Chinchillas are very interesting animals and even more interesting pets.
They are interesting in that they are a very rare species, based almost completely on the continent of South America. Because chinchillas are so rare, it is very important that they are fed properly. Many are clueless about how they should feed their chinchillas because of how rare they are.
However, this does not mean that you can’t learn about what chinchillas should eat to ensure that their health is as perfect as it can be.
It is also very important to learn about what chinchillas eat because it can be very difficult to get them proper medical attention if you happen to feed them improperly. This is because they are such a rare species. In order to learn about what chinchillas can eat and what they should eat, it is important to learn a few basic facts about chinchillas.
This background information will help you determine what exactly your chinchilla should eat.
Important things you need to know about chinchillas?
Before learning about what a chinchilla should eat, it is good to get some background information about what kinds of animals they are and what makes them the same and different from their counterparts. Chinchillas are often compared to guinea pigs and squirrels. In many respects, they are similar. In terms of size, chinchillas, guinea pigs, and squirrels are the same. All three are very small creatures.
Something that you should know about chinchillas is that their fur is extremely dense. Wild chinchillas use this fur to keep themselves warm in the wild, since they are very small creatures and their habitats can get extremely cold during the winter.
How did chinchillas become so rare?
They became rare because a lot of them were hunted for their fur. This does not happen now, but it is something that you should be aware of. Understand that chinchillas are rare and if you have decided to keep one as a pet, understand that it needs to be taken care of as perfectly as possible because they are not common, and some veterinarians may not know how to treat a chinchilla who is in less than perfect health.
Before learning what chinchillas should eat, it is important to know what chinchillas can eat. Knowing this difference will help you micromanage your chinchilla’s diet.
What can chinchillas eat?
The first thing you need to know about chinchillas is that like other rodents, they are complete herbivores. This means that chinchillas cannot digest any food that contains animal based protein. They simply cannot eat these things as they could be potentially lethal.
Fortunately, you do not need to worry about chinchillas being tempted to consume such things. Chinchillas generally do not get tempted to consume anything that is not a plant or a fruit. When it comes to what chinchillas can eat, they can consume practically anything that is not an animal product of some kind.
Does this mean that chinchillas should consume anything that is not an animal product?
In order for chinchillas to maintain optimal levels of health, there are certain things that you should feed them and certain things that you should not feed them.
What you should not feed your chinchilla
Being a rodent, chinchillas can eat practically anything that is not animal based. Among these are dried fruit, grains, nuts, and seeds.
Your chinchilla will be attracted to these kinds of foods if they are offered or introduced, and they should be avoided for a few reasons. One of these reasons is that these foods are not easy for a chinchilla to digest. Do not forget that chinchillas are small rodents. If they eat something that is almost as big as them such as dried fruit, gains, nuts, and seeds, they will not be able to digest it properly.
This is true even if you cut up these kinds of foods into manageable pieces. Simply put, they contain nutrients that a chinchilla just cannot digest properly. Like guinea pigs, chinchillas also need to constantly be chewing in order to micromanage the growth rates of their teeth properly.
Dry fruit, grains, seeds, and nuts will not accomplish this, although when chinchillas eat these things, they will feel just as nourished as when they ate something that does support optimal digestion and will micromanage how their teeth grow.
And then there are food pellets. While it can be convenient to feed a chinchilla food pellets, they can lead to uncontrollable weight gain, and they will also leave your chinchilla deficient in fiber. Because of this, you should only feed your chinchilla food pellets if you absolutely need to.
This leads to the burning question: What should a chinchilla eat?
What should chinchillas be fed?
Now that you know what you should not feed a chinchilla, it is time to learn about what you should feed a chinchilla. Just because chinchillas are very small in size does not mean that they do not need to maintain a certain level of nourishment.
In order for chinchillas to maintain optimal health, they need to be fed constantly. They also need to be fed the right things constantly.
One of these things is hay. Hay is the one thing that your chinchilla needs to always be eating. You should supply hay for your chinchilla in unlimited amounts.
If your chinchilla always has hay at hand, it will be able to “train” its teeth, this way their teeth do not grow irregularly.
Hay is the single most important thing in your chinchilla’s diet. If you are not supplying your chinchilla with fresh hay constantly, you will run into problems eventually. Greens are something else that you should feed your chinchilla. While hay is absolutely necessary, greens are something that will provide additional water and fiber.
Those are the two main food types that chinchillas eat. Do not forget that they need to be offered hay as much as possible, and greens if they need more water and fiber that the hay could not provide. In some cases, your chinchilla might also need food pellets. Food pellets can either solve or create problems for your chinchilla, and they will be discussed next.
The role of food pellets
Food pellets contain three things for a chinchilla that greens and hay are practically deficient in: Calories, fat, protein, and calcium.
If you are growing, breeding, and nursing chinchillas, it will probably be useful to feed these chinchillas food pellets since they will need these extra nutrients. In other cases, however, food pellets are not a good idea. Perhaps they are somewhat useful for chinchillas that are unusually small, but your chinchilla should not rely on them for nourishment.
Your chinchillas will not get enough fiber if they are fed pellets over hay and greens. This will lead to constipation issues.
Feed your chinchillas food pellets only if you absolutely need to. If you are keeping them as pets, you can usually just give them hay and greens twice a day and they will have all the nourishment that they need.
The question “what do chinchillas eat” is very loaded.
There are a lot of things that chinchillas can eat, but there are only certain things that chinchillas should eat.
Hay is the most important thing that a chinchilla can eat. They can chew and graze on it constantly which will micromanage their dental growth and it provides them with enough fiber to optimize their digestion.
Greens also provide additional water and fiber to your chinchillas if hay is not enough for them.
While food pellets have their place in feeding a chinchilla, you should only feed your chinchillas food pellets under certain circumstances.
You now have all the information that you need about what chinchillas eat. Keep this information in mind when feeding your chinchillas, whether are keeping them as pets or if you are breeding or nursing them.