Chinchilla food that fits the bill

Chinchilla treats can be handy to encourage your pets to take food from your hand. But what food can chinchillas eat? And what else can you do to keep things fun and interesting for them?
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16th October 2020

Chinchilla treats can be handy to encourage your pets to take food from your hand. But what food can chinchillas eat? And what else can you do to keep things fun and interesting for them?

Wild chinchillas like to munch away on grasses, leaves, twigs, bark, roots, stems and seeds, holding the food in their forepaws. These shy, super furry animals also have a very sensitive digestive system, so, as pets, it’s essential that we feed them a diet that replicates what they would feed on naturally to help them stay happy and healthy.

Start with the hay

Pet chinchillas need plenty of fresh, high-quality feeding hay – not bedding hay, which lacks nutritional value. You can mix and match to see which variety your chins like best:

  • EXCEL LONG STEM FEEDING HAY Timothy Hay, grown on a Yorkshire farm, cut at the right time and dried within 48 hours. It’s high in fibre, which aids digestion, while the long stems satisfy both chewing and natural foraging. It also comes in a resealable bag so there’s less mess and it’s nice and fresh right down to the last tasty stalk!
  • EXCEL FEEDING HAY DRIED FRESH GRASS Barn-dried grass harvested straight from the field is an excellent source of good quality, long fibre. Dust extracted to prevent respiratory problems
  • EXCEL FEEDING HAY WITH DANDELION & MARIGOLD A sweet-smelling Timothy Hay with Dandelion and Marigold that’s high in Beneficial Fibre and contains 100% natural ingredients. Barn dried and dust extracted to prevent respiratory problems.

Constant access to high quality hay will also help your chinchillas' dental health. Their teeth grow continuously throughout their life and need to be worn down and kept at the correct length and shape by chomping on plenty of fresh, tasty hay. 


As crepuscular rodents, who are most active at dawn and dusk, chinchillas tend to feed early morning or late in the evening.

On to the nuggets

Each of your chinchillas will require an eggcup-full sized portion of tasty Excel Chinchilla Nuggets every day to ensure they are getting all the vitamins and nutrients they need to keep them in tip top health. This complementary food contains: 

  • Vitamin C for healthy skin, coat and gums
  • Vitamin A to maintain healthy eyesight
  • Vitamin E to maintain a healthy immune system
  • Naturally high in beneficial fibre to maintain good digestive health

Steer clear of muesli-style foods. This is because chinchillas can be fussy eaters, picking out the unhealthy bits and leaving the rest. This selective feeding can lead to an imbalanced diet that’s lacking in calcium, phosphorus and vitamin D and low in fibre, which can have very serious consequences. The unhealthy ingredients in muesli-style foods are high in sugar and starch, which are difficult for chinchillas to digest and can lead to obesity and serious health problems.

Chinchillas also need constant access to fresh, clean drinking water from a suitable water bottle with a metal spout.


Just like rabbits and guinea pigs, chinchillas perform a digestive process called caecotrophy to extract as much goodness as possible from their food. Simply put – they eat their droppings (caecotrophs), allowing many important nutrients to be reingested.

Top up with tasty treats

Chinchilla-friendly treats are great for keeping these small, inquisitive pets busy, which really benefits their emotional health – and there are some delicious varieties to try:

  • EXCEL COUNTRY GARDEN HERBS Chinchillas prefer dead and dry leaves to fresh leaves and this delicious blend of herbs and foliage is great to mix through feeding hay to help increase fibre intake and add variety and interest to your chins’ diet. Naturally air dried with no additives.
  • EXCEL MOUNTAIN MEADOW HERBS An irresistible blend of aromatic herbs and flowers, including calming chamomile.
  • EXCEL GNAW STICKS Chomping on Excel Nature Snacks Gnaw Sticks, made from 100% natural, wholesome ingredients – willow, apple and hazel – provides great environmental enrichment, keeping your chins occupied, which is brilliant for their emotional health.

You can add some extra chewing fun by providing your chins with untreated softwood to gnaw on. Before you give your pets any softwood branches to chew, bake them on a low heat for an hour and give them a good wash to make sure they’re chinchilla safe. Good woods to use are: Apple, elm, hawthorn, hazelnut, pear, poplar and quince.

Chinchillas can eat very small amounts of fresh food but you need to be extremely careful. There are several foods that are poisonous to chinchillas, including asparagus, avocado, peas, cabbage, corn, lettuce, broccoli, spinach, rhubarb or rhubarb leaves. 

Why choose Burgess Excel Chinchilla Food, Hay and Treats?

Did you know that 92% of UK vets recommend our Excel range? What’s more, at Burgess, all our pet food is produced in line with FEDIAF (the European pet food industry federation) nutritional guidelines. These guidelines, which are based on many pieces of published research, helps us to calculate the nutrient content and dietary components required to ensure all our foods meet the detailed nutritional requirements for the pets they are designed for.

Add some foraging fun

Wild chinchillas spend most of their waking hours searching for food. You can recreate this for your pet chins to keep them occupied and to encourage their natural behaviour:

  • Scatter their daily nuggets allowance around their cage instead of feeding from a bowl. This is also a really good way to feed your chinchillas if one is very protective of the food bowl and often stops others getting their fair share.
  • Hide hay, nuggets and herbs in paper bags, cardboard tubes and boxes.
  • Try out some special activity toys suitable for small animals, such as maze boards and treat balls that you can put some of their daily ration of nuggets in for them to forage for.
  • Chinchillas love to chew and carry stuff, so why not treat them to a luxury chew pack made from natural, untreated wood, coir and seagrass fashioned into interesting shapes such as balls, wreaths, stars and sticks. 
  • Chins also adore shredding things such as banana Leaves, cardboard, unbleached loofah and coconut shells.


It’s best not to make any sudden changes to your chinchillas’ diet as this may make them very ill. Always introduce new diets gradually. A sign of a healthy chinchilla is when he/she is eating every day and passing plenty of dry droppings. 

If you are at all unsure about the best way of feeding your chinchillas or have any concerns about specific nutritional requirements at different times of their life, ask your local veterinary practice for advice. 

You can also call our expert team on 44 (0)0800 413 969 who’ll be happy to help. They’re available 9am-5pm, Monday to Friday.

Alternatively, you can use our online form to get in touch.


Is your dog a Burgess dog? Join the Burgess Pet Club for exclusive offers and rewards.

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