Chinchilla Diet and Feeding Needs and Facts
Chinchilla diet is very essential for his health and longevity. Chinchillas are vegetarians and they consume roots, grass, plants, fruits etc. Chinchillas digestive system is very sensitive and many health issues arise by providing incorrect nutrition. A good quality diet is considered to be rich in fibre low in protein and very low on fats and sugar. Minerals and vitamins should also exist. Fibre is very important for chinchilla’s digestive track as it helps the gut needs for continual movement but fibre also must be provided in the correct proportions otherwise digestive disorders and other health problems like diarrhea, bloat may occur. Treats like sunflower seed or raisins must be given barely, no more than 2-3 raisins or no more than 4-5 sunflower seeds in a week and not all these together. Sometimes will be a raisin and some other time a sunflower seed. Chinchillas love treats especially raisins and he will always be ready to consume any treat in any quantity but this is no good and safe and you must resist giving more than you should. Many treats cause, most times rapidly, very serious health problems.
Chinchilla diet in captivity includes pellets, hay and water. When you go to a pet shop to buy pellets you may be in the unpleasant position to hear from the salesman or the owner that every food for rodents or small animals like rabbits, guinea pigs etc. is sufficient and good for your chinchilla. You may also find a commercial chinchilla food that it contains many other food items like corn, and rich in treats like raisins and peanuts. Please stay away from this kind of food and do not listen them. Chinchillas are selective, or opportunistic, feeders and by providing bad food except the health issues you also make them very spoil with their food and it will be difficult for them to adapt later to another food. Unfortunately the plethora of pet shops even if they sale chinchillas they do not have a clue about them and they just try to sell without considering the consequences for your pet. Hay must be dry, smells fresh and shows no signs of mold growth. Hay’s color should be more to green but not lively green, which is bad because it is very fresh. Water can be fresh, boiled and better distilled or filtered. You can boil the fresh water to clean it and then left to cool before you give it. Fresh water can be given only if you are sure about the quality and if you drink this water too without problems even minimal.
Depending on the quality of the food you offer and that means a healthy diet with the correct nutritional quantities you should not supplement their feed at least not frequently. Chinchillas digestive system is very prone to diet changes. If you must change your chinchilla diet, like you buy another brand of pellets, you must be very careful. A rapid change in diet will lead to serious digestive and health issues. You must always introduce any dietary change slowly and treats must be limited or even discontinued to prevent any digestive upset until the change is complete. The new feed must be introduced slowly by adding the new pellets and reducing the old pellet. The procedure is to mix a small amount of the new food with the older food, and gradually increase the proportion of the new food. The process should take at least a week or two to complete the conversion. However, supplementation strategies can be done offering calcium and vitamins. The best is to consult your veterinarian. In general it is not bad to supplement them, with vitamins in their water or food, once or twice a month, but as for calcium must be cautious as I analyze in Supplements. You can also give them fresh fruits, like apple or vegetables like carrot, in very tiny pieces like a pellet, and these counts as treats too. If you give them too many because they are fresh the first symptom will be diarrhea.
Chinchillas are not prone to overeating, but for freshness, it is a good idea to feed a small amount of pellets at a time. A chinchilla consumes 2 tablespoons of pellets a day and nibble on the hay at their leisure. Chinchillas like routine and relax to it so try to feed them around the same time each day. Refresh their water every day. To maintain the freshness of the feed, store your chinchilla’s pellets in a cool, dry environment and in covered containers.
Chinchilla nutrition is very essential for their health. Fresh, high quality pellets, variety of hays, fresh water, limited treats, and a supplement of vitamins will provide the optimum health for chinchillas. If your pet develops diarrhea, then feed only hay and pellets and take him to the vet. If a chin has health or dental issues it is important to stop all treats until the chin has fully recovered. It is known that chinchillas that are induced by stress have eating disorders. If a chinchilla does not eat, you must take him to vet immediately to look for any health or dental problems.
The digestion of chinchillas and most other rodents has a unique special mechanism, the formation of cecotropes and these animals can receive more nutrition from what they eat. This special digestive process has been referred to as cecotrophy or coprophagy. Cecotropes are nutrient-rich and are passed out of the body, like feces, but are reingested by the animal so the nutrients can be absorbed. Cecotropes have twice the protein, and half of the fibre of the typical hard fecal pellet. They also contain high levels of vitamin K and the B vitamins. Coprophagy also helps to maintain the correct balance of intestinal flora within the gut and is important to proper digestive function and nutrition.