Chinchillas are quite happy to gobble up treats, with raisins being their number one favourite snack. However, much like choosing food for ourselves, we know that too much in the way of sugary snacks can cause serious health problems. This problem is exacerbated in chinchillas, whose sensitive digestive systems can be badly affected by excessive sugars and starches.
What should your chinchilla be eating?
The best food you can give your chinchilla is a simple pellet food. These hard pellets contain all the nutrients your chinchilla needs, and are designed to be crunchy, to wear down ever-growing chinchilla teeth, minimising dental problems that come from tooth and root overgrowth.
The problem with muesli
Despite pellets being proven to be the best option, many pet shops unwittingly stock what looks like muesli for chinchillas. You can find pellets in these colourful mixtures, but they’ll be mixed in with raisins, dried fruits and vegetables and small pieces of hay or alfalfa. These will be full of claims that they “encourage foraging, just like in the wild”. However, your chinchilla is more likely to pick out the bits they like, leaving the pellets.
Let’s be honest here as well – when confronted with a bowl of sugary treats mixed in with vegetables and oats, you’d be drawn to the sugary treats first of all, too, so the chinchilla picking the nice parts out of the mix isn’t completely daft. The problem is that this selective feeding is no good for your chinchilla. There’s no way you can be sure that your pet is getting the nutrition they need if all they’re picking out is the dried vegetables, or sweet raisins. It’s a bit like humans trying to live entirely off sweets. It tastes good, but in the long run, they’re going to suffer.
While pellets may look bland and unexciting, they really are the best way to ensure that your pet is getting the vitamins and nutrients they need to keep them happy and healthy. The pellet-based food has been designed to deliver your chinchilla their exact dietary needs. You’ll also find you use far less pellet food, as it will fill up your chinchilla’s stomach without needing top ups. You won’t be throwing out the unwanted muesli bits on a daily basis, either.
How to solve the problem
If you’re making the change to pellets from muesli, remember to do so gradually, mixing pellets in with the muesli and reducing the quantity of muesli in the mix until the food bowl contains just pellets. Your chinchilla may initially be reluctant, but they’ll come to thank you for it.
Find out more about caring for chinchillas…