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If I have to use three words to describe chinchillas, then I would say that they are cute, fluffy and unique.
They are unique in the sense that as compared to other animals they are very picky eaters, and you can’t just feed them anything that you want to otherwise they would get seriously ill.
As they have a sensitive digestive system, therefore, eating anything that does not suit their stomach could cause damage to their health.
What do chinchillas like to eat?
Chinchillas are herbivores, which mean that their diet revolves around leaves, plants, certain tree barks, grass, etc.
You can say that these animals have a quite boring diet as they don’t eat meat and stay away from specific fruits and vegetables.
Even in the wild, chinchillas tend to stay away from fruits and vegetables most of the times and stick to food items that enriched with fibers.
However, they like to eat fruits and vegetables in small quantities now and then.
You will be shocked to know that wild chinchilla are omnivores, which mean that they like to eat plants, herbs, leaves, bird eggs, and small insects.
Chinchillas can’t eat foods that are water-based and contain high amounts of fats, sugars or acidity.
Now I will list down the different foods that chinchillas eat in the wild.
It is pretty obvious that chinchillas require fresh water at all times.
Even in the wild, they tend to drink fresh water to stay hydrated.
Water is an essential part of a chinchilla’s diet since it prevents them from being dehydrated.
Dehydration can cause chinchillas to get sick and aggressive.
You must have noticed how your pet chinchilla loves eating fruit-based treats.
Similarly, chinchillas tend to eat fruits in the wild, too; however, they consume a small number of fruits to prevent their stomachs from bloating since many fruits are water-based.
They eat fruits that don’t contain high water and sugar levels as it could affect their health.
They can eat fruits such as grapes, bananas, apples, watermelons, etc.
One of the most important parts of any chinchilla’s diet is hay.
They don’t like damp hay as it can seriously upset their stomach.
There are different kinds of hays available in the market which you can feed to your pet chinchilla.
In the wild, chinchillas tend to eat timothy hay and alfalfa hay the most.
Hay is a vital staple in a chinchilla’s diet as these animals have teeth that never stop growing, so chewing on hay can help in protecting their teeth from overgrowing and keeping them healthy.
Hay is enriched with fiber and cellulose, which makes it an essential part of a chinchilla’s diet, and it is observed that 75% of their diet consists of hay.
It is important to know that the teeth of a chinchilla continue to grow throughout their life, and each year, they grow several inches.
To make sure that their teeth don’t get overgrown it is vital for chinchillas to chew on something which helps in wearing their teeth down, which is why chinchillas are prone to chew nuts in the wild.
Wild chinchillas are omnivores, which mean that they like to eat plants.
Now, as you already know that they can get access to a variety of plants in the wild, therefore, their diet consists of a wide range of plants.
The main dietary requirement of chinchillas is fibers; therefore, they like to eat plants as they are enriched with fibers.
During the heavy rainfall months, chinchillas tend to eat herbs, shrubs, and bushes, whereas when the weather is moist, they like to consume fresh food thus they start eating 21 different plants from which they can get a high amount of nutrients.
These plants with high nutrients includes Proustia cinerea, Caesalpinia angulicaulis, Tropaeolum viola florum, Viola Asterias, Tropaeolum azureum, Plantago tumida, Solanum tomatillo, Tropaeolum tricolor, Pasithea coerulea, Hordeum murinum, Chuquiraga acicularis, Sisyrinchium junceum, Guitierrezia paniculata, Cassia coquimbensis, Cestrum parqui, Krameria cistoidea, Galium chilense and Oenothera dentate.
They also like to feed on grass, seeds, small plants, and plant leaves.
As mentioned earlier chinchillas have overgrown teeth, which is why it is crucial for them to chew on something hard to get their teeth trim and aligned to stop them from overgrowing and keeping their teeth safe.
In the wild, chinchillas have access to a lot of plants and trees, which is why they tend to chew on tree bark to stop their teeth from overgrowing.
However, they can’t just eat any tree bark.
They need to make sure that the tree bark is non-toxic and free from any pesticides.
When getting tree bark for your pet chinchilla make sure that it is free from any contaminations.
When do chinchillas eat their food?
Chinchillas eat food whenever they get hungry.
It is observed that animals get hungry after performing physical activities, which tires them down.
As chinchillas are nocturnal animals, therefore they are the most active during night time.
In the wild, chinchillas perform all their daily activities in the night time which wears them off and makes them hungry, so chinchillas eat their food at night time to get energized again.
Another reason why chinchillas eat during night time is to stay safe from predators.
Now that you know what kind of foods chinchillas eat in the wild, therefore make sure to stick to these foods and make sure that your pet chinchilla stays healthy.
However, there are a few differences between the diet of a wild chinchilla and a pet chinchilla which you must know.
You can learn more about the differences between the diet of a wild chinchilla and a domestic chinchilla from our guide about the differences between the two of them.