Chinchilla colors may be very diverse. These range from the typical grey, to the strikingly white; and there are even quirky violet and blue varieties. Depending on the personalities of their owners, most times you can tell how they are as individuals with their choice in their pet chinchilla’s color. But it was only in the past few decades that domestic chinchillas actually gained the diverse colors that are available today.
In their natural habitat in the Andes Mountains of South America, chinchillas are grey. Known for their rich fur, they were hunted to make the most luxurious coats. By the turn of the century, the species were close to extinct due to an increasing demand for their fur. A number were brought to the United States for breeding to save their numbers from dwindling. When this happened, varieties in chinchilla color began to turn out. Not only were they bred to be rescued from extinction, they were also farmed for the fur trade, and reared into the adorable pets many have now.
The standard and common chinchilla color is grey, sort of like watered down ink. Just like their cousins in the wild, grey chinchillas have black tips and white underbellies. There are a variety of shades, classified as light, medium, dark, and extra dark. Any color other than this is considered a ‘mutation’ or a crossbreed. Another common and favorite color among owners is dark black or ebony. Looking like black velvet, the entire chinchilla (including its underbelly) is black. Needless to say, they also come in different shades, some with grey or white underbellies. There are the purely white varieties as well. These have been known to be the first ever mutation while in captivity, bred in 1955. Crossbreeding these sort of chinchillas have produced coats with interesting patches, patterns, and freckles that give pets a more ruggedly attractive appearance. Many breeders usually term these as the “mosaic” variety.
Even more quirky colors have been bred. An interesting color is violet. Though they may bring to mind images of purple, they actually are closer to indigo or grey mixed with dark blue. These may be traced back to Rhodesia, Africa, bred in 1960. Blues and the sapphire varieties veer towards the darker shade of blue. Browns have also become a popular choice among owners. These come in many shades. There are beige coats, those close to the color of dark and/or milk chocolate, and shades of tan. These chinchilla crossbreeds have different physical variations. Some pets may have underbellies of differing color, either white or a lighter shade of the upper coat. The size and color of the ears, as well as the color of the eyes may differ too.
Asking a breeder or pet store specialists about chinchilla color can really help pet chinchilla owners distinguish the specific variety of their pets or their preferred coat color. They can also provide even more detailed information on the history of the various breeds and the colors they are known for. To know that there are many chinchilla colors to choose from when buying a chinchilla gives owners more freedom in having a pet that is special and knowing the kind that they really want. In the long run, knowing about chinchilla colors makes for a more interesting and informed experience with your pet.