last updated at 08/03/98
FEEDING A CHINCHILLA
In the wild, in South America, Chinchillas eat seeds, grasses, fruits, leaves, and bark of apple trees and branches. As a pet, the best and most basic diet for chinchillas are pellets, hay and flash water.
Pellets are a special diet for chinchillas. There are many different kinds of brand available in pet stores, but they are all biscally made from small rods of compressed alfafa meal, wheat germ, oats, soybean oil meal, corn, molasses, vitamins and minerals. My tip of buying chinchilla pellets is that always buy in small quantities. Because the effective of vitamins will be lost within a hundred days after being opened. Rabbit pellets look very similar to chinchilla pellets, and sometimes sold as a substitute. Rabbit pellets contain smaller amount of vitamins compare to chinchilla pellets, which is not enough for chinchillas to remain healthy over the long run. An adult chin is given one to two tablespoons of pellets and one tablespoon for young chin every evening for diet. You must make sure the pellets will not get wet! Since chins like to chew on things in order to sharpen their teeth, hard pellets can help them not only to provide nutrition, but also to prevent their teeth not to get too long. It is rare to a chin getting too fat, but it is possible. If that happen, stop providing the pellets for up to a week and then slowly reduce the amount of pellets to one to two tablespoon a day. Especially young chins, they are quiet easy to eat too much, so make sure you limit the amount of pellets for young chin everyday.
Dry and good hay can be easily buy in pet stores. Keep in mind that the dryness is the main point of good hay. It is also important to store hay in a dry place to prevent mold fungi developing during storage. Mold fungi cause dangerous attacks of diarrhea in chinchillas. Hay stored in a package with vent holes are highly recommended. The rabbit hay sold in your local pet store works fine for chinchillas. Dried, pressed hay cubes, often call alfafa cubes, are often used as substitutes or complements of their diet. The advantages of alfafa cube are dried, and of course, no chemical containing. Since the alfafa hay are pressed into hard blocks with one to two inches long and wide, as the pellet did, they can provide nutrition and hard surface for chins to chew on. For adults, I provide fresh hay every morning and evening while I provide as much hay as they want for young chins (below four months), they seem like to eat more hay than the adults do.
Fresh water must be provide and refill every day and available at all time. If water from the tap is not harmful for human, it will also works fine for chins. However, in most countries, tap water contains chlorine and chlorine did harm your pets! For better health, tap water should be boiled before use.
Chinchilla pellets, alfafa hay or alfafa cube and fresh water daily complete the diet of a chin. Foods other than that are all consider being treat. No matter what treat is chosen, an extremely limited amount should be provide since too much treats will result in fat gaining which will shorten their life. Also, with too many treats feeding, they will not eat the pellets! If that happen, stop providing all other treats so they must eat the pellets. Moreover, too many treats can get diarrhea! You can realize it by just look at their droppings. See Common Health problem of Chinchilla. Treats usually are given when taming or as a reward of letting us handle. Special chinchilla treats are available in pet stores. Cookie, sunflower seed, raisin, or nuts are all good treats for chin. If you are not sure which kind of treats suitable for yours, make it raisin. Almost all chins like raisin. There are some package of treats for chinchilla sold in the pet store. They contain of whole rose hips, carob meal, dehydrated potato, mountain ash berries and alfafa meal. These make very good treats for chinchilla, but still, you must provide this in small quantities. Apple or carrot, in small quantities, also makes healthful treats for chins; however, not all chinchillas seem to like them. One of my chin don't ever bother to eat an apple while the other really enjoy an apple in harmony. And all of my chins hate carrot!! Each chinchilla has specific likes and dislikes, so offer two to three kinds of treats to see what they like and dislike.
Minerals and Vitamins
The chinchilla's basic diet already contains enough vitamins and minerals they need. If you want your pet to be a very healthy chin, you could find some vitamins suitable for chinchilla in pet store. I used to provide a special vitamins which is specially formulated for chinchillas everyday. It contains vitamins essential to the health of these sensitive furballs and to keep their fur glossy and their skin smooth and healthy. I provide this vitamins by adding a few drops to the food or treat rather than adding to the water. Because the water may appear into a strange taste that the chins may choose not to drink the water. Chewable Vitamins C sold in drug store can also serve as a daily treats, and two of my chin enjoys it very much.
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