A chinchilla is a friend for life, and a testament to that is my 7-year old Dusty! Anyone raising a chinchilla knows that the most vital aspect of this care is their diet, and one particular food that gets a lot of questions is raisins. So, can chinchillas eat raisins?
Yes, they can, but only as treats a couple of times per week. That’s because raisins have high sugar content. Therefore, they can cause stomach upset, especially with the sensitive tummies chinchillas have. Excess sugar can also lead to weight gain and tooth damage.
Now, let’s get into greater detail about chinchillas’ diet and how raisins can fit in!
Can Raisins Harm Chinchillas?
Raisins, in and of themselves, aren’t proven to be toxic to chinchillas. However, that doesn’t mean they can’t produce harmful effects at all. Here are some of the ways and scenarios in which raisins can be problematic for chinchillas!
Raisins are 96% carbs, most of which are sugar. That’s understandable since, during the dehydration process, the sugar in the grape becomes concentrated inside that little raisin—so much so that the sugar can actually crystallize within the raisin, giving it a gritty texture.
This kind of sugar rush is simply too much to take for chinchillas. That’s why you should offer raisins to chinchillas only a couple of times per week as a treat. Otherwise, you’ll be risking weight gain and severe stomach upset.
The high sugar content also contributes to teeth problems, but it’s not the only way in which raisins can hurt a chinchilla’s tooth.
Have you ever heard the saying “once a wild animal, always a wild animal”? It’s ok; this is the first time I hear it too. It’s true, though, and it applies to chinchillas.
Because chinchillas were once wild animals, they used to nibble on twigs and rough vegetation a lot. As a result, they constantly need hard food to chew on to keep their teeth from growing out of control.
That’s why giving chinchillas too much soft food, like raisins, can cause dental issues. Unfortunately, it also can lead chinchillas to develop the bad habit of chewing their own fur in an attempt to compensate.
There are other things, however, that a chinchilla cannot compensate for their shortage no matter how hard they try: nutrients.
A diet is essentially a balance; too much of the wrong food means too little of the right one. When looking at raisins nutrition-wise, we’ll find them to be high in calories and low in nutrients. This begs the question: what kind of nutrients does a chinchilla need? The answer: mainly fibers.
Fibers are essential for chinchillas for two reasons. Firstly, food that’s rich in fiber is often hard in texture, which is exactly what a chinchilla needs to keep its teeth growth under control.
Otherwise, the top and bottom teeth will keep growing to the point where they slam into each other. That’ll cause a lot of pain and discomfort, especially when chewing.
If you noticed something odd with your chinchilla while he’s chewing, and he looked like he’s struggling, that may be the reason, which demands a visit to the vet.
An example of high-fiber, chewy food is hay grass. In fact, chinchillas should have ready access to an unlimited supply of hay. This supply should consist mainly of low-calcium hay, like the orchard and timothy hay.
High-calcium hay, on the other hand, should be offered to chinchillas only sparingly. That’s as the high calcium content can lead to bladder stones. Alfalfa hay is a common example of such high-calcium hay.
The second reason fibers are essential is because they aid in digestion, and if anybody’s digestion needs aid, it’s the chinchillas!
Chinchillas have exceptionally sensitive stomachs. They can get severe digestive problems merely from a sudden change in their feeding schedule. The same can be said about changes in the food itself.
Whether it’s food that they’re not used to or one that’s low-value, chinchillas are likely to respond badly. With raisins being all calories and not much value, it’s best to test them out first.
Initially, the raisins you give to your chinchilla should be few and far between. If there are any symptoms, like loss of appetite and bloating, then cut them off the diet immediately. If not, keep giving them, but only as treats without increasing the frequency.
What Foods Are Toxic to Chinchillas?
Raisins are non-toxic and can be fed to chinchillas sparingly, but this is more than we can say about other types of food. Here’s a list of foods that are an absolute no-go for chinchillas:
- Rhubarb leaves
There are also other foods that are potentially dangerous for chinchillas to eat, like bananas, peanuts, and sunflower seeds.
[Related Article: Can Chinchillas Eat Oats?]
How to Know if a Certain Food Is Harming a Chinchilla?
When a certain type of food is bad for a chinchilla, he won’t necessarily show immediate signs. He won’t refuse to take it, for example—at least not with all foods. That’s especially the case with sugary treats, like raisins; he’s even going to ask for more!
So, to know if your chinchilla’s diet is healthy, keep a close eye on his eating habits. If he eats the same quantities as usual, then that’s a good sign.
On the other hand, if he breaks his routine often or even goes on a “hunger strike,” then something is probably off, and you should go see the vet.
Another thing to watch for is his droppings. If they’re nice and dry, then your chinchilla is so healthy he can fly. However, if the droppings are liquid, smaller than usual, or even absent, this indicates a problem that requires a trip to the vet.
[Related Article: What You Must Know Today About Your Chinchilla Depression]
Chinchillas are cute rodents that prove love, at first sight, is real. Like most adorable creatures in nature, however, chinchillas are vulnerable and require good care. That starts with their diet.
There are some types of food that chinchillas simply cannot tolerate, like asparagus and cabbage. There are other types; while not toxic, chinchillas should still eat them in moderation, like raisins.
That’s as raisins are soft and rich in sugar, while the ideal food for chinchillas should be hard with high fiber content. This type of food is what keeps a chinchilla in excellent shape!