Long-tailed Chinchilla - Chinchilla lanigera
Chinchillas (“Little Chincha” - named after the Chincha people native to their habitat) are crepuscular (active at dawn and dusk) rodents found in the mountainous regions of Chile, in South America. They live in cool, rocky areas, and get by with very little water. In fact, the adaptation to the cold, dry climate means that their thick, soft coats are very ill-equipped to deal with water. Chinchillas clean themselves by "bathing" in volcanic dust.
There are two species of chinchilla - the Long-Tailed (Chinchilla lanigera) and Short-Tailed (Chinchilla chinchilla), both of which are critically endangered in the wild. The largest wild chinchilla population lives around Las Chinchillas National Reserve, in central Chile.
Despite being critically endangered in the wild, domestic pet chinchillas (believed to have descended from the long-tailed chinchilla) are, for the first time, more common than “fur farm” chinchillas (their soft coats are coveted for fur jackets, despite their small size), at least in the United States and Europe.
These creatures require a fair amount of specialized care to keep their coats and teeth healthy, but are not considered difficult keepers, assuming the owner is willing to deal with very little daytime activity and will provide ample exercise and dust-bath time. Unlike many pet rodents, they do not easily adjust their sleep cycles, and will likely remain crepuscular for their entire lives - which, also unlike many pet rodents, can be between 12 to 20 years, barring infection or poor genetics.
Transactions of the Scientific Proceedings of the Zoological Society of London, 1835.