5 days ago
Saturday, January 31, 2009
What's That Raccoon Doing in PetSmart?
Believe it or not, those words came out of my mouth last night.
As I would later find out (by reading the sign near the bottom of the cage), I was staring at a chinchilla. It appeared to be a cross between a rabbit, mouse, and a squirrel, with more hair than all three combined. Apparently, chinchillas have as much as 50 hairs per follicle to our 1 hair per follicle.
This was quite a revelation for me, because I thought I'd seen all manner of house pet in my thirty years: dogs, cats, snakes, mice, turtles, newts and other lizard-type things, birds, tigers, etc. Thanks to a little wikipedia research, I discovered that chinchillas are rodents; are nocturnal but adaptable to daytime living; lack the ability to sweat; and if frightened, they spray urine at their would-be assailant. A friend of my mine did that using a water gun once, but that's a different story...
Oh, and they take what are called dust bathes, where they roll around in a special kind of pumice (domesticated) or the dust of volcanic rocks (wild), to clean themselves. Because of their overabundance of hair (which is resistant to fleas), they shouldn't get wet.
No joke, but the one I saw last night was able to leap four feet into the air without a running start. I shouldn't say that, because the 76ers might try to sign it.
It would have been great to bring it home, but our German Shorthaired Pointer would have probably scared it to death.