Chinchillas are a little different from other small pets, because they don’t necessarily need to be changed from the alfalfa hay diet they eat as a baby onto a timothy hay one when they reach adulthood. And because of that, you may well feed a combination of both timothy pellets and alfalfa hay pellets for chinchillas throughout their life.
But what is pelleted food all about? Why is it necessary to feed it to your chinnie, and how on earth do you go about choosing which pellets to buy?
Thankfully, with just a little knowledge about hay and pellets, it’s simple to ensure that you’re buying the best pellets on the market for your chinnie. And this also includes knowing when to feed alfalfa pellets over timothy hay ones.
Now, we’re not going to hand any prizes out for realizing that alfalfa hay pellets are made from alfalfa! But we will tell you a little more about what alfalfa actually is.
This is a high energy type of legume hay – and therefore these pellets are higher in both protein and calories than those made from timothy hay. But they don’t only contain hay, because they also are a balanced source of all the other vitamins, minerals and nutrition that your chinnie needs on a daily basis to remain in good health.
A good quality alfalfa hay pellet has a carefully constructed and balanced mix of what your pet needs to eat each day. And while you need to feed him hay on a daily basis as well, chinchilla pellets also provide him with a source of the essential fiber he needs to have good digestive health.
Now, we’re all used to the way that food for humans is labeled. And chinchilla pellets are also labeled in the same way – with the largest proportion of the food being first in the list, with the rest in descending order below.
This makes choosing the pellets you purchase for your pet easy. Simply check the label, and if the first item of the list isn’t alfalfa hay, then don’t even consider buying them. Move onto a different brand where alfalfa is the first thing mentioned.
Well, chinchillas are, as we said before, somewhat different from other small pets. And this is because in many cases, you’ll want to feed a combination of alfalfa pellets and timothy hay pellets throughout their life. However, it always pays to be aware that alfalfa hay pellets are higher in calories – so if there’s any weight issues with your chinnie, then you need to take this into account.
Of course, there are certain points in a chinchilla’s life when he or she actively needs a large amount of extra calories. These include the following:
- Pregnant and nursing mothers
- Baby and growing chinchillas
- Chinchillas recovering from injury or illness
- In the later stages of a chinchilla’s life when he might have a decreased appetite or trouble keeping on weight.
If you’re unsure about what kind of pellets you should be feeding your pet, you should take advice from a chinchilla expert or chinchilla savvy veterinarian.