Feeding Your Chinchilla







Cheeky Chinchillas - Feeding Chinchillas

The digestive system of the chinchilla is very delicate, therefore, it is important that they are fed the correct diet. Chinchillas require a high fibre diet which helps to keep their digestive tract healthy.

I feed my chinchillas approximately 2 tablespoons of chinchilla pellets, as much fresh, good quality hay as they want and water every day. The amount of pellets given can vary and some chinchillas will eat more than this, but I find this amount is ample for my own chins. It is best to keep to a regular feeding time if possible. Most people usually feed their chins in the evening when they are more active. Try to use the same brand of pellets. If for any reason you need to change, it is best to mix a little of the new brand with the old. This allows the chinchilla's digestive system to gradually adjust to the new food. I do not recommend using a mixed food, as some brands contain large amounts of treat type foods, which your chinchilla will eat rather than the pellets which are good for him.

Always remember to introduce any new food or hay gradually so as not to upset you chinchillas' digestive system.

You can find a list of some types of chinchilla pellets at the bottom of this page, showing their ingredients and content analysis

I can't stress enough how important it is to look after chinchillas' teeth. Their teeth are open-rooted and grow all the time. The incisors can grow 2 to 3 inches in a year. So, as well as providing a healthy diet of chinchilla pellets and quality hay, you must provide items he can chew on too.

See separate page on Health

You can buy all sorts of different items from a pet shop or on line. Some items include Cholla Rings, Bark Bites, Pumice. Cuttlefish is a good chew and also provides calcium. They also enjoy stripping the bark from small apple twigs. If preparing apple twigs yourself, make sure they are thoroughly dried out by baking or dehydration, so they are free from any insecticide or bacteria, which could be harmful to your chins.

Chinchillas will often chew their wooden shelving, so make sure it is safe.
Untreated, kiln dried pine is ok to use for shelving, as long as it does not contain any phenol oils etc.
Phenol oil is part of the sap that is left in the wood after a quick drying process has been used.

Ensure there is plenty of fresh hay and water every day, as well as good quality chinchilla pellets.
If your chinnie pulls out large amounts of hay, remove it from the cage floor ...
If it is left it may become soiled and contaminated.

You may need to shop around for good quality hay. Make sure that it is free from chemicals and is always fresh. Do not use musty, dusty or mouldy hay. Eating mouldy hay could cause health problems.
Loose, coarser hay is best for chewing and grinding and so good for your chinchillas' teeth.

See separate page on General Care

Hay plays a very important part in their diet. It is an excellent source of fibre and the chewing action also helps in grinding down their teeth.
There are a number of different types of hay available, Timothy Hay being a popular one.
If you are in the UK, you might want to try some dust free hay from 'DustFreeHay.co.uk'
It's lovely hay and organically grown. Particularly good for you too, if you suffer from hay allergies

If you have trouble feeding hay, Readigrass is a good alternative, particularly if you have a chinnie with dental problems. See hand feeding


Do not be tempted to buy cheap substitutes or foreign imports if it does not tell you what is in or on the product.


Make sure there is always fresh water available. Scrub the water bottles well, to prevent bacteria from forming.
An ideal brush, is the long angled type that is used for cleaning baby's bottles.


Chinchilla food bowls are usually the earthenware type, although you can buy stainless steel.
Plastic bowls should not be used as this would be harmful to the chinchilla if he chewed it.

Examples of two types of bowls

Chinchillas are Coprophagic, which means they sometimes eat their own droppings. You may have noticed your chinnie doing this. It is quite normal. They can produce two types of droppings; the softer type they will eat as they contain good bacteria which they can take back into their system.


Chinchillas, like all animals, love a treat and it would be very easy to give them too many.
But remember, a chinchilla's digestive system cannot tolerate too much sugary food, so avoid sweet treats.

An example of a treat would be; a few rolled oats (just a tiny pinch and not the quick cooking or instant sort), maybe a dried rose hip, which is high in vitamin C, or a few dried leafy treats suitable for chinchillas.
Treats should only be given occasionally - perhaps 2-3 small treats a week.
Dried, healthy treats can be found in the larger pet shops or on line...
You can buy some good treats and wood chews from Chins4Life and Chinchillas2shop.

Do not use 'our' dried vegetable that might contain additives.

A sunflower seed or a bit of a peanut now and then will probably not harm, but it is best to avoid them altogether as they are high in fat. Chinchillas do not have a gall bladder, which means any foods containing high levels of fat are bad for them. The gall bladder is an organ which contains bile, produced by the body to break down fat during the digestive process. As chinchillas do not have a gall bladder, eating treats containing high levels of fat might build up fatty deposits which could cause liver damage i.e. Hepatic Lipidosis.


Treats should not become a substitute for pellets and hay, which provide a healthy, balanced diet

Some Chinchilla Pellets
These are guide lines of the main ingredients - not all ingredients may be listed here


Protein 20.00%, Oil 4.00%, Fibre 12.20%, Ash 7.80%, Lysine 1.00%, Methionine 0.39%, M + C 0.71%, Threonine 0.77%, Calcium 0.85%, Phosphorous 0.72%, Av. Phosphorous 0.34%, Salt 0.45%, Linoleic Acid 1.57%

VITAMINS, MINERALS & TRACE ELEMENTS Vitamin A 10,000 ius/kg Vitamin D3 2,000 ius/kg Vitamin E 15 ius/kg Vitamin K 2 mg/kg Folic Acid 1.0 mg/kg Nicotinic Acid 60 mg/kg Vitamin B1 2.0 mg/kg Vitamin B2 6 mg/kg Vitamin B6 2.0 mg/kg Vitamin B12 12 mcg/kg Biotin 50 mcg/kg Pantothenic Acid 20 mg/kg Iodine 2 mg/kg Cobalt 1.0 mg/kg Selenium 200 mcg/kg Copper 20 mg/kg Iron 100 mg/kg Choline Chloride 300mg /kg Manganese 50 mg/kg Zinc 100 mg/kg Magnesium 250 mg/kg
Wheat Middlings, Hipro Soya Meal, Grass/AlfAlfa Meal, Soya Hulls, Cooked Cereals, Oats, Maize Gluten Feed Meal, Full Fat Soya Meal, Oatfeed, Molasses, Peanut Meal, Calcium Carbonate, Vitamin/Mineral & Trace Element Supplement, Salt, DL-Methionine, EEC Permitted Antioxidant


Science Selective Chinchilla

Protein 16.0%, Crude fibre 19.0%, Fat content 3.0%, Inorganic matter 7.0%, Calcium 0.8%, Phosphorus 0.4%
Vitamin A 15000 iu/kg, Vitamin D3 1500 iu/kg,

Also see Hand Feeding page
Lucerne meal (alfalfa), soya hulls, wheat, soybean meal, wheat feed, extruded locust beans, dried parsley, dried plantain, linseed, monocalcium phosphate, salt, calciumcarbonate.

Beaphar Care+

Protein 20%, Fat 3.3%, Fibre 20.1%, Ash 5.7%, Moisture 9.5%, Calcium 0.79%, Phosphorous 0.57%, Magnesium 0.2%, Sodium 0.2%, Potassium 1.04%, Omega 3 & 6, Vitamin E

Also see Hand Feeding page
Cereals, Derivatives of vegetable origin (cont. Yucca schidigera min 0.2%), Echinacea min. 0.05%, Vegetable protein extracts, Vegetable (Fructo Oligo Saccharide min. 0.0076%), Seeds, Milk and milk derivatives, Minerals, Mannan Oligo Saccharide (from cells of yeast), Algae (Spirulina min 0.00075%)

Henry Bell

Protein 17.00%, Oil 4.50%, Fibre 14.00%, Ash 7.00%, Vitamin A 15000 iu/kg, Vitamin D3 2000 iu/kg, Vitamin E 50 iu/kg, Alpha tocopherol, Copper Cupric Sulphate 25mg/kg
Wheatfeed, Oatfeed, Exracted sunflower, Grass feed, Peas, Barley, Soya, Vegetable extract, Fat, Limestone, Binder, Salt, Vitamins and Mineral supplemnet, Dicalcium Phosphate


Protein 17%, Fibre 14%, Ask 7%, Oils 4.5%, Vitamin A D3 & E
Wheatfeed, Oatfeed, Extracted Sunflower, Grass Meal, Peas, Barley, Soya, Vegetable fat




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