Chinchilla pellets are complementary foods with specific ingredients that offer crucial nutrients, minerals and vitamins to the chinchillas for their good health. They are of small size and cut short to minimize the chances of being wasted by the animal.
The chinchillas in the wild naturally consume vegetation that is rich in roughages; this means that the ones at home should also be provided with something similar. It is also normal for them to consume their faeces to acquire nutrients. The major needs for good growth of a chinchilla are good quality pellet, fresh hay and enough freshwater.
When choosing pellets, avoid the ones fortified with fruits, seeds, nuts and vegetables. These foods should be served minimally and very irregularly for they are junks to the chinchillas.
What is the nutritional value of chinchilla pellets?
The high fibre chinchilla pellets are rich in roughages which keep the teeth well-trimmed and ensure that the digestive system is well functioning.
The pellets are also fortified with vitamins and minerals to enhance the growth of the animal’s body and skeletons.
The pellets are rich in high fibre (15-30%), high protein (16-20%), and low fat (2-5%).
Can chinchillas be fed with other animals’ pellets e.g. rabbit pellets?
No. Chinchillas should be fed with pellets that are specifically made for chinchillas.
Chinchillas should only be fed with their specific pellets because they have a particular dietary need which is very different from that of other rodents.
Pellets made specifically for chinchillas are fortified with vitamins and minerals that pertain to the needs of chinchillas.
Other pellets, like those of rabbits, are made with ingredients to cater to the needs of rabbits only. Giving chinchilla pellets belonging to other ruminants will deprive their needs.
The pellets are manufactured especially for specific species with no intention of being beneficial to the others not stated in it. Small pets have a different diet to that of chinchillas. Most products contain a caution by the manufacturer on whom to feed, failure to adhere to those instructions can cause harm to your animals.
Animals with similar attributes to chinchillas’ like the rabbits also have their pellets which sometimes people substitute for chinchillas. This should only be done in extreme emergencies with the directive of your vet because chinchillas have a very sensitive digestive system and if a mistake was done it could harm them.
Amount of pellets to feed per day
Averagely, chinchillas consume one or two tablespoons of pellets daily, preferably one tablespoon in the morning and another one in the evening. It is good to serve in small amounts to keep them fresh; serving in large amounts can easily cause contamination. Maintain a particular routine in feeding that the chinchillas will get used to. You can serve the pellets in a heavy porcelain dish.
Feeding the chinchillas measured amounts of pellets is good so that you can keep note when their appetite has gone down. The amount to feed depends on their weight on which your veterinarian can give directions on when to increase and when to decrease.
Over-feeding the chinchillas can lead to obesity. After feeding store the remaining pellets in a cool and dry place out of reach of direct sunlight.
Mixing pellets with other food
You can combine the pellets with other foods; like small quantities of forage and fruits like small-sliced apples, bananas, pears or raisins irregularly to reduce high sugar consumption. This creates a variety of nutrients.
Sometimes the animal may consume part of the mix leaving the pellets, so ensure that all of it has been consumed. Ensure the mixture is well-balanced and blended. If the chinchilla only consumes the mixed treats and supplements leaving the pellets, avoid mixing them for a while or serve separately and at different intervals.
Avoid mixing the pellets with whole corn, for corn itself is contained in the pellets. As much as corn is starchy, a large grain is indigestible to the chinchillas and can cause them to bloat.
Besides giving the chinchillas a high fibre pellet diet, ensure you supplement them daily with hay which is rich in roughage. This should be under the instruction of your vet for mostly they are administered to pregnant chinchillas or the ones with calcium deficiency.
The hay should be fresh and should be fed in between meals. Avoid the alfalfa hay for it is rich in protein, phosphorous, calcium and oxalates which much of it cause urinary problems. Timothy hay is a good type for chinchilla consumption. You should not overstay the hay in the chinchilla cage for it can get brown or mouldy.
The pet owner should also enquire from their veterinary about what to feed the chinchilla and what not to. You should enquire from your vet also whether to buy fortified pellets or plain ones.
When introducing or switching new pellets or new diet for the chinchillas, you should do it slowly in a span of one month because abrupt change can upset their digestive system. Mix the old ones with the new ones then gradually increase the quantity of the new ones.
Importance of drinking water when feeding pellets
Chinchillas’ meal is made of dry hay, so it is hard getting water from what they eat. When you feed the chinchillas ensure that you provide them with filtered or distilled water in a stoppered water bottle to help in their digestion. They drink averagely 1.2 oz water in a day.
The water is good as it can also be mixed with vitamin C supplements.
Plenty of water enables the chinchilla to grow healthy and strong.
The water should be without chlorine and replaced every-day. It should be bottled but not served with a bowl to keep from getting contaminated.
How fast do the Chinchilla pellets expire?
Pet stores sell feeds with an average expiry date of two years.
During purchase, ensure you check the expiry date. Avoid buying the feeds with an expiry date of less than one year. Also, avoid buying in bulk for it is difficult knowing whether the feeds are of good quality or whether they have been contaminated.
Chinchilla foods have a shelf-life of approximately three to six months. The nutrients in the food are lost and the food can hurt the pet of it passes the period of six months.