What can chinchillas eat? The best diet for your pet chinchilla

Chinchillas need hay, greens and fibre to stay healthy, but some foods can make them very ill. Read more to learn exactly what to feed your chinchilla.

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What do you feed a pet chinchilla?

Chinchillas are herbivores – they eat a lot of plants and grasses.

Their diet should be high in fibre and protein and low in fat and moisture. It should consist of approximately 35% carbohydrates, 15% protein, 30% fibre, 4% sugar and no more than 3.5% fat.

In their natural environment, chinchillas chew the bark off trees. If your pet chinchilla has a lack of fibre in their diet, its teeth could become overgrown, which could then lead to fur chewing. A diet low in fibre will also disrupt their digestion.

Too much fat in a chinchilla’s diet could cause liver damage.

Chinchilla’s eat different types of vegetation but plants that are too lush might upset their tummies, so quantities need to be carefully regulated.

A constant supply of hay is highly recommended. Hay makes up most of their diet. Chinchillas’ digestive systems need hay and grass to stay healthy.

Chinchilla’s can become very ill without water, so they need constant access to clean drinking water. To keep the water clean, use a drinking bottle.

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In this article: What fruit and vegetables can chinchillas eat? | Can chinchillas eat rabbit food? | Can you buy chinchilla food? | What treats do chinchillas like? | Foods that chinchillas can’t eat | Chinchilla diet dos and donts

cute chinchilla looking at the cameraLeafy greens should be part of chinchillas' core diet. Fruit should only be given as treats.

What fruits and vegetables can chinchillas eat?

The following vegetables can up make the majority of a chinchillas’ core diet:

  • Carrot
  • Kale
  • Alfalfa
  • Celery
  • Potato
  • Sweet potatoes
  • Squash

Chinchillas need around a tea spoon a day of fresh greens.

Fruits are only to be given as treats as they are high in sugars. Chinchillas can eat small amounts of fruit such as:

  • Apples
  • Blueberries
  • Grapes
  • Raisins
  • Sultanas

Can chinchillas eat rabbit food?

Exotic pet sources are not unanimous on the matter, but rabbits and chinchillas have different dietary requirements, so it is best to avoid giving chinchillas rabbit food pellets.

Some experts say that high quality rabbit food is ok for chinchillas, but it is not clear how high the quality must be. Show rabbit food is the highest quality rabbit food you can get but it is not available from all pet shops and would still need to be labelled as safe for chinchillas.

chinchilla eating a food pelletA number of brands sell chinchilla food pellets

Can you buy chinchilla food?

You can buy chinchilla food pellets in pet shops.

Feed around two table spoons of pellets a day, preferably one in the morning and one at night as chinchillas tend to be most active around midnight and at dawn.

Chinchilla holding a berryTreats should only be given in small ammounts because they are high in fat and sugars. Too much fat can cause live damage in chinchillas

What treats do chinchillas like?

Small amounts of dried fruit and root vegetables, such as raisins, sultanas and carrots.

Some sources recommend nuts and seeds as treats but you must bear in mind the high fat content in those. Chinchillas can get seriously ill if they are fed fatty foods so avoid giving nuts and seeds and other foods high in fat.

Control the amount of treats you give as they can be high in sugars and making too much of those available to your chinchilla might make it overweight, which can lead to illness.

Chinchillas have sensitive stomachs, so don’t give too much fruit and veg as they can cause diarrhoea.

Treats are normally higher in sugar and fat; too many can cause liver damage and weight gain, so don’t overfeed with treats.

Foods that chinchillas can’t eat

  • Cabbage
  • Corn
  • Banana
  • Nuts
  • Sunflower seeds
  • Lettuce
  • Asparagus
  • Avocado
  • Rhubarb
  • Rhubarb leaves
  • Peas
  • Broccoli
  • Spinach

Always check with you vet if unsure.

Chinchilla diet dos and donts

Always make sure they have clean drinking water and plenty of hay available. Replace the hay frequently as it can become mouldy.

Don’t introduce sudden dietary changes as they can make them very ill.

Make sure they’re eating and drinking every day and passing dry droppings.

Chinchillas, like rabbits, are coprophages – they eat their own droppings. They do that in order to absorb additional nutrients so don’t discourage them from doing so.

Avoid nuts and seeds as they are very high in fat, which can make chinchillas very ill.

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