When it comes to chinchilla food, there are several things you need to be aware of. The first and most important one is that these rodents are known for their sensitive digestive systems, therefore you need to pay attention to what types of food you introduce in their diets, and this applies in the case of treats as well.
Just like many other animals and humans, chinchillas won’t simply eat only those foods that are good for them. If they get large amounts of fruits and veggies, they will happily enjoy them, but this might end up causing digestive problems. For this reason, you need to make sure that you regulate their diet and keep it as balanced as possible, both in terms of quantity and frequency.
A few things about treats
Given that chinchillas are very sociable pets, which is one of the particularities that make them a suitable and great addition to pretty much any family, treats are definitely a part of the picture. However, if you tend to give them too much of the good stuff, they can deal with problems that include tooth decay, obesity, and stomach issues.
Specialized stores offer many alternatives in terms of treats specially made for chinchillas, so you shouldn’t have any trouble finding the right one for your pet. On the other hand, what you need to make sure is that you know exactly what these contain, to protect your chinchilla from any harmful ingredients.
Of course, since they are treats, they should be given in small quantities and on certain occasions. If they end up becoming a rather large part of daily food intake, the problems we’ve mentioned above have every chance to appear.
The good part is that many of the products and treats you can purchase from specialized stores come with feeding instructions as well, in order to prevent any overfeeding from happening. If you want to stay on the safe side, which is the advisable approach, you should follow these carefully and also look at how your chinchilla reacts.
You need to be aware that you know your pet better than anyone else, which means that you can tell right away if something is not right, so you should trust your instincts as well in such cases.
The list of treats that your chinchilla can enjoy is a rather large one and not every type included is the healthiest alternative. For this reason, even if your chin loves something, if you know that it’s not the best choice, try to use it as rarely as possible.
It’s true that chinchillas are true fans of raisins and would eat them anytime. However, just like most of the other dry fruits that we know, raisins contain high levels of sugar, which means that they need to be rationed for the benefit of your pet. As a general rule, including one raisin here and there, every other day, should be enough to keep the furry friend happy but still fit.
When it comes to young ones, you should feed them a raisin two times a week at most. Since these treats should also be free of sulfites, you might want to read the packaging beforehand. This goes without saying, but any kind of coating such as icing, chocolate, or sugar is to be avoided.
You can also test other dried fruits, but the same principles of frequency and choosing coating-free alternatives apply in those cases as well.
Black sunflower seeds
Although these are most of the times sold for other purposes, they have proved to be a very popular option with chinchillas. However, black sunflower seeds don’t fall under the safest treats category, which means that you need to make sure they don’t harm your pet in terms of digestion.
What you should do is test with a small amount at first and see how it goes. If there are no negative reactions, these should still only be included as treats once a week or less. The high oil content in them can have a detrimental effect on a chinchilla’s digestive system, and this is never fun.
Fresh fruits & vegetables
Ensuring a balanced and varied diet is essential for the health of your pet, which means that fruits can definitely be a very good addition. On the other hand, do keep in mind that they are quite acidic and sugary as well, so only include them from time to time. You can go for small pieces here and there, depending on your pet’s response.
Apples and grapes can be included, but the more acidic a type of fruit is, the more chances are to upset the stomach. Therefore, steer clear of any citrus fruits such as lemons, limes, and oranges.
As for vegetables, alternatives such as celery or peeled carrots can be included in small amounts. You should not give your pet more than one teaspoon per day if you want to make sure that nothing goes wrong. Vegetables can lead to gas, bloating, or diarrhea, which means that you need to make sure your chin doesn’t munch on these too much.
Alfalfa hay cubes
These are rodents we are talking about and they need to constantly munch on something light in order to wear their teeth that are continuously growing, so hay is definitely one of the main components of a chinchilla’s diet. However, alfalfa cubes are somewhat special.
You should try to include these only two or three times a week since they contain high levels of calcium. For the same reason, they should be given to healthy chinchillas since too much of this mineral can lead to some urinary issues. Pregnant ones can definitely be given this treat since they can benefit from the extra calcium intake.
There are many other alternatives you can choose the next treat from. Dried rose hips, for example, contain healthy amounts of vitamin C, as well as fibers that can sustain the digestive system. Only a maximum of two pieces should be given at a time, though.
You can also think about including herbs such as rosemary, thyme, hibiscus, basil, oregano, or parsley, in small amounts throughout the week. Grains fall under the same category, as do nuts. However, when it comes to nuts, given the extremely high level of oils they contain, they should be only included in small amounts and only once a week.
How to feed treats
One of the popular myths when it comes to treats suitable for chinchillas, chocolate is extremely high in sugar which means that it’s pretty dangerous for digestive and nervous systems, therefore make sure that you don’t include it in your pet’s diet at all. Dairy products are to be avoided as well since they can impact the digestive system in negative ways.
As we’ve already mentioned, treats should only be occasional, so don’t give too many per day. One small piece every day is more than enough to keep your chin happy and upbeat, while you make sure that his or her stomach stays in top shape as well.
Moreover, you should place them in a separate bowl if there is food still available in the regular container or, even better, try feeding the treats when no other type of food is nearby. This way, you avoid creating any type of correlation between regular food and treats that should only remain available for special moments.