Choosing the right food is an important part of getting any kind of pet, and chinchilla food is no different. For information on chinchilla dust or cages – check out our Ultimate Chinchilla Supply List here.
The last thing you want when raising a pet is to accidentally cause harm by giving them something bad for them. It is important to understand each animal’s dietary restrictions, sensitivities, and recommendations. Chinchillas, like every pet, have unique recommendations for an optimal diet.
In this article, we’ll discuss the core foods that make up a pet chinchilla’s diet, what kinds of treats and snacks are recommended and the best dishes for chinchilla food and water.
What to feed a pet chinchilla
Chinchillas are herbivores, which means that all of their nutrients come from eating plants. Chinchillas also have sensitive stomachs, so their diet should be kept relatively simple and straightforward. A good food pellet, unlimited access to water, and fresh hay will keep your chinchilla and its digestive system perfectly happy.
Choosing food pellets for chinchillas
The biggest part of your pet chinchilla’s diet will come from a commercially created food pellet. Pellets like these are made specifically to help your chinchilla keep a well-balanced diet, engineered to contain optimal amounts of various nutrients.
It’s important to note that not all pellets are created equal. Pellets found in pet stores are often filled with sugars from fruits or lots of cheap food fillers. When searching for the best food pellet for your chinchilla, avoid pellets that contain corn, vegetables, fruit, seeds, or nuts. These ingredients are typically high in sugars and/or fats, which can cause obesity and obesity-related health issues if given to your chinchilla regularly.
How often to give a chinchilla food pellets?
Chinchillas are not animals that typically have problems with eating more food than they should. As long as you are providing a pellet that is made from the right, quality ingredients, many chinchilla owners simply keep their chinchilla’s food dishes filled so they can eat when they want throughout the day.
What pellets should I feed my chinchilla?
Chinchilla keepers swear by Oxbow’s Essentials chinchilla pellets. Made with alfalfa, soy, and wheat, Oxbow’s chinchilla food provides a great base for your pet chinchilla’s diet.
Choosing a food dish for chinchilla pellets
When it comes to picking a food dish for your chinchilla, there’s really no way to go wrong. Some people just use small, generic food dishes that are fine for any pet. If you go this route, a small stainless steel dog food bowl might be a good option.
If your pet chinchilla has problems with spilling their food, a heavier ceramic food dish may be a better option to help keep their food where it should be.
Hay for chinchillas
Pet chinchillas should have a consistent supply of hay provided to them in their cages. The specific type of hay chinchillas need is called timothy hay. Timothy hay comes from timothy grass (also called cat’s tail), a grass that is native to most of Europe.
Timothy hay is recommended for chinchillas and other small rodent pets because it is rich in long fiber. Also, since it is necessary for chinchillas to keep their teeth filed down, the abrasive texture of timothy hay helps chinchillas in the dental department as well as nutritionally.
Good-quality timothy hay for your pet chinchilla should be green, rather than brown or yellow. It should have a sweet, fragrant smell and the stalks shouldn’t be brittle. You will also want to make sure the hay you are getting is clean and free of mold, dirt, or other random debris.
Where to buy hay for chinchillas
If you can’t track down a local source for fresh timothy hay for your chinchilla, don’t worry. Many larger brands have made it a point to make hay easily accessible. Kaytee timothy hay is available in large quantities on Amazon, making it easy to keep your chinchilla well-stocked and happy.
Hay holder for chinchillas
You can buy a variety of different hay holders for your chinchilla’s cage on Amazon and at other pet retailers. However, these types of holders can often just cause messes by spreading hay outside of the cage or allowing your chinchilla to urinate in them.
Many owners recommend simply stuffing hay in an empty paper towel or toilet paper roll and letting your chin get it out of there. This way it doubles as a toy too!
Constant access to water
It should be a no-brainer that chinchillas, like most living creatures, need unlimited access to water to stay hydrated. You’ll want to make sure your chinchilla’s water is always available and clean. To keep it clean you will need to to get a water bottle your chinchilla can easily and safely drink from. Any kind of open containers, such as bowls, could get contaminated with food particles or waste matter.
Water bottle for chinchillas
Finding a good water bottle for small pets like chinchillas can be challenging. They often leak, or due to their design, quit supplying water. To make sure your chinchilla always has access to water, placing two water bottles on their cage might be a good idea.
The most recommended water bottle on Amazon is the Choco Nose No Drip Water bottle. Many reviewers with pets of all kinds swear by this bottle and its lack of leakage. Even in cases where leaks have happened, it appears that Choco Nose customer service has sent replacement bottles.
What else do chinchillas eat?
Beyond their core diet, there are a couple of other things that chinchillas eat, some of which might surprise you. What treats are safe or recommended for chinchillas will vary depending on who you talk to, but we have put together a few tips below.
It’s normal for chinchillas to eat their poop
You may have noticed your chinchilla eating the occasional turd or two. While this may be alarming or gross, don’t worry. This is a completely normal habit for these animals.
Due to the way that chinchilla digestion works, there is often a good amount of nutrients that they do not absorb from their food on the first go round. Because chinchillas in the wild live in a pretty sparse habitat, it is important for them to get all the nutrients possible. Therefore, don’t be surprised if your chinchilla eats some of its own poop.
What treats are safe to feed chinchillas?
When deciding what treats to give your chinchilla, a good rule of thumb is that less is more. Although we all want to make our pets happy and give them treats, you don’t want to accidentally cause any health problems.
Avoid any fresh fruits or veggies. This is another limitation caused by the chinchilla’s natural habitat – they’re simply not set up to digest these items. Dried fruits and veggies don’t have the same risk, but the high sugar content can lead to diabetes.
A pretty safe choice are rosehips. Derived from the rose plant, these make great chinchilla treats and are a good source of Vitamin C.
Find what works for your chinchilla’s diet
As always, we do our best to bring together the most recommended items for your pet. While this is usually a great starting place, please always consult your veterinarian to make the best decision for your individual pet.
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