Wild chinchillas spend their days munching on grass, leaves, and twigs. But in the domestic world, what do chinchillas eat? They won’t be exploring the mountainside, they need a space set up with plenty of nutrients and fiber!
Whether you’re a seasoned chinchilla parent or new to the world of small pets, this guide has got you covered!
We’re going to talk all about nutrient-rich food your chin is going to love, provide information on how much they need, and also tips for introducing new foods into their diet.
So, let’s put on our chef hats and dive into this nutrition guide on what we can feed our furry little foodies.
Daily Chinchilla Nutrition
A chinchilla’s diet needs to be high in fiber and low in fat. Their diet should be less than 4% fat! Too much fat in a chinchilla’s diet can cause problems with their liver. So put away the nuts and avocados!
Wild chinchillas will chew the bark right off a tree. That’s a lot of fiber and roughage! A chinchilla needs a high-fiber diet to keep their digestive system working properly. They also need roughage to chew so their ever-growing teeth stay worn down and healthy.
The most important part of a chinchilla’s diet is hay. A chinchilla needs hay 24/7 as a free-choice food. This should make up 75-80% of their diet.
They need low-calcium hay like Timothy hay or orchard grass. Too much calcium can lead to kidney problems or bladder stones.
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Pellets can be offered to chinchillas as a supplement to their hay. You don’t want to offer too much pellet food as this type of food doesn't wear down their teeth the way that hay does!
Growing, breeding, and nursing chinchillas can be fed more pellets as they have an important job to do and may need extra food.
Healthy, adult chinchillas should only have 1-2 TBSP of pellet food a day. Make sure you’re feeding a high-quality pellet made specifically for chinchillas.
Should You Give Chinchillas Treats?
Chinchillas can have treats but you need to be very careful with the type of treats you are sharing with your fur baby.
Very small amounts of root vegetables like carrots and sweet potatoes can be given as treats. Chinchillas shouldn’t have food with too much moisture as it can make them bloated. For this reason, Dried Goji Berries are a chinchilla favorite!
Mentebella | Review of dried goji berries
FANTASTIC Chin treat!
We try not to give our Chin too much sugar so these are strictly treats. A couple every few days. But she LOVES LOVES LOVES these!!
SPS always delivers the best but these have been totally Chin approved.
You also can’t go wrong with hay treats. Hay Cubes are hay compressed into a crunchy munchy cube. A fun way to snack while keeping the digestive system running smoothly.
What About Leafy Greens?
Chinchilla research is still bringing us new information and some things are not as cut and dry as hay!
Check with your exotic vet for information on feeding your chinchilla vegetables with higher water content like leafy greens.
How Much Do Chinchillas Eat?
Chinchillas will munch on their hay all throughout the day. It’s never a bad time for hay. As mentioned, pellets should be kept to 1-2 TBSP a day. A quick turnaround of pellets helps keep things fresh as well!
Chinchillas need access to drinking water 24/7. Use a water bottle so the water stays clean and also so your chinchilla stays dry. There’s no water play allowed for chinchillas. Their thick coat traps moisture that can lead to skin issues!
What Do Baby Chinchillas Eat?
A chinchilla's digestive system is sensitive but a baby chinchilla’s digestive system is even more sensitive! So keep things extra simple for young chinchillas.
For the first four weeks, a baby chinchilla will get everything they need from their mother’s milk. After that, they can be introduced to hay and pellets and they will slowly wean as they eat more solid foods.
Introducing New Foods To Your Chinchilla
Anytime you feed something new to your chinchilla you must always start small. You need to observe any changes in how they’re feeling and their digestive system needs time to adjust to new types of food.
If you’re changing the pellet food or type of hay that you’re offering then it’s best to mix the old and new food together while you make the transition. This way they’re still starting with a small amount of new food which will be easier to digest.
What Can’t Chinchillas Eat?
When in doubt, say no! If you’re not sure if something is safe to give your chinchilla then don’t give it to them. It’s not worth the risk when there are plenty of safe options for chinchillas.
Check with your exotic vet when trying to choose which foods are safe for your chinchilla but here is a list of foods that are sometimes mistaken as okay when they are not:
rhubarb and rhubarb leaves
nuts and seeds
There are a lot of similarities between chinchillas and rabbits but it’s important to note that you shouldn’t feed a chinchilla rabbit food. When giving pellets make sure they’re specifically made for chinchillas.
Stay Mindful Of Chinchilla Nutrition
One of the reasons a chinchilla’s digestive system is so delicate is that chinchillas can’t throw up. Whatever they eat needs to make it all the way through their system. Some foods can cause blockages or give your fur baby a turning stomach as they try to digest it.
So never treat your chinchilla like a dog and throw them pieces of random human food. Be thoughtful about every little thing that you offer to your chinchilla. Because what they eat transfers directly to how they feel. And you want them to feel their very best.
Chinchilla research is continuously growing! If you have any doubts or concerns contact your exotic vet.
We are not veterinarians, and none of our information should be construed as veterinary advice.