What do you feed a chinchilla?

Chinchillas are delicate creatures which require proper care. Caring for this type of rodent includes proper diet. When properly taken care of, these animals may live up to more than ten years. In their natural habitat, chinchillas mostly feed on hay and tree barks.

These gentle but active creatures’ diet also includes an ample amount of vegetables such as carrot and leafy greens, and fruits like apples and berries as well as specific kinds of flowers. A balance mix of these foods can be beneficial to chinchillas’ overall dietary nutrition. In the wild, chinchillas even eat several meat like bird eggs and insects.

Due to the rise of households having chinchillas as pets, pellets and other foods formulated specifically for rodents such as chinchillas have been made available in pet shops.

Best Timothy Hay

Majority of a chinchilla’s diet consists hay, specifically, Timothy hay. The pleasant fragrance of Timothy hay stimulates the appetites of chinchillas and keeps them busy. The benefits of hay include fibrousness and richness in protein. It also has a balanced amount of calcium to phosphorus. When it comes to calorie count, Timothy hay generally has low to moderate count appropriate for chinchillas.

Though this type of hay takes time to yield, since it has been commercialized, it has been made accessible and available in majority of pet shops.

Pet owners must replace their chinchillas’ hays at least once a day. Anything later may risk chinchillas of eating moldy and dirty hay causing them gastrointestinal complications.

Timothy hay is most recommended by veterinarians for chinchillas’ gastrointestinal tract and dental hygiene, and is advised to be made available at all times in their cages.

Below are several high rated Timothy hay products available on amazon.com.

(click on image to check price)

Kaytee Timothy Hay for Rabbits & Small Animals, Assorted Flavors, 24 oz Bag
Small Pet Select 1St Cutting “High Fiber” Timothy Hay Pet Food

Other kinds of hay such as orchard hay, alfalfa hay, and meadow hay are also suitable for feeding chinchillas. Also, bite-sized cubed hays for chinchillas have been available in pet shops as an alternative for the traditional hay.

Kaytee Alfalfa Cubes, 15-oz bag

Vegetables

Pet owners must be very mindful when giving vegetables as treats. As long as vegetables do not exceed about ten percent of chinchillas’ diets, they are usually safe and healthful. When given in small amounts, vegetables such as carrots, squash, sweet potatoes, cucumbers, peas, leafy greens such as lettuce, turnips, dandelion greens, and kale can be good and beneficial treats for these creatures.

Pet owners must ensure freshness of vegetables before feeding them to their little pets and they must make sure to remove uneaten vegetables before the day ends to prevent chinchillas from eating spoiled food which may lead to diarrhea and other stomach problems.

Vegetables such as potatoes, which are high in phosphorus, bell peppers, basil leaves and other herbs which have strong flavor should be avoided.

Fruits

As with vegetables, when given in moderation, fruits can be refreshingly delightful and healthy treats for chinchillas. Fruits are majorly rich in fiber, phosphorous, vitamin C and other vitamins and acids as well as natural sugars which pet owners must take into consideration.

As the general rule, fruits should not exceed ten percent of the chinchillas’ diets or about a teaspoon amount. Pet owners are advised to slice fruits in small, bite-sized portions and give their chinchillas a few portions twice to thrice a week.

Apples, pears, apricots, grapes, raisins, and similar dried fruits are generally safe and healthy when given to chinchillas in the amount indicated in this paragraph, while bananas and mangoes, which are high in phosphorous and sugar, are not advisable. Oranges, lemons, kiwis, and other fruits high in acid and sugar should be avoided as well.

When buying dried fruits, pet owners must make sure that these dried fruit treats are not artificially flavored candies such as gumdrops and gummies.

Best Chinchilla Pellets

Food pellets specifically formulated for chinchillas have been produced and sold in local pet shops. These food pellets usually consist of natural foods and several vitamins combined to create a balanced diet for these little fury creatures. The pellets usually contain a mixture of hay, vegetables, fruits, and vitamins.

Around two servings in a day—one tablespoon in the morning and one tablespoon in the evening—is the recommended serving for an adult chinchilla. Pet owners must take note that it is important to only feed these animals food pellets specifically formulated for them as other food pellets such as the ones for other rodents or rabbits may have different nutritional contents unsuited for chinchillas. Avoid food pellets which have seeds, nuts, and dried fruits.

Below are several high rated food pellets specifically for chinchillas available on amazon.com:

Kaytee Small Animal Dry Food
Higgins Sunburst Gourmet Chinchilla Food Mix
Supreme Petfoods Tiny Friends Farm Charlie Chinchilla Food, 2 Lb

Other treats

Since chinchillas have become several households’ little companion, giving treats has become a staple in caring for these little animals. Almonds, pecans, and sunflower seeds are great treats when unsalted and given moderately. Cheetos, oats, bran flakes, and even uncooked noodles are also treats that has been found to be okay for chinchillas.

Just be sure not to overfeed chinchillas with these treats. Obviously, chocolates, bubble gums, potato chips and other starchy, fatty, oily, and sugary foods are to be avoided at all times as these foods can lead to serious health problems for chinchillas.

In summary, chinchillas have extremely sensitive stomachs and pet owners must really be careful on not only what their chinchillas may eat, but also how much they can consume. Hydration is also important for these little furry creatures. Hence, pet owners should readily make clean potable water in containers available for their chinchillas.

If chinchillas’ diets are not taken care of properly, they may have constipated and upset stomachs, troubles with digestion, obesity problems, or worst, tract infections which can ultimately lead to their deaths.