What is the Best Diet for a Chinchilla?
Chinchillas are herbivorous rodents that have a very long lifespan, as they usually live for between 10 and 20 years. They are very social animals, especially among their own species, so it is always advisable to have more than one chinchilla living together in one place.
Their digestive system is quite delicate, and most of the common diseases of chinchillas are due to an unbalanced diet. Knowing what is the best diet for a chinchilla is vital for this rodent to grow up in a healthy and proper way.
This AnimalWised article will explain everything you need to know about a pet chinchilla's diet, whether you already have one or whether you're thinking about adopting a few as pets. Read on!
What is the basic diet for a chinchilla? Nutritional requirements
Chinchillas are exclusively herbivorous animals, and not granivores. This means they do not eat grains and seeds like other rodents do; instead, a chinchilla's diet is based on three main components with the corresponding percentages:
- 75% hay
- 20% feed (pellets) and mixtures of food
- 5% fruit and vegetables
You must bear in mind that a rodent's digestive flora is very delicate, so if you have to introduce a new food into its diet it must be done very gradually so that its system can get used to it properly. The intestinal motility of chinchillas must be continuously active so that their body can properly function.
Broadly speaking, the best diet for a chinchilla should be composed of the following:
- 32% carbohydrates
- 30% fiber
- 15% protein
- 10% wet food
- 6% minerals
- 4% sugar
- 3% healthy fats
So that your pet has a balanced diet, the chinchilla's nutritional intake should correspond to these values.
However, remember that apart from adequate food and fulfilling its basic nutritional requirements, chinchillas must have clean, fresh water available always as well as a well-kept and clean cage to live in. In addition to a balanced diet, you need to provide your chinchilla with proper care if you want it to be happy.
Hay for chinchillas
Hay is a staple food for these rodents. Hay makes up 75% of a chinchilla's total diet; it's a basic requirement given that it mainly consists of fiber and cellulose. Chinchillas cannot go without these elements in their diet, because their intestines need to be in continuous motion.
Hay also helps progressively wear down their teeth because, just like other rodents, chinchillas' teeth never stop growing. There are also some calcium supplements like stones or blocks so that chinchillas can wear down their teeth. As a rule, eating hay should be enough.
In order to feed chinchillas properly, it is recommended to provide different types of hay for chinchillas, such as dandelion, timothy hay, thistle, or alfalfa. This will ensure that your pet gets all the nutrients it needs and doesn't get bored by eating the same thing all the time.
Feed or pellets for chinchillas
Feed or pellets, usually greenish bars, are also a major part of a chinchilla's diet. The most important thing is that the feed is of good quality and specifically suitable for these rodents; it should not be intended for other animals such as hamsters or guinea pigs. It should be 20% of the total of a chinchilla's diet, which can be divided into 15% high quality feed or pellets, and 5% mixture.
Mixtures are a combination of different commercial food for chinchillas. However, you must not give them as substitutes for feed, but rather as a complement to provide their body with other nutrients. Just like pellets, the mixtures should be specific to chinchillas.
The recommended daily feed for chinchillas amount is around 30 grams per day, or a small handful daily. This value is approximate and should be reconsidered according to the needs of your pet, for instance if they have a particular disease or because it is younger or older; ask your vet for the precise quantities.
Fruit and vegetables for chinchillas
Fruits and vegetables are the smallest percentage of a chinchilla's diet - only 5%. A moderate intake of these products is recommended; although they are very healthy and a great source of vitamins and minerals for these rodents, they can cause diarrhea and other more serious conditions. A daily serving of fruit or vegetables is sufficient to meet your chinchilla's nutritional needs.
The most recommended vegetables are green ones, which must be cleaned and dried thoroughly to give to these animals. These include leaves carrots, endive, arugula, chard, lettuce, spinach, etc.
The best fruit for chinchillas is apple, but you can try to feed it other fruits it may like. Fruits for chinchillas should not have any stones. Fruits should be given in smaller amounts than veggies.
Treats for chinchillas
Unsalted nuts are treats for chinchillas. Sunflower seeds, hazelnuts, walnuts or almonds are foods that these rodents love, so if you want to reward your pet in some way, give it some nuts and see how happy it gets.
Of course, nuts should always be given in moderation and in very small quantities. Make sure your chinchilla's diet is not based only on treats and rewards.
If you want to read similar articles to What is the Best Diet for a Chinchilla?, we recommend you visit our Healthy diets category.