Feeding Chinchillas Timothy Hay
Many a potential or new chinchilla owner might be wondering what to feed a chinchilla. And whilst a good proportion of their diet is taken up by chinchilla pellets, another essential part of their diet is hay. And in most cases, a good hay for chinchillas is timothy hay.
Along with water, hay is an essential element of chinchilla nutrition. We’ve put together a video about hay for chinchillas, which you can view by clicking on the arrow below. And when it boils down to understanding all hay and what to feed a chinchilla, read on to discover the two crucial reasons why it’s necessary to include hay in their diet.
Why timothy hay is vital for their good chinchilla health
Timothy hay is a type of hay that belongs to a group classified as grass hay. And whilst there are many different types of grass hays, timothy hay is probably the best known and the easiest to get your hands on. One reason it’s such a popular hay for chinchillas and other small pets is because of its high palatability and taste. It’s also high in fiber and low in protein and calories.
The best quality timothy hay for chinchillas is green, fresh and a food that they’ll tuck into with much gusto. But on top of all this, it provides your chinchilla with both the essential daily fiber he needs, as well as being an essential part of his dental health.
So let’s take a look at these issues of fiber and teeth, because these are the two crucial reasons why it’s so important to include hay in your pet’s diet.
Hay for chinchillas is important for good digestive health.
Chinchillas in the wild – and there are still a few – survive on the inhospitable slopes of the mountains. Here their diet is full of tough, fibrous matter, and the digestive system of the animal has evolved to be the perfect machine to cope with this. So when deciding what to feed a chinchilla, we need to keep this fact in the forefront of our minds.
Feeding our domesticated pets timothy hay is the ideal solution because of the high fiber, low protein content. Without enough fiber in their diet, chinchillas become prone to various different digestive disorders, some of which can prove fatal if they become severe. Plus a chinchilla simply can’t cope with a diet high in fats and sugars, so combining the best quality timothy hay with great quality chinchilla pellets means that you’re feeding your pet the very best for his overall health.
In some cases it might be appropriate to feed other types of richer hay to a chinchilla, particularly in cases of pregnant, nursing or growing chins. However, in most cases the type of hay for chinchillas recommended by most veterinarians is timothy hay.
Timothy hay for chinchillas – the natural dentist
The second, and no less important, reason for feeding timothy hay to your chinnies is to do with a part of the body that a chinchilla is very proud of – his big, orange teeth!
Because wild chinchillas would be constantly chewing on very tough foodstuffs, this naturally had the effect of wearing the teeth down. Evolution, doing what it does, found a solution for this by giving chinchilla’s open rooted teeth that constantly renewed throughout the animal’s life. And your pet is no different; he has teeth that grow for the duration of his life.
Feeding timothy hay for chinchillas gives him a daily workout on those ever-growing teeth, helping to keep them naturally ground down. If the teeth are allowed to become too long they cause damage to the inside of the mouth and tongue. This can get so bad that it could stop a chinchilla eating altogether, and this in turn can create various different and serious health problems. Overgrown teeth in a chinchilla is a condition known as malocclusion.
Happily, providing your pet with good quality timothy hay, along with various other chew toys and chew items, will go a long way towards preventing this and keep the risk of malocclusion down to an absolute minimum.
But my chinchilla won’t eat hay?
Of course, just like humans, chinchillas all have their individual personalities. And this extends down to every part of their personality, including their appetite. But if hay is such an important part of nutrition for the animal, how come there are so many people asking “why my chinchilla won’t eat hay?”
Now, ill health issues aside, there’s usually one very good reason that a chinchilla might not eat his hay. And it all boils down to the quality of the product. The thing is, when it comes down to finding the best timothy hay for chinchillas, not all hays are made the same. And the difference between the best quality and the worst (or even average), is nothing short of remarkable.
Top quality timothy hay for chinchillas is not only sweet, fragrant, soft and a beautiful green color, but it tastes fantastic! As fresh as the day it was cut from the field, once you’ve seen the difference between this and the brown/yellow product that’s often passed as suitable for pets, you’ll never mistake it again. And even more than the visual and sensory differences is the way that chinchillas absolutely love it. Watching a chinchilla munch into a pile of the best timothy hay is one of the joys of owning our pets. And once seen, you’ll never want to feed him anything else.
Producing timothy hay for chinchillas
Well, it all comes down to the skill of the farmer in his production, as well as the handling, packaging and logistics of moving the hay from the field to your chinchilla’s cage.
Lots of things conspire to alter the quality of hay. These include the growing of the grass, cutting (yes, there are different cuttings, including a 1st cut, 2nd cut, and 3rd cut), weather, storage and packaging. Hay is a fragile product, produced by that gentlest of manufacturers – Mother Nature – and it doesn’t like rough treatment. Getting one or more of the production stages wrong and the quality of the hay reduces to a dramatic extent.
So the challenge for most chinchilla owners is to find a quality, regular and reliable sources of the best quality timothy hay for chinchillas. And once you’ve found such a supplier, watched how much your pet adores the hay and seen how little wastage there is, you’ll never want to buy or feed anything again. Naturally, responsible chinchilla owners want to feed their pets the best diet possible. And feeding top quality timothy hay for chinchillas plays an enormous part in this.
If you have other small pets, check to see fresh Timothy Hay is best for them: