We often joke around here that the American Chinchilla is the original knock-off. At a time when fur coats were in fashion - and especially Chinchilla fur coats, the Chinchilla and the American Chinchilla were bred specifically to look like their South American namesake. This way, one could make fur coats less expensively because the rabbits didn't have to be shipped from another continent, and - even better - could be used for meat as well as their beautiful furs.
American Chinchilla are a large rabbit, with a good meat-to-bone ratio. The average 9-12 pounds, though ours tend to be heavier due to their ability to develop more muscle than a cage-raised rabbit. They are extremely friendly and will look to be petted and pick up, even in a colony environment.
We choose to colony raise our rabbits in order to get happier, healthier bunnies. We also get less cage cleaning! In a colony environment, rabbits tend to all "do their business" in one area and it can be scooped out as needed or buried to break down in the dirt.
We have even - with mixed results - raised our rabbits with chickens. When they got along, the chickens would cheerfully scratch at the rabbit dung, breaking it up and working it into the soil. However, in some cases the rabbits would pick on the birds, or vice versa, and rabbits seem to vastly prefer chicken grain to their own! Our current set up does not include chickens, except when the guineas decide to hop the fence and go visiting.
Our American Chinchillas socialize well with other rabbits - even when unrelated. While we separate males and females for breeding purposes, we have had males who came in contact with litters, and have never seen them show any sign of aggression towards the kits. We have also had multiple females with litters at the same time, and never had any issues. In fact, when we lost a nursing mother one year, the other two housed with her immediately took over nursing her young, and another female - without a litter - moved in to her nest box to keep them warm.
When we first began breeding American Chinchillas, they were considered critically endangered by the Livestock Conservancy. When wearing fur became a social faux pas, it saved a number of species from extinction, but it almost doomed this lovely rabbit breed. Without the demand for their furs - and with rabbit no longer being a household meat source - demand for the breed declined and so did their numbers. We are happy to say that the numbers have increased in the last ten years, but they remain on the "watch" list.
To learn more about American Chinchillas or colony raising rabbits, follow our blog for pictures and educational articles. You can also follow us on Instagram, Facebook or YouTube. Also, please feel free to Contact Us with questions. We look forward to hearing from you!