Chinchillas are rodents that look like squirrels. Chinchillas, like all other pets, require good nutrition. Chinchillas have special dietary requirements because their digestive systems are quite sensitive. In the wild, chinchillas eat vegetables and foods that are free of fat. These dietary needs have to be kept in mind when feeding chinchillas in captivity. Food for chinchillas includes high quality pellets accompanied by fresh hay.
Chinchillas are strictly vegetarian and they usually survive on hay, chinchilla food pellets and drinking water. Seeds and nuts may be given to chinchillas very sparingly as it could interfere with digestion. One cannot introduce different types of new foods to chinchillas as they could suffer from stomach upsets. These rodents are accustomed to consuming the same type of food over long periods of time and hence if you want to make changes in their diet, it should be done gradually. You can prepare meals with a variety of nutritious foods, but it must be done in smaller amounts. You may then slowly increase the amount until they get used to the food. Chinchilla food must be nutritious and rich in protein, fiber and essential fats. Special pellets are available for pet chinchilla and these may be given along with fresh hay. Select pellets that contain approximately 16 percent protein, 15 percent dietary fiber and 2 – 5 percent fat. Offer them small meals at regular intervals. A serving in the morning and afternoon is especially important. There should be consistency in the type of food you give chinchillas. The most recommended of all chinchilla foods is fresh hay since this is what they eat in the wild. Giving them plenty of fresh hay throughout the day will allow them to maintain the balance of their digestive system. Chinchillas like to chew and chewing on hay also helps to promote good health of their teeth. Ensure that there is no spoiled or dirty hay in their feed. Examples of good quality hay include grass hay and alfalfa hay.
You may also give chinchilla diet treats occasionally. Treats may also be used during training. Avoid offering them too many treats as this could pose a risk of diabetes. Some common chinchilla treats include dried fruits and raisins. Rose hips also make a nutritious treat; especially those that are enriched with vitamin C. Commercial treats are generally rich in fat and sugar and should be avoided. For advice on other healthy treats for chinchillas, you may consult your veterinarian.