The Best Chinchilla Food – Hay And Pellets
Picking the right kind of chinchilla food is an important part of keeping your pet healthy and happy. The chinchilla is an exotic animal, and sometimes these exotic types have certain dietary demands that must be met. Unlike the (probably overweight) family dog who gets table scraps as a fair portion of its diet, the chinchilla has not only some special needs, but there are some types of food it should not have. We'll look into both.
Give Fruit Sparingly - The best way to feed any exotic pet is to give it a diet as close as possible that would be found in its native habitat. Chinchillas are herbivores, subsisting in the wild largely on seeds, roots, and grasses. They will eat other types of vegetation if the opportunity arises, but for the most part grasses or hay will give them most, though not all, of the nutrients they need. While they have to have some protein and fat in their diet, fatty foods should be avoided. Sugar is detrimental to a chinchilla's health, and although they do like some fruits and berries, these should be given to the animals very sparingly, usually as an occasional treat. An occasional piece of apple is a good choice here as it also gives the chinchilla something to chew on, which they constantly need to be doing.
Hay And Pellets - Although the chinchilla is not going to find commercial chinchilla pellets in the wild, these products usually contain the nutrients they would find in their native habitats, and a mixture of pellets and hay will provide your pet with most everything it needs. You don't need to be too concerned about not giving it a varied diet. Some animals get bored eating the same old thing day after day, but the chinchilla is quite the opposite. It is a creature of habit, and if you feed it hay and pellets for 365 days out of the year, it won't mind. Keep the supply of hay fresh and clean, disposing of any that becomes soiled. The chinchilla will play around with hay as well as eating it, so it's necessary at times to remove soiled or wet hay and replace it with clean dry hay.
Garden Goodies - If you have a supply of rose hips available, these make very tasty and nutritious treats for a chinchilla. High in vitamin C, they do not contain excessive sugar, but do contain plenty of nutrients that will be of benefit to the animal. Although raisins are high in sugar, some chinchilla breeders recommend them as treats when taming the animals. You don't feed them a handful by any means, but rather cut a single raisin into 3 or 4 smaller pieces, and give the chinchilla a piece at a time. A dozen raisins should last a week or more. Healthy and nutritious treats can also be concocted from plants found in the flower garden. Good choices for the chinchilla include marigold petals, pink rosebuds, red rose petals, cornflowers and sunflower petals. Plantain, poplar buds, mountain ash berries, and bilberries are also safe for the animal and will usually be eagerly devoured.
Corn Is Best Avoided - The chinchilla needs lots of roughage in its diet, but corn in particular is probably best avoided. Some will tell you that some corn in the chinchilla diet is OK, and most commercial pellets contain at least a little corn as an ingredient. The chinchilla cannot digest whole corn however as it is too starchy. A little corn meal in pellets might not be a problem, but this is one food item that should be avoided when possible.
The chinchilla's diet really isn't very complicated, and certainly not exotic in the sense that the animal itself is. As is the case with any exotic pet you may get, it's always best to buy or borrow a good book about the animal, and research its dietary needs a bit up front, so feeding will neither be a problem nor a concern.