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A healthy diet for chinchillas

Diet logo © RSPCA publications and brand 2010

 

Ensure your chinchilla has a healthy diet

 

Chinchillas need:

  • Chinchilla feeding © Gala K / Fotolia
    Constant access to clean drinking water from a drinking bottle, checked twice daily. Without water chinchillas can become seriously ill.
     
  • Good quality hay which should make up the majority of their diet and should be available at all times. A hay rack is a good way of offering hay.
    - Chinchillas' digestive systems need hay and grass to function properly. Chinchillas naturally eat grasses, leaves and twigs.
    - Chinchillas' teeth grow continuously throughout their life needing wearing down and keeping at the correct length/shape by eating grass/ hay/grass-based chinchilla pellets. Not eating the right diet can result in serious dental disease.
     
  • To be offered a small amount (1-2 tablespoons per chinchilla) of grass-based chinchilla pellets daily in addition to hay. They eat by sitting on their hind legs and holding the food in their front paws. Chinchillas naturally eat for long periods of time, mainly during the night.
     
  • Root vegetables like carrots, leafy greens/dried fruit/grains only in small amounts (one teaspoon/day) as treats. Avoid nuts and seeds as these are high in fat. If they eat too much of the wrong food, e.g. grains/fruit/sweet treats, they can become overweight, or get ill, and suffer. If the correct diet is always available, chinchillas generally keep themselves at the right weight.
     
  • To avoid sudden changes in diet as this could upset their digestive system and make them very ill.
     
  • Checking that that they’re eating every day and they’re passing plenty of dry droppings. Monitor the amount and types of food your chinchilla eats, and how much they drink. If your chinchilla’s eating or drinking habits change, the number or size of droppings gets smaller or they stop, talk to your vet straight away as they could be seriously ill. How much a chinchilla needs to eat depends on their age, lifestyle and state of health. Chinchillas produce two kinds of droppings – hard dry pellets, and softer moist pellets that they eat directly from their bottom and which are an essential part of their diet.