Chinchillas are small rodents which are native to the South American Andes. They possess a particularly soft and luxurious fur which has been used in the fur trade since the 16th century. Because they are small animals, it can take up to 150 pelts to make a full-length chinchilla coat.
During the 19th century, there was significant over-hunting of the two species of wild chinchilla and their survival was threatened. Today, hunting of wild chinchillas is illegal (although it still occurs) and chinchillas used for commercial purposes are bred on special farms.
Chinchillas may be kept as domestic pets but require very specialised care.