The Oxford dictionary calls the chinchilla simply a "genus of small rodents" but the town of Oakhurst in California, U.
The Oxford dictionary calls the chinchilla simply a "genus of small rodents" but the town of Oakhurst in California, U.S.A. is rather more enthusiastic about the multi-million dollar fur industry they have riding on the chinchilla's back.
Oakhurst is known as the chinchilla capital of the world. Its exclusive chinchilla dressing plant is the largest in the world -- capable of processing 90,000 furs a year.
With top-grade pelts fetching up to 60 dollars (L25 sterling) each, those in the industry are not exaggerating when they say they can make a "pretty good living".
Within two years a herd can be built up to include about 500 breeding females with another 300 animals being prepared for pelting at a time.
The average time from the birth of a chinchilla to pelting is about nine months. Raising chinchillas can be a part-time job. And there is a market for all the pelts that can be raised.
After butchering the pelt goes though about 50 processes -- such as cleaning, trimming and grading. Even the lowest grade pelt should fetch about 25 dollars (L10 sterling).
The luxurious blue fur garments that are made from Oakhurst-grown chinchillas go mostly for export and the majority and up on the glamorous ladies of Europe.