The wild chinchilla is grey in color, with a white belly, a brushy tail and bald ears, but many color mutations have been bred into the pets. Some of these include black, brown, beige, white, and a bluish or violet tint to the grey fur, as well as mutations that cause the animal to have patches of color on white ("mosaic") or cause the base color to wrap around the normally white belly ("ebony"). Its fur is incredibly soft due to the fact that chinchillas unlike other mammals have several very thin hairs in each follicle. The fur is cleaned through a roll in very fine sand, a "dust bath".
The bottoms of a chinchilla's paws are bald and feature short claws much resembling human nails. They are able to grasp and hold small items with their front paws.
Chinchillas are short-sighted, active and excellent jumpers and climbers. When frightened, especially if grabbed or stuck somewhere, they will lose patches of fur much like certain species of lizard lose their tails to escape predators.
- Chinchilladae family at Animal Diversity Web