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Chinchillas - Feeding

What do pet chinchillas eat?

Chinchillas require a high fiber diet and should be offered grass hay (such as Timothy hay or other low calcium hays such as orchard grass, oat hay, or meadow hay) free choice (available 24 hours a day). Hay should be the main component of their diet. While alfalfa may be offered occasionally, it should not serve as the sole source of hay as it is too high in calcium and could result in the development of calcium-containing bladder stones. Additionally, chinchillas can be fed a small amount (1-2 tablespoons per day) of a commercially available pelleted diet formulated for chinchillas.

"Alfalfa hay is too high in calcium and could result in development of calcium-containing bladder stones."

As chinchillas have relatively sensitive digestive tracts, any necessary changes in diet should be done slowly, over several days, to decrease the chance of gastrointestinal problems.

 

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Do I need to give my chinchilla vitamins?

Chinchillas do not require additional vitamins if fed properly.

 

Can I offer my chinchilla treats?

As a rule, chinchillas don't require treats, although an occasional offering of various fresh, low calcium green vegetables or an occasional piece of high fiber fruit (such as a slice or apple). Do not offer any "people food" without checking with your veterinarian first.

 

What are the water requirements for chinchillas?

Fresh clean water must be available at all times. Depending on the quality of your tap water, you might wish to consider the use of bottled water. Water containers must be cleaned thoroughly every day with soap and water. Most owners choose to offer water through a sipper bottle hung in the cage, as water bowls are easily soiled and are often spilled. Wash and rinse the bottle whenever you change the water (at least daily), and check to make sure the sipper tube has not become clogged with food. Fresh water should be offered daily, even if water remains in the water bottle, as bacteria and yeast can accumulate in bottles when water is not changed.

Rick Axelson, DVM; Updated by Laurie Hess, DVM
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