Just like humans, chinchillas wont just eat what is good for them instinctively, if you do let them have treats like fruits and veggies they will eat them indiscriminately. This is why you need to regulate what you feed to them.
Treats provide a great way of taming your chinchilla but if they have too many of them they will have the same negative effects that too many treats have on humans; obesity, tooth decay, stomach issues, and ill health.
There are many types of treats that are available to purchase for your chinchilla from any good pet store which are intended specifically for chinchillas.
The most important aspect when it comes to giving a chinchilla treats is to know exactly what you are giving to them.
Treats need to be given in small quantities on an occasional basis rather than be a main staple food of their diet.
Many treats that you can purchased ready prepared have feeding instructions that give guidance as to how much you need to feed them and how often. So to stay on the safe side, follow the instructions carefully.
What treats can I feed my chinchilla?
Here is a list of chinchilla treats that you might consider giving your pet. Some treats are healthy, most are not very healthy so do take care when feeding them to your chinchilla;
Chinchillas love raisins. But the thing with dried fruits is that they are quite sugary and so must be strictly rationed. One raisin every other day should be sufficient for them. For youngsters, feed them half a raisin twice a week at the most. They are unable to cope with anything more. They must also be free of sulphites so do ready the packaging before feeding. They must also be free of any kind of coating such as chocolate, icing, yoghurt, or sugar.
Other dried fruit can also be fed to them, but also check it has no sulphates or coating on them
Black Sunflower Seeds
These are widely sold as bird food but are also very popular with chinchillas. However, they should only be fed one seed once a week at the most to reduce any risk of damage to them. They have very high oil content and so one too many will have a very detrimental effect on them.
Fruit such as apples or grapes are also a very good alternative treat for chinchillas. However, they are also quite sugary and acidic so one small piece every week will suffice to prevent and detriment effect on your chinchilla.
The more acidic the fruit the more dangerous it is to the chinchilla. Fruits such as citrus fruits like oranges, lemons, and limes should be avoided as they can cause a lot of damage to a chinchilla.
Vegetables such as a peeled carrot or celery can be fed to them as a treat, but try not to feed them more than the equivalent of one teaspoon per day to ensure it is well regulated. However, do be aware that vegetables can cause bloatage if they are not regulated properly so do take care in feeding them.
Alfalfa Hay cubes
They shouldn’t be fed too often to chinchillas, two to three times a week should suffice because they are high in calcium and should only be given to chinchillas that are in good health.
They are great for young chinchillas or those who are breeding who need to increase their calcium intake. However, too mcuh can lead to urinary problems. They will love them though.
Dried Rose Hips
These have a healthy amount of vitamin c and fiber in them and are very good for chinchillas. They can be fed daily to chinchillas but only a maximum of two at a time.
Either fresh or dried herbs such as thyme, basil, rosemary, hisbiscus, parsley and oregano can be fed to chinchillas three to four times a week in small amounts.
These can be given to chinchillas in small amounts up to three times a week in a measurement of around one teaspoon. However they have large amounts of phosphorus and carbohydrates so don’t feed too much of them.
Like seeds they can have one small piece a week but they are far too high in oils, fat and protein to be given in larger amounts.
They can be given a small square once a week and is good for their digestion and eases diarrhoea.
Chinchilla treats found in stores
Most treats that are found in pet stores are usually high in sugar and are best avoided.
Corn causes bloatage which can be lethal for chinchillas so do avoid giving it to them.
Chocolate is high in sugar and fat and is pretty dangerous for chinchillas to eat causing damage to their nervous and digestive systems. Avoid feeding to chinchillas.
Foods that have animal ingredients
Foods such as dairy products should not have anything that contains animal ingredients as they can cause damage to their digestive system.
Fresh tree twigs
Chinchillas really enjoy gnawing on fresh tree twigs. They give them a good fibre boost to their diet as well as helping to keep their teeth nice and trim. Just steer clear of trees that are poisonous to them such as evergreen trees and trees that have been treated with toxic chemicals. Good tree choices are apple and elder tree branches.
Pumice rock is a volcanic rock which is something that a chinchilla may have encountered in their natural habitat. What pumice rock does is allow them to gnaw and grind their teeth. It also has mineral benefits as well for the chinchilla.
Cuttlebone is more commonly sold as treats for pet birds but is actually a good treat for chinchillas. It comes from cuttlefish and isn’t a real bone but more a buoyancy aid for the fish. Chinchillas like it because it helps them grid down their teeth, but as chinchilla owners, we like it because of its calcium content and it is safe for the chinchilla to swallow fragments of it.
As mentioned previously, don’t give too many treats per day. One per day is more than sufficient and will really add to their quality of life. Try and give them healthy treats and limit the unhealthy options to rare occasions. If you do feed them treats like those mentioned above they will devour them as soon as they see them but it doesn’t necessarily mean they should eat them all the time.
How to feed treats to your chinchilla
As opposed to feeding treats as a part of your chinchilla’s regular food, try putting them in a separate small bowl. This will prevent the treats being picked out of their regular food and your chinchilla leaving the regular food uneaten. They may also empty out all the regular food out of the bowl in search of the treats.
You can use the treats to help tame your chinchilla. Try offering them by hand to them if they are large enough to pass to them easily. Just be careful that they don’t bite you if your fingers are in the way.