Chinchilla Food: Nutrition and Diet

Chinchilla Food Guide

Chinchilla Food - Chinch and Clover - photo by jennofarc

Chinch and Clover. Photo by jennofarc.

Feeding is an essential part of chinchilla care. These exotic animals have specific nutritional needs. Their sophisticated digestive system requires a special diet free of artificial colors, flavors and preservatives.

Chinchillas in the wild eat a lot of vegetable-based food. Chewing and gnawing herbs helps to keep their constantly growing teeth in perfect condition. The dry texture of the chinchilla food provides everything your exotic pet needs to feel healthy.

In the household, pet parents are the ones responsible for fulfilling the pets’s dietary and health requirements.

While rodent pet foods in dry form may look similar to each other, they are not created equal. The quality of the components, as well as the combination vary quite considerably between different types.  The ingredient proportions can directly have an impact on pet’s energy levels and behaviour.  Too many seeds present in chinchilla food can make your pet feel full rather than being of great nutritional value.

If small exotic animals eat unhealthy meals they most likely will not feel well.  So basically, if chinchillas eat a lot of sugar and fats it can affect their mood. A proper nutrition program may make the furry companions happier and more energetic.

If your chinchilla looks depressed, diet might make a difference. Certain ingredients affect their mood and temperament. For example, a single raisin per day may be used as mood enhancer but if the chinchillas overeat with the dry grape they will experience sleepiness and mood swings.

On the other hand, hay and dry herbs work as tranquillisers and keep your chinchilla in a good mood.

Owners often feed their chinchillas with specially formulated food. If you want to prepare ‘home-made” goodies for your chinchilla, combine their favorite ingredients.

Chinchilla Food: Hay and Dried Flowers

According to chinchilla breeders and veterinarians, the high-quality organic hay should be the main part of pet`s daily nutrition. Hay is low in calories but rich in fibers. This diet guarantees low disease rates.

Chinchillas need a great amount of fibres in their diet plans in order to maintain their digestion and stay healthy. A lack of suitable plant matter can cause a wide range of health issues including constipation and obesity.

Chinchillas eat mostly high-fiber foods such as grasses, herbs, seeds and fruits in their natural environment. The chinchilla as a pet needs a continuous supply of fresh hay. It helps to prevent most of its common health problems – diseases of the digestion system and teeth overgrowth.

These members of the Rodents family need hay as a primary food source. The blend of Alfalfa and Timothy grass ensures the nutritional balance of the pet’s diet. Normal digestion will guarantee that the pet is active and healthy.

Hay is rich in calcium, minerals and vitamins. A healthy option is to add some dried herbs and flowers to the hay. These tasty and healthy ingredients will make the food more desirable. Safe herbs are Rose buds and hips, Lavender, Calendula, Echinacea and Hibiscus Flowers. These supplements are rich in Vitamin C, lower cholesterol and have antibacterial properties.

The exotic mammals love the combination of dried grass, flowers and herbs. In the wild nature chinchillas eat grass, flowers, seeds and roots. Amongst Chinchillas favorite foods are dried hibiscus flowers, Calendula plant, rose petals.

You can find these plants in pellet foods. Choose a fresh harvested ingredients.

Chinchilla Food: Dried Fruits

Chinchillas absolutely adore dried fruits but take into account that these animals easily develop obesity and diabetes. Avoid giving them a large amount of resins – just one or two daily. Opt for Goji berries. They have a sweet and sour taste and are rich in antioxidants.

Chinchilla Food: Veggies and Oats

Balanced chinchilla diets include whole natural oats. Your pet should be fed with oats, dried carrots, peas, chickpeas, dried corn.

A lack of veggies and plants in the diet can cause a dull coat, apathy, lack of energy, and bad health. Vegetables provide starch, vitamins, minerals, and slow-release energy. Try to incorporate a variety of vegetable foods to keep your pet interested and to keep its diet healthy. For example, each time you go for a walk in a park you can collect clovers or grass. Dry them and then offer a delicious snack to your furry companion.

How Often to Feed it

Veterinarians claim that chinchillas should be fed once or twice a day.

Chinchillas are mammals that are free-fed. In the wild these small animals may have long intervals between meals.  When there is an abundance of food they eat whenever they want. In captivity chinchillas depend upon pet parents for food. Properly caring about your small pets is the pathway to helping them remain active and healthy throughout their life. Take into account that chinchillas’ digestive systems are delicate. They can survive less than 24 hours without food and water.

Still, should pet parents go with once or twice-per-day pellets supply?  The general suggestion is that they be fed small amount of pellets twice a day.  However, having access to hay 24 hours-a-day is ideal for the chinchillas’ digestive system.  Since chinchillas are rodents belonging to the gnawing group they need a roughage to chew. That way they maintain their continuously growing teeth.

Most chinchillas do not hesitate to consume new nutritious substances and seeds as well as dried fruits are the most sought after. Chinchillas eat many types of dry food but prefer nuts and grains.  Still, the best diet contains a lot of roughage.

Many pet parents ask themselves: How do I know if my chinchilla eats enough? Recognizing changes in pet’s feces can help you to identify the right quality. If your pet companion has soft stools, supply with dried grass only. Stop giving treats such as seeds and grains until the problem disappears. If you notice small and dry feces that means the food intake is reduced.  It’s time to increase the amount of nutrients.

Pet’s age, health status and reproductive condition are factors that influence the amount of  nutritious substances your chinchilla should receive. These facts should be taken into account when deciding on the quantity of meal your give your exotic pet.

Minerals and Vitamins

What minerals and vitamins do chinchillas need? The foods packed especially for chinchillas contain balanced blend of minerals and vitamins. Pellets for Guinea pigs and other rodents are not the best food for chinch. They are high in sugar, fats and oils and may lead to health disorders. Rabbit or Guinea pig mixes contain lots of dried fruit and seeds that could not be digested by chinchillas.

The best chinchilla diet contains 20% crude protein and at least 50% fiber. Most of special foods are rich in natural Calcium Carbonate, synthetic form of Calcium, Vitamin B2, Vitamin B12, Vitamin E, vitamin D3 and other vitamins and minerals.

Wood chews also help the chinchilla to maintain its teeth. In fact, they are chew toys which provide your pet not only with a fun activity but also with vitamins and minerals. Chew sticks are a tasty and healthy supplementary food.

Calcium

Not only humans need Calcium to keep their bones and heath healthy. Speaking about chinchillas, an excellent natural source of this important mineral in their diet is sundried hay.

Your chinchilla may need extra Calcium only if the pet has health problems such as broken bones. Calcium is available in blocks or tablets. Calcium is fully absorbed in a combination with vitamin D.

This important mineral can be added to the water. In this case you need to change water every day. Calcium could be sprinkled on the food. Add Calcium to the chinchilla diet once or twice a week.

Zinc

There are at least three forms of Zinc. This mineral is important for the immune system, formation of insulin, healthy bones and teeth. It is essential for nervous system. Take into account that excessive Calcium, Copper and Iron can block the absorption of Zinc. Keep in mind this information when decide what pellets to purchase.

Vitamin B

B vitamins maintain the chinchilla`s muscle tone and healthy nervous system. These water-soluble minerals are needed to help the metabolism. They are often prescribed in the treatment of health disorders.

Fat-soluble Vitamins A and E

Vitamin A and vitamin E are very important in the times of growth or eye sickness. They maintain healthy bones and are responsible for the immune system.

Where to Place the Chinchilla Feeders

Feeders, attached to the side of the wire mesh, are very useful. They do not allow the pet to pee in its food. Anyway, many times even these feeders are full of droppings. When you notice that, clean the bowl and change the food.

Water

Chinchillas always need fresh water stored in a plastic bottle with a metal spout. The bottle should be attached to the side of the cage. Change the water at least once a week and wash the bottle with soap.

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