Of all of the rodents that can be kept as pets, chinchillas are by far some of the most sensitive ones. If you haven’t become the parent of one or you’re only looking for a pet and have no preferences in terms of its species, perhaps a chinchilla is not a good option. Both its dietary requirements, behavior, and pathology make it unsuitable for some types of pet parents.
Feeding a chinchilla too many treats is another incorrect practice. But let’s move on to the dietary requirements of such an animal before delving into other matters.
What does a wild and a domesticated chinchilla eat?
In the wild, chinchillas eat anything ranging from insects to fruit and veggies. However, pet chinchillas have different requirements made unique both because of their lifestyle and because some of these foods can trigger various digestive disorders that can even be life-threatening. As a general rule, you shouldn’t give your pet chinchilla anything that might ferment. Cabbage, as well as other types of vegetables (and those which have seeds, like tomatoes, for instance), can be rather dangerous.
Furthermore, these foods are not a natural part of such an animal’s diet. These pets can thrive on hay and pellets alone, and they like to nibble on pieces of wood. It’s obvious that their requirements in the way of treats are minimal.
Chinchilla Treats – Precautions
It can be very tempting for a pet owner to want to make his or her animal happier and as such, give him or her treats as often as possible. However, as is the case with cats and dogs that can become obese on account of eating too many treats, there are certain risks to feeding your chinchilla treats, too.
Most of the extra snacks you’ll find in specialized stores and pet shops are loaded with preservatives, artificial colors, as well as sugar. Some even contain sodium, which is inadequate on all accounts and for most animal species.
On top of these risks, you need to consider that these rodents are particularly selective, which can mean that they can become addicted to these treats and start refusing their regular food. You do not want to end up in a situation where you will have to starve your animal in order to convince him or her to eat normal food.
Healthy chinchilla snacks
Timothy hay and alfalfa hay cubes are great, but the second have a too high content in calcium and oxalates, which can lead to various urinary conditions.
Fresh herbs, like hibiscus, dandelion roots and leaves, as well as parsley and rosemary, make healthy treats. From all of the vegetables you might have in your refrigerator, the only safe one you can feed to your chinchilla is a carrot — and even that in a limited amount. Both nuts and seeds can be more or less unhealthy, but if you do not overdo it, you can offer these in a limited amount and only once a week.
Raisins are some of your chinchilla’s favorite snacks, and they love them.
As a final note, we would like to point out that chinchilla owners should consider getting entertainment equipment for their pet cages. A chinchilla wheel, as well as several toys, can mean the world for a pet that needs to spend all of his or her life within an enclosure.