How Long Can Chinchillas Go Without Food & Water?

Chinchillas are small mammals native to the Andes Mountains in South America. They are social animals and like it when you house them in pairs or groups.

But chinchillas are rather silent pets and are easy to overlook.

What happens if you forget to feed your pet? How long can a chinchilla go without eating?

In this article, we have listed everything you must know about chinchilla nutrition and what happens when your pet doesn’t get the food it needs.

Key Takeaway:

Chinchillas eat food and drink water constantly throughout the day. Do not leave your chinchilla alone without a pet sitter as it can only go for 12 hours without food and 24 hours without water. Feed your pet 1 to 2 tablespoons of chinchilla pellets every day.

What kind of food will your chinchilla like tucking into and what happens when it doesn’t get enough of it?

Find out the answers to these questions and more coming up in this article.

hand feeding chinchilla

How Long Can Chinchillas Go Without Food and Water?

A chinchilla may only be a small animal, but it still requires a lot of attention to make sure it feels happy around the clock. One of the most important ways to look after it is to make sure it always has enough food and water.

How Long Can Chinchillas Go Without Food?

So you’ve just left the house without feeding your chinchilla.

Will it be alright until you get home or should you turn back and feed it?

The longest your pet chinchilla can go without food is 12 hours. When chinchillas go without food for more than 12 hours they become extremely weak and lethargic and are at risk of health problems and even death.

Coming up a little later in this article, we’ll be discussing your chinchilla’s eating habits and why going long periods without food is so difficult for it.

How Long Can Chinchillas Go Without Water?

You’d forgotten to fill up your chinchilla’s water bottle before you left the house.

How long can your chinchilla go without something to drink?

Your chinchilla will not be able to survive for longer than 24 hours without fresh water. After just a few hours your chinchilla will become extremely thirsty and this is very dangerous for your pet.

In just a mo, we’ll be considering some of the drinking habits of your chinchilla that will help you understand why it’s so important you give your pet constant access to water.

Your Chinchilla’s Eating and Drinking Habits

Your chinchilla will not survive very long if its eating and drinking habits are not good.

What are a chinchilla’s eating and drinking habits in the wild?

Let’s find out.

Fresh Food Time

Chinchillas are distinct from other small mammals like rabbits and guinea pigs as they eat a lot slower than them. It is not uncommon for a chinchilla to eat small meals all throughout the day.

Although they can eat around the clock, chinchillas do have times of the day that they especially love to tuck into the grub in their food bowl. They spend most of their time eating early in the morning and late at night.

A chinchilla will definitely like to consume food early in the morning and late at night, so you must give it adequate food at this time. As a chinchilla owner, make sure you feed your chinchilla twice a day.

We’ll be talking more about the rich foods you must feed your pet and at what times in just a mo.

Water Bottle Time

The way chinchillas drink water is slightly different from the habits of other mammals of its size.

In the Andes Mountains in South America, their natural habitat, chinchillas will get their water from the plants they eat such as cacti. If they are still thirsty, they will drink the morning dew.

In captivity, however, chinchillas do not have access to these natural water sources. So you must give them enough fresh water in a bottle for them to drink whenever they want to.

A water bottle with enough water in it will help a chinchilla keep its body temperature cool.

What Does a Chinchilla Eat?

chinchilla eating

What kind of food will your chinchilla love snacking on?

We’ll be taking a look at your chinchilla’s favorite menu coming up next.

Commercial Food

Your pet must eat 1 to 2 tablespoons of pellets every day. These pellets must be specific to chinchillas alone and cannot be a pellet mix for rabbits or guinea pigs.

Make sure you put enough pellets in your chinchilla’s food bowl each day as these contain all of the nutrients that these domesticated animals need.

These animals must eat a high fiber low protein diet. Just 15 to 20% is enough protein for commercial pellets.

Leafy Greens

To give your chinchilla a change from all the pellets and hay, feed it some fresh vegetables. Just like guinea pigs, they will love eating a handful of greens each day.

Here are some of the greens these animals love.

  • Vegetables. Give beet greens, collard greens, and chicory to your chinchilla for it to eat.
  • Herbs. Your chinchilla will eat dill, mint, and basil.

Timothy Hay

Your chinchilla will like to snack on Timothy’s hay or alfalfa hay all throughout the day. So you must ensure the hay feeder in your chinchilla’s cage is well stocked at all times.


Your chinchilla will love it if you feed him a treat a couple of times a week. Here is a list of some of the treats it will go crazy for.

  • Dried fruits. These include raisins, cranberries, pieces of apple, and papaya. Chinchillas must not eat any fresh fruits.
  • Dried rose hips.
  • Dried herbs. Feed your chinchilla dandelion, strawberry, and blackberry leaves.

Health Issues and Inadequate Food Intake

chinchilla eating green screen

In the wild, chinchillas are used to snacking on food all around the clock and they have a high metabolism and quickly burn it up again. So, to make sure your pet gets the proper care, it must not go without food and water.

Here is what happens to a chinchilla when it stops eating or drinking.

  • Stress. Without enough food and water, your chinchilla will feel stressed and begin chewing its fur or even the fur of the other chinchillas in the cage.
  • Kidney failure. A lack of water can cause kidney problems and even intestinal blockages.
  • Heat stroke. Chinchillas in hot or humid environments without enough water will suffer from heat stroke which could be fatal.
  • Dental issues. A chinchilla’s teeth will continue to grow throughout its life. Without food, it will not be able to keep its teeth down.
  • Weight loss. If there is consistently not enough hay and food in your chinchilla’s cage it will suffer from malnutrition and become unweight and lethargic.

Note: If your chinchilla is refusing food take it straight to the vet.

Final Thoughts On How Long Chinchillas Can Go Without Eating and Drinking

In this article, we have seen how long chinchillas can go without food. Do not leave your chinchilla alone for longer periods as it can only go without food for 12 hours and without water for 24 hours.

Ensure its hay feeder is always full and that its bottled water contains enough fresh tap water for the day and night. If you cannot feed your chinchilla daily, make sure you get a family member or a friend to feed it for you.

Did you find this article interesting?

At Oddly Cute Pets, we always strive to give you the best guides on chinchilla and small pet care. For more information about setting up a chinchilla home, feeding, and looking after your pet, check out our website.

Thanks for reading!

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