Wild Chinchillas are extremely rare and in danger of extinction. Moreover they are rarely seen since they are crepuscular
(active dawn and dusk) and sleep in burrows or crevices. They were hunted to the brink of extinction for their soft fur
and are still illegally hunted even though most fur is now from captive farm-bred chinchillas. There were 3 species but
one is now extinct, another, the Short-tailed (C. chinchilla from the mountains of Chile, Bolivia and Peru) may
be extinct and the third, the Long-tailed (C. lanigera) from the Chilean Andes is critically endangered.
The Long-tailed Chinchilla is the wild ancestor of the domestic Chinchilla, farmed for fur or kept as pets.
Like the wild ancestor, they have soft coats, large ears and tiny limbs for their body size. They can jump
some 6 feet (nearly 2 meters). The name Chinchilla means "little Chincha" from the early Peruvian Chincha people.
The wild Chinchilla has grey fur but the domestic descendant is bred in varieties of brown-grey, silver-grey, white and black.