Before reading this article you should also know that we wrote a guide on how to find the best chinchilla toys for your pet, so make sure to check that out when you can. Chinchillas are herbivores that can eat a lot of things. Their main diet in the wild is made of highly-abrasive grass or hay.
When you keep a chinchilla as a pet you need to make sure you offer it the same food that it would eat in the wild. But how about apples, can chinchillas eat them? Let’s find out.
Can they eat apple and apple peel?
The apple is a fruit which contains considerate amounts of calcium, and the chinchilla needs that but in moderate amounts. Apples are also sweet and acidic, and chinchillas like that. However, although they can eat apples, the little pets should only do that occasionally. High amounts of sugars and acidic content don’t work well with the animal’s digestive system.
This means that offering your chinchilla a small piece of an apple once or twice per week is fine. Some people think that the peel isn’t safe for most animals; however, chinchillas have no problems eating it. They won’t choke on it and the peel tastes good for them.
When feeding apples to your chinchillas it is preferred that the apples aren’t too sour or sweet. So don’t feed them those apples used for cooking. Stick with the ones that you would eat yourself.
What about the core?
Being the part that connects the apple to the tree it grew on, the apple core is what helped the apple grow. It contains seeds and other hard and small parts that are difficult to chew for a rodent like a chinchilla.
This is why you shouldn’t feed your pet the apple core, as there is the risk of the animal getting some seeds stuck in its throat. The taste isn’t great either, and the chinchilla would rather prefer eating the flesh of the apple.
When preparing the apple for the chinchilla, cut away the core and only serve the little rodent small pieces of the apple flesh.
Fruits for chinchillas
Both fresh and dried fruits contain a lot of sugar in them, and apples are no exception. This excess sugar is not something that the chinchilla really needs. Too much of it can make your pet ill. A diet that has too much sugar in it will lead to hyperglycemia and diabetes, both of which are serious illnesses.
While some people know how much sugar chinchillas need, others don’t realize that a small piece of dried fruit still contains a lot of sugar in it, although the size has been reduced considerably. That is why it’s best if you only feed your pet fresh fruits and not dried ones.
Furthermore, apples and other similar fruits contain a lot of water and, in their natural habitat, chinchillas consume mostly dry food. Too much moisture in their diet will lead to bloating, which is very dangerous.
What should a chinchilla eat?
In the wild, chinchillas are animals that must eat constantly to keep their teeth in check. Their teeth grow at a constant rate throughout their lives and if they don’t chew on something, chinchillas will face problems. To compensate for the constantly growing teeth, they eat very abrasive grass and hay.
Of course, you can’t give them exactly the grass that they have in the wild, but you can give them hay. And that should be their main food. Chinchillas should always have a constant supply of hay. They will chew on it continuously until they feel full.
There are also commercial pelleted foods that you can offer to your chinchilla. These should be fed in limited quantities only and should serve as a supplement and not as a main meal. One or two tablespoons per day for an adult chinchilla should be enough.
These pellets contain high amounts of protein, fat, calcium and calories and that’s why you shouldn’t feed your chinchilla too much of them. On the other hand, if your chinchilla is growing, nursing or is expecting babies, you can feed it more pellets as the extra nutrients will help.
A chinchilla’s diet should be balanced with the help of fresh greens, like dark lettuces. These are a great source of fibers and water. But don’t forget to give your pet enough water too and to always keep it fresh.
Before getting a chinchilla you should also know that these animals tend to eat their food early in the morning and late at night. So if you sleep near your pet, chances are you won’t be able to have a good rest during that time.
To help them keep that eating schedule you should offer them food twice a day, as mentioned above. Hay can be left in their cages continuously as they will still eat it throughout the day. They eat slower than other small rodents and having some hay to chew on will keep them happy.
As we established, a good diet for a chinchilla is mainly based on hay. Fruits, vegetables, and pellets should come as additional sources of sugar, proteins, fats, and nutrients and should only be fed in small quantities. That means apples should be like a treat for your chinchilla and not the main meal.
Eating too many pellets will lead to your chinchilla getting obese and it will also cause gastrointestinal issues like diarrhea, due to all the excess of carbohydrate. The same stomach problems can be caused by feeding your pet too many fresh greens and that is the case because of the high content of water that these have.
Chinchillas have a very pretentious digestive system and even hay isn’t always good for them. At least not alfalfa hay, which is high in calcium. Too much calcium will lead to bladder stones and that’s why it’s best if you substitute alfalfa with timothy hay or other types of grass that contain less calcium.
Chinchillas’ teeth grow all their lives, so when they don’t eat enough hay, their top and bottom teeth are too long and their surfaces collide in their mouths. This puts a lot of pressure on the roots of the teeth and destabilizes them. As you might expect, as a result, chinchillas feel pain when chewing.
Furthermore, this can cause drooling and problems with the upper jaw. Unfortunately, there is no cure if something like that happens, so that’s why it’s extremely important to always keep your chinchilla’s teeth in check. And the best way to do that is offering your pet a constant supply of hay.
While fresh fruits like apple are good for chinchillas, if they are cut too small or if they are dry, they can cause problems too. Dried fruits, nuts, raisins or seeds are a choking hazard for the little rodents. Since chinchillas can’t vomit, such foods can get stuck in the back of their mouth and become very uncomfortable.
Stuck food can lead to gagging, lack of appetite, intense salivation, and what’s worse, breathing problems. Some chinchillas have the bad habit of trying to chew some of their bedding too, especially wood shavings. These cause obstructions as well, and if you have a chinchilla that shows breathing problems, have it checked by a veterinarian immediately.