What Does A Chinchilla Eat For Optimum Health?

If you have a chinchilla, making sure they eat correctly will be essential to them living a long, healthy life. Without their proper nutrition, you could see health problems arise and they get sick more often. 

This article is all about chinchilla diet and nutrition so that you can find the perfect blend of foods to feed your pet. But before we get into specific diet recommendations, here is the general feeding guidelines:

General feeding guidelines to Chinchilla

Feeding chinchillas can be a little tricky. Chinchillas are very fussy eaters and they have evolved to find their own food sources. Chinchillas need to eat very specific diets because of their digestive systems, which are very different from other animals. Their diet should consist of 16-20% protein, 2-5% fat, and 15-35% fiber.

However, here are some general feeding guidelines you should follow to make your chinchillas happy and healthy:

  • You should feed your chinchilla the right amount. When a chinchilla is getting the right amount of food, you will see a visible “abdominal girth” or “belly”. If you can easily feel their rib cage, they’re not getting enough food. If you can’t feel their ribs at all, they’re getting too much food. The ideal is to be able to feel their ribs easily and no more than that. They should not be overweight or underweight.
  • When purchasing food for your chinchilla, you should always buy feed that will provide all the nutrients needed for your chinchilla and their young. Make sure the chinchilla food you buy contains all vitamins and minerals necessary for a healthy life, such as Vitamin C and Calcium.
  • Feed labeled ”Association of American Feeding Control Officials” or ”Animal Feeding Trials” has been tested on animals and approved for use by those associations. The manufacturer will have also conducted feeding trials on animals (most likely rats) to ensure that the product is safe for consumption by an animal.
  • You should also purchase from a reputable pet store or online shop. Be wary of cheap feeds that sell at discount prices as they may not be suitable for your chinchilla’s health.
  • You should stick with branded products specifically designed for chinchillas. There are many brands out there who claim to be good for your small pets but in fact, they are not made specifically for them so always read the label and do some research.
  • Don’t change your chinchilla’s feed too often. If you have to change the diet, then start out with a smaller percentage of new pellets, and then gradually add more as time goes on. Chinchillas love routine so feeding them at the same time is ideal.
  • Besides the guidelines provided by the manufacturer, it’s always handy to check out with your vet. Feed manufacturers use different terms to describe feeding amounts. Make sure you understand what 1/8 cup means versus what 1 flake means, for example. You’ll want to be able to read and apply this information correctly in your home environment when dealing with small amounts of food.

Now, we will look at what to feed a chinchilla.

Feeding options to chinchilla

Chinchillas are strict herbivores, which means that their diet primarily consists of plant material. Chinchillas have a digestive tract similar to the horse’s and never eat meat or fish. Know that there are four basic feeding options for a chinchilla: Hay, pellet and treat and water.

Hay

Hay is the most important part of a chinchilla’s diet. They need hay every day. Hay is basically just grass that has been cut and dried out. Hay is what they eat to stuff their pouches with on a regular basis.

It is important that you only give your chinchilla the highest quality hay available to you so that you know it will be safe for them to eat and won’t make them sick. They eat different types of hay. The most common types of hay for chinchillas are Timothy hay, orchard grass hay, alfalfa hay, and Bermuda hay.

Which type of hay you choose depends on the state of the animal. Alfalfa is the best for growing animals as it contains more nutrients than others. However, this type of hay can be toxic if they eat large amounts.

For the adults, the most important and the safest type of hay is Timothy hay. Timothy hay is a must for any chinchilla owner because it contains an abundance of nutrients and fiber. They need these nutrients to help their bodies maintain good health and to keep their digestive systems functioning properly.

Timothy hay can be found at pet stores or animal feed stores in small bundles or bags. It can be pricey, especially since chinchillas eat so much of it each day, but it’s definitely worth the cost.

When shopping for this type of hay, look for the freshest available; it should not have an odor or moldy spots. Also, make sure to store this type of hay in a cool, dry place so that it doesn’t spoil.

Pellet

Pellets are another food source for a chinchilla. Choose pellets that have been designed specifically for chinchillas. Pellets provide all the nutrition that your pet needs and are very easy to digest, which makes them an excellent way to feed your chinchilla when they aren’t eating hay. Provide one or two tablespoons of pellets daily. Feed half in the morning and rest half in the evening, but you can adjust depending on the need.

Treats

Treats are also a great way to feed your chinchilla if you aren’t giving him pellets or hay on a regular basis. The treats should always be used as an addition to his main food sources and not as a substitute for them. You can use treats in place of either pellets or hay,

Water

Chinchillas must be provided with clean water. Chinchillas, like most rodents, are very efficient in terms of food intake. If a chinchilla eats the proper diet, provide at least 2 ounces of water per day. You can provide more or less water depending on how you feed your chinchilla, but remember that water is vital for life. We recommend you to supply the water in water bottles instead of bowls to maintain sanitation.

What foods should I not feed to the chinchilla?

Chinchillas are a little bit more delicate than other animals. They have sensitive digestion systems . For this reason, there are certain things that you should avoid feeding your pet chinchilla. These foods can cause major health problems for your chinchilla so it is best to avoid them all together.

  • Do not offer too much grass based pellets. It won’t provide the required amount of fiber they need.
  • Raw! Cooked bones, including chicken and fish, can splinter in your pet’s mouth and cause serious dental damage or choking.
  • Dairy products: Dairy products like cheese or ice cream are difficult for chinchillas to digest, so we should avoid them. If you want to treat your pet with something sweet, try fruits or vegetables instead of dairy products.
  • Dried fruits like raisins, apricots, and prunes may be tasty treats for you but can cause severe diarrhea in your pet.
  • Avoid acidic fruits like grapefruits, bananas and pineapples
  • Nuts and seeds can cause nausea and vomiting in your chinchillas. They also have high fat content which can lead to pancreatitis.
  • Chocolate will lead to vomiting, diarrhea, tremors, and seizures.
  • Your pet might enjoy some of these treats once or twice, but they should not be fed as a regular snack. No matter how delicious they might smell to you or look to your pet, don’t let yourself get distracted by the yummy smell of popcorn while you’re watching TV with your pet nearby. Keep these foods out of the chinchilla’s reach.

How to feed the chinchilla?

Feeding a chinchilla is more complicated than feeding a hamster or guinea pig, but here are some things to make your life easier:

  • Provide hay in the hay rack in your chinchilla’s housing cage. The hay rack helps keep the hay fresh and dry, while allowing plenty of air circulation which will help keep mold away. The hay rack can also be purchased at your local pet store or through an online retailer.
  • Chinchilla pellets should be given in a food bowl, never in the hay rack or on the floor of their cage. They will always try to eat their pellets, so they should be kept in an area where they are less likely to be eaten. A good way to do this is to put them in a food bowl attached to the side of the cage.
  • Chinchillas like a variety of treats. Chinchilla owners say that giving them treats by hand makes them happier than if the treat was placed by hand in their cage, like hamsters and guinea pigs are fed.
  • Provide plenty of water in a stoppered bottle in the chinchilla’s cage, not in a water bowl because a water bowl is unsanitary since the water can become contaminated with bacteria which may be fatal to your pet.

When to Feed the Chinchilla?

Chinchillas are crepuscular animals who are most active at dusk and dawn just after sunset or before sunrise. They will eat throughout the day if they have free access to food and drink. This is why many people choose to feed their chinchillas in the evening or early morning when they are awake, as this means less stress for them when it comes time to clean their cages. Chinchillas should not be fed immediately upon waking from hibernation or going into heat because their digestive systems need time to recover from these activities before they can eat again.

How to check if your chinchilla is eating the proper diet?

The best way to monitor it is to keep track of its weight. In fact, this is one thing that veterinarians will often check before running any other tests. If your pet is losing or gaining weight, or remains at the same weight over a long period of time, it could indicate a problem with nutrition or health issues.

Another handy way to check if your chinchilla is eating the proper diet is to hold a pellet in front of him and see if he nibbles at it. If he does, that means he is eating the pellet. If he bites it and then spits it out on the floor, that means he does not like it. You should try another type of pellet for your chinchilla.

If your chinchilla refuses food, treats or water for more than a day, you should contact a veterinarian immediately. This could be a sign that something serious has happened to your pet and it needs medical attention as soon as possible. If a chinchilla refuses food for less than 24 hours, it’s probably just not hungry at the moment and will eat when it’s ready.

FAQs

Why is my chinchilla not eating?

Chinchillas may stop eating for a variety of reasons, but many times this occurs because they are sick or in pain. For example, if your chinchilla has a dental problem, he may stop eating because food tastes bad.

A chinchilla could also be suffering from a respiratory infection (such as pneumonia) or gastrointestinal issues that cause him to stop eating and drinking water.

In these cases, the best course of action is to take your chinchilla to the vet immediately. A vet can perform various tests on your chinchilla’s body and check for abnormalities that may be causing discomfort or pain.

If your chinchilla stops eating after you have switched foods or brands of food, it is likely due to too much fiber in their diet. Chinchillas have sensitive digestive systems and they often get diarrhea when they eat too many high fiber foods or treats. If this occurs, reduce the amount of fiber in their diet until their stomachs adjust.

What Do Chinchillas Eat in the Wild?

Chinchillas in the wild eat many different types of food from the ground. This includes grasses that grow on the ground around bushes. They also like to consume seeds, berries, bark from trees, cactus fruit, lichen from rocks, and even insects that live on tree bark. Chinchillas are herbivores which means they only eat plants or plant-based foods.

What do chinchillas eat in captivity?

Chinchillas that live in captivity do not need to eat as much as those in the wild because they don’t have to expend as many calories digging or searching for food. In fact, they need less than half of the food intake of their wild counterparts. However, their diet should still consist mainly of grasses and hay, with a variety of fruit and vegetables thrown in for good measure.

What type of hay is best for chinchilla?

The two different types of hay that you can feed your pet chinchilla are alfalfa hay and timothy hay. Many owners prefer Alfalfa hay for a chinchilla because it is loaded with nutrients and proteins, which helps to keep him strong and healthy. So the alfalfa hay is the best for growing and malnourished chinchillas.

The downside of alfalfa hay is that it does not have as much fiber as timothy hay, which can cause the digestive tract to become backed up. Timothy hay has less protein than alfalfa hay but more fiber, which helps avoid constipation issues and maintain a healthy digestive tract.

Also, Alfalfa hay contains oxalate, saponin, tannins and coumestral that can be toxic for your chinchilla if they eat large amounts. So, it’s best to stick to Timothy hay as an adult.

How much food should you feed to a chinchilla?

Amount of food intake directly depends on the size of the animal. Chinchillas are small and they will not eat too much. Spend time with your pet a few times a week to determine how much food you need to provide each day. One/two tablespoon pellets per day per adult chinchilla is generally a good rule of thumb.

Chinchillas are more likely to overeat if they have access to large amounts of food all at once. If you want to provide more than one serving per day, divide the total into smaller meals throughout the day.

As long as the food is nutritious, it is okay for them to have more than one feed a day instead of just one. If your chinchilla is eating too much, you can reduce their diet by limiting the amount of pellets they get per bowl.

Can chinchillas eat carrots?

Yes. Chinchillas can eat carrots, but you should not feed them in large quantities. Carrots are an excellent source of Vitamin A and C, and chinchillas need the vitamins to keep their fur healthy. It is also good to feed your chinchilla carrots because they can aid in digestion.

Carrots are one of the healthier treats you can feed to your chinchilla, but should give them in moderation. As with all treats given to pets, be sure there are no harmful chemicals in the carrots you give to your pet.

Can chinchillas eat apples?

Yes, chinchilla can eat apples but in small quantities.

The chinchilla’s digestive system is different from ours and can’t handle the large amounts of sugar apples contain. Feeding them apples or other fruits in large quantities would be dangerous for their digestive systems and might cause other health problems.

That’s why, in moderation, a few pieces a week is fine for them. The small serving suggestion is roughly 2 cm, so if you cut it into 1″ pieces, then it should be fine. You need to make sure that the fruit isn’t rotten and that they have access to water at all times. If it is a piece of apple, then make sure you remove the seeds because they can cause intestinal blockage.

Can chinchillas eat grapes?

Yes, Chinchillas can eat grapes. But their high sugar content is harmful to their health, and so you should give them as treats only in moderation.

Although chinchillas are herbivores, meaning that they mainly eat plants, they also have small teeth that are good at eating fruits with pits inside.

But be aware, chinchillas should not have access to large quantities of grapes because of the sugar content. As with most fruits, grapes are not a substitute for pellets or hay and should only be used sparingly or as a special treat once in a while.

Can chinchillas eat cucumbers?

The short answer is yes they can, but they certainly don’t need to.

Cucumbers contain a lot of water and not enough fiber for chinchilla, so you should only give them in moderation. We suggest giving your chinchillas one cucumber slice at most once or twice a week.

Feeding cucumber now and then shouldn’t do your pet any major harm, but it’s best to only feed them as a treat rather than part of their normal daily diet.

If you decide to feed your pet cucumbers, make sure they are organic and thoroughly washed first so that you remove any potentially harmful pesticides. You should also never feed your chinchillas cucumber seeds.

Can chinchillas eat rabbit food?

No, we don’t recommend rabbit food to chinchillas. Chinchillas, like all animals, require specific nutrition to remain healthy. Rabbit food is not chinchilla food. The rabbit food has too much protein and too little fiber for chinchillas. This may cause serious digestion problems like bloating or diarrhea.

Since chinchillas have sharp teeth, they need to eat a lot of hay. Also, these animals have a sensitive digestive tract which calls for a high-fiber diet. The rabbit food does not contain enough fiber for chinchillas.

Can chinchillas eat hamster food?

In short, no, chinchillas cannot eat hamster food. Not only is it not appropriate to feed your chinchilla hamster food, it’s not even safe!

There are several reasons your chinchilla can’t eat hamster food, but the main one is the ingredient list. Unlike dog and cat food, which are usually made from meat byproducts (which are safe for both dogs and cats to eat), hamster food has a lot of seeds and grains that aren’t good for your chinchilla. It also contains a lot of foods that aren’t good for chinchillas, like corn or dried beans.

It is also important to note that adult chinchillas are lactose intolerant animals. This means that they are incapable of digesting milk products, including cheese and yogurt. If you decide to feed your chinchilla hamster food or any other dairy product, it could cause them to become ill.

Chinchillas need a high protein diet in order to maintain healthy fur and body mass. Hamsters don’t have fur, so they don’t need as much protein as chinchillas do. Therefore, you shouldn’t feed your chinchilla hamster food–it’s nutritionally inadequate!

The main thing to remember when feeding a chinchilla is that they are herbivores (vegetarian animals) and should be fed a diet of hay, vegetables and grasses to meet most of their nutritional needs.

What vegetables can a chinchilla eat?

There are several vegetables you can give your chinchilla as a treat.

Potatoes: Chinchillas can eat potatoes. However, make sure you don’t give it too much because this can cause diarrhea.

Carrots: Chinchillas can eat carrots. Again, make sure you don’t give it too much because this can cause diarrhea.

Celery: Celery is safe for chinchillas to eat, but it’s not recommended because celery is very high in water content, and chinchillas have a high rate of metabolism as compared to other creatures. If you decide to give your chinchilla celery, make sure that you cut it into tiny pieces.

Pumpkin: Pumpkin is quite safe for chinchillas to eat, but only if it’s cooked beforehand. Raw pumpkin isn’t good for your chinchilla since it contains harmful enzymes called cucurbitaceous that might irritate their stomachs or cause diarrhea.

Squash: Chinchillas can eat squash, but they should only have a little at one time since squash contains a lot of water and fiber, which may cause health problems if they consume a large amount.

Sweet potato – Sweet potatoes are also a good food for chinchillas. You don’t have to worry about the skin or the eyes, because most of the vitamins and minerals will be in the flesh of the sweet potato.

What brand of food should you feed?

There are many brands of chinchilla feed on the market today and this can be very confusing for people who are new to having a chinchilla pet at home. It can be difficult to decide which one is best for your pet, but remember that all brands are not created equal! You should only feed your chinchillas with premium quality pellets that are manufactured specifically for chinchillas and other small pets by a reputable company such as Oxbow or Mazuri.

So, how do you select the best chinchilla food?

First, look for a feeding guide printed on the package or included with your food. This guide should tell you how much of the product to feed your chinchilla on a daily basis. It may also tell you how often you need to feed your pet and what ingredients are included in the mix. If you’re looking at two products that seem similar, compare their feeding guides carefully before making a final decision.

Second, look for information about the nutritional content of the diet. The packaging should tell you how many grams of protein, fat and fiber are included in each serving size. You can also find these numbers in an online nutrition guide if you don’t see them printed on the package.

Finally, remember that chinchillas need high levels of protein in their diets to stay healthy, but they also require certain vitamins and minerals that come from other sources like fruits and vegetables.

What to do when my chinchilla is eating their droppings?

Chinchillas only eat their own poo. This is called coprophagy. It’s a normal part of a chinchilla’s diet, but it can be kind of gross if you’re not used to it! It’s very important to keep the cage clean, though. Make sure that your chinchilla can’t get into his friend’s poo, or you’ll have a pretty smelly mess on your hands.

Conclusions

Feeding is the most important part of a chinchilla care. Chinchillas are herbivores and therefore primarily eat plant-based food. We find wild chinchillas in the Andes Mountains in South America where they feed on herbs, grasses, seeds, berries, twigs and small leaves.

In captivity, you can feed chinchillas with a commercially prepared pellet diet and supplemented with hay and water.

Chinchillas have sensitive digestive systems, so it is important to feed them only food that is safe for their digestive health.

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Dr Harunur Rashid (Harun) is a Doctor of Veterinary Medicine who has five years of experience in large pet animal medicine. He worked as a livestock officer for two years in an NGO, and since then he has been practicing pet animals medicine privately. He holds an MS in Pharmacology from Bangladesh Agricultural University and a DVM from the same institution.