The familiar food is continued to be offered to the chinchillas in steps 1-4. Additionally, new food is gradually introduced.
One should not be unduly alarmed by the many warnings on the internet: Most chinchillas tolerate a diet transition without issues, even if it is done quickly.
These tips are primarily aimed at pet owners whose chinchillas have been on a one-sided diet, such as only hay and commercial dry food or pellets. However, they are also relevant for owners looking to diversify their chinchilla's diet.
Important note: Hay is crucial in every diet and is part of the main food.
The following sequence has proven to be gentle and sensible when transitioning the diet:
Introducing a Dried Herb-Leaf-Flower Mix
A diverse mixture of dried herbs, flowers, and leaves can be introduced immediately, i.e., for free consumption, so it never runs out. You don't need to painstakingly introduce each type of herb separately; you can offer a diverse herb mix right away.
You can choose from pre-made mixes that you can later expand with additional plants as needed.
In the end, you should provide a daily mixture of at least 30 different forage plants
Introducing Fresh Greens
As an initial step, suitable fresh greens to introduce include endive, chicory (a natural probiotic, great for diet transitions), dandelion with flowers, plantain, lettuce, basil, and branches from apple, willow, birch, and hazelnut trees. For a list of suitable plants for introducing fresh greens, please refer to: https://www.chinchilla-scientia.com/english-corner/nutrition/list-of-unproblematic-plants-for-starting-with-fresh-feed/
Introduce one type at a time. Start with 1-2 leaves of, for example, dandelion or a small branch with 2-3 leaves. Gradually increase the amount, and ideally, there should be some greens left over the next day.
If, for instance, chicory was well-tolerated on the first day, it may (but does not have to) be offered again on the following day, alongside an additional or new type of fresh greens.
Potentially bloating plants like clover should be introduced at the very end and only if no commercial mixed food or grain-based pellets are being provided.
Introducing Fresh Fruit and Other Fresh Vegetables
For starters, suitable options include apples, blueberries, rose hips, as well as grapes or carrots with their greens. More details can be found here: https://www.chinchilla-scientia.com/english-corner/nutrition/list-of-unproblematic-plants-for-starting-with-fresh-feed/
Introduce one type at a time. Begin with a small slice of apple, for example. If it is well-tolerated, you can offer a different juicy food on the following day. Please note that chinchillas should not receive fresh fruit and vegetables too frequently (approximately 2-4 times a week) and not in excessive amounts.
Potentially bloating varieties like cabbage should be introduced at the very end and only if no commercial mixed food or grain-based pellets are being provided.
Introducing Seeds or Another High-Energy Feed