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?

Infolific answers…

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.

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  1. Hello! I have had my chinchilla for about 6-7 years now, I believe I am his second owner. He is currently 11 years old, getting close to 12. He used to get about 5 raisins a day. He is cutting back now and only getting rose hips instead. Though raisins are toxic to other animals I do not believe this to be true for chinchillas. One chin may varie from another. Today has been his first day getting a dried rose hip. He only got a little piece and then I waited several hours before giving him another small peice.

    • Raisins are a really good treat for chinchillas. Just make sure that you only give them 2-3 a week cause it can make them sick if they have too many.

    • Do the math (values from USDA and the CA Institute of Raisins). Giving the sugar in one average raisin to an average 650g pet chinchilla is the same (proportionately) as giving a 2 lb bag of sugar to a 1200 lb horse. Horses and chinchillas are both hind gut fermenters. The last thing I would give such is sugar. IMO, raisins are toxic to chinchillas and may do great damage over time. Are there exceptions? Of course. (grandpa lived to 104 and smoked 2 packs per day. Does this make cigarettes safe?) At a minimum, is there any need to give a chinchilla raisins, goji berries or any other potentially and/or proven unsafe treat? NOLA Chinchilla Rescue

  2. Apparently I should of researched a little more on the raisin consumption for my Chin. I have given mine 4 to 5 at a time. Today she will be cut back and give her rose hips as a treat. She loves her grass hay I get from my field. Fresh and dry of course. I am third owner of my Chin. An elderly lady had her and was held a lot. She seems to like to run free in my bedroom. Fun to watch her explore. Almost like a toddler.

  3. We had a chinchilla which was about 17, yes, 17 when he died. He ate one raisin every day, we had heard they were good for their digestion. He also ate parrot food daily with his pellets and hay. Never was sick, so our new baby will have the same diet. In the wild they eat fruit & nuts.

    • 25 plus is a good age . 17 pretty young.

    • I believe that 17 was a very good age! A Chinchillas expected life span in captivity is 12-20 years.

  4. Feeding raisins is VERY bad for chinchillas, not because it's toxic but because when you buy them they are sold for human consumption, and they are loaded with sugar.. which will make a small little chinchilla prone to diabetes. I only feed my 5 chins healthy treats because I care about their health more than most things.

    • Which specific brand of raisins are you referring to exactly?

      • For my chinchilla I give her 2-3 raisins a week, but when I give her a raisin I cut it up in small pieces and also include a walnut or almond. I agree it varies on the chinchilla but my chinchilla eats pellets with timothy hay, a almond or walnut and a cut up raisin. She likes this mixture very well and has shown no sign of sickness. I have had her for about 3 years now and in those 3 years never had one problem. But if you are cautious with your chinchilla and only give her/him pellets that's fine but be sure to add some hay and a salt block in the cage to give them vitamins and minerals.

  5. I got my chinchilla, London, less than a week ago and can see she's starting to 'warm up' to me. How long will it take for her to trust me completely

    • As long as you show her that you love her and will protect her she will love you back, shes scared,she came to a new home and needs time to settle in.

  6. As far as we have seen raisens are fine. we have four happy healthy chinchillas that love raisens. Our one male and I really don't recommend this but he can get six or seven raisens out of us per setting. The others we feed two twice a day. They arn't as big as our other one and really don't seem to want that many, but as far as I have seen raisens are fine

    • Must have been a healthy brand without very much sugar.What brand is it?

    • I also have a 15 year old chin, that has always gotten about 6 raisins a day and is happy and healthy. I do buy organic because of the pesticides that regular raisins contain.

  7. I feed my chinchilla Dave three raisins a week, along with an almond, dried banana chips, dried pineapple, fresh dandylion and other grass from my yard, on top of his regular diet of Healthy Select Chinchilla food (honestly we didnt get it for Dave, although it is a food he loves most, of all the brands we have tried. We got it for was one of the two brands that didnt contain peanuts, which I am highly allergic to. )

    If chinchillas are like other animals, you cannot feed them strange foods if they have previously had no variation in their diet. For instance, you cannot switch brands of food on dogs or they get sick. Same goes for cats. You have to gently wean them from one food to the next. Dave has been eating many different things his entire life (we got him as a youngster from an owner who fed him cherries and crackers along with his regular chinchilla food). If a chinchilla who has had nothing but alfalfa/timothy pellets suddenly gets something strange introduced into his/her diet, it would probably make them sick.

    • Hey what brand is that Healthy Select Chinchilla food? When I google it a bunch of different brands come up. I too am allergic to peanuts.

  8. I'm on a chinchilla forum where they say that raisins ARE NOT safe and honestly, why chance it? Plain cheerios and regular shredded wheat (no sugar added) are definitely safe for your chinchillas and they love them just as much. Raisins are unnecessarily sugary and if a few forums say it can take years off of your chinchilla's life, why not just switch to a healthier treat?

  9. I use to have a chinchilla. I read on several websites the chinchilla's loved raisins. That it was like a treat to them. So one day I gave my chinchilla three raisins to see if he loved, afterwords he didn't want to eat anymore. Two days later he got sick. He couldn't stand straight, he kept tipping over, it was if he had no control of his back legs. I noticed it after coming out work one night. I was going to take to the animal doc. the next morning....but it was too late. (R.I.P. Chibi)

    • I havent tried it yet, but I plan to, i hear that rose hips are good treats for chinchillas and are safer. Please visit the fuzzieskingdom website for organic foods, hay and treats. Type in and try their products. I believe this is a life saver to chinchillas who purchase products from this company. theyre not too expensive either. I wish all of you happy and healthy pet chins........

    • I had a chinchilla, fed him raisins one evening and within 30 minutes he started to sort of pant/choke. I thought he was choking on one of his raisins but I checked his throat and it was clear. He then tipped over. When he got up he was dragging his rear legs behind him. I rushed him to our local animal emergency clinic right away. The vet said he had no idea why this would be related to the raisins, unless he got a "bad" one. He said it seemed like something neurological was going on and gave him a shot of what I think he said was cortisone to stop (brain?) swelling. He didn't know if this would work or not since he had no clue what had all of a sudden happened to my poor chinchilla. Mr. Chin made a full recovery and was using his hind legs again within 48 hours. This was about 10 years ago and I always KNEW it was related to those raisins somehow! Years later, I am not surprised to hear that they are toxic to the liver of certain animals. If you have a chin, DON'T feed him raisins because they can be neurologically toxic! Back then we had no idea that raisins could do this and I think the vet thought I was a little goofy running in there with my crippled chin,yelling about raisins!But I praise him for his skill and intuition cause he saved Mr Chin's life that night.

  10. I have had my chinchilla for about a year now and I have had no ill effects with the raisins. In fact, I give him a raisins once a day at about the same time each day. He knows when its time for his treat.

    • Why give chins treats at all? Is it because WE like treats? Why not just vary his diet with different types of herbal hays or rose hips? I'm quite sure chins in the wild never ate raisins or cereal....

  11. raisins are 100000000000000% safe. i feed my chinchilla raisins and she adors them 100000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000% be sure not to give them more then one raisin a day.

  12. I have owned chinchillas for two and a half years now. All my chinchillas have had the occasional raisin with no ill effects. As others have advised, just feed raisins in moderation. They are good for stimulating the appetite of a sick or skinny chinchilla too.

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    It sounds like your chinchilla doesn't trust you. That could be because he has been picked up too many times when he didn't want to be. You'll need to build some trust by hanging out with your chinchilla without trying to pick him up. During these play times, give your chinchilla a treat (not too much). Try having your chinchilla eat from your hand and even try to have him sit on your hand while eating the treat. You could also try giving the treat to your chinchilla while you're holding him so that he associates the treat with you.

  14. sorry i keep on asking questions, but i need some help. i want to be able to pick up my chinchilla but i just get too nervous. when you lean down to pick her up, she just sits there and waits and when you get close enough, she either snarls, or she runs around. it annoys me because whenever i want to hold chillaman, i have to get my mom to pick him up. i even tried scooping him up by his feet and he still growls.

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    Sorry it's taken a few days to respond. We've been traveling for the last week and just got back yesterday.

    Your chinchilla is shivering likely because he's scared. While you may feel there is no reason for him to be scared you need to remember that your chinchilla has no way of knowing what your intentions are. Over time you'll hopefully find that your chinchilla remains calm when you handle him.

    One thing you could do is try to pick him up without scaring him. For us that means not picking up our chinchillas while they're in their cage. Our chinchillas have learned that their cage is safe and that even we won't chase them there. Instead, we only pick them up when they're running around outside of their cage.

    In addition, we scoop them up by their feet as our chinchillas don't like it when our hands approach from above. Perhaps it's instinctive that any movement from above is like a predatory bird.

    Finally, we've had success with picking up our chinchillas while simultaneously giving them a treat.

  16. Hi again. Sometimes when I hold my chinchilla, he starts to shiver. It kind of feels like he's vibrating. There's nothing for him to be scared of because there are no loud noises or fast movement in the room. What does that mean?

    Also, when I reach in to his cage to pick up chinchilla, he'll make this snorting sound and flinch like he's going to bite me. Does that mean he doesn't want to be held? I know that they need love and enjoy getting out of their cage, but is my chinchilla not as social as others?

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    How much food is your chinchilla consuming in a day? Are you sure the food is actually being eaten? Ours waste a lot of food by ignoring small bits that fall off of the pellet as they nibble on it. They never go back to the small bits.

  18. I have a five month old Chinchilla named Lacie. Everynight I get her out to play and find that she has eaten all her food. I refill her food bowl up halfway everynight. Is it normal for her to be eating so much?

  19. Raisins are safe. As with any treat give them in moderation.

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