Chinchillas naturally have long and healthy lives.
For the most part.
Part of ensuring this becomes a reality is ensuring you provide your chinchilla with the best diet possible.
This often leads new chinchilla owners to wonder what this consists of and what the best plan of action may be.
Which hay is best for chinchillas?
I’ve owned a chinchilla for quite some time now, and here’s what details and insight I can provide on this topic.
So, which hay is best for chinchillas? Timothy and Orchard’s hay are the two recommended hay types for chinchillas due to high levels of protein and a balanced nutritional blend. Chinchillas need hay to compose nearly 80%-90% of their diet for digestive, dental, and overall health.
Here’s the issue with the answer provided above.
Chinchillas are much more intelligent than you may believe.
They have preferences and don’t make your life as easy as picking one form of hay and moving on.
This is how it was for me with my chinchilla.
She’s a bit picky, to say the least.
The good news is that I plan to break down your different hay options for your chinchillas’ diet in addition to providing as many tips and tricks as possible throughout this post.
I also know that in today’s fast-paced world, you may have a specific question and don’t feel like listening to me ramble.
If that’s the case, I’ve created easy to navigate links directly below that will allow you to skip to any specific section of this post that you desire to learn more about.
I’ve also included several tables in this post with all the options you have for the best chinchilla hay with quick links within the tables that will allow to learn more about that specific hay formula.
In this post today, here is what we intend to cover:
- Nutritional Breakdown of Hay Options for Chinchillas (With Chart)
- Best Chinchilla Hay Options Available (With Chart)
- Do Chinchillas Need Hay?
- Getting Your Chinchilla to Eat Hay
- Utilizing A Reliable Hay Feeder and Holder
- Hay Feeder Recommendations (With Chart)
- How Much Hay Do Chinchillas Eat?
- Almost Any Hay Will Get the Job Done
- Final Thoughts
Now that you know my lesson plan for the day let’s begin with an easy table that breaks down all your options and different kinds of hay you can implement into your chinchillas’ diet.
The Best Chinchilla Hay Nutritional Facts
|Kinds of Hay For Chinchillas||Pros and Cons||Nutritional Facts|
|Orchard Grass Timothy Hay||PROS|
*Thick and Course Hay (Very Healthy)
* Highest in Protein
|Crude Protein- 7%
Crude Fat- 1.5%
Crude Fiber- 32%
*Most Common Desired For Chinchillas
*Highest Fiber (Good for Digestive Tract)
* Not as Course for Promoting Healthy Teeth Grinding
|Crude Protein- 7%
Crude Fat- 1.5%
Crude Fiber- 33%
|Chinchilla Hay Cubes||PROS|
*Lower Protein and Higher Calcium
*Chinchilla's Love Them
|Crude Protein- 7%
Crude Fat- 1.5%
Crude Fiber- 33%
Best Chinchilla Hay Recommendations
|Best Chinchilla Hay Options||Sizes Available||Check Price and Nutritional Facts Below|
|#1 Pick- Small Pet Select Timothy Hay- 2nd Cut||12 LB BOX- Best Value||Check Price On Amazon|
|#2 Pick Kaytee Timothy Hay||12 LB Bag||Check Price on Amazon|
|#3 Pick Oxbow Orchard Hay||40 Ounce Bag||Check Price on Amazon|
|4th Place-Kaytee Timothy Hay Cubes||2 Bags- 1 Pound||Check Price on Amazon|
Above, you can see the recommendations that I believe to be your best options as far as health, nutritional balance, and budget are concerned when purchasing hay for your chinchilla.
Use any of the links in the chart above to learn more about the hay blend.
I currently use the timothy hay cubes and the large bags of Timothy hay for my chinchilla.
However, I did run some trial and error and go through a bag of the orchard hay first before discovering that my chinchilla purely enjoys the timothy hay more.
You may have to do the same if you are a new chinchilla owner.
It’s cheap enough that I don’t think an extra bag of hay is going to make or break your decision to adopt a chinchilla.
Let them decide which one they prefer more to promote them enjoying their healthy and balanced diet.
Do Chinchillas Need Hay?
Hay always plays a significant role in your chinchillas’ diet, and it’s imperative that it’s included.
To be fair, it needs to be more than included and typically will be most of your chinchilla’s diet.
Hay provides a chinchilla with the nutrients needed to maintain strong dental health, physical health, and digestive health to have long and healthy lives.
Ensuring your chinchilla cage, you purchase always has a full hay feeder or unlimited access to hay is imperative, and not doing so can typically result in costly medical/vet bills, your chinchilla becoming ill, or at the very best, a poor and unbalanced diet for your new family member.
Let’s break down why hay is so imperative and beneficial for chinchillas to give you a full understanding.
It really comes down to 3 primary benefits that hay can provide to a chinchilla.
Hay Promotes Dental Health
Chinchillas are chewers.
If there is one thing I’ve learned, owning a chinchilla is that they love to chew.
It’s part of the reason that you must ensure you protect play areas when your chinchilla is out of the cage are 100% safe to ensure they don’t chew dangerous items such as cords and wires.
The best thing about chinchilla hay?
Especially if you go with more course hay such as orchard hay.
It’s also how they naturally help themselves to file down their teeth.
Overgrown teeth in chinchillas can cause serious health concerns and even lead to death due to starvation from lack of eating or something such as infections.
The stems inside of the hay help chinchillas to get the necessary chewing and teeth filing they need daily.
You can also use the timothy hay cubes we discussed previously to help with teeth filing even further.
The hay cubes are even more challenging to eat for chinchillas and require a bit more effort, so mixing these into the diet can also prove to be healthy and beneficial.
Not to mention, all chinchilla hay or chinchilla hay cubes are very cheap.
Hay Helps the Digestive System
I think we are all aware that fiber has a way of running its natural course and helping the human digestive system.
Well, the good news is that plenty of fiber presents itself within chinchilla hay, as well.
For a body so small and fragile such as a chinchilla, they can easily have upset stomachs or issues passing “gas,” so to speak.
Ensuring that your chinchilla has a strong amount of hay present in their diets helps to ensure your chinchilla’s digestive system is always functioning at peak levels.
Don’t worry, my friends.
Feeding your chinchilla hay is not going to increase the amount they poop.
The amount a chinchilla poops is already extremely frequent, and more hay will not make a difference.
Hay is a Balanced Approach to Healthy and Long Lives
The third and common health benefit that hay offers to chinchillas is obvious.
It’s necessary, imperative and must be part of your chinchillas’ diet.
Some owners begin shying away from hay or getting too treat heavy or relying on chinchilla formulated pellets.
It’s not that this is going to reduce your chinchilla life by 10 years by any means but including hay and making it the focal point of your chinchillas’ diet is a priority from day 1.
Getting Your Chinchilla to Eat Hay
I started this post by informing you that you may run into the issue where you have a picky chinchilla.
It happened to me, and I’m sure it could quickly happen to you.
For example, my chinchilla absolutely despises oxbow and orchard hay by itself.
I have no clue why otherwise I’d fill you in.
However, a fresh stack of timothy hay in her hay feeders usually is gone within a few days.
She eats that quickly and loves it.
If you run into this issue, do as I mentioned previously.
Mix and match.
I still mix and match hays from time to time, and she doesn’t seem to mind this.
I will combine two sets just to get her some balance and nutrients that both blends of hays have to offer.
You may also run into an issue where a younger or baby chinchilla will only eat oxford hay.
This is also completely normal and nothing to worry about.
If your offering the hay and paying attention to how your chinchilla responds, you will be in great shape.
Utilizing A Reliable Hay Feeder and Holder
Well, we now know hay is essential, and the next task on the list is setting up the hay feeder/hay rack neatly within your chinchilla cage to make it easily accessible, avoiding a mess, and looking as decent as possible.
In comes a reliable hay feeder or hay holder.
This may be referred to as a hay rack, hay feeder, or hay holder depending on where you are looking.
Nonetheless, we are looking for something that easily places inside of our chinchilla cage or attaches to the outside of the cage.
These are relatively cheap purchases, and there is really no need to get overly fancy with it.
I currently use two hay racks/feeders attached to my chinchilla cage.
They simply attach on the outside of the cage, making it easy to place the hay within the cage, and the chinchilla pulls the hay through the bars to eat.
Sometimes you have a little bit of spillover, but for the most part, the cage remains relatively clean.
Best Chinchilla Hay Feeder Recommendations
|Best Chinchilla Hay Racks/ Hay Feeders||See Details and Pricing on Amazon|
|1st Place- Kaytee Hay Feeder/ Bin Feeder||Check Price on Amazon|
|2nd Place- Natural Wooden Hay Feeder/ Manger||Check Price on Amazon|
|3rd Place- NiteAngel Hay Rack/ Hay Feeder||Check Price on Amazon|
Above are my recommendations for the best hay feeders to use for holding and attaching the hay to your chinchilla cage so they can easily access it.
I currently use two hay feeders on my Critter Nation 2 Dual Level Cage (See Review Here).
My number 1 recommended hay feeder of the two is included in the chart above which is the Niteangel Natural Wooden Hay Manger.
It looks nice, attaches in 10 seconds and is one of the more budget-friendly options.
However, I have tried all three recommendations in my chart above and they all work great and are well worth the few dollars.
I’ll leave that decision up to you and your preferences.
How Much Hay Do Chinchillas Eat?
All chinchillas are going to be different for the most part, but on average, a chinchilla will consume about 2 tablespoons of hay per day.
I’m honestly not sure how you would even track this.
I don’t track or measure this myself.
I just simply ensure my chinchilla gets treats on occasion and sticks to hay and pellets, and everything has been just fine for me.
If your chinchilla eats a bit more or a bit less than this, I wouldn’t be overly concerned.
However, if your chinchilla isn’t eating any hay at all, it may be time to dive deeper into the issue and perhaps consult the help of a vet qualified to work with exotic animals or chinchillas.
Almost Any Hay Will Get the Job Done
We have covered just about everything that needs to be covered thus far into the post about chinchilla hay and which hay is best for your chinchilla.
I do often see others ask about other common hay options such as alfalfa hay, oat hay, meadow hay etc.
Most of the time, it’s just individuals or chinchillas’ owners curious if it’s safe or a good idea to give it a try.
The best answer I can give you is this:
Chinchillas eat timothy hay and orchard hay with the most frequency, and it’s the most recommended.
However, oat hay, alfalfa hay, or even meadow hay is perfectly safe for your chinchilla if you feel like mixing it up or trying new hay to gain your chinchilla’s approval or attention.
Like I stated previously, all chinchillas are different, and hay itself is the most beneficial and healthy portion of their diets.
Do what you can to stick to timothy hay or orchard hay, but if the situation calls for other measures or different hay, then go for it.
It’s not going to cause any harm and could spark more interest from your chinchilla to mix it up and try something new.
Hopefully, this article was useful to any of my readers needing the inside scoop on how to get started with a proper diet and the best chinchilla hay possible.
Owning a chinchilla is a fantastic experience, and they make for wonderful pets.
I recommend owning a chinchilla to anyone who is currently on the fence and can say with confidence that it’s a decision you won’t regret.
Just make sure to order yourself some hay before the day of the adoption!
Best of luck in your new journey.
Share Your Thoughts on Chinchilla Hay
What’s been your chinchilla’s favorite hay?
Do you have any further recommendations you can share with the readers?
Be sure to share your thoughts, concerns, and recommendations by dropping a comment below.
As always, Chili and I appreciate you stopping by and reading.
Thanks again, and we will see you next time.