The Importance Of Chinchillas

1502 Words 7 Pages
This research paper examines the causes for chinchillas to be endangered by examining the history of human interaction with the species. The examination of its endangerment will be analyzed to discuss its effect on the ecosystem and the species’ biodiversity. In addition, the efforts made to revitalize the species will be discussed, as well as their effectiveness. The effects of domesticating chinchillas outside of its ecosystem will be examined. A focus of the paper will be to discuss what can be done to increase the population size of chinchillas.
Introduction
Chinchillas are a rodent species that is slightly larger and more rugged than ground squirrels. They have soft gray fur with long bushy tails. They have short forelimbs and long, muscular
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Chinchilla fur is one of the softest and finest furs of any mammal. As a result, it is highly valued by humans. Fur from chinchillas has been harvested since and ancient times. For example, in pre-Columbian times, Inca noblemen used the fur to make coats and ate the chinchilla meat (Jimenez, 1993). Once the Spaniards arrived to South America, they quickly realized the high quality of chinchilla fur and adopted it as clothing. This was when chinchilla fur began to be exploited for profit. In the 18th century, chinchilla pelts began to get exported to Spain at an increasing rate to meet the growing demand. Soon, the population of chinchillas began decreasing with the advancement of weaponry, such as shotguns, and new trapping methods (Housse, 1953). Chinchilla hunting became a common practice and the local hunter became a common figure known as a chinchillero. Chinchilleros expanded their methods of hunting and trapping during the 19th century by using dogs, smoke, snares, poisonous baits, and even dynamite (Albert, 1901.) Chinchilleros devastated the chinchilla population and caused long-term harm by burning vegetation chinchillas relied on. By the 19th century, the chinchilla population was heavily damaged and it got more severe in the 20th …show more content…
One of these factors is diseases chinchillas are prone to. The disease wild chinchillas are susceptible to is Chagas disease, caused by spirochete and transmitted by an insect called hemipteran (Jimenez, 1990). In a study in Auco, Chile, percentages of infection were 20% percent for 35 individuals of chinchillas (Duran et al., 1989). Since they are wild, the bacteria, spirochete, is abundant in the population causing such a high number of infections. A less apparent one is that like many other rodents, Chinchillas are susceptible to being used in scientific experiments which have the possibility of causing harm. For example, in an ear experiment, rodents such as chinchillas, rats, and guinea pigs were used as models to study ear infections (Bakaletz, 2002). Chinchillas separated from the rest of the population cannot have offspring. This leads chinchillas not to be as fit in their

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