Nothing is more rewarding than watching your beloved pet enjoying their food, partly because it indicates that your pet is happy and healthy.  But there are some foods that are actually less than healthful for your chinchilla?

It is not really necessary to give your chinchilla treats, but many owners love to see the delight that their chinchilla shows when it is given a raisin, and sometimes chinchilla treats seem to calm a shy chinchilla and help it get used to being handled. But it is important to know exactly what chinchillas can safely eat because, unlike other pets such as dogs or chickens, chinchillas can tolerate only a narrow range of foods.

To begin with, young chinchillas are even less tolerant of unsuitable foods than adults and can suffer digestive blockages, sickness and even death if given any food outside of their basic diet of pellets and hay. No chinchilla treats at all for these youngsters!

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When feeding treats to adult chinchillas it is essential that you control the amount given to them. Chinchillas will over-indulge on treats, preferring these high sugar or fat goodies to a nutritious healthy diet. A chinchilla could suffer health wise if allowed to choose his own chinchilla treats.

When considering just how many chinchilla treats to give their pets, some people choose not to give any treats at all, but other owners are comfortable with one small chinchilla treat a day, or perhaps just three times a week.

Although they are a rodent, chinchillas cannot eat a large range of fresh foods as a rabbit or pet rat can. Their digestive systems cannot process any fresh fruits for example, and leafy greens can cause bloat, constipation and fatal kidney damage. This is not surprising as the chinchilla’s natural diet includes tree bark and grasses, but not the juicy fruits that are so tasty for us!

Some experts even warn that raisins can be very dangerous as chinchilla treats because their systems cannot metabolize the sugar. Many owners do actually use raisins for their pets, so it seems that raisins can be used sparingly as chinchilla treats.

The nutritional needs of chinchillas are easily meet by the quality chinchilla pellets now available. Safe, sugar free chinchilla treats include rose hips, natural non-sugared shredded wheat, dried apples, natural fruit yogurt, plain Cheerios, and oats.  Wood chews made from safe woods enhance the chinchillas’ dental health.

Be sure to buy non-toxic wood chews made from apple, arbutus, ash, aspen, beech, birch, cottonwood, crabapple, dogwood, elm, fir, hawthorn, larch, magnolia, manzanita, mulberry, pine (baked or dried), pear, pecan, poplar, redwood or willow. Make sure you buy chews made for small animals, and use shavings from these safe woods for the bedding also. Avoid cedar, non-dried pine, apricot, cherry, peach, prune, plum and nectarine for both treats and bedding.

Another type of healthy chinchilla treats is diet supplements, and about 1 tsp a day is suitable for even young chinchillas. I also fed my chinchilla a 1 tsp mix of herbs, dried rosehips (for Vitamin C), barley and oats, which will provide needed nutrition and act as a healthy chinchilla treat. Pounds Plus and Critical Care are both supplements suitable for helping your chinchilla put on weight if needed, and can be added to the chinchilla treat mix too.

Next time you want to spoil your chinchilla friend, do it in real love and provide him with a healthy, nutritious treat. But don’t let him see you eating ice cream!