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BREEDING CHINCHILLAS

The first chinchilla owners needed offspring to increase their herds.  To minimize risk, they tried to maintain mating practices of the wild chinchilla.  It was assumed that chins had bonded with one mate in the Andes, so for years pair mating was practiced here.  As numbers of progeny were produced, they were paired for selling, which reinforced the practice.  Eventually pair mating was questioned, challenged, and changed just as old dietary and housing practices had been.  Ranchers began to experiment with polygamous units, and chins once again proved to be adaptable.  The harem system prospered.  A polygamous breeding arrangement allowed ranchers to raise more animals at a lower cost since fewer males were required.  It also resulted in a trickle of reasonably priced animals - usually surplus males - into the pet market.  Pet owners who choose to breed chinchillas seldom want the number of offspring a polygamous system might produce.  Instead, they step back in time to breed chins in pairs as Chapman did.  Personally, we like to keep our chinchillas in pair and we still don't know the reason why we like to do that....

Sexing Chinchilas

If breeding chins is in your plans, start by double-checking your pet's sex before shopping for your chin's mate.  Sometimes it is difficult to classify newborns, and if the former owner recorded the sex at birth without rechecking, it might be incorrectly identified.  Even experienced ranchers have been known to make mistakes.  It's easier to sex a chinchilla if you have one of each side by side for comparison, but by examinig the pet is a female, the anus and clitoris will be very close together and a horizontal slit, the vaginal opening, will sometimes be just noticeable in between.  If the animal is a male there will be a considerable separation between the anus and penis.

Breeding for Color

Besides determining the sex of the prospective mate, the pet owner may have a choice between breeding a standard to another standard or mating a standard to a mutations.  Because mutations are not as readily available - fewer are raised and the most unusual colors are very expensive - only the most common (beige, black, and white) will be mentioned here  It's important that the owner understand what the results will be before he or she breeds the animals.

All three are classified as incompletely dominant mutations. &nbap;That is, when bred to standards, half of the offspring should be the same color as the mutant parent - beige, black, or white - and half should be standard.  (Some of the white offspring may not be a solid white.  The pair may also produce a mosaic or a white with a few to a lot of grey hairs mixed in.  When enough grey haris are present, the animal is known as silver and it's a very rare animal.)  In short, dominant does not mean that all of the progeny will carry the mutant coat color.  Furthermore, it must be remembered thta the percentages are figured on a large number of animals. It's quiet possible to have three or four litters consisting of all standard or all mutantion offspring.  If enough litters are produced, the coat color should average out.  There are, to further complicate matters, some animals that seem to produce larger or smaller numbers of mutations than the anticipated average.  Don't automatically assume you'll be able to produce mutations because you have a mutant breeder.  It may take several litters to get the color you want.  But we don't see it's a big problem as soon as the kits are healthy and they are so lovable.  A standard is still a cute lovable chinchilla!

Mutations can be bred to other mutations.  If a white and a beige are mated one of three types of offspring could be born: standard (both parents carry standard in their background regardless of their coat color); white (which might be creamy, spotted, or pure white); or beige.  A beige and a black pairing could produce several different colors: black; beige; standard (again, both parents carry standard in their background); or touch-of-velvet beige, a dard beige with a velvety brown head and grotzen (commonly known as brown velvet).  A black and white combination could produce white (not necessarily solid white); black; or standard kits.  Although beiges are bred to other beiges to produces purebreds for color (homozygous beiges), blacks and whites are not bred to chins with the same coat color.  A lethal factor appears to be present, and fewer babies are born to such parents.

Breeding recessive mutations, such as charcoals, sapphires, or violets, can be as interesting as working with dominants.  One recessive is bred to another of the same coat color to produce the mutant color.  Therefore, two charcoals, two sapphires, or two violets will produce offspring identical in coat color to the parents, at least in theory,  But, if a recessive is bred to a standard, all of the offspring will appear to be standards.  Some of the progeny, though again in theory, should carry the recessive color gene.  It is oly through breeding such animals and evaluating their offspring that an owner can tell whether or not they rae carriers.  Two recessive carriers when bred together should/will eventually produce a recessive kit with the desired coat color. &nbps;Because pet owners seldom have the necessary number of animals to work with recessive carriers to avoid excessive inbreeding, breeding such animals is probably best left to large ranchers

Chinchilla genetics is a fascinating topic, and new coat colors appear every once in a while.  Often though, the new mutations is a weak animal with poor fur quality, and it takes several generations of selective breedings to improve the new mutations's qualities to the point where it is desirable for breeding stock.  The first beige female is a very good example.  We are here just very briefly talking about it, it may gives you some idea of what offspring you can get from some particular pair.

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