Chinchilla cage? Check.
Chinchilla toys? Check.
Chinchilla food? Oh, wait…
…what do chinchillas eat?
You must know everything about a chinchilla’s diet before bringing one home. These bigger-than-mice rodents require a specific kind of diet to stay healthy.
In this article, we’ve listed all the food items a chinchilla can eat. It’ll help you keep your exotic pets glowing with good health. If you follow our guide, you can give your chin a better diet than he’d find in the wild.
Pet chinchillas are herbivores. They love grass hay and chinchilla food pellets. Nuts, seeds, and grains are a big no-no for chinchillas. And if you give your chinny fresh vegetables and fruits, monitor the quantity. A chinchilla’s diet must be high in protein and fiber but low in fat and moisture.
How much do chinchillas eat a day? And how much water do they need?
Check out the next section of this article to find all the answers you need to keep your pet chinchilla happy and full.
Table of Contents
What Do Chinchillas Eat in the Wild?
Out in their natural digs, chinchillas are quite the food adventurers. Their menu is a mixed bag of goodies, including grass, insects, and twigs. They also occasionally treat themselves to bird eggs. Yes, it's true.
So, are chinchillas omnivores?
Well, yes, technically. But if you could ask a chinchilla, he’d tell you he’s a big fan of vegetation. Flowers and shrubs make his tastebuds jump with joy. Wild chinchillas also enjoy eating tree bark because of their high fiber content.
What Do Chinchillas Eat as a Pet?
Pet chinchillas eat a slightly different diet than those in the wild. It might not be as diverse, but it’s still pretty nutritious.
So, what do chinchillas like to eat?
If you’ve got a pet chinchilla, here’s what his daily meals should look like:
Grass hay makes up 80% of your pet chinchilla’s diet. It is packed with fiber, which helps keep a chinchilla’s digestive system on track. It also works as a natural toothbrush and helps wear down his molars.
Which grass hay is best for my chinchillas?
Timothy hay is the ultimate chinchilla hay. It has just the right amounts of fiber, protein, and fat. Give your chin an unlimited supply, and he'll auto-regulate his consumption.
Other types of hay that chinchillas enjoy (or should because of the nutritional benefits) include:
- Orchard grass – It is an excellent Timothy hay substitute with good amounts of fiber, fats, and proteins. Mix it up with Timothy to keep things fun in the hay rack.
- Alfalfa hay – It is high in protein, making it perfect for growing chins. Nursing chinchillas can benefit from it, too.
- Oat hay – This one’s extra high in fiber. If you have a chin with GI tract issues, this will help him out.
Tip: Only get good quality grass hay from reputable farmers.
A balanced chinchilla diet must contain pellets. They are dried grass processed and pressed to make yummy bite-sized goodies. Some chinchilla pellets are mixed with vitamins, minerals, and other nutritious additives for a complete meal.
Do chinchillas like pellets?
Most pet chinchillas love their pellets. But don’t overdo it! A tablespoon of pellets a day is enough to keep your chin energized. Any more than that will lead to obesity-related issues.
Fruits and Vegetables
A balanced diet isn’t balanced without essential vitamins and fiber from the greens. So, add some veggies and fruits to your chin’s menu, but in moderation.
Fruits and vegetables are sugary and moist. While some sugar is okay, excess sugar can cause digestive issues, obesity, and bad teeth.
Why avoid moisture?
Chinchillas come from the Andes Mountains in South America, where the climate is dry. They’ve adapted to survive in low-humidity environments. Too much moisture can cause bloating and loose stools.
What Fruits Can Chinchillas Eat?
Chinchillas love sweet treats. This is why fruits are one of their favorites. Sadly, sugary and watery foods can cause health issues in chinchillas if given in excess. So, they are only allowed in very limited quantities, that too, only once a week.
Fruits that are safe to feed a chinchilla include:
- Green apples
Can chinchillas eat bananas?
Nope! This yellow-skinned fruit is too sweet for chinchillas.
Can chinchillas eat pineapple? What about watermelon? And cantaloupe?
No, can’t. All these fruits are too watery to be safe for chins.
Can chinchillas eat oranges?
No way! Oranges are too acidic and sugary for chinnys. There’s also a lot of phosphorus in them, which is highly toxic to chinchillas.
What Vegetables Can Chinchillas Eat?
A chinchilla’s diet must only contain 10% veggies and fruits. High-fiber vegetables are a must for their diet so they can stay regular and active.
Veggies that are safe to give your chinchilla include:
- Green beans
Can chinchillas eat cucumbers?
No! Cucumbers are 95% water. It can cause severe bloating in chins.
Can chinchillas eat bell peppers?
Yes, chinchillas can eat bell peppers, but in very low quantities. Too many bell peppers can lead to diarrhea.
Can chinchillas eat tomatoes?
Nope! Tomatoes are a rich source of phosphorus, which is toxic for chinchillas. Tomatoes can also cause brittle bones in your chinny.
Foods That Are Toxic to Chinchillas
If you want a healthy chinchilla in your crib, never feed him the following foods:
- Lettuce Peas
- Sunflower seeds
Can chinchillas eat fatty foods?
No, chinchillas can’t eat foods that are high in fats. They’ll damage your little fur ball’s liver. That is why nuts and seeds are off-limits.
Can chinchillas eat walnuts?
Absolutely not! Walnuts are 65% fat!
Can chinchillas eat pistachios?
Avoid them! They, too, have a lot of fat content.
Other Safe Foods for Chinchillas
What foods can chinchillas eat besides the ones mentioned above?
A bored chinny = an unhappy chinny. So, we understand why you want to mix up his menu with other safe snacks and treats.
Here are some more safe chinchilla foods for your munchkin.
Tip: Chop these treats into tiny chunks before serving them to the little one.
- Dried cranberries
- Collard greens
- Turnip greens
Can chinchillas eat millet?
Yes, they can! It is one of the safest treats for your furry friend.
Frequently Asked Questions
How Much Do Chinchillas Eat? And How Often Should I Feed Mine?
Chinchillas are smart. They can self-regulate their food intake. Give them an unlimited supply of hay, and they’ll eat whenever they want. Since hay is low in calories, you don’t have to worry about your chinny putting on weight.
Do Chinchillas Need Water? How Much?
YES! Your chinchilla must always have access to fresh water. He’ll sip about 55ml a day.
Can Chinchillas Eat Human Food?
Humans and chinchillas have different dietary needs. Even if you feed your chin the healthiest human food, it’ll do them no good. Plus, most human foods are processed, so they aren’t safe for your chinny.
Chinchilla Diet Decoded: A Journey to a Balanced Diet
Feeding your chinchilla a balanced diet is one of the most crucial parts of chinchilla parenting.
So, what do chinchillas eat?
Thanks to this detailed guide on the chinchilla diet, we know that hay is your chinny’s main food. An unlimited supply of hay will keep him full and energized but never obese.
Your chinchilla’s staple diet must also include pellets, fresh veggies, and some safe fruit treats once in a while. But take note that too much sugar and moisture can cause health issues in pet chinchillas.
Oh, and don’t forget fresh water. Your pro-jumper needs to stay hydrated.
Did you find this article helpful?
At Oddly Cute Pets, we strive to be the go-to resource for all your pet-parenting questions. So, if you still have doubts or queries about how to care for a chinchilla or any other rodent, check out our website. We have a lot more to share with you.
Happy chinny parenting!