Chinchillas are very sensitive to sugar in the same way humans with diabetes. Sugary foods should be avoided. Chinchillas need to keep their digestive systems busy with a mix of two kinds of fibre moving through the gut at all times (these types of fibre are called digestible fibre and indigestible fibre).
Chinchillas are incredibly social animals and out in the wild they will live in colonies of more than 100 individuals.
Chinchillas can’t get enough nutrition from fibre when it passes through their gut the first time, so they pass it through a second time.
Indigestible fibre is moved through their digestive system and excreted as separate, round, hard droppings. This type of fibre keeps the digestive system moving and their appetite stimulated.
Digestible fibre is moved up into an organ called the caecum – which is like a giant appendix.
Good bacteria in the caecum ferment the fibre, making it easy to digest. This emerges in the form of clumps of sticky droppings – we call these droppings caecotrophs. Chinchillas then re-eat the caecotrophs directly from their bottom and the essential nutrients are then absorbed when the digestible fibre passes through for the second time.
If chinchillas don’t get the right amounts of both digestible and indigestible fibre, it can rapidly lead to serious health problems. At Excel, we call the correct ratio of these two types of fibre ‘Beneficial Fibre’.
Sticking to The Excel Feeding Plan will ensure your chinchillas get the right amounts of fibre in their diet. The Excel Feeding Plan was developed in conjunction with one of the world’s leading small-animal vets, to provide a perfect daily balance of fibre and nutrition.
Having a good insight into the biology and behaviour of your Chinchilla can help you to understand your pet better.
Chinchillas have lots of beautiful, thick and soft hair (not forgetting those beautiful bushy tails!). Their hair follicles contain more than 50 hairs whilst humans have around 1-3.
Muesli-style foods are a real problem because chinchillas can become fussy eaters, eating sweet foods as an easy way to get a sugary fix (which is a serious issue for chinchillas). As a result, they can pick out the unhealthy bits in muesli-style foods and leave the rest. We call this selective feeding. It can lead to an imbalanced diet, that’s lacking in calcium, phosphorus and vitamin D as well as a diet that’s low in fibre, which can have very serious consequences.
The unhealthy ingredients in muesli-style foods are high in sugar and starch; these are difficult for chinchillas to digest and can lead to health problems and obesity. Obese chinchillas often can’t reach the caecotrophs around their bottom that contain so many of the important nutrients, which can again lead to problems.
Pet Obesity is fast becoming an epidemic and can lead to serious health issues in pets. To find out if your pet is the correct weight please click here
Your chinchillas will love to eat fresh vegetables – but too much of a good thing is actually very bad for them. Some foods should be avoided altogether such as grass clippings and sugary fruits. You should be careful never to overfeed – because that can cause bloat, which can kill.
In the Wild Chinchillas graze on grass , leafy shrubs and bark- a very high fibre diet. That’s why we call them ‘Fibrevores’. Your Chinchillas’ diet should mimic the wild diet. That’s why our foods are rich in grass and fibre.
Great care should be taken proving fresh material to chinchillas. Some chinchillas are very sensitive to the effects of fresh fruit and vegetables which can cause dietary upsets including bloat.
If providing fresh material do so in very small amounts (approximately a thumbnail size). If in doubt always contact your vet.
Good: kale, potato, pumpkin, squash, sweet potato. The snack that chinchillas love most of all however is raisins.
If you have a question, please email us or call us on 0800 413 969. Our dedicated consumer care team are available to answer any questions you may have. If you are concerned about the immediate health of your pet, please seek the advice of your vet as soon as possible.Email us