What do Chinchillas Eat? Chinchilla Food and Diet

The most ideal diet for your chinchillas should include greens, hay, and fiber. This combination of food plays a critical role in keeping your pet healthy, strong and active throughout. However, some foods are likely to make them sick. That is the reason you should know which diet is appropriate for your chinchillas.

Your chinchillas’ diet must be high in protein and fiber but low in moisture and fat. Their complete diet should be approximately 35% carbohydrates, 30% fiber, 15% protein, and 4% sugar. Fat should not exceed 3.5% to maintain their health.

In the wild, chinchillas chew the bark off some trees to gain the much-needed fiber. Lack of fiber in their usual diet can make their teeth overgrow. When this happens, your chinchilla can resort to chewing its fur. What is more, a diet without enough fiber may disrupt their digestion process.

Another thing you need to be on the lookout for when feeding your chinchillas is the amount of fat. Too much of it in their diet can lead to liver damage and deterioration of their health.

Even though chinchillas feed on a wide range of vegetation, plants or crops that are too lush are likely to upset their stomachs. To avoid damaging their tummies, you should regulate the quantity of lush green plants that your chinchilla are feeding on.

Ensure that your pet chinchilla gets enough hay to make their diet more balanced and nutritious. Hay is believed to make your chinchillas’ digestive system healthy. This is true when you combine hay and grass during their feeding time.

Don’t forget to give them enough water. Without water, your chinchillas may become very sick. Therefore, they require a constant supply of fresh, clean drinking water. Use drinking bottles to keep their water clean.

Are Chinchillas Herbivores or Omnivores?

Chinchillas are rodents, and they feed on different plant types and a variety of grasses. Their main diet should include a combination of grass and greens, nuts and seeds, fruits and vegetables, and commercial pellets.

You can also give them treats but in moderation to ensure that their diet is well-balanced.

Chinchilla Food and Diet

You can feed your pet chinchillas the following types of food:

– Grass  and Greens

Part of the food and diet to give your chinchilla is grass and greens. Examples of grass to feed your pet chinchilla is orchard grass which is high in fiber; Alfalfa hay which is rich in essential nutrients in addition to being sweeter; bluegrass hay which is a leafy hay option for your chinchillas, and botanical hay among others.

Bear in mind that chinchillas need at least one teaspoon of fresh greens daily to balance their diet.

– Nuts and Seeds

The best diet that can give your chinchillas the right amount of fat is a combination of nuts and seeds. However, you should regulate the quantity of nuts and seeds that you feed your chinchillas.

A diet that is high in fat can cause ailments such as fatty liver disease. This is a silent killer disease among the chinchillas. If you’re not careful enough you can end up losing your pet chinchilla to this disease.

– Fruits and Vegetables

In their natural dried forms, fruits and vegetables have high contents of natural sugar. Your pet chinchillas do not require a lot of sugar in their diet. This is because excess sugar is likely to cause some illnesses such as hypoglycemia, hyperglycemia, and diabetes.

What most people don’t realize is that dried or dehydrated fruits and vegetables contain as much sugar as when they are in their natural form. And this can be dangerous to their pet chinchilla as well.

When in their natural form, both fruits and vegetables contain enough moisture that your chinchillas need. But excess moisture in their diet can cause bloating since chinchillas are used to a very dry diet.

Bloating is a serious dietary problem because chinchillas are not able to relieve themselves of excess gasses in their digestive system. Make sure to feed them on a moderate diet of fruits and vegetables to avoid cases of bloating.

Examples of vegetables that your chinchillas can eat include:

  • Kale
  • Carrot
  • Celery
  • Potato
  • Sweet potatoes
  • Squash

Fruits should be given only as treats because they contain a lot of sugar.

The fruits include:

  • Apples
  • Grapes
  • Blueberries
  • Sultanas
  • Raisins

Commercial Pellets for Chinchillas

There are quite a number of commercial foods for chinchillas. These special foods come in the form of commercial pellets. They have all the necessary nutrients that your pet chinchilla need. You can order these commercially produced pellets online or buy them from a local pet store.

It is a good idea to feed your chinchillas on pellets most of the time. Pellets provide a simple and faster way to provide your chinchilla with the right amounts of fat, protein, and fiber. All these are essential nutrients that will keep your chinchillas healthy.

Feeding your pet chinchilla on pellets is equivalent to giving them loose mixtures of different types of foods. As such, your little pets will only pick up what is desirable to them and discard the rest. In the process, the pets will not have taken all the necessary nutrients.

Take note that when switching your pet chinchilla’s commercial pellet, the process must be done gradually. The gradual transition from one type of pellet to another will help not to upset your chincillas’ digestive tract. Try switching the pellets in an interval of one month.

For instance, during the first week, you should mix at least 25% of new commercial pellets with about 75% of the older ones. In the second week, you should serve about 50% of the old pellet and 50% of the older one.

In the third week, the amount of the new pellet must be 75% while the old mix should be 25%. By the fourth week, the transition should be 100% of the new pellets.

How Often Should You Feed Your Chinchilla?

Feeding your chinchilla properly is the best way to help them stay healthy, active, and content throughout. Always make sure that your pet chinchilla eats fresh hay daily. The roughage in hay helps their gastrointestinal tract and dental health.

For pellets, remember to feed them to your chinchilla at least two tablespoons each day-one in the morning and the other one in the evening to ensure that they get a constant supply of essential nutrients.

A single teaspoon of fresh vegetables per day is recommended. In case there are remnants of veggies in your chinchilla’s cage, you should dispose of them after 24 hours. Water is also important to your pet.

That said, ensure that your chinchillas get water every day. Fresh clean water keeps them strong and healthy in addition to hydrating them.

How Long Can Chinchillas Go Without Food?

Chinchillas are desert animals and as you may know, these are areas that are scarce with food and water. This means that chinchillas don’t eat a lot of food at once. Instead, they need little food and water to keep them going.

For that reason, they can stay up to 12 hours without eating or drinking water. Longer than 12 hours can harm them. So if you will leave your pet chinchillas behind when going on a trip, make sure they have enough food and water to keep them well-fed and hydrated while you are away.

Can Chinchillas Eat Meat?

Chinchillas should not eat meat. Meat is a generally dense and high-protein food. But it is not meant for all animals, including pet chinchillas to eat. As a matter of fact, wild chinchillas don’t eat meat.

When pet chinchillas eat meat they will develop a lot of gas and bloating in their tummies. As a result, the meat will severely affect their health. In addition to that, meat is nutritionally inadequate since it contains no fiber or some nutrients. It also contains a lot of fat which can be nutritionally dangerous to your chinchillas.

Just know that all types of meat are not suitable for chinchillas whether cooked or uncooked.

While in their natural habitat, they will eat insects and eggs, although it is not their favorite food. However, you should not feed your pet chinchilla meat or eggs

Foods to Avoid Feeding Your Chinchilla

The types of foods you should not give your chinchillas are:

  • Cabbage
  • Asparagus
  • AvocadoBananas
  • Corn
  • Sunflower seeds
  • Lettuce
  • Rhubarb
  • Rhubarb leaves
  • Broccoli
  • Spinach
  • Peas

Always confirm with your veterinary officer if you are not sure about what to feed your chinchillas. Always consider the correct amount of food that your pet should take at a given time.

Wrap Up

When it comes to feeding your chinchilla you need to choose the right food type. In this case, your choice should consist of certain types of vegetables, greens, fruits, a few nuts, and commercially produced pellets.

Hay should also be included to provide the much-needed fiber. A few treats will help supplement your chinchillas’ diet provided that you feed them in moderation.

avatar Jane
Jane is an experienced animal care specialist with a focus on rodents and small mammals, with over 10 years of experience in the pet industry. Her articles provide practical guidance on choosing the right pet and managing common health issues. Jane is an advocate for animal welfare and supports organizations dedicated to protecting wildlife. read more...

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