With their long life span, curious personality, and fascinating behavior, owning a chinchilla can be a rewarding experience. A chinchilla can make a wonderful and loving pet and offers a safe, hypoallergenic alternative to owning a cat or a dog. Of course, part of being a good pet owner is absolutely spoiling your pet with treats. But, what treats are safe for this long-living yet delicate little rodent? Below, let’s take a closer look at suitable treats to give your chinchilla.
Chinchillas have strong teeth that will continue to grow throughout their lifetime. Giving your chinchilla something to chew will help keep their teeth short and healthy. Not only do chinchillas need to chew to keep their teeth healthy, but they enjoy it too! Wooden chew toys are a great treat to give your chinchilla. It is important to use healthy and safe wood for your chinchilla. Try to stick to:
- Apple (Not Crab Apple)
- Kiln-Dried Woods (Usually used to make toys and hides)
One of the best treats to give your chinchilla are apple sticks. These small sticks are the perfect treat with their sweet-tasting wood bark and healthy, dense wood. Avoid using wooden toy balls. Chinchillas can easily get their head trapped in these toys and suffocate.
Chinchillas will eat plenty of native plants in the wild to give them a good balance of minerals and vitamins essential for optimum health. As a pet, chinchillas can eat the same dried herbs and benefit from the nutrients. Some great dried herbs to give your chinchilla include rosemary, hibiscus, strawberry, blackberry leaves, or dandelion roots. Give your chinchilla about a teaspoon of dried herbs a few times a week. The herbs can be given by hand or mixed into their daily food.
Fruits are an excellent source of Vitamin C for your chinchilla. Giving your pet chinchilla dried fruits can help supplement their pellet food diet. Try to give your chinchilla dried banana, apple, or pineapple. It is safe to give your pet chinchilla dried fruits about two or three times per week. Remember that fruit has a high sugar content, so be sure not to overdo your feeding. As an additional treat, chinchillas love raisins and dried cranberries. These small, bite-sized fruits can be given to your chinchilla to reward good behavior or learn a new trick. Like other fruits, though, be sure to provide cranberries and raisins sparingly due to the high sugar content.
In the wild, chinchillas live in the high Andes Mountains but occasionally may find fresh fruit. Giving your pet chinchilla some fresh fruit can be the ultimate treat. It is perfectly safe to give your chinchilla pear, apple, or strawberry. Cut the fresh fruit into a bite-size piece, no bigger than your chinchilla’s paw. It is safe to give your chinchilla fresh fruit about once per week. Like dried fruit, fresh fruit contains a large amount of sugar that can be harmful in large quantities.
Dried marigold flowers are a tasty treat to give your chinchilla. These flowers can be readily found at online distributors. There are several minerals and vitamins packed into marigold flowers, making them a healthy treat option. It is safe to give your chinchilla marigold flowers about once or twice a week in small amounts. Marigold flowers can be hidden throughout the cage, encouraging natural behaviors to discover the tasty treat.
One of the best treats you can give your chinchilla is dried rose hips. These leafy herbs are the perfect source of vitamin C for your chinchilla. Not only would a wild chinchilla have access to this treat in the wild, but it is delicious too. It is perfectly alright to give your chinchilla some dried rose hips about three or four times a week, in small amounts.
What to Avoid
Unfortunately, chinchillas are delicate animals with sensitive stomachs and digestive systems. There are plenty of foods and treats that may be suitable for other pets that you’ll want to avoid with a chinchilla. Some foods to avoid are:
- Citrus Fruits – Avoid giving your chinchilla lemons, oranges, or limes. These fruits contain a large number of fatty acids, which your pet may have trouble digesting.
- Corn – Although corn may seem like a staple for rodents, it can be fatal for chinchillas. Not only does corn grow mold and fungus from poor storing practices, but it can also cause bloat in chinchillas which can be fatal.
- Watery Fruits – Avoid giving your chinchilla fresh fruit that has a high water content like watermelon. Not only are these fruits high in sugar, but they could cause your chinchilla digestion distress with the high water content.
- Nuts and Seeds – Giving your chinchilla nuts and seeds can be dangerous. Nuts and seeds contain a great deal of fat which can damage your chinchilla’s liver. Over time, a diet that consists mainly of nuts and seeds can cause internal organ failure and eventual death.
- Store-Bought Chinchilla Treats – Although there may be plenty of commercially available treats for your chinchilla, you’ll want to steer clear of these options. Often, store-bought chinchilla treats are high in sugar, fat, and preservatives which can be dangerous for your pet. On occasion, you may be able to give your pet chinchilla a single, whole grain Cheerio (but avoid honey-nut varieties).