American Chinchilla Rabbit (Size, Color, Behavior, Temperament)

American Chinchilla rabbits are a large, playful, affectionate breed that makes great pets.

They have silky, soft, pettable fur that looks like the fur of a South American chinchilla.

Originally developed for its meat and fur, this breed is now cherished by rabbit enthusiasts for its unique appearance and pleasant temperament.

Understanding Different Chinchilla Rabbits (and the American Chinchilla)

Before we get into the essential facts about American Chinchilla rabbits, it helps to clear up some confusion that is possible around their names,

  • Chinchilla rabbits are a group of three breeds that have been created to look like chinchillas. They aren’t actually chinchillas. Chinchillas are rodents. Rabbits are in a different group called lagomorphs. A Chinchilla rabbit cannot breed with a chinchilla.
  • Standard Chinchillas are the original version of the breed. They are large rabbits. The adults can weigh as much as 5.5–7.0 lb (2.5–3.2 kg). They have a compact body and rollback fur, fur that rolls back into place after you stroke it.
  • American Chinchillas are “heavyweight” rabbits. They have rollback fur like Standard Chinchilla rabbits. They are classified as a “6 class” breed at rabbit shows, because adults almost always weigh more than 9 pounds (4.1 kg). They can weigh as much as 12 pounds (5.4 kg).
  • Giant Chinchillas are the result of a cross between Flemish Giant and American Chinchilla rabbits. They can weigh 12 to 16 pounds (5.4 to 7.3 kg).

You might be surprised to learn that the American Chinchilla Rabbit is the rarest of all Chinchilla breeds.

This is primarily due to the decline of the rabbit fur industry in the late 1940s. Nevertheless, these rabbits are now gaining popularity as pets due to their easy-care needs and suitability for first-time owners.

Essential Facts About American Chinchilla Rabbits

  • Scientific name: Oryctolagus cuniculus domesticus
  • Care level, compared to other rabbits: Need larger cages and more playspace, but compatible with other larger pets (except snakes).
  • Temperament: Sweet, gentle, unflappable.
  • Color: Salt and pepper, but other colors are visible when the coat is parted.
  • Lifespan: 5 to 8 years
  • Maximum size: Up to 12 pounds (5.8 kg)
  • Dietary requirements: Same as other large breeds, except needs more hay (about three times as much hay as other foods) than other rabbits to keep its teeth worn down,
  • Compatible breeds: Flemish Giant, any other large rabbit
  • Cage size: 30 inches long by 30 inches wide by 14 inches high (77 cm x 77 cm x 35 cm).

Thrives indoors (or outdoors in temperate climates) but is sensitive to summer heat.

History of the American Chinchilla Rabbit

When it comes to the fascinating history of the American Chinchilla Rabbit, you might be surprised to learn that it all started in France.

The first Chinchillas were created by a French engineer named M.J. Dybowski in the early 20th century, and they made their grand debut in Saint-Maur, France, in April 1913.

M. J. Dybowski, a French farmer, engineer, and rabbit breeder created the Chinchilla breed in the late 1800s.

He sold so many Chinchilla rabbits in Paris that he became known as the Bonhomme Chinchilla’ (the Chinchilla Rabbit guy).

After he had raised hundreds of rabbits, a kit was born to one of his does that did not have the usual dark blue slate, tan, white, and black-tipped fur. Instead, it had brown fur with a mixture of pearly white.

The Standard Chinchilla breed Dybowski created became very popular in France both for its beautiful pelt and its rapid growth.

The breed was entered in a rabbit show in Britain in 1917 by Mrs. Haider Lucy-Hulbert, and then was exhibited at the New York State Fair in 1919. and It immediately gained acceptance for their meat and fur.

Two American rabbit breeders, Jack Harris, and Edward H. Stahl, bought the show animals and began raising the breed in the United States.

Stahl began a selective breeding program to create a super-sized Chinchilla rabbit.

He crossed Standard Chinchilla rabbits with American Blue rabbits, Champagne d’Argent rabbits, New Zealand White rabbits, and White Flemish Giant rabbits to create the American Chinchilla rabbit we know today.

This breed was once very popular in the United States on rabbit farms, intended for the production of meat and fur.

As eating and wearing rabbits has fallen out of favor, fewer and fewer Americans have bought this breed.

The American Livestock Breeds Conservancy has deemed the breed to be “critically endangered.”

To sum up their incredible journey, here are some key milestones:

  • Created by M.J. Dybowski in France
  • First shown in Saint-Maur, France, in April 1913
  • Arrived in the United States in 1919
  • Developed into the American Chinchilla Rabbit through selective breeding

Appearance of the American Chinchilla Rabbit

Rabbit lovers often describe American Chinchilla Rabbits as cute and fluffy. They have an adorable, silky coat.

Their ears stand up and point outwards like an old-style television antenna (“rabbit ears”), and they are 4 to 5 pounds (about 2 kg) heavier than most other breeds.


We have previously described the American Chinchilla rabbit’s soft, silky, rollback coat.

This breed sheds for about a week in the spring and a week in the fall, but it only needs minimal grooming for the rest of the year.

The coat is rollback type, which means it doesn’t require much care to keep it healthy.


The American Chinchilla rabbit gets its chinchilla-like color from the fact that it lacks the genes for red hair pigments found in most other rabbits.

The production of yellows (which we see as browns) is minimal in their lighter hairs.

You should not see any blue American Chinchilla rabbits, although it has blue-haired ancestors.


You can expect your American Chinchilla Rabbit to live around 5-8 years.

To help ensure your rabbit’s health, make sure to provide a balanced diet, fresh water, and a clean, safe living environment.

Temperament of the American Chinchilla Rabbit

American Chinchilla rabbits are a great choice for households with children. They are wonderful first pets.

American Chinchilla Rabbits are quite comfortable when handled by people. This makes them perfect pets for singles or families alike.

They’re also playful creatures, bringing joy and entertainment to your home.

They seldom get sick, and they live long enough that if you give an American Chinchilla to an elementary school-aged child, it is likely to be their companion even when they start high school.

Don’t overlook the possibility of taking your American Chinchilla rabbit outdoors on a leash.

You should never let your pet rabbits roam wild, but American Chinchillas are large enough to take outside to play.

Just keep an eye out for larger, aggressive animals, and be ready to rein in your rabbit to safety as necessary.

Requirements for Care of American Chinchilla Rabbits

You will want to make sure your American Chinchilla rabbit is potty trained as soon as possible while it is still a bunny.

Just gather up its droppings and place them in a litter box lined with dry timothy hay. Your rabbit will get the idea.

Rabbits eat their feces after they first pass through their digestive tract.

During the second digestion, the pellets interact with probiotic bacteria in the rabbit’s cecum.

Once the probiotic bacteria convert the fiber in the grass the rabbit eats into fatty acids (they can release as many calories from fiber as humans can digest from the same amount of ice cream), then your rabbit will release small, hard pellets.

You can let them accumulate in your rabbit’s litter box for a day or two between cleanings.

Diet and Nutrition

Your American Chinchilla Rabbit needs a well-balanced and healthy diet to thrive.

Start by providing at least 70% of their diet as high-quality hay. This is important for their digestion and helps prevent dental problems.

Supplement their diet with fresh leafy greens, but be sure to limit these to no more than 10% of their total intake. Additionally, feed them a small number of rabbit-safe pellets for essential nutrients.


Rabbits need soft, dry hay in the bottom of their cages. They can injure their feet without it.

Your rabbit will eat and relieve itself in its bedding. This should not be a problem if you change bedding frequently.

You can use shredded paper for bedding when hay is not available.

When setting up a home for your American Chinchilla Rabbit, ensure they have ample space to move around comfortably. A clean, safe, and secure environment is essential.


Most rabbits are happy and active at temperatures of 58° to 72° F (18° to 21° C).

Never leave your rabbit in summer heat or in a hot, unventilated room.


Rabbits need sunlight to make vitamin D for healthy bones and teeth.

If you cannot give your rabbit playtime outdoors for about half an hour a day, make sure it has a sunlamp.

Mount the sunlamp where it cannot burn your rabbit.

Exercise and Enrichment

Exercise is vital for your rabbit’s overall health and well-being.

Encourage movement and exploration by providing toys and interactive elements in their living space.

A few examples include the following:

  • Tunnels or mazes to explore
  • Chew toys made of hard materials
  • Cardboard boxes for climbing and hiding

To make their environment even more engaging, you can try regularly rearranging their space or rotating toys to maintain their curiosity and interest.

Breeding and Reproduction in American Chinchilla Rabbit

When breeding American Chinchilla Rabbits, it’s essential to know that female rabbits, or does, release eggs triggered by mating, not by hormone cycles like in humans.

Your rabbits will be receptive to mating for about 14 out of 16 days, with the highest receptivity when the doe’s vagina is red and moist.

As you begin your breeding journey, ensure the rabbits you choose for breeding are healthy and belong to the American Chinchilla breed.

Here are some simple steps to follow:

  1. Pick a healthy doe and buck (male rabbit).
  2. Introduce the doe to the buck’s cage, not the other way around.
  3. Monitor the mating process to ensure it is successful.
  4. Return the doe to her cage after mating.

Keep track of when your rabbits mate, as this information is crucial for anticipating the arrival of your baby rabbits, or kits.

Your doe will be pregnant for about 31 days, and it’s essential to prepare a separate nesting box for her comfort and safety when giving birth.

Remember, taking care of your American Chinchilla Rabbits and preserving their breed characteristics are vital.

Stay patient and attentive throughout the breeding process, and you’ll soon see the rewarding result of healthy, adorable kits.

Popular Bunny Names for American Chinchilla Rabbit

Here’s a table with popular American Chinchilla Rabbit names reflecting their breed characteristics.

Since they are known for their soft, dense fur with a unique silver-blue color, many names are inspired by their appearance and personality.

Boy Bunny Names for American Chinchilla RabbitGirl Bunny Names for American Chinchilla Rabbit

These names highlight their distinctive coloration and gentle nature, making them fitting choices for your American Chinchilla Rabbit.

Also read: Popular Pet Rabbit (Bunny) Names (Girl/Boy)

Frequently Asked Questions About the Rabbit

Are American Chinchilla rabbits rare?

American Chinchillas have become very rare. They are regarded as an endangered breed.

How much does an American Chinchilla rabbit cost?

An American Chinchilla bunny will cost between $40 and $150 in the US, depending on factors such as age, quality, and whether it is purebred or not.

Where can I buy an American Chinchilla rabbit?

Look for breeders who belong to the American Chinchilla Rabbit Breeders Association

There are about a dozen breeders of American Chinchilla rabbits in the United States.

Do American Chinchilla rabbits get along with other pets?

No rabbit gets along very well with a large snake. 

Adult rabbits are compatible with cats and gentle dogs, but a hunting dog and a rabbit are a potentially tragic combination.

How often do I need to groom my American Chinchilla rabbit?

Once a week is enough. American Chinchilla rabbits do not require frequent grooming, but they will benefit from occasional brushing to remove loose fur, especially during molting seasons.

Do American Chinchilla rabbits get sick very often?

American Chinchilla rabbits are especially susceptible to a viral condition called myxomatosis. They get it by interacting with wild rabbits.

The first signs of this infection are puffy eyelids. If you see your rabbit with this symptom, separate it from other rabbits immediately!

The infection progresses to pneumonia and death in 7 to 10 days.

Unfortunately, there is no treatment or cure for myxomatosis. The infection is most common in wild rabbits in California.

Fortunately, as long as you make sure your rabbit does not run off to mingle with other rabbits in the wild, it should be safe.

Another health issue in large rabbits is overgrown teeth. You can prevent the problem by making sure your rabbit gets lots of hay every day. Your vet can file down your rabbit’s teeth if necessary.

Are Chinchillas Lagomorphs?

No, chinchillas are not lagomorphs. They are rodents belonging to the order Rodentia and the family Chinchillidae.

Lagomorphs, on the other hand, are a separate order of mammals that include rabbits and hares. Both rodents and lagomorphs have some similar characteristics, such as continuously growing incisors, but they are not the same, and chinchillas are not included in the lagomorphs category.

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