Why muesli is not the best choice for your chinchilla 0 193

Is muesli good for chinchillas?

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

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3 surprising behaviours of pet rats 0 49

Pet rat behaviour

Rats have been given a bad name by decades of bad press. Far from the dirty, disease-filled pests that are portrayed on our screens, these sociable, clean animals have a few surprising perks to owning them.

These sociable, friendly pets are highly trainable animals who show affection for their owners and have many cute little quirks that make them great companions. They also have a very strange way of showing they’re happy!

With that in mind, here are three surprising behaviours of pet rats.

1. They are incredibly playful animals

This one will be no surprise to those who will have seen the boxing, chasing and excited jumps with their own eyes, but many are unaware that rats spend lots of time playing with each other and their owners. One scientific study actually showed that rats giggle when they are tickled. It’s highly recommended that you fill your pet rat’s cage with lots of enrichment toys and interact with them daily. Many owners report that their pet rats love being chased or to wrestle their hands!

2. They are incredibly social animals and love to show affection

Rats are incredibly social creatures. While of course every animal has its own personality and there are exceptions to the rule, they need to live with at least one other rat and most enjoy lots of daily interaction with their owners. It is not a rare sight to see pet rats snuggled up in the laps, pockets and sleeves of their humans. They will also nibble and lick them, as they would other rats, in a show of affection.

3. They boggle their eyes when they are happy

Surprising when first witnessed, one of the most peculiar aspects of rats is the way they display their contentment. While cats purr and dogs wag their tails, when a rat is very happy or relaxed they will brux and boggle – which is a sort of teeth grinding and very fast bulging of the eyes.

Rats are brilliant pets for all ages and there are many positives that come from owning these friendly, misunderstood animals.

What can degus eat? 0 64

What can degus eat

When they’re living in the wild, degus focus on dietary fibre. It makes up about 60% of their diet, with the other 40% consisting of natural vegetation. But when they’re kept as pets, you’ll need to keep a close eye on what you feed your degu.

Good quality hay

For the most part, your degu’s diet should consist of good quality hay. There are lots of brands that will suffice, but two of particularly good quality are Timothy Hay and Meadow Hay. Keep an eye on the colour: if it’s pink or white, you should throw this hay away as it’s growing mould. If it’s green, it can cause bloating. Occasionally, you can mix some Alfalfa hay in with your regular hay. It’s high in protein, so great in small doses.

You can top up your degu’s bowl with a little bit of guinea pig or degu-specific food, but don’t go overboard. It’s important that your degu doesn’t start ignoring the hay because it’s got a range of health benefits, including the maintenance of a healthy gut and strong teeth. Around 10g of degu food a day should do the trick.

Human food in moderation

The good news is you can feed your degu some of your human food! Give them to your degu in moderation though, as they can cause gas and bloating. On rotation, you can feed them the following foods around once or twice a week:

• Asparagus
• Carrot tops
• Dandelion leaves
• Broccoli
• Cauliflower
• Fresh herbs
• Brussels sprouts
• Celery
• Cabbage
• Courgette
• Green beans
• Beetroot
• Dried herbs
• Pumpkin
• Butternut squash
• Marigold flowers
• Radish

Some sugary foods can be an occasional treat for your degu. In excess, they carry the risk of diabetes, so we’d only recommend doing this once a month.

• Apple
• Cherry tomatoes
• Peas
• Sweet potato
• Carrots
• Cucumber
• Sweetcorn or corn on the cob

When it’s treat time for your degu, give them a tiny amount (one or two) of:

• Sunflower seeds
• Peanuts
• Pumpkin seeds
• Whole nuts

As a general rule, the main thing to avoid giving your degu is fruit not listed here, rabbit food, hamster food or anything with molasses.

Just like us, degus love food – whether it’s good or bad for them. Bookmark this page to make sure you give your degu a balanced diet, and happy feeding!

Learn more about caring for your degu and other pet care advice here: http://www.nichepets.com/category/mammals/degus/