Chinchillas are exceptionally social animals and colonies in the wild can sometimes exceed 100’s of individuals.
Their thick fur keeps them warm in their mountain habitat but unfortunately it is this fur that humans hunt the chinchilla for and it has now become Critically endangered in the wild. The gestation period of this small rodent is unusually long, lasting 111 days, but once the young are born they are well developed and are pretty much able to take care of themselves. These young are then weaned at around 6-8 weeks of age.
Originally from Peru and domesticated for food; it is a mystery as to how the guinea pig got its name.
They are neither from Guinea or related to pigs. Also known as a Cavy (plural: Cavies), Guinea pigs require a diet exceptionally high in fibre, in captivity this is provided through plenty of good quality hay. Guinea pigs also require lots of fruit and vegetables as they cannot produce their own and so must get this through their diet. Guinea pigs make fantastic pets and are ideal for small children as they have such a docile nature.
Rabbits are originally from the Iberian Peninsula and were introduced into mainland Europe and the UK as a source of meat and fur.
Rabbits first came to Britain when the Romans invaded and have been here ever since. In parts of their range the rabbit has now become a major agricultural pest causing hundreds of millions of pounds worth of damage but in their native range are classified as Near Threatened by the IUCN Red List. Rabbits dig an extensive system of tunnels known collectively as a warren. This is where the rabbits reside during the times that they aren’t out feeding. In rabbit society it is the female that is dominant.