What to Feed Chinchillas? Read This Guide

What to Feed Chinchillas

Powernubby.com – What to Feed Chinchillas? You’ll need a good understanding of what your chinchilla’s digestive system can and cannot handle in order to keep your new pet chinchilla healthy, happy and full of energy. You might be surprised to learn that chinchillas have sensitive digestive systems and are unable to digest certain things properly. Making sure that your chinchilla eats a diet that’s appropriate for its digestive system is essential. So, what does a chinchilla eat? Keep reading and you will find out the answer to this very important question.

What to Feed Chinchillas?

Chinchillas typically eat mostly vegetation that includes a lot of roughage. The digestive system of a chinchilla is simply not designed to handle rich or fatty foods. You’ll need to feed your pet special chinchilla pellets, but you’ll want to supplement that diet with plenty of fresh grass hay in order to help him live a long life.


Many pets love treats, and chinchillas aren’t any different. But just because your chinchilla loves eating treats doesn’t mean it should have as many treats as it wants. Although it’s fine to give your chinchilla treats, don’t give it so many that they basically become part of your chinchilla’s food.

Pellets And Loose Food

You can feed your chinchilla either pellets or loose food. Although the loose food is nutritionally balanced, feeding pellets to your chinchilla is an easy way to make sure its diet is perfectly balanced. Mixing loose food into your chinchilla’s food is fine, but only for supplementing its diet. If your chinchilla only eats loose food, it won’t be receiving a nutritionally complete diet. Chinchillas typically eat one to two tablespoons of pellets every day.


Although pellets will give your chinchilla all the nutrients it needs, they do not provide the fiber that is required for your pet to stay healthy. That’s where a constant supply of hay comes into play. Chinchillas love hay, but they also need it for their digestive systems, so make sure your pet always has fresh hay available. Ideally, a chinchilla should eat a handful of hay every day.


You also need to make sure that your chinchilla always has fresh, room temperature drinking water available. Cold water could upset his digestive system.

Chinchilla’s Diet

So, what to feed chinchillas when he or she needs diet? If you need to change your chinchilla’s food, make sure you do it gradually, so that your pet doesn’t notice and its digestive system doesn’t react adversely.

A number of professional chinchilla breeders use the following “secret” when they change their chinchilla’s food: Begin changing the food by mixing a tiny amount of the new food into the old. The amount of new food might be so small that your pet won’t even realize he’s eating anything different. Then, each time you feed your chinchilla, introduce a slightly larger amount of new food into the food your chinchilla is used to eating, reducing the amount of old food by the same amount. The process will be gradual, but don’t worry about how long it takes. Eventually you’ll have completely changed your chinchilla’s food. And even more importantly, you’ll have changed your chinchilla’s food without causing your pet any digestive problems.

To understand your chinchilla’s diet and care for it properly, it really helps to know what they eat while in their natural habitat. Their wild environment is a dry and rocky terrain, covered with patches of short trees, shrubs, and succulents. In the wild, chinchillas are generally herbivorous, feeding mostly on seeds, some types of fruit and grass, small insects, as well as nibbling on barks of trees from time to time. After several specimens were imported to the United States for breeding, the pet chinchillas that we have today remain herbivores, but much of their diet has changed. Domesticated chinchillas have delicate digestive systems; and compared to their wild cousins, they are unable to digest most of the food they eat while in their natural habitat.

Hay, a very good source of fiber, is an important part of a chinchilla’s diet. It’s hard enough for them to nibble on which helps in trimming their teeth, keeping their gums healthy. Also when chewed, it’s soft enough to swallow. In buying hay, make sure it’s either packed well or isn’t moist and smelly. Moisture is a good breeding ground for bacteria and can cause health complications when eaten by your pet. This is another primary reason why feeding them too much wet fruit is not advisable. Hay-based pellets are available in pet shops. Most varieties have supplementary vitamins and minerals infused in them already. Another option is alfalfa blocks that are fed to guinea pigs and other pet rodents. Many owners have observed though that chinchillas don’t usually take to them. More so, these pellets are manufactured small and hard enough to provide your pet with efficient gnawing exercise as they are natural chewers.

To keep a healthier chinchilla, it’s important to give variety to their diet. Hay may be what you feed them primarily, but also give room to include treats for snacks or rewards when you train them. An ideal amount would be the size of a sugar cube, and only given once a day. Though there are manufactured treats available in pet shops, a better option for proper chinchilla care would be to go organic, including dried fruit (such as banana chips, dried apples, apricots, and cranberries), bread, vegetables (like carrots and celery), peanuts, and cereals in their diet. Always ration the treats that you give them. Since these are more flavorful, your chinchilla may get used to them, eventually ignoring the necessary hay that you feed them. Also, keep in mind the health of your pet. Peanuts are rich in oil and fat, and may cause health difficulties such as obesity and liver disease. Dried fruit and cereals may contain generous amounts of sugar, and may cause tooth decay.

Whenever you feel like your pet is getting tired of its regular food, a change in diet is always welcome. Just be slow in integrating the new food to its diet. For example, you can mix in a small amount of dried cranberries with its pellets, careful that it doesn’t just pick at the fruit. Remember that the ideal diet for your pet is one that is low in sugar and fat, but high in fiber.

Though chinchillas are herbivores, they are small eaters. Owners need to be careful in avoiding overfeeding. Though they may seem like hearty eaters, their digestive systems are sensitive. Giving them too much food may result in serious health problems. For adults, a tablespoon-full of pellets is adequate. Pregnant chinchillas may need more.

Read: Are Chinchillas Rodents? Let’s Find The Answer

For a happier and healthier pet, moderation is the best practice in chinchilla care, especially in feeding. Be careful not to spoil or overfeed it. Knowing the comparison to what it eats while in the wild and the healthy options available makes for a more rewarding and well-informed experience.

These are the basics you need to know about what to feed chinchillas. You might want to do some additional research to understand why some types of hay are not good for chinchillas and why some pellets don’t provide all the nutrition they promise.

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