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What’s The Best Diet To Feed Your Chinchilla?

What’s The Best Diet To Feed Your Chinchilla?

Wild chinchillas, who live in the rocky slopes of the Andes Mountains of South America, like to munch away on grasses, leaves, twigs, bark, roots and stems. So, pet chinchillas need to eat chinchilla food that’s high in fibre and replicates what they would eat naturally.

Chinchillas are herbivores and hay should form the main part of their diet. High quality feeding hay (not bedding hay, which has little nutritional value) is an excellent source of fibre and plays a vital part in digestion. Chinchillas need to keep their digestive systems busy with a mix of digestible fibre and indigestible fibre moving through the gut at all times.

Chomping on hay also helps wear down their continually growing teeth so they are kept at the correct length and shape.

Chinchillas are really sensitive to sugar and can suffer from obesity if given incorrect chinchilla feed, which can lead to many other health problems.

What should a chinchilla diet consist of?

If you’re wondering what to feed your chinchillas, their diet should comprise:

You can also include some yummy, healthy nature snacks to add enrichment to their chinchilla diet. These are great for hand feeding, helping you to build your bond with your chinchilla chums.


What fresh foods can chinchillas eat?

You can offer around a teaspoon-sized portion a day per chinchilla of fresh herbs and leafy greens such as basil, sage, parsley or coriander.

Chinchillas naturally live on barren land where many vegetables and fruits can’t grow, so they are likely to get an upset tummy if they eat foods such as apples and carrots. Grapes and banana are very high in sugar and are also best avoided in a chinchilla’s diet.


What healthy treats can go on my chinchilla food list?

Chinchillas have a simple, dry diet in the wild, so treats should be kept to a minimum and ideally dried to avoid unpleasant tummy upsets.

Chinchilla-safe treats include:


What food should chinchillas avoid?

There are several foods that should be avoided in a chinchilla’s diet because they’re either poisonous, or can cause health or digestive issues, including:

  • Chinchilla muesli – muesli-based diets encourage selective feeding, where chins pick out the high starch/sugary components while rejecting the more fibrous pellets, meaning they won’t get the nutrition they need.
  • Sweet treats – anything high in sugar is dangerous to feed to chinchillas.
  • Nuts and seeds– these are high in fat, which is no good for a chinchilla’s delicate digestion.
  • Fruit – including citrus fruits, apples, blueberries, rhubarb and banana.
  • Vegetables– including lettuce, cabbage, spinach, celery, carrots, sweetcorn, broccoli, peas, asparagus and avocado.

If you’re not sure if something’s safe to include in your chinchillas’ diet, it’s best avoided.


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Quick tip

Chinchillas need lots of feeding hay in their diet. Hay is naturally abrasive and helps to wear their teeth down.

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Did you know?

Did you know?

Chinchillas are prone to selective feeding! When fed a muesli style diet, they pick out the sugary bits and leave behind the good fibre. Chinchillas are really sensitive to sugar, so this can lead to all kinds of health problems, including obesity. Feeding your chinchillas high fibre nuggets, instead of muesli, can help prevent these health issues!

How to feed your chinchillas

As crepuscular rodents, who are most active at dawn and dusk, chinchillas feed in the early morning and late evening and eat by sitting on their haunches, holding the food in their forepaws.

Wild chinchillas spend most of their waking hours searching for food. You can encourage this natural behaviour by scattering their chinchilla food around their accommodation, hiding hay, nuggets, herbs and forage mixes in paper bags, cardboard tubes and boxes.

Chinchillas also love chewing and shredding things such as banana Leaves, cardboard, unbleached loofah, hay bars, seagrass toys and coconut shells. You can add some extra chewing fun by providing untreated softwood, such as apple, elm, hawthorn, hazelnut, pear, poplar or quince twigs.


Why choose Burgess Excel for your chinchilla food?

Our chinchilla food has been developed with their specific needs in mind, so you know your furry friends will be getting the exact nutrients that they need when you choose Burgess.

Made at our very own factory in the heart of Yorkshire, we use only the highest-quality ingredients so you can give your chinchilla the very best.

Select from our range of chinchilla food, treats and hay and get free delivery when you spend over £25.


The Burgess Excel Plan

Following our Excel feeding plan will ensure that your chinchillas get the correct balance of fibre, vitamins and minerals. 85-90% of a chinchilla’s diet should be high quality, dust extracted feeding hay. This should be supplemented with a small portion of Excel nuggets, the occasional Gnaw Stick, Excel Country Garden Herbs or Excel Mountain Meadow Herbs, a small handful of fresh greens and plenty of fresh water.

Chinchillas are herbivores who live on a plant-based diet, however we like to call them ‘fibrevores’ as fibre is by far the most important part of their diet and is essential for their gut and dental health.

The Excel Feeding Plan


Types of Fibre

Chinchillas always need to keep their digestive systems busy with a mix of two kinds of fibre moving through the gut. These types of fibre are called digestible fibre and indigestible fibre. Chinchillas get this fibre mainly from good quality hay – we’d recommend Burgess Excel Feeding Hay!

Chinchillas can’t get enough nutrition from fibre when it passes through their gut the first time. So chinchillas excrete soft, sticky-type droppings, called caecotrophs. They then re-eat them for vital nutrition. Burgess Excel has been specifically formulated to have all of the vitamins and minerals your chinchillas need.

Digestible fibre is moved up into an organ called the caecum. This acts like a giant appendix. Good bacteria in the caecum ferment the fibre, making it easy to digest. This emerges in the form of clumps of sticky droppings – we call these droppings caecotrophs. Chinchillas then re-eat the caecotrophs directly from their bottom and the essential nutrients are then absorbed when the digestible fibre passes through for the second time.


Indigestible fibre is moved through their digestive system and excreted as separate, round, hard droppings. This type of fibre keeps the digestive system moving and your chinchillas’ appetites stimulated.


Beneficial Fibre

If chinchillas don’t get the right amounts of both digestible and indigestible fibre, it can rapidly lead to serious health problems. At Excel, we call the correct ratio of these two types of fibre ‘Beneficial Fibre’.

Sticking to The Excel Feeding Plan will ensure your chinchillas get the right amounts of fibre in their diet. The Excel Feeding Plan was developed in conjunction with one of the world’s leading small-animal vets, to provide a perfect daily balance of fibre and nutrition.

Our chinchilla range

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Burgess Excel Chinchilla Nuggets is a delicious, complementary food - great for your chinchillas at any age!

It's high in Beneficial Fibre and rich in vitamins A, C and E to help support their eyesight, coat and immune system. Feed them Excel Nuggets every day as part of the Excel Feeding Plan.

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Good quality feeding hay is essential to your chinchillas' diet. Burgess Excel Feeding Hay is made from 100% natural ingredients and is a great source of good quality, long fibre.

Grown in the UK, with added dandelion and marigold our feeding hay is high in beneficial fibre to help keep your chinchillas happy and healthy.

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Our range of Burgess Nature Snacks are great to keep your chinchillas entertained. Sprinkle them throughout their Excel Feeding Hay to encourage their natural foraging!

Remember to feed your chinchillas the right diet by following the Excel Feeding Plan.

Transitioning to Excel nuggets

Transition your chinchillas’ diet over a period of 14 – 28 days by gradually reducing the old food and replacing it with Burgess Excel Nuggets.

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Don’t forget the hay!

& ensure there is plenty of fresh water available.

Need more advice?

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

You can also call our expert team, available 9am-5pm, Monday to Friday, on +44 (0)1405 862241 who’ll be happy to help. Alternatively, use our online contact form to get in touch.

Are your chinchillas Burgess chinchillas? Join the Burgess Pet Club for exclusive offers and rewards.