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15 Animals That Look Like Chinchillas (With Photos)

Chinchillas are small and active rodents native to rocky regions in South America with plenty of lookalikes!

Examples of animals that look like chinchillas include common wombats, plains viscachas, common degus, gerbils, pikas, gophers, agoutis, prairie dogs, and many others.

Do some of them sound familiar? Let’s jump straight in and see what each of these chinchilla doppelgängers looks like!

Chinchilla Visual Appearance

Long-tailed chinchilla

Animals That Look Like Chinchillas

Mongolian Gerbil

Mongolian Gerbil
  • Scientific name: Meriones unguiculatus 
  • Size: 4.3-5.3 in 
  • Weight: 2-4.6 oz
  • Found In: Worldwide

Mongolian gerbils, also known as Mongolian jirds, are small rodents originating from Asia that were brought to the US in 1954. 

These chinchilla lookalikes are a very popular pet choice due to their curious personalities and very active nature. 

In the wild, Mongolian gerbils inhabit grasslands, shrublands, and deserts, living in small patriarchial groups that include the pair, their most recent pups, some older pups, and the dominant female’s sisters. 

They use their sense of smell to identify members of the group and will often attack those with unfamiliar scents. 

Gerbils produce very little body fluids to adapt to living in the desert, making them very clean and with little to almost no odor.

Common Wombat

  • Scientific name: Vombatus ursinus 
  • Size: 31-51 in 
  • Weight: 57 lb 
  • Found In: Australia

These short-legged and muscular marsupials are native to Australia. 

Common wombats have small, stubby tails, rodent-like front teeth, and powerful claws.

They are herbivores and live in groups called mobs.

Common wombats dig and live in burrows with large tunnels and chambers. When they sense danger, they will dive down and block the burrow entrance with their butts to prevent predators from entering.

Their buns of steel consist of cartilage, fat, thick skin, and fur, protecting them from any significant harm.

These animals are mostly nocturnal but might come out during the day when the weather is cooler. A very solitary and territorial species, wombats mostly inhabit open grasslands and eucalyptus forests.

Despite originating from different continents, wombats and chinchillas share some similarities. Both have round and furry bodies and teeth that grow throughout their lifetime. 

Fun Fact: For unknown reasons, wombats have cube-shaped feces. 

Plains Viscacha

Plains Viscacha
  • Scientific name: Lagostomus maximus 
  • Size: 18.5-26 in
  • Weight: up to 19.8 lb
  • Found In: South America

Plains viscachas or plains vizcachas are rodents found in Paraguay, Bolivia, and Argentina. 

They are closely related to chinchillas and that’s why these two species share many similarities – people often describe viscachas as crosses between short-tailed chinchillas and hares. 

Plains viscachas are slender but large animals with grayish-brown coats, short front legs, long back legs, and long bushy tails, just like chinchillas. And just like them, viscachas are nocturnal.

These colonial animals live in burrows called vizcacheras with one or several males, several females, and immatures. 

They are rather fast and will try to escape danger with sharp turns and long leaps. Plains viscachas are herbivores that mostly feed on seeds and grasses.

Common Degu

Common Degu
  • Scientific name: Octodon degus 
  • Size: 10-12 in 
  • Weight: 6-14 oz
  • Found In: South America

Common degus are small rodents native to Chile. 

They are close relatives of chinchillas as they belong to the same family. And just like chinchillas, degus need sand baths to keep their coat in top condition – in the wild, they will mark an area of sand with urine and roll around it. 

Degus have yellow-brown fur, long tails with tufted tips, and large eyes and ears. 

They are very social animals that also live in burrows. Common degus dig together by forming digging chains while females that live in the same group are known to help with nursing one another’s young. 

Degus are herbivores and feed on leaves, seeds, and grasses, often storing food in their burrow for the winter. When they detect danger, they will make alarm calls to warn the rest of the colony of predators. 

They are often used as research subjects but have been recently gaining popularity as pets due to their friendly personalities and ease of training.


  • Scientific name: Cricetinae
  • Size: 2-14 in 
  • Weight: 0.9-16.2 oz 
  • Found In: Worldwide

There are 19 species of hamsters today. 

These small rodents resemble chinchillas and both species make popular pet choices. 

Hamsters have stout builds with long cheek pouches they use to carry food, short tails, and small furry ears. Depending on the species, their fur can be black, gray, brown, yellow, white, red, or mixed. 

These animals are nearsighted and colorblind, relying mostly on their sense of smell to distinguish each other and their sense of hearing to hear well and communicate with one another. 

Hamsters are omnivores; in the wild, they will feed on insects, seeds, and grass. They are known for food hoarding, stuffing their cheek pouches and carrying the food to their underground chambers – this might make them look funny as their heads look two or three times larger. 

Strictly solitary, hamsters are mostly nocturnal or crepuscular animals that are most active at dawn or dusk. 

Guinea Pig

Guinea Pig
  • Scientific name: Cavia porcellus 
  • Size: 8-10 in
  • Weight: 1.5-2.6 lb
  • Found In: Worldwide

Guinea pigs, also known as cavies, are domesticated South American rodents. 

They are related to chinchillas and both have long ears, large eyes, bushy tails, and open-rooted systems that result in the continuous growth of all teeth. 

Despite the name, guinea pigs are not native to Guinea and instead originated in the South American Andes; they aren’t related to pigs either. 

After they were introduced to Europe and North America around the 16th century, guinea pigs became very popular pets. These large rodents live around four to five years but the longest-living guinea pig reached an incredible 14 years and 10 months!

What makes them unique is their catlike purring behavior when happy, along with several other vocalizations. Guinea pigs are rather talkative species and love to communicate with their own kind – that’s why they should be always kept in pairs of small groups. 

They are also crepuscular and stay awake for up to 20 hours a day. 

Prairie Dog

prairie dogs
  • Scientific name: Cynomys
  • Size: 12-15 in
  • Weight: 2-4 lb
  • Found In: North America

Prairie dogs are small and furry animals that resemble chinchillas a bit. 

They have short tails, small rounded ears, and short legs.

Prairie dogs live in dry grasslands, at altitudes ranging from 2,000 to 10,000 ft above sea level. 

Prairie dogs mate only once a year – females get into heat for a single hour. Males, no pressure.

They are not actually dogs but they got their name from the prairie they live in and because of their warning calls that sound like barks.

When eating, these rodents with complex social systems and methods of communication will be on the lookout for predators. When “scouts” spot something while the others are browsing, they will release a loud alarm bark so the others run to the safety of their burrow.

Prairie dogs have a huge effect on the environment; many species will use their mounds and their mound-building behavior helps improve the soil by encouraging grass development and renewal of minerals in the ground.

Read More: List of animals that are a spitting image of a prairie dog

Rufous Bettong

Rufous Bettong
  • Scientific name: Aepyprymnus rufescens 
  • Size: 15.3 in 
  • Weight: 5.5-7.7 lb
  • Found In: Australia

Rufous bettongs or rufous rat-kangaroos are a solitary species native to eastern Australia. 

These small mammals have a similar fur color to chinchillas – shaggy gray with pale gray underparts. Other similarities include short muzzles and back limbs longer than the front ones. 

Just like chinchillas, rufous bettongs move by placing the front legs on the ground and bringing the back legs together – they might also hop like kangaroos. 

They inhabit dry open woodlands, wet sclerophyll forests, and coastal eucalypt forests where they feed on fungi, herbs, roots, and tubers. During the day, they will spend time in shallow ground “nests”. 

Rufous bettongs are most active during the night and similar to other marsupials, they carry their young in a pouch.

Sugar Glider

Sugar glider
  • Scientific name: Petaurus breviceps 
  • Size: 9-12 in
  • Weight: 4-5 oz 
  • Found In: Australia

Sugar gliders, small and arboreal marsupials native to Australia and New Guinea, resemble chinchillas due to their very soft and cuddly gray coats. 

They can glide half the length of a football field thanks to their “wings”, thin skin stretched between their wrists and ankles. 

Sugar gliders are nocturnal animals that can see well in the dark due to their big black eyes. 

Highly social, these chinchilla lookalikes live in small colonies with around 7 adults and their young. When temperatures drop below freezing, they will sleep huddled together or drop into a hibernation-like state called torpor. 

Despite the name, they are omnivores with a sweet tooth and consume both plant and animal matter (birds and lizards). Their pocket size, big eyes, and gliding superpowers make them also a popular pet choice.

California Ground Squirrel

California Ground Squirrel
  • Scientific name: Otospermophilus beecheyi
  • Size: 12 in
  • Weight: 0.6-1.6 lb
  • Found In: North America

California ground squirrels are small rodents of the squirrel family that live on the ground rather than in trees. 

Also known as Beechey ground squirrels, they are found in the western USA and the Baja California Peninsula.

California ground squirrels resemble long-tailed chinchillas the most – both are similar in size and have short legs, claws, grayish coats, and small rounded ears. 

Ground squirrels prefer to live in open areas, rocky outcrops, fields, pastures, and wooded hillsides. They are omnivorous animals that feed on fungi, nuts, fruits, seeds, occasionally insects, eggs, and other small animals.

Ground squirrels will excavate and live in burrows. In parts of the country with lots of snow, they might hibernate for several months. Due to their habit of eating ornamental plants and trees, people consider California ground squirrels as pets.

Besides California ground squirrel, there are over 60 species of these long-bodied terrestrial rodents that are active during the day.

Eastern Chipmunk

Eastern Chipmunk
  • Scientific name: Tamias striatus 
  • Size: 12 in 
  • Weight: 2.3-5.3 oz 
  • Found In: North America

Chipmunks are other members of the squirrel family that share many visual similarities with chinchillas. 

They are small animals with large and glossy eyes and small ears.

Eastern chipmunks are found in eastern parts of North America and their name translates from the indigenous Ojibwe language as “one who descends trees headlong.” 

Eastern chipmunks are found in deciduous wooded areas and urban parks from southern Canada to the eastern United States – they can climb trees but prefer to make underground tunnels with several entrances.  

Chipmunks are omnivores that feed on seeds, fruits, nuts, and grass, but also on fungi, insects, small frogs, worms, and even bird eggs. Just like hamsters, eastern chipmunks have cheek pouches with extendable skin that they use to carry food to their burrows.


pocket gopher
Source: Daderot, CC0, via Wikimedia Commons
  • Scientific name: Geomyidae 
  • Size: 6-8 in
  • Weight: 1-2.2 lb
  • Found In: Central and North America

Gophers or pocket gophers are small rodents that weigh between 1 and 2.2 pounds, just like chinchillas. 

There are around 41 species of gophers living in North and Central America and they got their name from their large, fur-lined cheek pouches. 

Gophers mostly live in underground tunnels, eat plants, have nearly brown fur, sharp teeth that can be seen with their mouths closed, and hibernate in the winter.

Mostly known for their extensive tunnel-building activities and the ability to destroy gardens and farms, people now consider them to be pests.

Outside of the breeding season, gophers are mostly solitary – they are very territorial and will aggressively protect their areas. Their most common predators are hawks, snakes, and weasels.

Read more: The only 3 weasel species found in Michigan

American Pika

American Pika
  • Scientific name: Ochotona princeps
  • Size: 6.4-8.5 in
  • Weight: 6 oz
  • Found In: North America

American pikas are small herbivorous mammals that share some physical similarities with the chinchillas as both animals have short limbs, very round bodies, short ears, and furry coats.

American pikas can be found in the mountains of western North America; the other North American species are collared pikas. 

They do not hibernate but collect plants, grasses, leaves, and flowers all summer, dry them in “hay piles” under large rocks, and then feed on them during winter.

You will often hear before you see these animals; they love to make high-pitched horn-like noises. Pikas might use such alarm calls to differentiate between colony members and warn others trying to steal food items from a colony pile.

American pikas love to live in the spaces between broken rocks, so they camouflage quite well with their surroundings. 


  • Scientific name: Marmota
  • Size: 17-28 in
  • Weight:  6-15 lb
  • Found In: Asia, Europe, and North America

Marmots are large, heavily-built animals that live in mountain regions of Europe, North America, northwest Asia, Pakistan, and India. 

And if you ask us, marmots are just chinchillas that have been eating too much food. Both look alike and have prominent eyes on their heads, round ears, tails, and claws. Marmots are, of course, a lot bigger than chinchillas.

Their fur color depends on their surroundings – animals that live in more open habitats will mostly have paler colors, while those in well-forested areas will be darker.

They will hibernate for 7-8 months in a year and can lose two-thirds of their body weight during that period.

Marmots will use hind-leg lookouts to watch for predators; when they spot one, marmots will whistle loudly. 

They are a large group of rodents that consists of 15 species (including groundhogs) that love to live in burrows – during winter they hibernate there. 


  • Scientific name: Dasyprocta
  • Size: 2 ft
  • Weight: 13 lb
  • Found In: Central and South America

Agoutis are the last on our list of chinchilla-like animals. 

These burrowing creatures are native to forested and wooded areas in Central and South America. 

Agoutis have rounded bodies, brown or gray fur, and small ears – there are 11 species in total.

They are known as jungle gardeners -they will bury their nuts in the ground and forget about them, allowing new plants to grow.

Agoutis are born with their eyes open, they make great swimmers when they grow up, and are said to be the only animals that can open a brazil nut.

Similar to prairie dogs, they will bark when scared.

Read More: 20+ examples of animals that are red and black


This concludes our list of animals that look like chinchillas. 

Examples include several species of marmots, agoutis, hamsters, sugar gliders, gerbils, and many others. 

We hope you enjoyed our article; if you did, feel free to check: Examples of animals that look like buffalos

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