Nutrition and fodder for the animals

Feeding a chinchilla is a major challenge for many owners. Nature already provides the food. Chinchilla owners should be guided by what the rodents eat in the wild. The animals are not used to a menu that is too creative.

So what are we eating today?  The diet of chinchillas can also be varied!  – Shutterstock / Ekaterina Krivtsova

So what are we eating today? The diet of chinchillas can also be varied! – Shutterstock / Ekaterina Krivtsova

If you get your new darlings from the breeder, ask him for a sachet of the previous food. Later, when you try something new, start with a few “sides” and slowly increase the amount. Owners of these sweet fur boys would like to make their chinchillas happy and preferably with delicious, rich food creations of their own. It is often forgotten where the animals actually come from – namely from the Andes in South America. Feeding as naturally as possible is best for the rodents.

Chinchillas are used to certain foods

The rather barren landscape in the Andes provides the rodents with grass, shrubs, herbs, cacti, bushes and roots in the wild. This often dry plant-based diet is rich in minerals and vitamins and very structurally rich – so it contains a lot of raw fibres. The gastrointestinal tract of the chinchilla is adapted to this food and processes it optimally. The raw fibers it contains are dietary fibers that rodents urgently need: they stimulate digestion and keep the intestinal flora healthy.

Chinchilla basic diet: hay and water

Since hay provides these important raw fibers, it is the ideal forage. Vegetable substances are relatively low in energy, so chinchillas have to eat a lot of them for a healthy energy balance. It is therefore essential that the rodents have access to fresh, clean hay at all times. In addition to promoting digestion, hay is used by the animals for dental care. When buying, make sure that the hay is really fresh. If it smells slightly musty, it may soon start to grow mold and is no longer tolerated by the sensitive herbivores. Make sure you also have fresh water every day: it must always be made available to the animals, for example in a nipple drinker.

With lots of jumping and climbing opportunities, chinchillas feel most comfortable - Shutterstock / Juice Team

07/18/2019 – 06:05 p.m

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How to enrich the basic food?

Dried herbs, hay and seeds can be used to conjure up delicious meals for chinchillas. All food for the rodents must be unsprayed and untreated. The best thing to do is rummage through your garden to see if you can find one or the other digestible feed. But remember to always wash it off thoroughly. The chinchilla menu allows for the following foods:

  • Chinchilla Pellets – Special pellets for chinchillas are extremely controversial, but some varieties or brands are basically not so wrong. They just don’t taste good to every chinchilla and a one-sided diet with only pellets would of course be completely wrong. Chinchillas also want variety on their menu. Above all, they are well suited for mixing with herbal mixtures and seeds. When buying, be sure to pay attention to the ingredients and choose the product based on the plant components it contains.
  • Dried herbs, leaves and flowers – These are very digestible for the small rodents and can be mixed in with both the hay and the chinchilla pellets. Delicious herbs and blossoms such as lemon balm, daisies, roses or dandelion or dried carrot greens offer a tasty change.
  • Fresh green fodder – After slowly getting used to green fodder, fresh leaves also taste particularly good. However, dried green fodder is more digestible for the creatures of habit, because fresh greens are difficult to find in their homeland.
  • seed mixes – Seeds with grass seeds and herb seeds serve as concentrated feed and are part of a balanced diet for chinchillas.
  • bark, twigs, buds and roots – Chinchillas find enough of these things in their natural environment. So they are good as fodder. Unsprayed branches of apple or pear trees (but not stone fruit trees!) are ideal for rodents, as are birch, lime, willow and beech. The buds and leaves are eaten with pleasure. Chinchillas also use twigs to rub their teeth. Herb roots are also ideal for supplementary feeding.
  • Hay and Herb Cobs – They are a bit more expensive, but many chinchilla lovers swear by high-quality cobs and mix them into the concentrated feed.
  • Selected fruits and vegetables – Fruits and vegetables spice up the rodents’ diet a bit. However, chinchillas do not get fresh succulent food in their natural habitat. The little rascals cannot tolerate too much fresh fruit or vegetables. For example, only add very thin slices of apple to the food (never apricots!). When eating fruit, make sure that the fructose content is not too high. Tuber vegetables such as celery, carrots or parsnips as well as leafy vegetables such as endive and lettuce hearts are also very suitable – but in moderation.
  • treat – Suitable treats for in between are dried fruit and vegetable chips, rose hips, rose petals, pumpkin or sunflower seeds and small pieces of carob. But treats are just treats. They shouldn’t be the main focus of the feeding schedule – at best, only give treats once a week.

In this video, a black chinchilla eats the young tender leaves of the weeping willow:

And with these sweet chinchillas, dried vegetables are on the menu today:

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