Feeding Chinchillas

Chinchillas have quite delicate digestive systems and so have special dietary requirements. Rabbit food does not meet the nutritional needs of chinchillas and frequently makes them fat.

Food

The primary food item for chinchillas are specially formulated pellets. Unlike other animals, chinchillas will only eat small amounts at a time and so you need not worry about over-feeding them. However, to keep the pellets clean, we suggest you provide just a little more than they need in between feedings.

Along with the pellets, chinchillas should have ready access to hay cubes. These hay cubes can sit in the cage for many days until they have been eaten.

In addition to the above two items, chinchillas should also be given a vitamin and mineral-enriched seed mix. A teaspoon each day per chinchilla is what we have learned is the proper amount. Chinchillas will eat all of this seed mix in one sitting so you can't simply fill up a dish and expect them to spread it out over several days. Also, have one dish with the seed mix per chinchilla to ensure that each of your chinchillas gets a chance to eat it.

We've started to compile a list of safe and unsafe foods in case you choose to feed your chinchilla items other than what we've mentioned above.

Treats

The last food item to provide your chinchillas is some form of treat. Treats are chinchilla-specific products from the pet store or simple things like raisins. Our chinchillas like raisins the best. Like the seed mix, it is important to limit the consumption of these treats. Make sure that each chinchilla gets a treat by hand feeding it to them.

For an idea of what treats other pet owners use, check out poll #2.

Timing

We try to feed our chinchillas the pellets and seed mix at the same time every day. The routine seems to comfort our chinchillas. In fact, they sometimes let us know that we're late with the food by barking. We give them their treat just before we go to bed as it helps with our chinchilla training efforts.

Changing Food

One final note about food. If you need to change food suppliers, do so slowly. An abrupt change can be harmful to your chinchilla. The best is to blend the new food in slowly with the old food so that the transition isn't too sudden. We've done this once with and it worked out well.

Water

Along with food comes water. We use distilled water as we have learned that tap water can contain bacteria that, although harmless to humans, can harm chinchillas. Chinchillas don't drink a lot so the expense of a bottle of distilled water is negligible.

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63 Comments

  1. not sure now who the girl was that said she couldn't have dogs or cats cuz of allergies but there ARE breeds of dogs that are hypoallergetic.. the labradoodle is one...i believe a lot of poodle type dogs are... having a chin run around would be like allowing a rat to run your home they poo as much and gnaw thru cords wood furniture and FAST Perhaps check if you are not allergic to a rabbit or a ferrit they both can run the home be litter box trained and love to be lap buddies... I too have found out I am severely allergic to hay .. is there ANY way of keeping a chin in good health without the use of hay??

  2. would a mineral block be ok for our chin?

  3. would well water be safe for our chinchilla to drink?

  4. I adopted a chinchilla in the beginning of January. She was already approximately six years old. I do not know if her previous owner offered her hay or not... but she won't try any from me. I have tried her on two different Oxbow types and she won't eat it. Is this okay? Thanks for any and all help with this issue, Sherie

    • Hey Sherie! My chinchilla also went through a span of just refusing to eat hay. We can not allow them to continue that way due to the potential overall health and teeth issues. I started to take away her pellets at night for a week. The first day or two they may be stubborn and still not eat but after that they usually begin to nibble. The three different hays I would give her were timothy, alfalfa and orchard.

  5. Keep this in mind chinchilla owners: Only get high quality PELLETS. Anything that doesn't look like a pellet is considered a treat.

  6. Hi I have some 10week old baby chinchillas who are very nearly weaned I give them the amount recomended (1tbsp per day each) and give them half in the morning and half in the evening but they always eat it quickly and seem very hungry for more they also get a large handfull of excel timothy hay each . also my male 10wk old lives with his dad and often eats all his dads food as well as his own please help!

  7. so is it ok to give chinchillas tap water im confused now as to what to do

    • no you should only give them filtered water that is not from the tap or a water bottle or so I have read so far

      • I have had my chinchillas for 4+ years and they have always gotten tap water. They are very healthy and seem happy.

  8. I have a question, I am a new owner to a baby boy chinchilla. He won't eat his food or chew on any of his wood toys. It has been 2 days since he has eaten anything and I am getting really worried. The food I have been giving him is the same kind as what the shop keeper told me they were using. Is it just stress or is something really wrong?

  9. Would eucalyptus wood be considered not good for a chinchilla? I can't find any thing saying they can or they can't have it.

  10. can you use water from a water bottle?

    • Bottled water is not recommended because the purification process removes needed vitaminsand minerals. Try reverse osmosis water in stead, or water that has been filtered using a purfilter. Sorry if there are typos, im using my nook atthe moment

  11. Can you buy water bottles and just use the water that's in there to give to the chinchilla?

  12. Okay, a friend of mine said that she'd read somewhere that chinchilla's could be given Pedialite and pineapple juice. If this is true what flavor of Pedialite should be given? Also, if I choose to give Haku spring water, what brand do you reccomend?

  13. hay cubes do not provide chinchillas with the same texture and nutrients needed to aid teeth health and digestion. when hay is compressed into cubes they get smooshed so much that they become softer, and nutrients are squeezed out. loose hay is better for chinchillas. also hay is their primary food item, not pellets. some very successful ranchers give their chinchillas nothing but high quality hay and no pellets and get excellent results.

    • hay may have been their primary food source in the wild, but sice they're breed in captivity, their used to the pellet, and their body has addapted to the nutients in the pellet so pellets are a good thing to give your chin,

      • Please reread my clmment because i think you misunderstood. I never compared their wild diet to theyre current one. I simply stated that their main food. source is hay (.which is true) i never said pellets are bad for them, but that they should be giving along with hay. If you notice a chinchilla eats a lot more hay then pellets; this is because they need more of it, making it the stapl of their diet.

  14. ok no raisins. not good, too much sugar, which chinchillas sensative digestion system cant use. also no seed mix, too much fat, which is not good for a chinchilla either.

  15. I would think Distilled Water would be a bad choice. Distilled Water is pure H20 and has no mineral content (like tap and filtered water). These minerals can be useful to animals and distilled water can actually leach them out of the animals system. I suspect purified (or filtered) water should be good and healthy with limited amounts of harmful bacteria.

    • if you use a filter make sure it filters out giardia. the only filter that does that is the pur filters. if not you should use reverse osmosis water. do NOT give non filtered tap water.

    • i would recamend water that has no additives to it, as the additives may be harmfull to the chin. use ground water, it's better and more natural

  16. I leave a dish full of the pellets in my chinchilla's cage all the time, and then I feed her hay (I don't use cubes of hay, I just use hay, is this alright?) in the morning and the evening. I give her treats at random times when she's being especially cute (and sometimes with her hay). Are these feeding habits healthy? How can I improve them?

    • what treat are you giving her? and yes giving her loose hay is better than cubed.

  17. I just found out that I am really, really allergic to Timothy hay. I have read that they can eat other hay such as oat, wheat or brome, but these are listed as "alternative" hays. Is it safe to remove timothy hay from my Chin's diet? (It may not be safe for me to keep it in...)

  18. Can chincilla's have "weeping willow" branches or twigs. I've noticed that willow is recommended but is there a difference?

  19. Hi, I read that along with pellets and hay you should give them a vitamin enriched seed mix. I was wondering if anyone could make a suggestion of what to get. I have looked in pet stores and everything I have found is a pellet mixed with seeds and something looking like colorful cherios.

  20. I have a chinchilla that's a few months old. She loves 2 eat, but refuses 2 eat her pellets. I know they are essential 2 her diet, but she just doesn't like them. What should I do? I'm scared to take her 2 the vet if its goin 2 cost a lot. Please help!

    • Hello Mireilly, I just wanted to let you know that my chinchilla eats all of his food except the pellets also. I do not know why he does this or what to do about it but you are not alone. If I find out anything I will keep you posted.

  21. I was wondering how many times a day a chinchilla should be fed.

    • i think it would be best to feed it b4 school or if u have a job then feed the lil thing b4 ur leave.

    • I feed my chinchilla's once in the morning. Just a little though...this is their night and then in the evening when I get home from work. More... with a treat cuz they are just so dang cute.

    • you should free feed hay at all times and you can even free feed pellets they do not over eat and they need to have food in their systems at all times to make sure their gut keeps moving, because if it doesnt, they can go into stasis.

  22. hi ya this really helped but do we have to by the bottled water or just give them tap water

  23. i didnt now my chinchila was pregnant and i wolk up it had 3 babays but only 1 survived is that norn=mal ?

  24. Can anyone link me to the vita - min enriched seed mix???

  25. We just got a chinchilla from a friend and she is two years old from what they said.do they like bottles for their water or a water dish. It doesn't appear that she is Drinking from Her water bottle.

    • It is normal for a new "Chinny" to adjust. They will take water but only when they want it. Remember to repalce the water daily and clean the water bottle at each fill.

  26. just wondering if chinchillias are allowed to have timithy hay? My chinchillia started to act a little strange today , not acting himself. Not eating as usual or drinking as usual. Didn't really want to play. Can you help what should I do? I did turn on the celing fan to have the room cool, but what else should I do?

  27. 1. chinchillas are hypoallergenic 2. chinchillas should never run free or unattended they are chewers and may chew electrical wires and everything else. also they will poop everywhere. it can be very dangerous to leave a chinchilla unattended, they could be attaked by other animals in your home and there are many instances of them drowning in toilet bowls.

  28. hi, i need searious help. I'm a huge fan of pets , but i'm allergic to cats and dogs,so my only chance of having a fluffy animal is the chin...i have 2 questions... 1)can a chinchilla live in a house without a cage just like cats and dogs? 2)do they cause allergy just like cats and dogs? please help, i'll apreciate it :)

    • 1) No. 2) Possibly, but allergies would be due to the dust they bathe in rather than to the chinchilla. Sorry!

    • I have read that you should not let your chinchilla roam free in your home and also they dont have a dandor so they dont cause an allergic reaction hope this helps

    • Don't let the chinchilla run around freely in a home. This practice is dangerous to them because they like to investigate and chew up stuff. As for allergies if you are sensitive to dust, the volcanic dust may have an effect on your health when they take a "dust bath".

  29. Im getting a chinchilla and i have a few questions Is it true that its better if you buy your chinchilla a partner?not mate Where can i buy this seed mix i cant find it? Are the plain cherrios a good treat? Are the raisins suppose to be fresh or dried?

  30. Hey im going to get a chinchilla i have a few questions Is it true its better if you buy your chinchilla a partner? I cant find any seed mix do you know wher i can buy some? Are the plain cherioos a good treat? Are the raisins suppose to be fresh or dried? Thanks

  31. Clay, Chinchillas don't drink much so it's hard to tell sometimes if they're drinking at all. We suggest you keep the water bottle close to the food dish (but not over it) so that there's a good chance it'll be found. As for the pellet and seed mix, it's best use food that doesn't mix them. That way you can provide a small amount of seed mix and know that your chinchilla will eat the pellets as well. Be sure to supply an unlimited amount of hay.

  32. My chinchilla has not shown any signs of drinking the water that I provide for in in a bottle on the side of his cage. Maybe I have just not been around to see him drink, but I am worried that he doesn't know how to use the bottle. Also, the food i have seems to have seed mix contained inside and my chinchilla seems to be eating the seeds first and being picky about the pellets. Any suggestions for either situation?

  33. Chris Celnar

    Caroline, It doesn't sound like you're buying proper chinchilla food. The giveaway is the inclusion of fruit. Also note that rabbit food doesn't make a good substitute so look for something specific to the dietary needs of chinchillas.

  34. Chris Celnar

    Jaclyn, It sounds like there's something wrong with the pellets you bought. I remember once I had the smell of a detergent on my fingers and our chinchillas refused to take the raisins I had in my hand which they would normally do.

  35. I Get my chinchillas food from the local pet store. This food consists of nuts, fruits, seeds, and pelets. Is this ok for her? Also, should i have a feeding time or leave her food in the cage all day?

  36. Since our chinchilla was almost finished with her pellets, we bought a new bag. It was the same kind that she'd always been eating; however, she has refused to eat any. I noticed that the smell of the new pellets was a bit less pungent than the ones she had been eating, but I don't know if that has anything to do with anything. For now, we have been giving her more hay cubes than usual so she won't starve from not eating her pellets; it turns out that she likes the hay cubes a lot more than we thought. Is there something wrong with the pellets? Or maybe is she being picky?

  37. Chris Celnar

    Maryann, Hay cubes and pellets can be given in unlimited quantities. Chinchillas will limit their consumption of these on their own. What we do is watch how much they eat and adjust how much we give them every day so that none is wasted. It looks like 2 tablespoons of pellets per day is sufficient. If you feed your chinchillas a fortified seed mix, limit that to one teaspoon a day. Ours will eat more probably because it tastes better than the pellets or hay. And of course, any sort of treat should be given in moderation i.e. at most one per day. In the case of raisins, some prefer half a day or none at all.

  38. Hi. I was wondering what is the right amount of food to give a chinchilla (like 1 spoon full, ect.) because I don't want him to get fat, yet not to thin.

  39. Chris Celnar

    Debra, Skip the greens. Chinchillas don't need them. They get everything they need from regular chinchilla food. If you're looking for a treat, try a raisin (max one a day) or a cheerio. Check out our safe food list for more ideas.

  40. I have a question regarding the greens included in the spring mix at the supermarket. which parts of it can be given to chinchillas and which can't?

  41. Chris Celnar

    Sherri, There's no way to know for certain what kind of pellets your chinchilla will like. We use what is called the Anne Kline blend. Mazuri is also another popular one. However, in your case you may just need to back off the various other foods such as oats, sunflower seeds, etc. A hungry chinchilla may turn out to be a less picky one.

  42. I have a Chinchilla that I purchased back in March 2006. He is a very picky eater and doesn't want any type of Chinchilla pellet. I buy the prepackaged Chinchilla food from Petco or Petsmart, and have tried several different brands that have other items mixed. I have also tried just straight pellets. He loves oats, sunflower seeds, carrots dried and fresh, celery, dried bananas, raisins of course and the other goodies that are mixed in with the pellets. If I just give him straight pellets, he doesn't readily eat them and begs me for the other items I mentioned above. He always has fresh timothy hay too that he eats eagerly. What type of pellet should I feed him? Thanks so much for your advise and I look forward to hearing from you soon. Sherri and Chinchi

  43. Chris Celnar

    Nikki, We feed our chinchillas a specific portion of their regular food to ensure they are getting a balanced and nutritious diet. If we feel that they may be gaining weight, then we cut back on their treats (e.g., give them fewer raisins). If your chinchilla is clearly overweight, then you may want to speak with your vet about its diet and whether to change the food.

  44. I'm getting my first two chinchillas very soon and we are just building a cage for them right now. I've been looking at all web sites that I can find about chinchillas but none of them can answer my question that I have. My question is do you have to feed your chinchilla the diet and its regular food or do you just give it a diet when it get over weight? Please answer my question. Thank you!

  45. Chris Celnar

    Nancy, I'm guessing your new chinchilla wasn't "just born". Instead, it was probably born a short while ago and has been weened from its mother. What this means is that your chinchilla will be able to eat regular chinchilla food.

  46. I'm getting a pet chinchilla that was just born. Does it have teeth? Do I have to feed it mushy food?

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