Chinchilla Care



Chinchillas are herbivores. Chinchillas require a lot of roughage, and the diet should mainly be made up of a good quality grass hay along with pellets made for chinchillas. Treats should be given in moderation (one teaspoon per day in total). Chinchillas need to be fed a consistent diet of pellets, alfalfa hay, timothy hay, calf manna, and rolled oats.  


In the wild, chinchillas live are naturally adapted to eating a diet of vegetation that is high in roughage. They are not designed for rich or fatty diets, and such diets can easily cause serious digestive upsets.


Some pellets are also designed for rabbits and guinea pigs so you have to make sure that you are feeding your pet chinchillas with the appropriate kind of pellets. Look for a pellet formulated specifically for chinchillas that is 16-20 percent protein, 2-5 percent fat and in the range 15-35 percent fibre. Even when you choose a high fibre diet, the pelleted diet must still be supplemented with hay to ensure your chinchilla gets plenty of roughage for the proper functioning of the digestive system.



The roughage in hay also helps with keeping the teeth in good condition. If it is impossible for you to get a good quality chinchilla diet, many experts suggest substituting a good rabbit or guinea pig pellet with similar characteristics. 

Their basic diet consists of alfalfa pellets that you can get from the pet store. In addition to the pellets add Timothy Hay to their diets. Certain grains and oat grouts, rolled oats and wheat can be given to the chinchillas but only in a limited amount maybe a once a week and very little.


Feed as much good quality hay as your chinchilla wants each day. Hay should be cleaned out and fed fresh on a daily basis to keep it from becoming soiled or mouldy. 


Pressed cubes of hay can be given, though one can also feed some loose hay, as it has more long strand fibre (and chinchillas seem to enjoy playing with it, too). Alfalfa hay should not be fed exclusively to most adult chinchillas; alfalfa is high in protein, calcium, and oxalates, and too much could possibly lead to urinary and other problems (it is good for growth, breeding chinchillas, and as a treat). Timothy hay and other grass hays are excellent sources of roughage, and should make up the bulk of the hay fed to adult chinchillas. Don't feed any hay that is damp, smells musty, or is discoloured. A good chinchilla food is Kaytee Fiesta Chinchilla Food size: 2.5 Lb .


Most chinchillas will eat one to two tablespoons of pellets a day. While they are not prone to overeating, for freshness it is a good idea to feed a small amount of pellets at a time. Feeding a tablespoon (per chinchilla) in the morning and again in the evening (times when chinchillas are most likely to eat) seems to work well, but can be adjusted if needed. Some people just feed a couple of tablespoons in the evening. Try to be consistent whatever you choose to do, as chinchillas like routine.


Also providing your chinchillas with vitamins and supplements only recommended by a vet or a pet store should be given. 


The topic of corn in chinchilla diets is controversial. There is concern that feeding corn can cause digestive upset and bloating, but many chinchilla foods contain corn as an ingredient. Scientifically speaking, little is understood about the ideal chinchilla diet beyond the need for lots of roughage, but since corn is starchy and likely largely indigestible for chinchillas, It is better to avoid whole corn as a treat or the main part of a diet. It can be hard to avoid corn (ground corn, corn meal) in pellets, but it would be better looking for a diet where corn is listed far down the list of ingredients, if at all.


The digestive system of chinchillas is fairly sensitive so any diet changes should be gradual. Any changes in their diet needs to be done slowly, mixing the new food in with the old. Dietary changes can also cause upsets, so any new foods should be introduced gradually. If you are changing the diet, begin by mixing a small amount of the new food with the older food, and gradually increase the proportion of the new food. Also, treats must be limited to very small quantities to avoid upset.  


Chinchillas should have a heavy dish that is not easily knocked over. A 2 inch (5 cm.) high ceramic bowl will do nicely. You can also use medal feeders which attach to the side of the cage. These feeders are nice because it avoids the chin from peeing in its food. Peed-in food should be changed right away.  


Your chinchilla may eat it faeces. This is an adaptation of several herbivorous animals that eat a high fibre diet (such as rabbits). They will ingest a special type of soft faeces as they defecate, different from the normal dry faeces deposited on the ground. This is important to proper digestive function and nutrition, so don't worry if you see your chinchilla doing this.