The quality of chinchilla food over the last decade has been compromised with the increasing popularity of chinchillas. Some chinchilla owners are very informed of their decisions regarding chinchilla food. However, many larger ranchers stick to one type of food for their chinchillas. We should be aware of all the foods that enter the market because as diversification of foods increases, lower quality foods enter the market.
We must always remember that chinchillas can’t eat everything, and the main food in their diet should consist of formulated chinchilla food pellets, water and hay so that we can fulfill their nutritional requirements. However, the occasional indulgence is not forbidden, refer to our chinchilla treats page for more info on that.
Having said that, people always ask me the same question, which is what the chinchilla food that I prefer. I have no permanent answer for them, because the “ideal chinchilla food” changes almost every couple of years. Tradition Diet and Purina Mazuri Chinchilla Food used to be my main choices for my chinchilla food needs for several years. Now, I recommend Oxbow Chinchilla Food because of their close consideration of pet health and even though it may be a bit pricey, it’s for the best. Charlie Chinchilla and Kaytee are two examples of chinchilla food brands that are popular despite their poor quality.
Major pet food brands such as Mazuri Chinchilla food are the kinds of brands that I don’t recommend because they manufacture mainly for other pets such as dogs and cats, which means they care much less for rare pets like chinchillas. For this reason, I used and advocate the use of good chinchilla food such as Oxbow Chinchilla Deluxe. I like this brand of chinchilla food and gave it to Chilly, my chinchilla, who lived to see the age of 19.
Restrain from giving your chinchilla food with an excess amount of treats in it. You may feel good about being nice to your chinchilla, but in reality, you’re doing more harm than good. My chinchilla started becoming spoiled when he constantly ate treats. He started becoming unhealthy so I quickly changed his diet to a better brand of chinchilla food. Always check the expiry date (found on the bag of chinchilla food) so you can discard any food that has gone bad. As a general rule of thumb, don’t keep anything past 6 months of being expired, because chinchilla food, or rather any pet food, gradually loses nutrition beyond this date.
If you’re planning on raising a lot of chinchillas, chinchilla food can easily be substituted for rabbit food, which may sound weird, but it makes a great alternative. Also, it’s really easy to find in large packages. Promise Nature Premium Rabbit Food is an amazing brand that can be given to chinchillas and it’s about as nutritional as good-quality chinchilla food, like Oxbow.
Most large breeders believe that food supplements are unnecessary because nutrients supplied in chinchilla foods are sufficient. However, some small owners still give supplements to their chinchillas, in hopes that it’ll breed a healthy chinchilla.
Hay is also a necessary component to a chinchilla’s diet. Always feed chinchillas hay that isn’t in their diet already from food pellets. For example, since most chinchilla food pellets contain alfalfa hay, you should feed your chinchilla some other type of hay such as timothy hay as well as the regular chinchilla food that you feed it.
A variety of hays is important for the health of a chinchilla, as it keeps their teeth properly shaped. These animals chew different kinds of hays in different motions, such as horizontally for some, and even vertically or in circular motions for other types of hay. This ensures their teeth to be worn down and prevent them from growing too much. If chinchilla teeth grow too much, they become unable to eat. A diversity of hay also enables chinchillas not to be bored of what they eat.
Needless to say, you should always give your chinchilla fresh hay to eat. Abnormal color (black for example) and the condition of the hay (too dusty for example) are indicators of old hay, and you must buy new hay because of the risk of digestive problems it causes chinchillas. I always suggest buying hay in bulk if you have several chinchillas.
Chinchillas should normally drink either filtered water or purified (depending on your preference) because they don’t contain less chlorine and bacteria than tap water. However, if tap water is all that is available, sterilize it the night before giving it to your chinchilla by bringing it to a rapid boil. I do, however, prefer giving my chinchilla filtered water, as it removes as much as 99% of giardia from the water and it doesn’t cost too much either.