The Best Chinchilla Food – Hay And Pellets
Picking the right kind of chinchilla food is an important part of keeping your pet healthy and happy. The chinchilla is an exotic animal, and sometimes these exotic types have certain dietary demands that must be met. Unlike the (probably overweight) family dog who gets table scraps as a fair portion of its diet, the chinchilla has not only some special needs, but there are some types of food it should not have. We’ll look into both.
Give Fruit Sparingly – The best way to feed any exotic pet is to give it a diet as close as possible that would be found in its native habitat. Chinchillas are herbivores, subsisting in the wild largely on seeds, roots, and grasses.
They will eat other types of vegetation if the opportunity arises, but for the most part grasses or hay will give them most, though not all, of the nutrients they need. While they have to have some protein and fat in their diet, fatty foods should be avoided. Sugar is detrimental to a chinchilla’s health, and although they do like some fruits and berries, these should be given to the animals very sparingly, usually as an occasional treat.
An occasional piece of apple is a good choice here as it also gives the chinchilla something to chew on, which they constantly need to be doing.
Hay And Pellets – Although the chinchilla is not going to find commercial chinchilla pellets in the wild, these products usually contain the nutrients they would find in their native habitats, and a mixture of pellets and hay will provide your pet with most everything it needs.
You don’t need to be too concerned about not giving it a varied diet. Some animals get bored eating the same old thing day after day, but the chinchilla is quite the opposite. It is a creature of habit, and if you feed it hay and pellets for 365 days out of the year, it won’t mind. Keep the supply of hay fresh and clean, disposing of any that becomes soiled. The chinchilla will play around with hay as well as eating it, so it’s necessary at times to remove soiled or wet hay and replace it with clean dry hay.
Garden Goodies – If you have a supply of rose hips available, these make very tasty and nutritious treats for a chinchilla. High in vitamin C, they do not contain excessive sugar but do contain plenty of nutrients that will be of benefit to the animal. Although raisins are high in sugar, some chinchilla breeders recommend them as treats when taming the animals. You don’t feed them a handful by any means, but rather cut a single raisin into 3 or 4 smaller pieces, and give the chinchilla a piece at a time. A dozen raisins should last a week or more.
Healthy and nutritious treats can also be concocted from plants found in the flower garden. Good choices for the chinchilla include marigold petals, pink rosebuds, red rose petals, cornflower, and sunflower petals. Plantain, poplar buds, mountain ash berries, and bilberries are also safe for the animal and will usually be eagerly devoured.
Corn Is Best Avoided – The chinchilla needs lots of roughage in its diet, but corn, in particular, is probably best avoided. Some will tell you that some corn in the chinchilla diet is OK, and most commercial pellets contain at least a little corn as an ingredient. The chinchilla cannot digest whole corn however as it is too starchy. A little cornmeal in pellets might not be a problem, but this is one food item that should be avoided when possible.
The chinchilla’s diet really isn’t very complicated, and certainly not exotic in the sense that the animal itself is. As is the case with any exotic pet you may get, it’s always best to buy or borrow a good book about the animal and research its dietary needs a bit upfront, so feeding will neither be a problem nor a concern.
Some Good Options for Chinchilla Treats
Chinchilla treats are a topic of concern for those who have chosen to raise the domestic version of these rodents. It is important for pet owners to have an understanding of the natural habitat and diet of this breed to make an educated choice in terms of the treats they can give their pet chinchillas.
Chinchillas are natives of the South American Andes Mountains. Wild chinchillas typically eat plants, seeds, small insects and fruits. They are primarily herbivorous and it is best to retain this balance in a domestic chinchilla’s diet also. Experts are insistent that domestic chinchillas need a predominance of hay in their diet.
Chinchillas are effective in processing desert grasses but have difficulty digesting high protein foods, fatty foods or even increased amounts of green plants. Chinchillas do well when fed hay-based pellets and when they have a steady supply of loose hay as part of their regular diet. Given the sensitive nature of this animal’s digestive system, it is safe to stick to this diet but it is also nice to have an idea of the chinchilla treats that can be used to bribe or reward your pet.
Raisins are a highly recommended chinchilla treat. Chinchillas also love peanuts and sunflower seeds. Chinchillas do love their treats and in fact, it is recommended that it is best to avoid chinchilla mixtures as their regular feed because they have a tendency to pick out the treats such as the raisins and the seeds and leave behind the high-fiber pellets.
While these treats are okay in small doses, it is important to make sure that the animal does not overload on any of them. Peanuts and sunflower seeds can be fatty and even the raisin intake needs to be rationed as it, along with other dried fruits, in excess can lead to diarrhea.
As chinchillas eat in small amounts, there is the very real danger of over-feeding. It is a temptation to keep topping off their plates and this is to be avoided at all costs. The gastrointestinal system of the chinchilla will find it hard to process excessive food and there are serious health consequences that can arise from over-eating.
It is best to have a strict measure of the food and the treats that you dole out to your chinchilla. It is recommended that chinchilla treats should ideally be the size of a small sugar cube and that and it should be limited to one a day. It will be ideal to keep the high fiber and low-fat requirements in mind when picking the treats also.
Carrots, banana chips, rolled oats, dried whole wheat bread, dried fruits such as pineapple, papaya, apples, pears and cranberries, cereals such as shredded wheat and Cheerios are among the other Chinchilla treats recommended by those have experience with these animals. It is a good idea to not introduce too many wet fruits or nuts into their treatment expectations.
In monitoring Chinchilla diet and treat, note that high fat can lead to liver disease and high sugar can cause tooth decay. So use your quota of treats wisely and effectively to encourage your chinchilla to respond to your instructions.
You can pick things such as branches of apple, pear or mulberry trees to chew as these can serve the double purpose of giving them something to gnaw as well as allowing them to enjoy a different taste or flavor than their usual pellet food.
If you are picking things from your garden, it will help to make sure that you rinse things off to avoid handing something with chemicals to your pet. Ideally, choose things that have not been treated with any pesticides or fungicides.
Imaginative and creative options are available for those who seek to find healthy snacks or treats for their chinchillas. While it may not always be available with pre-packaged convenience, remember that the choices you make will have long-lasting health implications for your pet.