Basic information on healthy chinchilla nutrition


  • main feed
  • complementary feed
  • treats
  • water

Our food pyramid gives an overview of the importance these feeding elements have:

Futher information about the 4 particular elements follows now:

Main Feed

Folivorous small mammals like chinchillas, degus, guinea pigs, rabbits etc. should be mainly fed with green fodder and roughage as in  nature. Only this kind of diet ensures a flawless digestion without dysbiosis or other dyspepsiae (like diarrhea), an optimal dental wearing, and prevents behavioural disorders


Overview of green fodder and roughage:

  • herbage
  • blooms, flowers
  • leaves, foliage, bark, branches (incl. leafage, buds, blossoms)
  • grass
  • species-rich hay, straw
  • roots
  • foliage plants and parts of foliage plants from cultivated plants like corn leaves, endive, carrot greens, rape
  • edible houseplants such as Golliwoog or Tradeskatien

and may be fed daily additionally to green stuff and roughage. Individual preferences should be respected because vegetables are rather disliked by many Chins. Endive, lettuce hearts, apples, pears or carrots for example are liked. Fruit and vegetables contain dietary fibres, vitamins, minerals and lots of water but overall less phytochemicals and fibres as wild plants, and they also contain acid and fructose. Therefore, they are no alternative to wild plants but a healthy supplement. Dried vegetables and fruit, however, are no main food but energy food or treats.

Complementary Food

Energy food counts among complementary food. Elements of energy food are:

  • a mixture of seeds
  • Compound feed (Popular components for a self-made compound feed are tomatoes, peppers, rose hips, beetroot, potatoes, topinampur, broccoli, cauliflower, zucchini, cucumber, carrot, various stems (chervil, dill, parsley), savoy cabbage, dandelion roots - you can too mix these components with various seeds)
  • complete feed pellets (only recommended under reservation, esp. for new chinchilla owners and only several brands)
  • commercial food consisting of pellets, extrudates, vegetables, grains etc. (not recommendable!)

A big amount of energy food is necessary during pregnancy, lactation, disease, and underweight/ emaciation. The energy food has to be reduced if the chins have overweight or if they eat too little of their main food.

It is possible to feed alternating types of energy food or just one kind.

For detailed description of seeds as energy food see here.


Recommendation: at most 1-2x small treats per animal per day, e.g. used for taming or as a reward. What treats are suitable and unsuitable, you can read here: treats for chinchillas (in German)


Water has to be provided ad libitum, either in a dish or a bottle. According to studies, small mammals prefer drinking from water bowls, and thus their water intake is bigger. Read more about the study:

Further reading (in German)