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What Do Chinchillas Eat? (Wild vs. Pet Chinchilla Diet)

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Chinchillas eat hay and pellets as their daily diet. They can also eat several dried fruits and dried vegetables in small quantities. In the wild, they mostly feed on grasses, leaves, and roots.

Every organism needs food to survive. Rodents, chinchillas included, are no different.

Chinchillas eat multiple times every day. Their diet is primarily made up of grasses and other plant-based foods. 

But pet chinchillas have some different dietary needs, as they can’t forage in the wild.

Pet chins rely on their owners to provide food and water to them. Caring for their chinchilla is the responsibility of every chinchilla owner.

This article talks about the different types of food chinchillas can eat and food that you should avoid giving to chinchillas.

What Do Chinchillas Eat?

Chinchillas can eat some vegetables and dried fruits. In the wild, they eat grass, berries, and nuts to fulfill their energy requirements.

Chinchillas are essentially herbivorous and rely on plant and plant materials for energy. Their bodies need high amounts of fiber to remain fit. Grasses and hay contain ample fibers, which is why chinchillas love to munch on them.

Water is also an essential part of their diet. They need a constant supply of water to remain hydrated. 

If left without water, chinchillas can heat up quickly, which is dangerous to them.

Chinchillas eat in short munching breaks throughout the day. This means that your chinchilla must always have access to food in its cage.

Best Treats for Chinchillas

Are Chinchillas Herbivores?

Yes, chinchillas are herbivores, meaning they only eat plant-based foods. Chinchillas have a sensitive digestive system that needs a lot of fiber. Feeding your chinchilla foods rich in fiber such as hay helps keep it healthy and active throughout the day.

What Do Chinchillas Eat in the Wild?

Wild chinchillas primarily eat grasses and hay, as well as the following:

  • Twigs
  • Roots
  • Succulents
  • Tree bark
  • Stems
  • Nuts
  • Seeds

What Do Pet Chinchillas Eat?

Pet chinchillas eat hay and pellets. You should feed your chinchilla pellets that are designed specifically for chins. Pet chinchillas can also be given various dry fruits and vegetables as treats and snacks. 

Essential Parts of a Chinchilla Diet

Hay, pellets, and water are the most important parts of a chinchilla’s diet. Chinchillas can survive solely on these three foods. They do need additional nutrients to live a healthy and prolonged life.

Chinchillas are easy to care for and do not require much attention, especially when it comes to their food. 

They can easily live on a diet of hay and pellets with some water to wash it all down.

Hay

Chinchilla Cage Hay Feeders

Chinchillas need hay in their diet. Hay consists of around 30 to 50% of fiber[1]. Fiber helps keep their frail digestive systems healthy and safe from diseases.

Chinchillas should be given clean, dry, and fresh hay every day to fulfill their dietary requirements.

Avoid giving your pet chinchilla musty-colored or spoiled hay, as it can severely impact its digestive system.

Here are the best hay options for chinchillas:

  • Alfalfa hay
  • Oat grass
  • Oxbow hay
  • Botanical hay
  • Timothy hay
  • Bluegrass hay
  • Orchard grass

Pellets

Chinchillas Pellets
Image Source

Another essential food in a chinchilla’s diet is pellets. Give your chinchilla plain pellets without additives. Make sure your chinchilla pellets do not contain sugars, as they are harmful in large amounts.

Pellets should be given in moderation. High-quality pellets are important, as they provide more nutrients. 

Avoid pellets made for other rodents as they can have adverse digestive effects.

Water

Chinchillas Drinking Water

Chinchillas need water to survive, and they need it throughout the day. An uninterrupted supply of water is important to keep your chin hydrated and cool.

Chinchillas do not have sweat glands, and their fur is extremely warm. This means chinchillas become hot in warm temperatures, which can cause heatstroke. 

It is recommended to provide your chinchilla 24/7 access to clean drinking water in water bottles attached to the cage to avoid this potentially fatal condition.

Types of Food Chinchillas Can Eat

Chinchillas can eat some fresh vegetables, dried fruits, and nuts occasionally. These should be used as treats, as too much fiber or natural sugar causes digestive issues.

Chinchillas have sensitive stomachs, meaning that their are limited foods they can eat. 

Foods high in sugar are not suitable for chinchillas and can cause several issues. Fortunately, there are a variety of different food items which chinchillas can eat without getting unhealthy.

Good Vegetables for Chinchillas

  • Potato
  • Pumpkin
  • Celery
  • Sweet potato
  • Cucumber
  • Squash
  • Carrot
  • Parsley
  • Alfafa
  • Kale
  • Turnip greens
  • Dandelion greens

Good Dried Fruits and Nuts for Chinchillas

  • Almonds
  • Pears
  • Apples
  • Raisins
  • Currants
  • Blackberries
  • Pecans
  • Mountain ash berries[2]

Good Herbs and Roots for Chinchillas

  • Marigold
  • Rosehips
  • Honey Suckle
  • Chamomile flowers
  • Rose petals
  • Jasmine
  • Sunflower petals
  • Luffa bits
  • Organic nettle
  • Apple blossoms
  • Purple globes

The key to feeding chinchillas supplementary foods is moderation. Excess amounts of these foods are not good and should be avoided.[3]

Types of Food Chinchillas Can Eat
Image Source

Types of Food Chinchillas Should Avoid

Chinchillas should not eat most fresh vegetables and fruits. Avoid feeding chinchillas foods with a high concentration of sugar or fat as they are toxic.

While chinchillas can eat certain fruits and vegetables, the majority of fruits and vegetables are dangerous.

But, you should avoid relying completely on pellets. A diet solely made up of pellets can adversely affect their health due to a lack of proper fiber.

Here are the most common foods chinchillas should not have.

Bad Vegetables for Chinchillas

  • Cabbage
  • Broccoli
  • Peas
  • Lettuce
  • Asparagus
  • Spinach
  • Rhubarb

Bad Fruits for Chinchillas

  • Avocado
  • Bananas
  • Holly berry
  • Pokeberry
  • Baneberry
  • Yew berry
  • Ivy berry
  • White mulberry
  • All other fresh fruits (except for green apples, pears, and apricot)

Bad Nuts and Herbs for Chinchillas

  • Peanuts
  • Sunflower seeds
  • Dried corn
  • Ivy
  • Lily plant
  • Flamingo flowers
  • Hemlock

You should also avoid foods that have a high fat-content. All dairy products should also be avoided.

Peanuts

How Often Should You Feed Your Chinchilla? (Feeding Schedule)

Chinchillas should be fed pellets at least two times every day. Hay should always be available to them. Chins also need a constant supply of water.

Chinchillas are crepuscular, meaning that they are most active at dawn and dusk. These twilight periods are perfect for feeding your chinchilla. 

Here are some tips for feeding your chinchilla:

  • Feed your chinchilla twice a day.
  • Feed your chinchilla when it is most active, i.e., dawn and dusk.
  • Give your chin a tablespoon of pellets during feeding.
  • You can mix the pellets with some other safe foods for your chin to enjoy.
  • Put the pellets in a tough and strong bowl that does not topple easily.
  • Avoid keeping any dangerous substance near or inside the cage as chinchillas chew on anything they can find.
  • Attach two glass water bottles with your chinchilla’s cage to provide an uninterrupted water supply.
  • Give your chinchilla some treats every now and then to keep it motivated and happy.

What Treats Can Chinchillas Have?

Chinchillas can eat all safe fruits and vegetables as treats. You should not overfeed treats to your chinchilla as large amounts of natural sugar is harmful. An excess of treats also causes chinchillas to develop a reliance on treats which is unhealthy.

Treats can help you socialize with your chinchilla. They help owners train their chinchillas by offering treats as a reward to incentivize the learning process.

Here are some safe treats to feed chinchillas:

  • Raisins
  • Shredded wheat
  • Dry pear
  • Rose hips
  • Oats

Do not give your chinchilla meat, strawberries, raspberries, and most other fruits as treats. These are harmful to chinchillas and can result in serious digestive issues.

Related: Best Treats for Chinchillas

Conclusion

Chinchillas eat hay and pellets and drink large quantities of water daily. You should feed your chinchilla pellets at least twice a day at dawn and dusk as chinchillas are highly active at these hours.

Give your chinchilla occasional treats in the form of dried fruits and vegetables. Chinchillas can also eat some herbs and flowers. Avoid giving foods with high sugar content or high volumes of fat to your chinchilla as it can be fatal.

With proper diet and care, chinchillas live longer and healthier lives.

FAQs

Can Chinchillas Eat Rabbit Food?

No, chinchilla cannot eat rabbit food. Rabbits and chinchillas have different nutritional needs. Giving your chinchilla rabbit pellets is unhealthy. They need pellets specifically designed for chinchillas.

How Much Do Chinchillas Eat?

Chinchillas eat one to two tablespoons of pellets and small quantities of hay throughout the day. Dawn and dusk are the most favorable times to feed chinchillas when they are most active.

How Often Do Chinchillas Eat?

Chinchillas eat many times throughout the day. They need to eat a minimum of two times per day. 

Can Chinchillas Eat Carrots?

Yes, chinchillas can eat carrots. Carrots are good for their health and provide essential vitamins which help strengthen their immune system. Moderation should be exercised when feeding any vegetable to chinchillas.

What Fruits Can Chinchillas Eat?

Chinchillas cannot eat many fruits as they contain high levels of sugars which are toxic to chinchillas. They can eat green apples, pears, and apricots in limited amounts and occasionally. A single piece of these fresh fruits a week is more than enough for chinchillas.

What Kind of Hay Do Chinchillas Eat?

There are several kinds of hay chinchillas can eat. The most common is the Timothy hay which is used by chinchilla owners everywhere. Other viable options are orchard grass, alfalfa hay, and oat hay. All hay contains ample amounts of fiber and can be given to chinchillas. 

What Do Chinchillas Drink?

Chinchillas drink water, and they drink a lot of it on a daily basis. Attach two water bottles to the side of their cage. Refill them daily.

About Misfit Animals Staff

The Misfit Animals staff consists of animal lovers, pet enthusiasts, veterinarians, zoologists, and other animal experts. Our goal is to provide people with information on proper animal care.

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