Chinchilla Food and Treats

People who have chinchillas as pets will tell you that they are the best small pets to have. They are cute fluffy little animals with a thick coat, but this has unfortunately made them a target to some people who hunt them for their thick coats. When you own this precious animal your life will equally become precious because of their friendliness and playful nature. Unlike other rodents, however, chinchillas need to be put on a very strict diet because they have sensitive stomachs and may easily become ill if fed the wrong type of food. If you are planning to get a chinchilla you need to be 100 percent sure that you are ready to devote your time, energy, and resources to ensure their well-being. Avoid any foods that might cause health issues to your chin.

best chinchilla food

A Guide Into Chinchilla Food and Diet

Chinchillas are herbivores meaning that they only eat plant-based food. They also only eat certain types of food for them to remain healthy and happy. There are foods you should avoid giving your chin, but below is a guide on the types of food you can feed to your pet chinchilla.

Loose Feed Mixture

chinchilla Loose Feed Mixture

Some chinchilla foods come as a loose mixture, and you should only get ones specially produced by chinchillas. You can feed your pet loose feed mixture occasionally as a treat because it will most likely choose the tastiest pieces and leave the rest and may, therefore, not get all the nutrients it needs. It is best to select mixes that have little amounts of treats and high fiber.

Pellets

chinchilla pellets

There are commercially made foods specifically for chinchillas. They are produced in the form of pellets, and they include all the nutrients your chinchilla will need, and you can easily get these pellets from any of the online or local pet stores. It is recommended that you feed the pellets to a chinchilla because this way you are sure it will get the right amounts of protein, fat, and fiber it needs. This is compared to when you feed it with loose mixes which will encourage your chin to pick what it wants from the mix and, therefore, will not get all the nutrients it needs, and this may be hazardous to your pet.

Chinchillas are mostly known to be active early in the morning, and late in the evening, so you need to feed your pet during these times. You need to feed your chinchilla about two tablespoons of pellets in a day by giving it one tablespoon in the morning and one in the evening. It is essential to make sure that the pellets are always available in order to make sure that your chinchilla is well-fed so that it remains healthy.

Foods always expire when they stay for long so you need to make sure that the pellets have not stayed for more than six months because it will lose most of its nutrients thus damaging the health of your chinchilla.

Hay

chinchilla hay food

Hay is made from dried grass and is an essential meal in your chinchilla’s diet, and you need to provide it with a variety of good quality hay. Chinchillas need to eat grass and hay because chewing it for a long time helps wear down their teeth which grow continuously throughout their life and keep them at the correct length. Eating hay prevents your chinchilla from developing severe dental problems. Hay also contains a high amount of fiber which is excellent for your chinchilla’s digestive health. Hay prevents obesity and diarrhea, and it helps keep your pet occupied through chewing activity.

The hay should always be available, and it should be fresh. You also need to change the hay in your chinchilla’s habitat only when it is soiled in order to prevent the chinchilla from becoming a picky eater, but the change needs to be done on a daily basis.

There are also hay cubes for chinchilla owners who are allergic to hay. The hay cubes do not produce dust, and you can get them from online or pet stores.

chinchilla hay

Types of Hay to Feed Your Chinchilla

Timothy hay: It is green, and it comes in three cuts which vary depending on what kind of eater your chinchilla is – whether it is a picky eater or not. It has low amounts of protein and is high in fiber. It’s also very common so finding it will be easy.

Oat hay: It is a good source of fiber and has low protein. You should feed oat hay sparingly because it comes with oat heads. It is brownish in color.

Orchard grass: This is leafy hay and is high in fiber and has low protein. It has green to bluish green leaves depending on its maturity.

Alfalfa hay: This hay is suitable for young, sick, pregnant or nursing chinchillas, but it can also be fed to healthy chins as an occasional treat. It is bright-green, sweet and is highly nutritious.

Water

Your chinchilla must always have clean, fresh water because the pellets and hay do not contain enough amount of water. You can get water bottles that are specially designed for chinchillas from the store. Ensure that the bottle is clean and that you change the water daily to prevent a buildup of algae which will cause the water to have a foul taste and develop harmful bacteria, and be sure to check the water levels throughout the day. It is thus recommended that you have two water bottles to make sure that your pet has water even when you are washing the bottle. Your pet should also be able to reach and drink the water without effort. The water aids in the digestion of fiber thus preventing bowel obstructions and toxicity caused by bacteria.

Avoid giving your pet distilled water or water that contains high levels of sodium because the sodium will cause dehydration in your chinchilla. Dehydration will cause your chinchilla to become ill and stop eating, so you need to pay attention to the water you give to your pet.

Dietary Supplements

Dietary supplements are essential in your pet’s diet because it will not get all the nutrients from the regular food. Salt blocks provide essential minerals to your chinchilla although they are not very necessary. You can also add vitamin C supplements to the water your pet is drinking.

If your chinchilla is pregnant, nursing ill, or less than a year old you can add alfalfa hay to its grass hay diet because it is beneficial due to its higher nutritional value. For healthy chinchillas, only give the hay as treats once in a while. It is recommended that you talk to your vet before giving your pet dietary supplements apart from the alfalfa hay.

Eating Poop

Do not be alarmed when you see your chinchilla eating its own poop. It is normal and healthy for chinchillas to eat their droppings as it provides the necessary nutrients and minerals. Baby chinchillas also eat adult poop because they too need the nutrients.

chinchilla eating poop

Treats: What Treats Should You Give Your Chin?

Chinchillas are really good at begging to be given treats, but you need to learn to be strict with your pet especially because you don’t want its health to suffer. Treats should only be offered after the chinchilla has eaten its daily food. Do not give it too many treats because the chinchilla may refuse to eat its healthy regular food. The treats may also contain high quantities of certain nutrients which may become harmful to the chinchilla.

Treats that are great for your pet’s diet include hibiscus, dried rose hips, and dandelion leaves. Although chinchillas love dried fruits, seeds, and nuts, you should feed these to them in minimal amounts or don’t feed them at all because chinchillas easily gain weight and they may cause obesity, and high amounts of sugar may lead to digestive problems. Treats will also help you and your chinchilla to interact and develop a strong bond.

Twigs and small branches may not sound like a big deal, but they also make for tasty treats for your pet. You can feed your pet twigs from trees that are safe. Make sure you know which tree twigs are safe for your chinchilla to avoid fatality. The trees should also be free of pesticides and other toxins.

Fruits and Greens

chinchilla and watermelon

Fresh fruits and vegetables are essential in your pet’s diet. They provide the necessary nutrients and minerals to the chinchilla and also increase its water intake. Make sure to cut the fruits and vegetables into tiny pieces. These should be given occasionally and should not make more than 10 percent of your pet’s diet. Do not feed your chinchilla any fruits and vegetables if it is not feeling well. Remove the fruits and vegetables from the cage once they stop being fresh.

Pay attention to your pet’s droppings. A healthy chinchilla that eats well every day will pass a lot of dry droppings. A chinchilla that produces little or no droppings is an indication that the pet might be ill and you need to take him to the vet right away.

It is very important that you do not make any sudden changes to your pet’s diet and instead, you should introduce new foods gradually. This will prevent your chinchilla from getting diarrhea and becoming ill due to shock to the digestive system. Consult your vet if your pet starts showing signs of abnormal behavior when you introduce a new food.

Before you buy any food for your chin make sure it does not contain any artificial flavors or preservatives as this may significantly affect your chinchilla’s health. Remember also to discard food that has not been eaten every day and clean the bowl before refilling it.

Chinchilla Food

Chinchillas originate from dry mountain area and have adapted to eating dry food. Feeding them food that contains moisture may cause them to become bloated, and this will be fatal since chinchillas cannot pass out gas.

Recommended Dry Foods for Chinchillas

Chinchilla treats

You need to be very mindful of the treats you give to your pet. There are certain foods which may seem okay but which may be harmful to your chinchilla, and you should avoid giving it to them at all costs.

Recommended chinchilla treats

Bottom Line

Feeding your chinchilla will not be a hard task for you if you follow the diet as required. You should not assume that your chinchilla is just like any other rodent and feed it what you would feed your guinea pig or rabbit. Also, remember to take it to the vet whenever it does not show normal behavior. Treat it as you would treat your child who is allergic to most food and needs to be monitored closely, and this will ensure your pet lives a long, comfortable, healthy life away from its natural habitat.

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