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Viscachas and Chinchillas: Chinchillidae

Physical Characteristics, Behavior And Reproduction, Viscachas, Chinchillas And People, Conservation Status, Long-tailed Chinchilla (chinchilla Lanigera): Species AccountGEOGRAPHIC RANGE, HABITAT, DIET


This family of mammals occurs only in western and southern South America, but their largest populations are in southern Peru, Argentina, Bolivia, and northern Chile to the foothills of the Andes Mountains in Patagonia (Argentina).

While most of the viscacha species tend to remain at elevations below 1,640 feet (500 meters), the mountain viscacha and chinchillas colonize areas from 13,120 to 16,400 feet (4,000 to 5,000 meters). The plains viscacha lives in grasslands with sparse vegetation, but all the other species seek out rocky areas where they can dig their burrows and hide from numerous predators.

Chinchillids (members of the Chinchillidae family) are mainly herbivores, plant eaters, and live on seeds and grass, although those species endemic at higher elevations also eat mosses and lichens. All species occasionally eat insects as well.

Additional topics

Animal Life ResourceMammals