Basics: Healthy Chinchilla Nutrition

General Information

 The diet of chinchillas consists of four components:

  • Main Food: Fresh and dried greens/hay
  • Supplementary Food: Fresh vegetables and fruits
  • Treats
  • Water

Further details about these four components will now be provided.

1. Main Food

The main food for every folivorous small mammal (such as chinchillas, degus, guinea pigs, rabbits, and others) should be greens and roughage, just as it is in their natural habitat. Only this diet ensures impeccable digestion without fermentation issues, disruptions in gut flora, and their consequences (like diarrhea). It also promotes optimal tooth abrasion and helps prevent behavioral anomalies.

An overview of roughage and greens includes:

  • Herbs
  • Flowers and blooms
  • Leaves, foliage, bark, twigs (including leaves, buds, and blossoms)
  • Grasses
  • Diverse types of hay and straw
  • Green plant parts from cultivated plants, leafy vegetables, and greens, e.g., corn leaves, chicory, carrot tops, rapeseed
  • Edible houseplants such as spider plants, bromeliads, Callisia repens/Golliwoog, or tradescantia

Roughage and greens should always be available in unlimited quantities and variety within the cage for your chinchillas!

2. Supplementary Food

Fresh vegetables (root, tuber, and fruit vegetables) and fruits can be fed to chinchillas in addition to (not instead of) their greens and roughage, but in limited amounts.

Please note: Leafy vegetables and greens are considered part of the greens and roughage category and thus fall under the main food category. They can be a valuable substitute for fresh herbs, especially during the winter months.

Fresh fruits and vegetables contain fiber, vitamins, a high water content, but overall, they have fewer valuable plant compounds and fibers compared to wild plants. They also contain more energy, acidity, and fruit sugars, which can lead to quicker satiation and contribute less to tooth abrasion. Excessive consumption can disrupt the balance of gut flora. For these reasons, they are not a complete replacement for greens, especially wild plants. However, in small quantities, they can be a healthy addition or a welcomed treat. Dried vegetables and fruits, on the other hand, should ideally be avoided altogether because the sugar content and other components are concentrated due to the low water content.

When feeding, it's essential to consider individual preferences, as many chinchillas may not be fond of vegetables. Some popular options include apples, rose hips, various berries, or carrots.

3. Treats

Recommendation: A maximum of 1-2 small treats per animal per day, for example, for taming or as a reward.

Healthy treats:

  • Almond slices
  • Sunflower seeds
  • Pumpkin seeds
  • Pine nuts
  • A small piece of FRESH fruit, such as an apple slice, a raspberry, a fresh rose hip, etc.

For more information on this topic: Treats for chinchillas (in German)

4. Water

Water should be available ad libitum, which means without restriction, either in a bowl or a bottle. According to studies, small mammals prefer to drink from water bowls and can thus consume more fluids.

For further information on this topic:

4. Special Case: Animals with Increased Nutritional Needs


1. Chinchillas with special needs (pregnancy, nursing, growth, illness, age) require an individually tailored amount of concentrated feed in addition to what has been mentioned above.Chinchillas with special needs (such as during pregnancy, nursing, growth, illness, or in old age) may require an individually tailored amount of concentrated feed in addition to what has been mentioned above.

2. If you follow our recommendations (a minimum of 30 different dried plants, branches, hay, fresh food), chinchillas with special needs can be given a seed mix. However, if you cannot ensure this diverse variety of food and provide too few different herbs in unlimited quantities or no fresh food, it is advisable to use specific pellets instead of seeds: Pellet List


For these animals, the nutrition pyramid looks as follows: