Chinchillas: Their Unique Form of Protection
Every animal on earth has it's own form of protection to help it survive the dangers of predators. While some animals dependent mostly on teeth and claws for self preservation, others have the ability to blend in with their environment, release quills or other defenses to help even the odds between themselves and the animal that is stalking them.
Most animals first defense mechanism is to run and hide in order to avoid capture and Chinchillas are no exception and all things being equal they are quite adapt at this as their can fit into places much smaller than their looks would indicate. However, if cornered Chinchillas will resort to an interesting number of defensive mechanisms to escape a predator.
When cornered and threatened Chinchillas most often females will stand on their hind legs issue a warning and as the predator approaches shoot a stream of urine at their attacker. While this does drive some attackers away it really isn't much use against a really determined predator. This is where it's really unique form of protection comes into play. The Chinchilla finding that spraying doesn't work will often turn it's back on it's attacker.
There is a reason it does this, by turning it's back on the attacker it protects it's throat and belly from being grabbed and forces the attacker to bite through the dense fur on the chinchilla's back and side. While many would think this is of little help to such as small helpless looking animal, it actually gives them a fighting chance to escape as the chin has the ability to slip it's fur leaving the predator with a mouth full of fur and little else. Slipping the fur causes a bald spot on the chin but no pain and the fur can quickly grow back.
Many new chinchillas owners who have not done their research before buying a chinchilla as a pet has tried to pick up a new chin and been startled and concerned when they find they are holding a handful of fur and their new pet is sporting a bald spot. Panicked they call the breeder from who they bought their chin or a vet thinking their new pet is seriously ill. While this is an amusing occurrence to those who have owned or handled chins on a regular basis it can indeed be frightening to a new owner. They are much relieved when they discover that this is a normal protection mechanism for their new pet.
While the old adage of never turning your back on an enemy may hold true for most of the animal kingdom, for the Chinchilla it is often a life saving necessity.