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Chinchillas originally come from the rather barren areas of the Andes mountains. As a result of the conditions they experience here, they are very good at getting the most nutrients from the most basic of food sources. Chinchillas have a very specialised digestive system, but because they are so small, they are unable to store large amounts of very coarse fibre food. It is therefore quickly digested and expelled. Because of these factors, Chinchillas are sensitive to the introduction of new food stuffs. A breeder should supply you with some of the food the young Chinchilla has been reared on so you as the new owner can change them onto your own food source easily and with minimal impact on the Chinchilla itself. You need to keep in mind that a Chinchilla is unable to vomit. If their digestive system gets too much rich or different food, they are likely to develop diarrhoea, bloating and other dangerous symptoms that could be fatal to them. It is vital that their diet is closely monitored.

To aid you as a new Chinchilla owner, here is a good list of suitable food for your Chinchilla to eat:

  • Chinchilla Pellets - buy from a good supplier to ensure quality.
  • Chinchilla mix - be careful that they dont just take out the tasty bits and leave the healthy bits!
  • Occasion treats of raisins!! - limit this to one or two every few days tops!
  • Dandelion leaves (as a once a week treat, a leaf from somewhere free of pesticides and herbicides)
  • Lettuce (again not every day, but as the occasional treat)

Should your Chinchilla develop diarrhoea, it is possible to help them with a quick home remedy. I discovered this myself not long after Ripley came to live with us. To my fiances great annoyance, he found that Mungo was suffering from diarrhoea because he had left rather soggy droppings all over Andy's brand new Xbox driving wheel! He wasnt happy! Anyway, the remedy, which I am pleased to say worked within hours, was to provide both Mungo (and Ripley to be safe) with a piece of very burnt toast. They gobbled up the toast straight away, and the high carbon in this quickly solved the problem!

Should your Chinchilla develop health problems, while a home remedy is ok if you know what the problem is, (we did, they had been eating too many raisins!) it is always best to consult a vet for advice.