Chinchillas - Feeding
What do pet chinchillas eat?
Chinchillas require a high-fiber diet and should be offered low-calcium grass hay, such as Timothy hay, orchard grass, botanical hay, oat hay, or meadow hay. Hay should be offered free choice 24 hours a day and should be the main component of your chinchilla’s diet. While alfalfa may be offered occasionally, it should be given in small amounts, as it is too high in calcium and could lead to kidney problems or calcium-containing bladder stones. Additionally, chinchillas can be fed a small amount (1-2 tbsp/day) of a commercial pelleted diet formulated for chinchillas.
"Hay should be offered free choice 24 hours a day and should be the main component of your chinchilla’s diet."
Hay should be replaced daily with fresh hay to prevent bacteria and mold growth. It can be offered in a hay rack or holder attached to the cage, as chinchillas can be messy and may urinate on hay on the cage floor.
Seeds, nuts, and grains should never be offered to chinchillas.
As chinchillas have relatively sensitive digestive tracts, any necessary diet changes should be done slowly over several days to minimize the possibility of gastrointestinal problems.
Do I need to give my chinchilla vitamins?
Chinchillas do not require additional vitamins if fed a complete and balanced diet.
Can I offer my chinchilla treats?
As a rule, chinchillas do not require treats, although an occasional offering of various fresh, low-calcium green vegetables or a piece of high-fiber fruit (e.g., apple slice). Do not offer any people food without consulting your veterinarian first. Dehydrated fruits and vegetables can cause severe digestive system disturbance if fed to a chinchilla. Clean, dried Apple Wood sticks make great treats for chinchillas.
What are the water requirements for chinchillas?
Fresh, clean water must always be available. Depending on the quality of your tap water, you might wish to consider bottled water.
"Most owners choose to offer water through a sipper bottle hung inside the cage, as water bowls are easily soiled and spilled."
Water containers must be cleaned thoroughly every day with soap and water. Most owners choose to offer water through a sipper bottle hung inside the cage, as water bowls are easily soiled and spilled. Wash and rinse the bottle whenever you change the water (at least daily), and check to ensure the sipper tube is not clogged with food or algae.
Fresh water should be replaced daily, even if water remains in the water bottle, as bacteria and yeast can accumulate in bottles if water is not changed.
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