, make excellent pets, even for first time owners. This is thanks to their simple care needs and their wonderful temperament.
If you’re interested in learning more about the Chinchilla rabbit breed and seeing whether they might be the bunny for you, keep reading below to find out more.
History Of The Chinchilla Rabbit
There are four variations of Chinchilla rabbit — Standard, American, Gigantas and Giant Chinchillas — and they are all mainly distinguished by size as they all have the same fur type and color. In this guide, we will focus on the Standard Chinchilla rabbit.
At first, the Chinchilla rabbit was just one breed, but as they began to be bred more and larger versions of this rabbit appeared, the original Chinchilla became known as the Standard Chinchilla. They were recognized by the American Rabbit Breeders Association (ARBA) in 1930.
Unfortunately, while this breed is well known, the American Chinchilla and the Giant Chinchilla are listed with the American Livestock Breeds Conservancy under ‘critically endangered’ and ‘watch’ respectively.
The ‘official’ Chinchilla breed history lists Monsieur Dybowski, a French engineer and rabbit breeder, as the creator of the Chinchilla rabbit. Originating in 1919 in France, these bunnies were developed by crossing wild rabbits with Beverens and Himalayans. The quality of the fur on these first Chinchillas was poor, so various breeds were introduced to improve their coats.
Their unique coat made them an instant hit, particularly in Europe, when Dybowski showed them for the first time in 1913. They arrived in the UK in 1917 and in the United States in 1919 and were originally recognized under just one name — the Chinchilla rabbit. However, as we mentioned above, as larger versions of the breed appeared, the original Chinchilla became known as the Standard Chinchilla.
These rabbits were mainly used for their fur when they were first introduced but, unfortunately, the fur industry took a hit due to World War II. The breed has never fully recovered and they are still relatively rare.
Characteristics Of The Chinchilla Rabbit
Although the Chinchilla rabbit is rare and can be difficult to find, these bunnies are well known because of their coat. The Standard Chinchilla can be much easier to find than other variations of the breed and they can make a great pet for all. Normally, these rabbits are born in litter sizes of between 1 and 2 kits.
Standard Chinchillas are medium in size and usually weigh between 5 to 7 lbs. They have a plump and compact body type and their ears are erect and shouldn’t exceed five inches in length.
These bunnies have soft, short-to-medium length fur. It is rollback fur, which means that when the fur is stroked from the opposite direction, it returns to its original position.
Fortunately, these rabbits do not require a lot of grooming to keep them in the best condition and looking clean. We will go into more detail about grooming your Chinchilla later on.
As their name suggests, the Chinchilla is chinchilla colored! This is the only color accepted by the ARBA. Their under color is a dark slate blue at the base and the top edge a darker blue with a portion of light grey in between. They have light pearl colored eye circles and the underside of the tail is white. The topside is mostly black with a few white hairs. Their eyes can be brown, blue-grey or marbled, although show-quality Chinchillas should have dark brown eyes.
These rabbits have an excellent temperament and that is why they are often recommended as pets for first-time rabbit owners. Laid-back, sweet and docile, the Chinchilla is friendly and just wants to be around their people.
They are a sociable breed and will want to spend time with you. Socialization is important from a young age, so they grow up to be well-rounded and adaptable bunnies. They are playful, too, and so will need lots of time outside of their hutch hopping around and preferably some toys to play with too.
Like any with rabbit, you should always respect your Chinchilla’s personal space, especially when they are new to your home. If they are afraid or frightened, then they might try to bite.
The Standard Chinchilla has an average lifespan of between 5 and 8 years, although it can be longer if they are cared for properly.
Known Health Issues
Fortunately, the Standard Chinchilla is prone to any breed-specific health problems. However, they can be susceptible to many of the same health issues all rabbits are prone to. We have laid out the main concerns below:
– Malocclusion — this is when the upper and lower teeth are misaligned so that the normal process of chewing doesn’t wear down your rabbit’s teeth. Regular dental checkups are very important. You should also make sure your rabbit eats plenty of hay.
– GI Stasis — this is a potentially deadly condition in which the digestive system slows down or stops completely. Symptoms include loss of appetite, small or no fecal pellets and lethargy. It can be treated if caught quickly.
– Flystrike — this is when flies lay their eggs on soiled patches of fur and, when their eggs hatch, they begin to eat the rabbit from the inside out. Symptoms include seizures, loss of motion (listlessness) and skin irritations. Always ensure your rabbit’s rear end is clean, especially as they get older.
– Ear Mites — this is a common parasite of pet rabbits. You may see your rabbit shaking their head a lot if they are affected. Your vet will be able to treat them.
Like all rabbits, they can also suffer from back issues if they are mishandled or accidentally dropped.
Regular vet checkups will ensure that you catch any health problems before they become too serious. You should also make sure that you are buying from a reputable breeder.
Now we know all about the traits and characteristics of the Standard Chinchilla, it is time to take a look at what living with one of these rabbits on a day to day basis is really like. Fortunately, they do not have very high care needs and are great as a pet for first-time owners. Below we will cover their food and diet, their exercise needs, their grooming needs and their living space requirements.
Food And Diet
The exact amount you feed your Standard Chinchilla rabbit should be based on their size, age and activity level. You should be careful not to overfeed them as weight gain can be detrimental to any rabbit’s health.
They should be eating a portion of hay that is at least as big as their body size every day, alongside pellets and fresh vegetables. Fresh water should also always be available to them.
Hay is very important as it helps to keep your Chinchilla’s digestive system moving, as well as helping to wear down their teeth so they are less prone to dental issues. At least 70% of your rabbit’s diet should be hay.
High-quality supplementary pellets help to provide extra vitamins and minerals that keep your rabbit healthy and to give them a balanced diet. Adult rabbits can eat about 1/4 cup of pellets everyday for every 5 lbs they weigh. Take a look at a supplementary pellet food we recommend below.
Best Food For The Standard ChinchillaBUY ON AMAZON
We recommend the Wild Harvest Advanced Nutrition Diet for your Standard Chinchilla. Largely fruit and vegetables based, this provides them with adequate energy levels to stay healthy as well as vitamins and minerals for healthy growth.
This food also contains timothy hay for added fiber that assists with maintaining a healthy digestive tract. Alfalfa and soybean provides protein and useful fats for a healthy skin and coat, too. Fortified with antioxidant nutrients, this Wild Harvest food provides your Chinchilla rabbit with even more added nutrition to help support and maintain overall good health.
Check out our guide on what other foods rabbits can eat.
In the wild, rabbits run around three miles a day. Therefore, it is very important that you give your pet rabbit enough exercise every day to keep them active and entertained. They should have at least three hours of free-range time, whether this is out of their hutch in the garden or just around the house.
The Standard Chinchilla rabbit will love to be let out of their hutch to exercise, particularly if it means they can spend time with their family members. Although they aren’t particularly active, they are a playful rabbit and will enjoy any toys you purchase for them. Toys can be a great way to bond with your bun while also keeping them mentally stimulated. This can reduce chances of destructive behaviors due to boredom.
If you want to leave them alone outside unsupervised, they will need a large secure enclosure. This can be stand-alone or attached their hutch. This will keep them safe from predators and means you won’t need to be on the lookout all the time.
Family Compatibility and Trainability
These rabbits make wonderful pets for everyone! Perfect for individuals, couples, the elderly and families with children, the Chinchilla rabbit is very laid back. The Standard is also smaller than the American or Giant Chinchilla, which means they are easier for kids to hold and pet. Their small size also means they can live in apartments or small homes, with or without a yard.
While training a rabbit isn’t as easy as training a cat or a dog, it can be done! You can teach your Chinchilla to use a litter box. You can also try teaching them to come when their name is called!
Standard Chinchillas can live happily inside or outside thanks to their thick fur. You should always make sure outdoor enclosures are protective from the elements and any predators. Some owners prefer to keep their Chinchillas outside as they can have more room to roam, while others keep them inside so they can be closer to them. Either is fine — just make sure you let them out their hutch often for much needed socialization!
Whether they are inside or outside, their hutch should be large enough that they can easily move around inside. Try to stay away from hutches with wire floors as these can cause sore hocks within rabbits. Take a look at the hutch we recommend below.
Best Hutch For The Standard Chinchilla RabbitBUY ON AMAZON
We recommend the Trixie rabbit hutch for the Standard Chinchilla rabbit. A large hutch with an outdoor run, this multi-level hutch gives your rabbit space to roam and an enclosed upper level through a ramp for sleeping and hiding. There are three doors on the front — one for access for your rabbit and two for ease of cleaning — as well as access from above through the roof panels and run top.
This hutch is durably made with wood and metal. The roof has waterproof panelling to keep your Chinchilla dry, too. There is a removable bottom pan for the enclosed area, again to make cleaning simple, and the entire hutch is lockable to keep your bunny secure. For more options, check out our best rabbit hutch or rabbit cage guides.
The Standard Chinchilla rabbit does not require a lot of grooming. You should brush these bunnies once every couple of weeks to keep their fur in good condition. During shedding season, you may need to increase this to once a week.
You should very rarely bathe your rabbit. It is not really necessary, unless they are really dirty. Bathing can also be a traumatic experience for them. You should also trim their nails as and when is needed.
Standard Chinchilla FAQ’s
What is the difference between the four Chinchilla rabbit breed variations?
The main difference between the four Chinchilla breed variations — Standard Chinchilla Rabbit, American Chinchilla Rabbit, Gigantas Chinchilla Rabbit and Giant Chinchilla Rabbit — is their size! They all have the same coat and color and similar temperaments. Their care needs differ based on their size.
How big should my rabbit’s cage be?
The rule with rabbits is: the bigger the better! If you have the space for a big hutch then your rabbit will always appreciate the extra room to roam and exercise. No one wants to be stuck in a cramped space!
If you do not have a lot of space, then the cage should be at least 4 times the size of the rabbit. A guide is 24″ by 36″ for smaller rabbits (less than 8 lbs) or 30″ by 36″ for larger rabbits. Hutches with multiple stories are also popular as they give your bun more space.
The Standard Chinchilla rabbit is the original variation of the Chinchilla breed and one of the most common. Known for their unique coat, these bunnies make a great pet and do not have high care needs. Sweet, docile and friendly, the Chinchilla happily fits into any home. You must make sure they are socialized properly from a young age and get lots of time to spend with you playing with their toys. If you give them enough love and attention, they’ll be your best friend in no time! Do you think the Standard Chinchilla could be the breed for you?