The violet chinchilla is a particularly lovely coat color for a pet chinchilla!
If you are thinking about adding a violet chinchilla to your family, this is definitely the article you need to read!
We’ll take a close look at the history of the violet chinchilla and how the lovely violet coat color was developed.
We’ll also look at different colors and patterns within the violet chinchilla spectrum, how to care for a violet chinchilla, and more!
What is a violet chinchilla?
A chinchilla is a small mammal that calls the South American Andes mountain range home.
Evolutionary biologists have traced the chinchilla’s roots back an astonishing 41 million years!
So how did the chinchilla make it from the Andes mountains into the homes and hearts of pet owners like you?
In 1927, a small group of 13 chinchillas were imported to the United States. It is thought that all pet chinchillas today are descended from these original 13!
Chinchillas are popular for their incredibly soft, thick, luxurious fur and their sweet personalities as pets.
Chinchillas in the wild are very social and live in large family groups that can number into the hundreds.
Because of where they come from, chinchillas are not tolerant of heat or high humidity. This can make them difficult to care for as pets in some climates.
Originally, all chinchillas exhibited a similar gray/yellow coat color.
The violet chinchilla coat color was developed through deliberate controlled breeding in captivity.
History of the violet chinchilla coat color
The violet chinchilla coat color first appeared in a herd of chinchillas kept on a Rhodesian ranch.
It is sometimes called lilac, lavender, afro-violet, Sullivan violet or African violet.
Loyd Sullivan, a rancher from Oakhurst, California, was traveling through Rhodesia (now Zimbabwe) in 1960 and saw the uniquely-colored chinchillas.
He purchased the whole herd on the spot and somehow smuggled them successfully halfway around the world back to his ranch outside of Los Angeles.
The rest of America got their first glimpse of the now-renamed “Sullivan Violet” chinchillas in 1967 at a chinchilla show.
The United Kingdom was first introduced to the violet chinchilla when an enthusiast named Fred Duggins imported violet chinchilla parents into the country from Canada in the late 1980s.
The rest, it would seem, is history – the color quickly caught on and is now one of the most popular chinchilla coat colors today!
Description of the violet chinchilla coat color
The violet chinchilla is just one of many beautiful chinchilla coat colors that pet chinchillas are bred to display.
The violet coat coloration can range from gray to purple.
It may be solid violet throughout, or solid or patterned violet on top with a white belly underneath.
The violet coat color is notoriously influenced by ambient lighting, which means it can take a closer look to figure out if the gray coat has a lilac or purple hue to it!
A violet chinchilla typically also has black eyes, a gray nose and gray ears.
The fur often appears very soft and plush because there is no “tipping” (darker coloration at the ends of each hair).
What is most interesting about the violet color is that it can potentially show up as a variation in any of the common chinchilla coat colors.
Common colors include:
You can see some great pictures that showcase the exceptionally lovely color range of the violet chinchilla on this breeder site.
Chinchilla violet color variations
The violet chinchilla is a recessive coat color.
Both parents must carry the violet coat color gene in order for the baby to be a violet chinchilla.
So breeding healthy violet chinchillas requires expert knowledge of genetics.
To breed healthy violet chinchilla babies, the breeder must pair chinchilla parents very carefully.
A good breeder knows the health of all the animals in their breeding lines.
And they also have a good idea (often through a process of deduction) what coat color genes they carry.
But if that isn’t confusing enough, then you have all the different violet coat color variations to consider as well!
For example, in addition to the solid violet coat color, some of the best known violet coat variations include:
- white violet chinchilla
- violet wrap chinchilla
- beige violet chinchilla
- and chinchilla violet velvet.
Common violet variations
Let’s unpick some of those terms in more detail!
A solid violet chinchilla has the basic violet color all over their body, including the underbelly area.
The term “violet wrap” means a darker color will extend to the underbelly and that fur won’t be as light.
This is caused by the ebony gene.
“Velvet” means “Touch of Velvet” or TOV.
It refers to a darker veil or wrap that’s mild or even quite pronounced.
In mild cases, it looks like a darker shading across the coat.
In pronounced cases the chinchilla has a darker stripe running down the center of the body and/or on the face/paws.
White Violet chinchillas carry one copy of the violet gene, and one copy of the white gene.
The result is the softest possible shade of lilac.
“Fading violet,” which is sometimes also called “recessive white,” means the fur on the extremities (ears, nose, tail) gets lighter as the chinchilla grows up.
The violet is lightened with the addition of a cream or beige hue to the coat.
This chinchilla coat variation also typically produces eyes with a purple hue.
In addition to each of these violet chinchilla coat color variations, there can be many others.
The limit really only exists in following good genetic breeding practices and the breeder’s imagination!
The violet chinchilla as a pet
The violet chinchilla has the same care requirements and enrichment and nutrition needs as all pet chinchillas.
Chinchillas are best kept alone, as they can become aggressive towards each other in adulthood.
All chinchillas are nocturnal. This means they typically sleep during the daylight hours and become more active after dusk.
Chinchilla pets are tamed and handled easily. They rarely bite, although they may give you “love nibbles” (not unlike what a pet cat might do to show you affection!).
They are also quite smart and can even learn simple tricks.
However, because they are small and sometimes anxious, chinchillas aren’t ideal pets for young children.
Violet chinchilla care
Your pet violet chinchilla is quite susceptible to heatstroke, and he needs to live in a low humidity habitat.
Temperatures between 65 to 80 degrees Fahrenheit (18.33 to 26.66 degrees Celsius) suit him best.
Provide dust baths a few times per week and take your veterinarian’s guidance regarding food and treats.
With a good diet, enrichment, the proper habitat and access to preventative veterinary care, chinchillas can live anywhere from 10 to 20 years .
Choosing a violet chinchilla
The violet chinchilla coat color is extremely popular right now.
The violet coat color is the result of breeding for a recessive gene expression.
So it can take some skill to breed healthy violet chinchilla babies.
Chinchillas can be surprisingly long-lived for such a small rodent pet!
You are making a significant commitment of time and finances if you choose a chinchilla for a pet.
This also means it is so important to choose a responsible chinchilla breeder to work with.
The breeder you choose should happily answer all your questions and give you an initial guarantee of good health.
Alternately, if you plan to rescue a violet chinchilla, you will need to take extra steps to verify your new pet is healthy.
The best strategy is to have your own veterinarian examine the chinchilla. Get an initial guarantee of health from the rescue organization.
You can also do your own research. Contact chinchilla clubs and veterinarians in the breeder’s local area to verify that the breeder has a reputation for responsible breeding.
Is a violet chinchilla the right pet for you?
What do you think?
Are you considering bringing a sweet violet chinchilla home to join your family?
Please drop us a comment to share your thoughts!
Bradford, A., “Fun Facts About Chinchillas,” Live Science, 2014.
Donnelly, T., “Chinchillas,” Merck Veterinary Manual, 2018.
Mock, K., et al, “Chinchilla Care,” Animal Humane Society, 2018.
Cave, D., “Breeding Techniques,” The Chinchilla Club, 2018.