The Chinchilla rabbit is popular amongst pet owners and breeders alike. They have fur that looks strikingly similar to the chinchilla and even temperaments that make them great pets. There are three distinct breeds of chinchilla bunnies – and none of them are related to the small rodent, the chinchilla.
In this guide, you’ll learn everything you need to know about the chinchilla bunny, including:
- The difference between chinchillas and chinchilla rabbits
- The three types of chinchilla rabbit breeds: American Chinchilla rabbit, Giant Chinchilla rabbit, Standard Chinchilla rabbit
Is a Chinchilla a Rabbit?
Rabbits and chinchillas are not the same species. Rabbits and chinchillas aren’t related, either. Chinchillas are part of the Chinchillidae family and rabbits belong to Leporidae. Chinchillas are rodents and rabbits used to be considered rodents, but no longer are. The two animals don’t resemble each other much, either. Rabbits’ ears are pointier and chinchillas’ tails are fluffier.
A chinchilla rabbit isn’t a chinchilla mixed with a rabbit, either. They’re 100 percent rabbit, the cross between two rabbit breeds which gives them fur resembling chinchilla fur. Like all other rabbits, chinchilla bunnies aren’t related to chinchillas at all, and the two animals shouldn’t be bred together.
Do chinchillas get along with rabbits?
Chinchillas and rabbits are indeed two different species, but do the two animals get along together? You could keep them as pets in the same house, but they would need to live in separate cages. Chinchillas can learn to like rabbits or other animals, but each species still needs its own living space. If another animal is eating their food, a rabbit or chinchilla will start fighting the other animal. Chinchillas and rabbits might not like playing with each other either, as it could lead to fighting as well. The two don’t necessarily get along, but they can tolerate each other if they have plenty of their own space.
Three Types of Chinchilla Rabbit Breeds
The first chinchilla rabbits were bred in France in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. Although the chinchilla rabbit was popular before his time, French breeder M. J. Dybowski is credited with breeding them to standard in 1913. The chinchilla rabbit made it to the UK by 1917 and arrived on U.S. shores by 1919. The breeding of chinchilla rabbits evolved and now the American Rabbit Breeders Association (ARBA) recognizes three distinct brands of chinchillas: The American Chinchilla, the Giant Chinchilla, and the Standard Chinchilla.
American Chinchilla Rabbit
The American Chinchilla rabbit was developed by Edward H Stahl and Jack Harris in the early 1920s. Stahl and Harris wanted to breed a rabbit with chinchilla-like fur, but bigger. The chinchilla rabbits of the time, which had been invented in France, weighed between five and seven and a half pounds. Today’s American Chinchilla bunnies can weigh up to 12 pounds and have been used to create various other domestic breeds.
American Chinchilla rabbits are comfortable being around humans since they were mostly bred for their pelts and meat at first, and didn’t come from the wild. They make great pets for households without young children, though, because they should be handled with care. The American Chinchilla rabbit likes to play, but toy preferences depend on the individual rabbit. They also love to be patted on their necks, heads, and backs whilst sitting on your lap. Just make sure they’re comfortable with you first before you invite them onto your lap!
American Chinchilla bunnies can live both indoors and outdoors, as long as they’re not exposed to extreme weather and their outdoor hutch is a few feet off the ground. These rabbits are larger and therefore need a larger cage to live in. This breed of bunny doesn’t have particular health problems to worry about, just the normal issues that are common to most rabbits. Gastrointestinal stasis and incisor teeth that don’t stop growing are a few to look out for.
The American Chinchilla rabbit has the same diet as most rabbits. Rabbits should eat 70 percent hay, 30 percent mix of pellets, fruits, leafy greens, and vegetables. Be careful about introducing new fruits and vegetables into your rabbit’s diet, though. Always do some research before starting a new food and feed it to your rabbits in small amounts at first.
Giant Chinchilla Rabbit
The Giant Chinchilla rabbit originated from the silvery chinchilla rabbit that came from France to the U.S. in 1919. The large breed was developed by crossing the chinchilla rabbit with the Flemish Giant rabbit. The result was the biggest of the three recognized chinchilla rabbit breeds. Full-grown bucks (male rabbits) weigh 12 pounds minimum and does (female rabbits) weigh 13-14 pounds minimum.
Giant Chinchillas have a laid-back temperament and don’t need much exercise. They prefer lounging around the house either with humans or other rabbits. If you adopt a Giant Chinchilla from an early age and begin to socialize her carefully, she’ll even enjoy being handled by humans.
Giant Chinchillas need large cages – at least six feet long. They aren’t as delicate as smaller rabbits, but you should still rabbit-proof your home before adopting a Giant Chinchilla. These bunnies don’t need baths, they keep themselves clean. But you should brush them often so remove excess fur and prevent them from getting hairballs. You should also keep your Giant Chinchilla’s nails trimmed. Look for general health indicators in your bunny as well:
- Soft and glossy coat
- Bright eyes
- Head up and alert
- Ears erect and not drooping
- Nose should never be runny
If any of these things are off, your bunny likely isn’t feeling well and you might need to visit the veterinarian.
Like all rabbits, Giant Chinchillas need hay, pellets, fruits, and vegetables in their diet. They should always have fresh hay to chew on, as well as clean water. It’s recommended that adult rabbits get a half cup of pellets for every six pounds of body weight, each day. Baby rabbits should eat as many pellets as they can manage until they’re one year old. Give your bunny two cups of veggies and two ounces of fruit per six pounds of body weight as well.
Standard Chinchilla Rabbit
The Standard Chinchilla rabbit is the closest breed to the original chinchilla rabbits brought to the U.S. from France. When breeders cross-bred the chinchilla rabbit to become longer or larger, those rabbits became the American and Giant Chinchillas. The Standard Chinchilla is a small-medium rabbit, weighing between five and seven pounds. Like the other two recognized chinchilla rabbit breeds, the Standard’s fur is slate blue, black and white-tipped, with the silvery pearl glint.
Standard Chinchillas are known for being sweet and docile. Their small size makes them easy to handle and they don’t mind being picked up by humans as much as other rabbit breeds do. For this reason, they’re suitable for households with children, so long as the children are careful with the rabbit. Standard Chinchillas should have an enclosure either indoors or outdoors, but you should let them out of their cage for several hours a day. These bunnies like to play and explore, interacting with humans or other animals.
The Standard Chinchilla’s enclosure should be made of wire with a solid bottom of metal or plastic, covered in bedding. Standard Chinchilla bunnies are prone to overgrown teeth, flystrike, and ear mites. Their diet should consist of mostly hay to avoid their teeth growing too long. You should also check their ears for mites every two to three weeks.
The Standard Chinchilla diet is the same as most other rabbits: hay, high-fiber pellets, fruits, and vegetables.
Chinchilla rabbits make great pets when cared for properly. They’re also valued by breeders for their incredible chinchilla-like fur. If you’re considering adopting a chinchilla rabbit, look carefully at each of the three breeds to determine which is the best for your lifestyle.