Trying to learn more about chinchillas’ diet so you can feed and care for your pet properly? Then you came to the right place!
In this article, we’re discussing everything diet-related concerning these little animals as we answer the question: do chinchillas eat dandelion and rat food?
The answer is yes and no, literally. Dandelions are safe for chinchillas so they can eat them, but rat food is absolutely off the menu!
A chinchilla diet is crucial when it comes to maintaining your pet’s well being, to say the least. These animals have a very sensitive digestive system, which is all the more reason for you to really understand what you can and can’t feed them.
This is only a warm-up answer to get us started. If you want to find out more about what foods are safe, what foods are unsafe, how much your chinchilla should eat, and what issues to look out for – all you need to do is continue reading!
What Does A Chinchilla’s Diet Consist Of
First of all, you should know that chinchillas are herbivores, meaning they only eat plants. They have continuously growing teeth to make up for the wear resulting from chewing on rough, high-fiber hay and grass.
This is why you should provide good quality hay in unlimited quantities to be the majority of your chinchilla’s diet. Hay should also be available at all times, so you may want to consider setting up a hay rack.
As for pellets, offer a small amount (1-2 tablespoons per chinchilla) of grass-based chinchilla pellets per day in addition to hay.
When you’re deciding on the type of hay and pelleted food to give your chinchilla, be sure to take into account the following nutritional values so you can put together the right combination:
- 25-35% Carbohydrates
- 15-20% Protein
- 30-35% Fiber
- 4% or Less Sugar
- 3% Or Less Fat Content
Keep in mind that chinchillas do not get along with foods rich in sugar content or fat content, so avoid offering your pet treats too frequently or you’ll be putting them at risk of digestive disorders.
Additionally, make sure you allow constant access to clean drinking water from a drinking bottle and check it’s full twice daily. Without enough water, chinchillas can become seriously sick.
Chinchillas eat by sitting on their hind legs and holding the food in their front paws. In the wild, chinchillas tend to consume most of their food early in the morning and late at night, accordingly, you should offer your pet chinchilla food twice a day. Still, they may consume food throughout the day because they usually eat at a slower pace than other small animals (such as guinea pigs and rabbits).
If the correct diet is always available, your chinchillas will generally be able to maintain themselves at the proper weight. Avoid sudden changes in your pet’s diet since this could upset their digestive system and make them sick
Do Chinchillas Eat Dandelions
Yes, you can give your chinchilla dandelions. In fact, organic dandelion leaves are one of the healthiest treats you can offer your little pet.
Dandelion leaves are loaded with healthy ingredients that boost circulations and keep your chinchilla’s liver in good shape. You can feed your chinchilla up to ½ teaspoon of dandelion leaves every day.
Other healthy treats you can give your pet chinchilla include:
- Mountain ash berries – also known as rowan berries, these are very popular among chinchillas and are rich in antioxidants to promote general health, as well as fiber to support digestive health. You chinchilla can munch on up to 3 mountain berries per day.
- Dried rosehips – an awesome option for a chinchilla treat, dried rosehips contain high levels of fiber and vitamin C to boost digestion. You can give your chinchilla up to 3 whole dried rosehips or 1 teaspoon of dried rosehip shells per day.
- Hawthorn leaves – a great treat for supporting your chinchilla’s heart, give your pet up to ½ teaspoon of hawthorn leaves every day.
- Nettle leaves – if you’re looking for a healthy treat to cleanse your chinchilla’s kidneys and naturally boost their energy levels, you should consider offering nettle leaves (up to ½ teaspoon every day).
- Chamomile flowers – to provide a soothing effect and make your pet feel calmer, try giving them ½ teaspoon of chamomile flowers per day.
[Related Article: Do Chinchillas Eat Insects And Does It Affect Their Health]
Do Chinchillas Eat Rat Food
No, absolutely not. Rat food isn’t meant for chinchillas. Not only does it lack the proper amounts of nutrients required for the growth and well-being of a chinchilla, but it can also cause your pet a range of severe digestive problems and developmental issues.
Other foods that you should avoid offering to your chinchilla are:
- Rabbit pellets.
- Excessive quantities of pellets because they don’t provide enough fiber for chinchillas’ gastrointestinal tracts (which require a lot of fiber for fermentation of food) and don’t possess the needed roughage to wear down their continuously growing teeth.
- Treats such as nuts, seeds, dried fruit, and grains should not be offered since chinchillas can’t easily digest them, which may lead to tooth damage.
Instead, you can give your chinchilla hard objects such as branches from non-toxic fruit trees (for example, apple, pear, and peach trees) to promote chewing and teeth wear. However, avoid toxic trees such as cherry, cedar, plum, and redwood.
What Diet-Related Problems Should You Look Out For
Now that you have a better idea of the types of food your chinchilla can and can’t consume, it’s a good idea for you to understand a bit about the diet-related issues that could happen to your pet so you can keep an eye out for them.
- Dental problems – chinchillas’ teeth don’t stop growing throughout their lives, so when you don’t give them enough hay (and they mostly eat pellets), the surfaces of their top and bottom teeth repeatedly collide inside their mouths.
The force resulting from chewing is quite significant that the roots of their teeth become impacted like a human’s impacted wisdom teeth. This can cause severe pain upon chewing, as well as drooling and possible eye discharge (due to the pressure of the upper tooth root on tear ducts).
If your chinchilla suffers from this condition, you should provide pain medication and soft foods.
- Obesity and digestive issues – overconsumption of pellets can also be fattening, which can lead to obesity and diarrhea due to excessive consumption of carbohydrates. Additionally, overfeeding your chinchilla fresh greens also can cause soft stool or diarrhea.
While it’s true that hay should be offered in unlimited quantities, you shouldn’t allow non-breeding adult chinchillas to eat large amounts of high-calcium alfalfa since it has been associated with the development of calcium-based bladder stones. Instead, give your adult chinchilla timothy hay, orchard hay, or other low-calcium grass hays such meadow grass.
- Lastly, chinchillas cannot vomit. This means that small or hard foods (for example, nuts, dried fruit, seeds, or raisins) could get stuck in the back of your chinchilla’s mouth or esophagus leading to salivation, gagging, lack of appetite, as well as breathing problems. Also, indigestible bedding materials (such as wood shavings) can cause respiratory and digestive obstructions.
[Related Article: 11 Signs Your Chinchilla Likes You And How To Bond With Them]
There you have it, a comprehensive answer to the question: do chinchillas eat dandelions and rat food? In brief, the answer is yes and no.
Chinchillas can safely munch on dandelion leaves, which also promote a healthy liver and circulation. As for rat food, it’s not meant for chinchillas and it can cause them several health issues due to the lack and variation of nutrients.