Oregon Chinchilla Rescue

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Providing a chinchilla with the proper nutrition can make an impact on their health, well-being, quality of life, and how long they live for. It's really important that a chinchilla has 24/7 access to food and clean water (unless otherwise directed by your veterinarian). Failing to provide proper food food can cause their intestinal tract to slow and eventually shut down (referred to as GI Stasis). GI Stasis in chinchillas is very serious, painful, and life-threating. If a chinchilla should get this it's treatments and feeding schedules should not be taken lightly.

Quality Chinchilla Pellets

Pellets should be just that, pellets. Don't purchase any that have treats or other things mixed in with them. You should also ALWAYS check the manufacture date or expiration date of the bag of food you purchase. Some stores will sell pellets that should be discarded. It's really important to remember that not all pellets are equal and just because they look like another brand or type of feed does not make it so.

​We recommend Oxbow Chinchilla Essentials (but NOT the Garden Select or Simple Harvest). Mazuri is also considered to be an acceptable pellet, however a lot of chins that are fed Mazuri have a tendency to get loose stools.

Although it has become common to use specific forms of rabbit feed, I suggest sticking to actual chinchilla pellets. Both Mazuri and Oxbow can be found in smaller bags as well as 25 lb bags. A single chinchilla will eat anywhere from 2 to 3 lbs of pellets in a single month. Pellets are best stored in an airtight container. A chinchilla will eat 2-3 Tablespoons of pellets daily.

Whenever you need to switch the type of pellets you feed, you need to do so SLOWLY. This is very important. For this I personally transition them over a period of a few weeks. Week 1, I take 25% of their new feed and mix it with 75% of their old feed. Week 2, I take 50% of their new feed and mix it with 50% of their old feed. Week 3, I take 75% of their new feed and mix it with 25% of their old feed. For the 4th week, they will be eating 100% of their new feed.

When switching from Oxbow to Mazuri it can be helpful to remember that a chin can have loose stools (diarrhea), this is due to the Mazuri food having a higher sugar content.

Although you can order your pellets online, I have started to recommend that people find some place local to purchase your pellets from. This gives you a little bit of a chance to inspect the bag and mill/expiration date before you purchase it and won't leave you in a bind should you receive a bad shipment, or have it be out of stock (as many places are during this Corona pandemic).

Tip: Do not place any "treats" in your chins pellet dish with their food. This will generally make any chinchilla dig through their pellets in search of more goodies, thus wasting pellets.

Please note: While the chinchilla industry typically goes through cycles of recommending a variety of pellets that were manufactured for other species (such as senior equine pellets), it seems that after a period of time they are found to not be suitable for use in chinchillas. Therefore, I highly recommend that you stick with either Mazuri, or the Oxbow Essentials chinchilla pellets.

Quality Loose Hay


Quality loose hay should be the bulk of your chinchillas diet and should be available to your chinchilla at all times. Hay cubes are great as goodies though, and alfalfa is generally limited to just being used a treat. Timothy is the most recommended hay for chinchillas.

While loose hay can be messy, it is a necessity as it helps to wear down a chins back teeth. If a chinchilla is not adequately wearing down its back teeth it can grow teeth spurs or acquire other dental issues. Dental issues are a serious matter when it comes to chinchillas and it can be life-threatening.

Store extra hay in a dry location away from pests. When purchasing hay it should have color to it, when it is all yellow it has little to no nutritional value left in it and therefore should be avoided.

Although you can order your hay online, I have started to recommend that people find some place local to purchase your hay from. This gives you a little bit of a chance to inspect it before you purchase it and it won't leave you in a bind should you receive a bad shipment, or have it be out of stock.

Things To Avoid

Salt Licks (or excess dietary sodium)

Chinchillas are not equipped to digest a large amount of fats. Seeds and nuts are high in fat and are very well known for causing "Fatty Liver" disease in chinchillas. This often makes the liver not function properly OR will make the liver not function at all. Sadly it will often kill them before you are ever given any indication of ill health.
<br open="" color="color" style="\\\\" "="" strong="" font-family="font-family"> Fruits and Vegetables (and excess dietary sugar)
It was once recommended that people give their chinchillas fruits and vegetables, unfortunately these can cause bloating, diarrhea, and vitamin/mineral/nutrient imbalance or deficiency. Chinchillas are also prone to diabetes and the likelihood of them getting it raises with the amount of sugar that it's fed.