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The Hugs & Kisses Issue

Cute Attack!

Chinchillas are widely recognized as the cutest animals in existence. They have big, fluffy ears and are so soft it makes your palm tingle to touch them.

by Russell Bongard
Dec 1 2004, 12:00am


Photo by Tim Barber

Chinchillas are widely recognized as the cutest animals in existence. They have big, fluffy ears and are so soft it makes your palm tingle to touch them. They are the Veuve Clicquot not only of the slaughtered-and-butchered-fur-coat world but also of the wiggly-squiggly-cute-pet arena.

And they're cheap! The standard gray males cost between $100–$120, while the females go for $180–$200. Exclusively bred chinchillas—which come in custom colors like caramel and chocolate and are often of show quality—are only $400–$600! Do you know how much a boring, slobbery purebred dog costs? Upwards of $1,000. That's like paying $5 for each pile of "doggie diamonds" they leave on your Persian rug.

Nicole Janik is an executive assistant at the Pfizer pharmaceutical corporation in Manhattan and the proud owner of Chistery and Dakota, five-year-old brothers of the standard gray variety. She couldn't be happier with her little fur blobs. An avid animal nut with a contagious case of chinchilla fever, she chose her pets after discovering a heartbreaking allergy to cats. Plus, Nicole works long hours, which would be hard on a demanding puppy.

Because the chinchilla is such a clean animal—it can't support ticks and fleas in its thick luxurious fur—it is a perfect companion for those with typical animal allergies. And being left alone for extended periods of time? No problem! Chinchillas are incredibly self-sufficient and are so low-maintenance, they can actually be left alone over a weekend without their health or safety becoming an issue.

The main caveat chinchilla-tor is that you cannot feed them cabbage, corn, or lettuce or they will die of farts (google it if you don't believe me). They're very delicate animals. You can't even hug them too tight or their eyes super-bug out like they're going to pop, which is painful for them.

Barring that, they can live to be 20 years old! A gentle, quiet demeanor along with a wonderful curiosity make the chinchilla the ideal companion for the city guy, gal, or gay person!

Take it from Nicole: "They are the cutest things in the world! They look like little teddy bears!"