Ensuring your chinchilla has the correct diet is vital to their well-being. Understanding the importance of what do chinchillas eat, can help your pet thrive in a healthy and happy home. Chinchillas are native to the cold mountains of the Andes in South America, and as such, they have very thick fur. In fact, chinchillas have the densest fur of all land mammals. They are sociable creatures that live in groups called ‘herds’ and can live for up to 22 years. Wild chinchilla colonies were once hunted for their prized fur, pushing their numbers to the brink of extinction.
Chinchillas make wonderful pets, but they do not enjoy being handled like some other pets do. Raising a chinchilla from a young age makes it more likely that it will become tame and allow you to frequently hold it. Although in the wild they live in herds, chinchillas in captivity can be kept on their own.
What do chinchillas eat?
Chinchillas eat grasses, hay, leaves, and twigs in their wild habitat.
Chinchillas teeth grow constantly throughout their life, even well into their later years. This is because their natural diet in the wild is based on chewing tough grasses and hay. Considering the needs of a chinchilla’s diet, based on how their teeth grow, is paramount to answering the important question of what do chinchillas eat. Feeding your chinchilla hay on a daily basis will ensure that their teeth frequently grind and become worn down.
Pet pellets are commonly fed to chinchillas, but they are not always the best for their dietary needs. Pellet mixes are created to be nutritionally balanced, containing a range of different seeds, corn, and compressed feed pellets. Many animals will happily eat it, but chinchillas are notorious for only eating the bits that they like! Therefore, to ensure you meet the needs of your pet, it is better to buy a grass-based pellet, and feed this to your chinchilla along with daily fresh hay.
What fruits and vegetables can chinchillas eat?
It is best to avoid giving your chinchilla fruits and vegetables as they are high in natural sugars. These are not good for their small digestive systems or their little teeth. It can also make them gain weight and give them other health problems. To ensure you provide your chinchilla with the most suitable food source, do your best to avoid feed mixes that contain pieces of dried fruit or vegetables. Although chinchillas have tough teeth, they have very small throats which can easily become obstructed by pieces of dried fruit or big seeds.
What is a good treat for a chinchilla?
Chinchillas should seldom be given treats. The key to answering what do chinchillas eat is quite simple; a good balance of hay and grass-based pellets, along with constant access to a fresh water supply. This should help your chinchilla thrive in their home. If you decide to treat your chinchilla, a healthy option is to occasionally give them fresh or dried herbs. Dark, leafy greens, such as kale, lettuce and spring greens also make excellent treats, and can naturally supplement their diet with extra nutrients, vitamins, and minerals.
The main thing to remember when thinking about what do chinchillas eat is to keep it simple. Hay, grass-based pellets, fresh water and occasional leafy greens, will help keep your pet healthy and ensure they are happy in their home.