What Do Chinchillas Eat?


A cute animal with dark, slightly sad eyes appeared in our homes relatively recently – two or three decades ago. For almost two centuries, the word "chinchilla" has been associated with excess profits, idleness and luxury. It is not easy to please an exotic animal – it eats something rare and very, very tasty many thought so. And they were very surprised to learn that they eat chinchillas, like real ascetics – simple rough food, moreover, a spoonful a day.

Little chincha

The birthplace of chinchillas is the highlands of the Andes. The Chinch Indians once considered this animal to be their totem, "little brother." Hence the name Chinchilla, it means "little chincha."

In fact, the chinchilla has a relative porcupine. They belong to the same suborder. But instead of needles, this animal is dressed in the most delicate fur, moreover, it is very thick and warm. Alas, the fur served the chinchilla poor service – in the homeland it is almost exterminated.

What Do Chinchillas Eat?

There are at least two types of chinchillas:

  • Long-tailed (C. Lanigera) – one that has become a pet. Weight – from 400 to 700 grams, body length on average 25 cm, tail – about 12 cm. Some scientists divide the view into two subspecies – mountain (la plata) and river (costina);
  • The large short-tailed (C. Brevicaudata) is a species that has not been found in nature for a long time, and apparently has disappeared.

Above all, a short-tailed chinchilla climbed into the mountains, living (or, alas, living) on ​​the border of eternal snows. The long-tail chinchilla of the subspecies la plata has mastered heights of 2 to 3 thousand meters above sea level. The river chinchilla, in comparison with the relatives, settled in comfort: it has at its disposal a variety of floodplain vegetation, besides evergreen.

The harsh homeland of chinchillas

Mountain chinchilla can be distinguished from the river chinchilla in a peculiar profile with a hump. The nasal cavity of the animal is increased, which allows you to get more oxygen in the thin air of the mountains. Her ears and tail are shorter than costina’s, and her fur is lighter.

The harsh conditions of the Andean semi-deserts made the chinchilla appreciate every calorie from that meager food that they manage to get. Its digestive system is able to break down and absorb even coarse cellulose. The long intestine of the animal, especially the large intestine, is populated by rich microflora. Wild chinchilla receives water from succulent plants, “grinds” cacti, and where it does not exist, it is content with dew.

Chinchilla prefers several species of plants, near their thickets arranges its colonies. Algarobilla (lat. Balsamocarpon brevifolium) and atutema (Llagunoa glandulosa) are eaten almost completely, like rumpiat (Bridgesia incisifolia). The rodent of the Alcaparra inflorescence (Cassia flaccida) is attracted, and the wild artichoke (cardon) is considered a treat.

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What Do Chinchillas Eat?

Chinchilla climbs branches well, and if the shoots are thin, it simply cuts them so that the fruits fall to the ground. She also loves bulbs and rhizomes, but they rarely get it: her delicate paws are completely unsuitable for digging activity.

When drought comes, the animal can live by looking for skinny bunches of grass, gnawing moss and lichen from stones. Under the incisors, the bark disappears along with the upper layer of wood, and even last year’s foliage from under the bushes is considered fit for food. Chinchillas are not peculiar to roam in search of food: they are typical homebodies, try to graze as close to shelter as possible and hide themselves between the stones with the slightest alarm. They have many natural enemies – foxes, small marten, birds of prey. The animal is secretive, shy and goes to feed mainly at dusk.

The rodent raids the pantries of its neighbors – chinchilla rats. More often sneaks through, and sometimes decides to open robbery, with a noisy skirmish and a fight. Outraged owners can not always put out a daring guest. Yes, this "ball with ears" is able to attack! The chinchilla rises to its hind legs, grumbles, claps its teeth, splashes urine towards the enemy; if the enemy has not retreated, launches the incisors. The chinchilla does not make its own supplies.

Females carry offspring 110 days. During pregnancy, they need protein food and diversify the diet with insects; mainly their moths become night moths, crickets and others. Cubs from one to four are born strong, barely dry, able to run and hide. They try solid food in the first week of life, but eat mainly milk for up to two months.

What Do Chinchillas Eat?

Homemade chinchilla

Today, chinchilla is not only an object of fur farming, but also a pet. The charming animal easily gets used to the owners and becomes completely tame. A significant advantage of chinchilla is that it is a very modest eater. The only thing that should always be in the cage is fresh hay and clean water, the rest is given in very small portions.

Excess food for a rodent is much more harmful than a lack. He can live a week on hay and water, while remaining alert and without losing weight. And after a plentiful feast of fresh vegetables, you will most likely need the help of a veterinarian. Why wild relatives can eat plenty of greens and berries, and the domestic chinchilla is forced to "diet"? The fault is the lack of movement. In order for digestion to proceed normally, the animal must move a lot and actively. In addition, the intestinal microflora in chinchillas is very specific and vulnerable.

When buying a chinchilla, you always need to take a two-week supply of the usual food for it with it, otherwise there is a risk of losing the animal.

Granular feed

Dry food is the best option for those who have started a chinchilla for the first time. The composition of the dry food is balanced, it contains everything necessary for life. It usually includes several cereals and dried herbs, as additives are present milk powder, bone meal and yeast. The food is enriched with vitamins, and crushed flaxseed is used as emollient. A prerequisite for the dry method of feeding is the presence of fresh water in the cell.

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Chinchillas are fed once a day, in the evening, when they are most active. It should be guided by the norms indicated on the package. On average, one animal eats 30-40 grams of granules (a tablespoon with top). The uneaten feed is removed. If desired, a chinchilla can always “kill a worm” with hay, this is not contraindicated, but rather useful. Hay is perhaps the only thing you can eat chinchillas without restriction. If you want to pamper your pet or lure it into a cage after a walk, then raisins (1-2 raisins per day) or a dried apple slice are perfect.

Grain mixtures

Many owners like to cook their own food for their pets. Chinchillas grain mixtures are based on traditional cereals, as well as vital additives. While observing the technology, this approach has a number of advantages, of which the main ones are economy and the ability to adapt the composition of the mixture to the tastes and physiological state of each animal.

It is not necessary to store food for the future, just 3 kg of grain mixture per chinchilla is enough. Take in equal proportions, 0.5 kg each:

  • Fresh wheat (the one that goes for germination);
  • Wheat bran;
  • Rye;
  • Oats or oatmeal;
  • Corn (the more ripe and firmer it is, the better);
  • Barley;
  • Millet.

Grain is chosen clean, without dust, mold and foreign inclusions. Bone flour, dried yeast, ground flaxseed and skimmed milk powder are added to the basic composition – about 5% of the total volume of the mixture. Pregnant and lactating females, as well as young animals during the period of active growth, the proportion of protein food is increased to 10%.

Mineral (not iodized) salt, and preferably salt stone, should always be available to animals. Chalk is also needed, which can be replaced with calcium gluconate tablets. Vitamins are taken for rodents; they are dosed in accordance with the recommendations and added to water.

Green and succulent feed

Chinchillas include greens, vegetables, fruits, nuts and root vegetables, but very carefully and in small doses.

Every day they give only one of the treats and carefully monitor the condition of the animal.

The safest treat and source of vitamins is an apple. It is cut into 6 slices, dried and given a slice per day. Carrots and parsley root cut into rings are also pre-dried; daily rate – one slice. Barberry, dogrose and hawthorn, peeled from seeds, currants, strawberries – everything can be offered to a pet, one berry per day. Berries should be washed and dried. Pumpkin seeds are good as a preventative measure against worms. For enhanced nutrition give nuts (pistachios, hazel) – no more than half a nut.

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Chinchilla eagerly eats tea leaves. A pinch of black or green tea without flavoring will serve as a good astringent. And if you need a mild laxative, a small, pea-sized piece of beet will help.

Sharpen teeth

The rodent must constantly grind the incisors, for which he is offered branches of various trees and shrubs, except stone fruit and coniferous. In the bark of plums, cherries, apricots contains hydrocyanic acid. Coniferous resin clogs the digestive tract, and oak can cause constipation. Suitable birch, apple, linden, poplar, willow, currant, hazel and other species of the middle strip. Bark and wood perfectly stimulate the intestines, although this can not be called a full-fledged food.

For the prevention of vitamin deficiency, branches with fresh (but not sticky) leaves and buds, as well as flowers, are good. Collect them outside the city, away from highways. Give in a dry form, 1-2 small branches.

When they ate something wrong

Is the pet sad, the fur coat has lost its shine, and even a bathing suit with sand does not attract him? As a rule, this is the result of too generous or unusual treats. You should contact your veterinarian, but you will have to give first aid yourself, and as soon as possible.

An activated carbon tablet is always welcome – instinct will tell the animal, and he himself will begin to gnaw it. If constipation is observed, give 2-3 drops of linseed oil through a pipette or offer a piece of prune. With diarrhea, all food (except hay) is removed from the cage for a day. Will help Smecta and oak bark as a binder; it is useful to add a potassium permanganate crystal to water. The patient’s stomach should be warmed with a palm and massage gently.

Chinchillas live long – 20 years or more. Proper care and proper nutrition will guarantee that this pleasant, affectionate and very clean little animal will delight the owners and their guests every day.

Satisfied and satisfied, the chinchilla is swimming in the sand

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