Feeding My Chinchillas
How to Supplement Nutrients in Your Chinchilla's Diet
Chinchillas make great companions, but they have very sensitive tummies that require a specific diet to ward off digestive illnesses. If you provide the right mix of fresh hay, clean water, chinchilla pellets, and a bit of fresh produce, a typical chinchilla won’t need any further nutritional supplementation. Only provide supplements like salt blocks or vitamin C drops with your vet’s guidance.
Providing Hay and Water
Provide a limitless supply of clean, fresh, dry hay.A chinchilla’s digestive system needs to remain in constant motion, and hay provides ample fiber to keep things moving. Allow your chinchilla to eat as much hay as it wants. Use a hay rack for them to feed from and keep it stocked with hay at all times.
- Each morning, clean out any uneaten hay from the hay rack and the cage. Then refill it with clean, dry, fresh hay. Check the rack several times per day and “top it off” with more hay as needed.
- Timothy hay is ideal for chinchillas.
- If an adult chinchilla isn’t eating around 100 grams (3.5 oz) of hay per day, you may want to consult your vet.
Use alfalfa hay primarily for young or lactating chinchillas.Alfalfa hay is higher in calcium, which is beneficial for growing chinchillas and lactating females. However, alfalfa hay may provide too much calcium for other adult chinchillas, so it should be avoided or used sparingly in a mix with timothy hay.
- Too much calcium intake can lead to urinary tract infections and kidney stones in chinchillas.
Keep a stoppered feeding bottle filled with fresh water.Each morning, wash the bottle and stopper quickly with soap and water, rinse it thoroughly, and fill it with clean, fresh water. Check it often throughout the day to make sure your chinchilla never goes without access to drinking water.
- Since chinchillas should have fresh hay and fresh water at all times, check and refill both at the same times throughout the day.
Offering Pellets, Greens, and Treats
Provide about 30 grams (1.1 oz) of chinchilla pellets per day.Buy pellets specifically designed for chinchillas. These should have the proper mix of nutrients for a chinchilla, meaning that additional supplementation will usually be unnecessary.
- Chinchillas are most active in the early morning and late evening, so try to give them half of their daily pellets at each of these times.
- You can simply place the pellets in a small dish. However, to keep the chinchilla more active and interested, you can scatter the pellets throughout the cage or hide them in small paper bags or empty toilet paper tubes.
- Discard any uneaten pellets each morning. If most of the pellets aren’t being eaten, contact your vet.
- Don’t use pellets that are past their expiration date—their nutritional value with diminish after this point.
Give about 1 teaspoon of vegetables or fruits per day.The pellets and hay will typically provide all the daily nutrients your chinchilla needs. However, limited servings of green veggies or selected fruits will provide some additional water intake, as well as add some variety for their taste buds!
- Torn-up pieces of leafy greens like carrot leaves, endive, arugula, chard, lettuce, and spinach are good vegetable choices.
- You can also try serving chopped veggies like sweet potatoes, carrots, or squash.
- Diced apples are the best fruit choice, but you can also try options like pears, bananas, or grapes.
Offer treats like nuts and seeds very sparingly.It’s very tempting to give your furry friend treats like nuts and seeds, or even cereal or candies, and they will gladly eat them. However, the increased fat and/or sugar content in such foods can lead to digestive problems like diarrhea or constipation.
- Use only unsalted nuts and seeds as treats, and offer at most 3-4 individual nuts or seeds per day.
Aim for 75% hay, 20% pellets, and 5% veggies/fruits in the daily diet.For the average adult chinchilla, this food ratio, along with ample fresh water, will provide all their necessary nutrients. In terms of daily amounts given, this means you may be offering roughly:
- 90–100 grams (3.2–3.5 oz) of hay
- 25–35 grams (0.88–1.23 oz) of pellets
- 7.5–10 grams (0.26–0.35 oz) of fruits and vegetables
- Keep in mind that these amounts are for 1 chinchilla. Most people keep more than 1 chinchilla (they are social creatures that prefer company), so adjust accordingly.
Using Supplements When Necessary
Take note if a chinchilla isn’t eating its own feces.Because a chinchilla’s digestive system moves quickly and constantly, they can’t digest all their food’s nutrients the first time around. This means it is normal and indeed healthy for them to consume their own feces, so that they can get the nutrients they missed during the first pass. They will often eat the feces right as it emerges from their anus.
- Chinchillas produce two kinds of feces. The first is a shiny, smelly pellet, which is what they’ll eat to get more nutrients. The second is small, dry, and hard, and can be discarded as you clean up their cage.
- If you see a lot of the shiny, smelly feces in the cage and don’t notice your chinchilla eating any of it, contact your vet. This unusual behavior could be a sign of a medical problem, and the chinchilla may also need nutritional supplements.
- If your chinchilla is producing liquid stools, contact your vet right away.
Use salt blocks or vitamin C drops only if your vet advises it.If you are giving your fuzzy pal a daily ration of high-quality, non-expired chinchilla pellets, they should be getting all the nutrients they need (in combination with their daily hay). Additional supplements are unnecessary in most cases, and may do more harm than good. Use them only if directed by the veterinarian.
- If the vet advises using a salt block or wheel, just add it to the cage and leave it there.
- If the vet recommends vitamin C supplementation, add the advised number of drops to the chinchilla’s daily water supply.
Keep calcium and oxalate levels in check with your food choices.Unless they are juveniles, pregnant, or nursing, chinchillas should consume limited amounts of calcium. Additionally, all chinchillas should consume limited amounts of oxalates. Too much of either of these nutrients can cause urinary tract infections or kidney stones.
- Pellets designed for chinchillas will have limited amounts of these nutrients.
- Some veggies have very low amounts of both of these, while others have higher concentrations. You can find a good list at .
Video: Chinchilla Care: Everything You Need To Know
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