Are Raisins Safe for Chinchillas?
L Miller asks...
I have heard different descriptions of how raisins affect chinchillas. One pet store person said that toxins from too many raisins can build up in a chinchilla's system and kill it. Our chinchilla loves raisins but now we are afraid to give him any. Is there a limit as to how many he can have?
We've read that raisins in moderation are fine. What moderation means is up to interpretation, but we don't think 1 a day is too much. As long as your chinchillas are eating plenty of their regular food so that they are receiving the right nutrition, there shouldn't be a problem. And of course too many raisins can cause diarrhea.
Some comments from a popular forum AGAINST giving raisins include:
1. Grapes and raisins have shown to be toxic to dogs, ferrets and cats. They cause liver failure. There is no data concerning chinchillas but there is anecdotal data.
Dogs, cats, and ferrets are quite different from chinchillas. Their diets are quite different too. Especially since they consume meat while chinchillas don't. What is dangerous for one animal isn't necessarily dangerous for others.
2. Ranchers who do not feed raisins have a much lower mortality rate than pet owners who feed raisins. Their chinchillas tend to live longer.
This is likely a spurious correlation. Ranchers, being professionals, are likely to have fewer deaths than pet owners. That's just plain common sense and has nothing to do with raisin consumption.
And here are some comments from a popular forum FOR giving raisins:
1. I know of 2 very big ranchers that give each chinchilla 2 raisins a day in with their feed while at shows. They feel it stimulates their appetite while there. I know 1 of these ranchers does give out occasional raisins at home to favorites.
2. I give 2-3 raisins per week to adult chins and cheerios to juveniles. With over 80 animals, I haven't noticed any increase in mortality. If there was a toxicity issue with raisins, I would think the big ranchers wouldn't be feeding them at all to their show or breeding stock. I'll take my cues from ranchers I know and trust.
Of course, you need to decide for yourself. Even if chinchillas as a species have no problems with raisins, there's no way to know that your individual chinchilla won't.