Chinchillas have famously sensitive digestive systems.
Their digestion simply is not capable of handling a large number of foods.
These foods include many that we consider healthy.
So what can chinchillas not eat?
The list of foods they can eat is much shorter.
Nevertheless, keep reading for 17 common foods that you should never feed chinchillas. Some are obvious, but others are things most other pets can eat without issue.
- 1 What Can Chinchillas Not Eat?
- 2 Foods Chinchillas Can Not Eat: Final Thoughts
What Can Chinchillas Not Eat?
As mentioned, there are many foods chinchillas can not eat, including many that are perfectly fine for us humans and for other pets. The list of human foods they can eat is much shorter than one of foods they can’t have. With that said, here are 17 common foods your chinchillas can not eat.
Chinchillas should not eat nuts because nuts are fattening. Nuts such as peanuts, almonds, and cashews can cause tremendous weight gain in chinchillas. Obesity, in turn, can cause a host of health issues in these small animals.
Furthermore, nuts like bitter almonds could contain traces of cyanide, which can be poisonous to chinchillas. Cyanide is known to cause symptoms like diarrhea or kidney failure in these small animals.
In large quantities, bitter almonds can even be fatal for chinchillas, just as for us humans. So, please avoid feeding even a small amount of nuts to your chinchilla.
You must not feed sugary treats like yogurt drops, cookies, cakes, or candy to your chinchilla. It is important to avoid all treats that contain refined or artificial sugars.
A chinchilla’s GI tract is simply not designed to handle sugar. Excess sugar consumption can cause nutritional deficiencies as well as health issues like diabetes in your pet.
This is also why experts advise avoiding treats containing natural sugars, like fruits and raisins, for chinchillas. They have a hard time digesting these. Plus, diabetes is becoming more common in these small pets.
Just as chocolate is toxic to dogs, it is also highly toxic to chinchillas. Chocolate contains theobromine, which is known to cause neurological symptoms such as seizures, tremors, and even death in these small pets.
So please avoid feeding your chinchilla treats containing chocolate (donuts, cakes, candy bars, etc.). In this case, even a tiny amount is too much.
Raw potatoes are a strict no-no for chinchillas, because they contain solanine. In large quantities, solanine can be highly toxic to these small creatures.
You should also avoid giving your buddy fried potato chips and French fries that are deep-fried in oil, because they are difficult for chinchillas to digest. A chinchilla’s digestive system is very sensitive, and eating foods like French fries can result in digestive problems and issues like diarrhea in your pet.
A tiny quantity of baked potato is fine as an occasional treat for your chinchillas, but they do not really need that starch, so even that is best avoided.
Eating onions can result in severe anemia in chinchillas. Avoid feeding all members of the onion family to your chinchilla. This includes red and white onions, leeks, shallots, chives, and garlic.
Do not feed them raw or cooked. Your chinchilla should also not eat the leaves, bulbs, or stems of any of these onion family plants.
You must never feed tomatoes, their stems, leaves, or any other parts of the tomato plant to chinchillas. Tomatoes contain oxalates, which can cause urinary stones in these pets.
They also contain water, sugar, and phosphorus, which your chinchillas do not need. Phosphorus, in excess, is known to cause neurological symptoms as well as brittle bones in these small animals.
Please avoid feeding your chinchilla spicy peppers like habanero, chili, jalapenos, or other members of the spicy pepper family.
First of all; peppers are not something your chinchilla would find and eat in the wild. Secondly, these spices are known to irritate your pet’s delicate GI tract, resulting in abdominal pain or distress. Your chinchilla’s digestive system is simply not designed to handle spicy, hot peppers.
You might think that cabbage is a safe and healthy vegetable to feed a chinchilla. The fact is: cabbage can result in water retention and bloating in a chinchilla. It may even interfere with your pet’s normal digestion. So, it is important not to feed cabbage to your little pet.
Iceberg And Romaine Lettuce
Many new chinchilla owners believe that all varieties of lettuce are healthy for their tiny pets. However, it is recommended not to feed romaine and iceberg lettuce to chinchillas, because they contain a lot of water and not much nutrition.
Excess lettuce consumption could cause nutritional deficiencies as well as bloating in chinchillas. Furthermore, these lettuce varieties may interfere with their natural digestion as well.
Raw Kidney Beans
Raw kidney beans can be very hard to digest for your chinchilla and may throw its digestive system off balance. This could result in symptoms like diarrhea, gas, bloating, etc.
For the same reasons, avoid feeding your little pet other bean varieties such as fava beans, lima beans, black beans, etc.
Dog And Cat Food
Dog and cat food is high in protein, and chinchillas cannot digest it. Moreover, many dog and cat food brands are fortified with minerals and trace minerals that a chinchilla does not need.
These foods are not nutritionally balanced for chinchillas and could result in severe deficiencies as well as stomach issues in your small pet.
Other Small Pet Food
These foods are not nutritionally balanced, and some even contain seeds and nuts that chinchillas cannot digest. Animals like ferrets are obligate carnivores, while chinchillas are primarily vegetarians.
Eating pelleted foods formulated for other small pets can cause digestive upset and stomach issues like diarrhea in your chinchilla. It could even cause death.
While chinchillas are omnivores and can eat insects or eggs from time to time, it is best not to feed cooked or raw meat to your chinchilla.
Meat could result in bloating and digestive issues in your pet. Even in the wild, their diet mainly consists of vegetation and seeds. It best to stick to feeding hay and pellets, and small quantities of safe treats to your pet.
Do not feed your chinchilla avocado under any circumstances. Avocados contain a compound called persin, which is highly toxic to chinchillas.
Even a tiny bit of avocado could make your pet very sick. Persin is found in all parts of the avocado, including its skin, flesh, and pit. So, please refrain from leaving avocados where your chinchillas are allowed to roam freely.
Asparagus may be safe for rabbits and hamsters, but when it comes to chinchillas, you can not feed them any at all.
Both raw and cooked asparagus can be highly toxic to these pets. Please, refrain from feeding this vegetable to your fur buddy.
Rhubarb is a common house plant that is highly toxic to chinchillas. It contains oxalic acid, which is known to cause gastrointestinal symptoms like kidney stones and kidney failure in chinchillas.
Even a small quantity of rhubarb (stems or leaves) could kill a small chinchilla. Please keep this vegetable out of your pet’s reach.
Chinchillas should not eat dates, because dates are sugary and they contain phosphorus and are highly acidic.
The high sugar content of dates can spoil your chinchilla’s teeth, and their high phosphorus content can result in brittle bones. Moreover, the chinchilla’s system is not designed to handle the high levels of acid in dates. Please refrain from feeding these sweet treats to your pet.
Foods Chinchillas Can Not Eat: Final Thoughts
There are so many foods chinchillas can not eat. Sure, they can eat small amounts of many of them, but even then, they can cause health issues over time.
That is why it is best to feed your chinchilla nothing but Timothy hay and specialized chinchilla pellets. You can supplement that with safe treats, like certain dried flowers or things like Corn Flakes or Cheerios.