Why muesli is not the best choice for your chinchilla 0 15

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.

For more pet care advice and tips on looking after unusual pets, check out our blog or contact us today.

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5 fun ways to play with your pet ferret 0 31

If you’ve got a pet ferret, you’ll know that they’re curious, fun-loving creatures who are always looking for new ways to explore and play. Maybe this is because ferrets are actually a part of the Mustelidae family, which includes otters and seals, two animals known for their love of fun and games.

Below, we’ve listed our top five ways you can play with your ferret:

1. Nip training

One great way to interact with your ferret is to ‘wrestle’ with them (using your hands). To do this without getting bitten, you’ll need to nip train your ferret using a combination of treats and patience. Rather than putting your ferret down when he bites you, try holding onto him for a few seconds, then put him down. When he doesn’t bite you, give him a treat. If your ferret latches onto you using his teeth, hold him by the scruff of the neck and put your finger gently in his mouth until he lets go.

2. Rub their tummy

Ferrets love a good tummy rub. If your ferret grabs hold of you with its arms, then you should rock them gently back and forth, as if they’re in a hammock. You could also try sliding them around the floor, being careful not to move too quickly.

3. Try a sheet

Drape an old sheet or light piece of fabric across the floor and let it billow full of air. Your ferret will like climbing under it to play. You can they try to tickle him or play your own variation of hide and seek.

4. Chasing games

Ferrets adore trying to catch things, so why not try attaching something light to a shoestring and running around the garden with it. Your ferret will soon be on your tail.

5. Create a cardboard castle

This will give your ferret an awesome playhouse to roam around. Make sure you cut holes in the sides so he can slide through them, and fill it with sheets or soft towels so that he can’t hurt himself.

For more pet care advice from Niche Pets, click here.

Photo: Milo by Max Moreau licensed under Creative commons 2

How can you avoid dental problems for chinchillas? 0 37

Chinchilla

Despite looking like a rabbit or squirrel, a chinchilla is actually classified as a rodent. Native to South America, they’re loved for their super soft, highly dense fur, which makes them irresistible to stroke. Unfortunately, this soft fur is also much loved by not only the native people of the Andes mountains, where chinchillas originate, but fur coat fans of the Western world, which has lead to 90% of the wild chinchilla population being wiped out in the last 15 years.

Chinchillas are popular pets, but not a recommended choice for a pet keeping novice, as they’re very sensitive to high temperatures, require a lot of exercise and regular baths in pumice dust.

One of the biggest problems encountered by chinchilla owners is that of their pet’s teeth. Chinchillas have two sets of teeth – the long teeth you can see at the front of their mouths, and the molars which are located further back in the mouth. Chinchilla teeth keep growing throughout their lives, and to combat teeth overgrowth, they like to gnaw on wood and hard surfaces to keep their teeth at a manageable level. Pet shops sell a variety of gnawing stones and toys which encourage chinchillas to gnaw and wear their teeth down.

Another way to keep your chinchilla’s teeth in check is with a good quality hay. A good quality hay, such as Timothy hay, is ideal for this, as it’s a tough grass which means the chinchilla has to really grind their teeth on it, and wear its teeth down as a result. Cheaper hays can be soft, and do not offer the same resistance as Timothy hays, allowing the back teeth to grow without regulation.

If you suspect your chinchilla has overgrown teeth, look out for symptoms such as drooling, and problems with chewing and swallowing food. While it’s easy for anyone to see overgrowth problems with the long front teeth, the molars at the back of the mouth are just as likely to become overgrown, and these are difficult to see without the kind of equipment seen at your veterinarian’s. If you suspect tooth overgrowth, your vet is probably the only person who can give you a definitive answer.