Chinchillas should always have access to food and hay. Generally speaking, a chinchilla can eat 1-2 tablespoons of pellets per day, but a chinchilla will not overeat, so pellets should always be made available. In addition to pellets, your chinchilla must also have constant access to quality hay, as it should make up around 75% of their diet. Here are a few thing to consider when buying hay or pellets
While selecting a chinchilla’s food, food mixes with dried veggies or colorful biscuits are something you should avoid. Chinchillas don’t need to, and shouldn’t regularly have fruits as they are high in sugar. They also shouldn’t be eating vegetables or seeds which are both also commonly found in chinchilla mixes. In addition, corn is an ingredient that should be avoided as it is high in sugar as well. Chinchillas need nothing more than regular grass or hay based pellets to stay healthy.
Healthy types of hay include: botanical, timothy, orchard grass, blue grass, oat, and meadow hay. Alfalfa is high in protein and can be offered to nursing or pregnant moms, and growing babies
Treats should only be given on special occasions and should not make up a significant portion of your chinchilla’s diet. More sugary treats like dried fruit should be given as little as once per month. Many fruit, nuts, and vegetables are toxic to chinchillas so please consult our care sheet on chinchilla-safe treats before offering anything to your chinchilla.
A chinchilla receiving good quality pellets and hay should not need any additional or supplemental mineral sources. Salt licks should not be offered, as salt in high concentrations can cause seizures in chinchillas. If you are worried your chinchilla may be malnourished or vitamin deficient, consult our Common Health Problems care sheet.
While a chinchilla will typically drink only a few ounces per day, fresh water should always be made available to your pet. Here are a few things you should consider regarding your chinchilla’s water and water bottle:
Chinchillas are notorious for chewing plastic, and water bottles are no exception. When purchasing a water bottle, glass bottles are highly recommended as they are sturdier and last longer. They are also usually easier to clean.
When choosing where to mount your chinchilla’s water bottle, be sure to attach it to the outside of the cage with the spout turned into the cage. It should be easily accessible to your chinchilla. If it is hanging above a wooden shelf or perch, it could possibly encourage mold growth on the ledge as your chinchilla jumps around and causes the water bottle to drip. If possible, place the water bottle above a surface that can easily dry or above the bedding. When attaching a bottle check to see if the spout is working by gently pressing on the tip, to ensure that water is coming out. Sometimes the tip of water bottles becomes clogged with debris or hair. In addition to the tip, check that the water bottle is a upright enough to allow gravity to push the water out properly.
The Type of Water:
Bottled, purified, reverse osmosis, and distilled water are all safe for chinchillas. Tap water contains small amounts of chemicals such as fluoride, chlorine, and chloramine; these chemicals are harmless or at a low enough level to not harm us, but in smaller animals, the chemicals’ effects are amplified and can lead to health problems with continued exposure. Though unlikely, if you think your water may contaminated with bacteria, it can be boiled and cooled.
Cleaning your bottle:
Bacterial infections can cause serious problems for your chinchilla such as loss of energy, depression, loss of appetite, diarrhea, and even death.
To avoid potential illness, water bottles should be disinfected weekly, and remaining water should be emptied when replenishing their water. Bacteria and algae can grow very quickly in water bottles because of the water, light, and air. You can use anything from dish soap, to a light bleach solution disinfect