Chinchillas are adorable and we love them, but keeping them healthy can be a challenge that raises lots of questions.
Can chinchillas eat fruits and vegetables? And what is safe for them? Well, the delicate nature of chinchillas can’t bear more than hay, water, and a few treats. They can eat some fruits and vegetables, but only in small, bite-sized servings.
Below is all you need to know about the dos and don’ts of Chinchillas and their diet.
What They Should Be Eating
Generally speaking, domestic chinchillas have a stomach that is as delicate as a baby’s. So you should keep the following ingredients away from them to make sure they don’t get ill.
They shouldn’t eat anything that is rich in sugar, phosphorus, or calcium. You’ll also want to stay away from fatty and acidic food.
This might seem like an infernally long list of stuff to avoid, so we’ll tell you what you should be feeding them instead.
Fruits That Chinchillas Can Eat
A big part of raising a healthy chinchilla is watching his diet.
The main danger of serving fruit to a chinchilla is the excess sugar and phosphorus which can lead to diarrhea and ulcers respectively.
You’ll want to look for fruits that are rich in water since it’s absolutely important for chinchillas. Apples, grapes, raisins, and blueberries are all good options.
That being said, it is important to note that even with fruits that aren’t immediately bad for chinchillas, having too much of them can cause problems.
Generally speaking, you’ll want to give no more than four bite-sized treats a week. In fact, most owners prefer to give no more than one treat a week, and only on occasions where it’s absolutely needed.
For example, if your chinchilla is refusing to go back to his cage, you can use a tasty treat to lure him back inside.
Vegetables That Chinchillas Can Eat
Just like fruits, your chinchilla should only have a maximum of four bite-sized treats per week.
The good news is that when it comes to vegetables, the allowed list is definitely longer than fruits since vegetables are generally safer.
Celery, carrots, kale, potatoes, and squash are all viable options as long as you give them in moderation. You should also make sure they don’t stay in the cage for too long to prevent bacterial growth.
Wild Chinchillas’ Diet
Although wild and domestic chinchillas are basically the same species, they’re as different as wolves are from dogs, and that applies to their diet as well.
Wild chinchillas are omnivorous: They eat insects alongside mollusks, tree bark, and leaves. As for fruits and vegetables, wild chinchillas don’t prefer them that much.
Domestic Chinchillas’ Diet
Domestic chinchillas are herbivores, which means that their diet revolves around leaves, plants, and grass. That said, the most recommended and available diet is simply timothy hay and fresh water.
Chinchilla pellets are a good choice as well, but you should choose between them and hay for the basic diet.
It is important to understand that chinchillas require a stable diet; any sudden changes can stress them. Treats of fruits and vegetables should only figure occasionally in that diet.
What They Shouldn’t Be Eating
Navigating what chinchillas can’t eat is infinitely harder than navigating what they can.
If in doubt, simply make sure to check the composition of the fruit or vegetable for any of the harmful ingredients we’ll mention, or simply stick to the basics.
The following is a general explanation of the most common ingredients to avoid.
High Sugar Content
Food with high sugar content can tire chinchillas’ puny stomachs. Extreme cases of diarrhea can keep your pet ill for a long time. In rare cases, it can even be fatal.
You’ll want to avoid syrups, fruit juices, and all sweets. Other than that, stick to the safe options and your chinchilla will be fine.
Eating a lot of fatty foods can allow the chinchilla to put on some weight, which might cause lots of illnesses soon after.
You’ll mainly want to avoid nuts and seeds of all kinds as they have a high fat percentage.
In general, a chinchilla’s diet should consist of no more than 3.5% fat. That’s a tough margin to manage for sure, which is why sticking to a consistent diet is vital.
Can Chinchillas Eat Rabbit Food
Experts and veteran owners have varying opinions about this question. Although chinchillas and rabbits share many similarities, their dietary needs are completely different.
On one hand, rabbit food often contains hay and roughage, which are good for chinchillas. On the other hand, it can also contain sugary and fatty ingredients that would be harmful to chinchillas.
Some experts have found that high-quality rabbit food is ok for chinchillas, but it isn’t clear how high the quality must be.
If you can’t find any proper chinchilla pellets, use rabbit food only after making sure it doesn’t have any harmful ingredients.
Keeping Them Healthy
Fruits and vegetables aside, there are other things you need to consider to make sure your chinchillas are as healthy as possible.
Don’t worry, though; we’ve summed them up in a few simple steps that’ll only cost you an attentive eye:
- Make sure they always have fresh, clean water.
- Make sure they’re eating and drinking every day and passing dry droppings.
- Chinchillas, like rabbits, eat their own droppings. They do that in order to absorb additional nutrients. Don’t discourage them from doing so.
Chinchillas can definitely be a handful to nurture. It’s important to understand that they can’t tolerate little mistakes in dieting and general care.
Chinchillas can run around the house or cage like wild rabbits. Don’t be fooled, though; domestic chinchillas are fragile and sensitive creatures that need constant care, especially after they have been domesticated.
Fear not, though. As long as you follow our dieting tips, your adorable chinchilla will live a healthy and active life.