; order Rodentia, suborder Hystricomorpha)
A family of rodents which shelter in crevices or burrows. The hind limbs are long, with three or four digits, the fore limbs short with four or five digits. The eyes are large, the ears rounded, and in some species large. The tail is long, and in some species bushy. They are found in southern S. America. There are six species in three genera: Chinchilla; Lagidium; and Lagostomus. The Chilean chinchilla (C. laniger), an animal about 23 cm long excluding the tail, is raised in captivity for its fur, which has been prized at least since Inca times; in the past chinchillas have also been a source of meat.
Subjects: Zoology and Animal Sciences.