The Chinchilla’s breeding cycle is year round, but is usually at a minimum during the hot summer. The gestation period is 111 days. The heat cycle, while irregular is felt to be approximately 28 days. The young are born with their eyes open, fully furred and with a full set of teeth. They may be seen climbing and running around the cage within minutes after birth. The males nurture the babies like the mothers do.
Chinchillas have one to three litters per year, but the average is about two. They will have between one and five babies in a litter with the average being two.
They nurse their mother for approximately six weeks at which time they are weaned to their own cage. From six weeks to six months is a growing up time.
Polygamous breeding is the accepted method today, with a male servicing from three to nine females. Normally a male is started with four females and more can be added as he proves himself in both quality and quantity of offspring. This is done by placing a metal collar around the neck of the female and having an opening at the back of her cage smaller than the collar. Female cages are then connected by a wire runway thereby allowing the male to pass form one female’s cage to another. Polygamous breeding is the recommended way to improve quality as one top quality male can be bred with many females.
Chinchillas are a fairly long lived animal with many breeding 10-12 years or longer, although the average is 5-8 years. As in all livestock, the very best young (approximately 8-10%) are put back in the herd each year as replacements and the older, poorer are retired. This yearly replacement keeps a herd young and maintains or improves its quality.
Chinchilla breeding is a most interesting and enjoyable occupation which can easily be started as a part-time venture and eventually build into a full-time operation, if desired. How quickly this can be realized will depend on your own initiative. Raising Chinchilla is an ideal family business.
The most important consideration in getting started in the Chinchilla business is quality. It is an absolute must! As with any other animal, there are valuable Chinchillas and worthless ones.
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