I don’t think it’s possible to have a pet and not be tempted to give them a bit of human food every so often. I think this temptation is especially true for pet owners who have small mammals.
Arguably, one of the cutest things about small mammals is the sounds that they make when they are nibbling a piece of food. Gary tends to squeak happily especially if we give him a piece of apple stick.
Sometimes Gary will take a few bites of an apple stick, drop it so he could run around the cage then pick the apple stick back up taking a few more bites.
Due to the fact that a chinchilla’s natural diet mostly consists of hay and some pellets, it’s important that you don’t stray too far from this when giving them treats.
While yes chinchillas can technically eat carrots, you will want to be very cautious while feeding your chinchilla them as there can be some long-term health consequences from overfeeding carrots.
In general, it’s a good idea to speak to your vet about adding anything to your chinchilla’s diet as each chinchilla will have their own personal needs.
BENEFITS OF FEEDING CARROTS
It can be difficult to find toys that your chinchilla will chew on. This is especially true if you don’t have a few different types of toys to rotate.
I know sometimes it’s really easy to give Gary a lava chew to grind down, but other times he is completely disinterested and tries to find something else to chew on.
Well, carrots are considered a decent substitution to throw into the rotation of things for chinchillas to chew on. Though, it is extremely important not to make carrots a regular part of their diet.
Carrots are also filled with vitamins A, C and K, which are all essential to eye health.
While this is all true if you are ever worried about your chinchilla’s eye health it is a good idea to talk to your vet about your chinchilla’s diet at your annual visit. Though that being said, sticking to a hay and pellet diet usually gives the chinchilla enough nutrients.
TOO MANY CARROTS MAKES A SICK CHINCHILLA
As mentioned, carrots should be fed in moderation. This is especially important due to the number of natural sugars that they contain.
When fruits and vegetables are fed excessively it can lead to digestion problems.
Chinchillas have fairly delicate stomachs that need to be a particular pH to properly digest their foods. Fruits and veggies may alter this pH which may lead to diarrhea or may even bloat. Both of these ailments can be fatal, which is why it is extremely important that you monitor your chinchilla’s behaviour.
At maximum, a chinchilla should eat the amount of a “baby carrot” during the length of a week. Though, I personally am not a fan of feeding baby carrots to chinchillas just because of the way that they are rendered/processed.
I would personally recommend feeding your chinchilla carrots every other day or every three days to ensure that you do not overfeed the carrots. I would also recommend recommend rotating between treats that are foods and treats that are considered toys.
Though these are my personal recommendations it is still a good idea to speak to your vet about whether or not carrots should be included in your chinchilla’s rotation of treats. Your vet will let you know whether they are worried about your chinchilla’s weight, sugar levels or any other concerns.
DON’T FEED CARROTS WITH OTHER TREATS
It is important that you do not mix different treats together with chinchillas. This is especially important the first time you feed a chinchilla a new food.
Even if a food is considered safe to feed to a chinchilla, you will want to keep a close eye to ensure that they do not experience some sort of reaction to the carrot. Segregating foods will make it easier to identify what caused the reaction so it can be taken out of the chinchilla’s regular diet.
Not only that, chinchillas are similar to other animals, such as cats or dogs. If they are fed certain foods together frequently, they will become accustomed to them always being served together. The worry is that the chinchilla will refuse to eat unless being served the ingredient (even if a health condition requires them not to eat it anymore.)
Cases like this have been seen where a chinchilla has developed diabetes but refuses to eat anything but raisins and/or nuts.
This is why it is important to make sure that you feed your chinchilla treats such as carrots fairly infrequently to ensure the wellbeing of your chinchilla.
MAKE SURE THE CARROTS ARE CUT UP IN SMALL SLABS
If you choose to feed your chinchilla carrots it is important to cut the carrots up into small pieces to ensure that your chinchilla doesn’t choke.
Allow the pieces to be only big enough for them to hold in their hands comfortably. Cutting slabs or cubes is probably the best way to go about it.
ALWAYS MAKE SURE YOU WASH THE CARROTS THOROUGHLY
It is always a good idea to wash any fruits or veggies that you are planning on feeding your chinchilla to ensure that there are no pesticides or other harmful toxins on them.
Although pesticides and/or other chemicals used on the carrots may not cause any problems immediately, they can lead to longterm health problems.
USE CARROTS AS A TOOL FOR EXCERCISE
Unlike hay or pellets, which your chinchilla will be eating regularly, carrots have a fresh smell to them making them more appealing to your chinchilla. Use this to your advantage.
Place the carrot pieces you feed to your chinchilla in hard to reach places, such as the highest shelf in their cage. You can also choose to hide a piece in one of their tunnels, or underneath some bedding! Let this be a source of their exercise or a fun game to promote bonding between you.
If you do choose to do this, make sure that you remove any uneaten pieces of carrots within the first hour of them being placed. This will reduce the chances of your chinchilla defecating on the carrots or having the carrots go bad.
HOW MUCH IS OVERFEEDING?
In general, you should never feed a chinchilla a treat that is more than 10% of their regular food income.
It is also advised that you do not feed carrots to your chinchilla for more than three days in a row. This will ensure that your chinchilla does not get an upset stomach or experience any diarrhea.
WHAT LONG-TERM HEALTH PROBLEMS CAN COME FROM OVERFEEDING CARROTS TO A CHINCHILLA?
Overfeeding carrots to a chinchilla most commonly leads to liver problems. This is due to the amount of sugar and fat found in carrots.
Liver damage can be considered fatal if it is not caught early enough. Though this is true, liver damage can be treated or even reversed if caught early enough.
This is why it is extremely important that you be in conversation with a vet to ensure that your chinchilla’s inner organs are all well and working.
Although it is considered safe to feed your chinchilla carrots as a treat every so often, it’s a habit I wouldn’t necessarily recommend getting into.
Carrots only have a few benefits to them, which can be gotten in other ways and since chinchillas don’t really care for wet foods, they’re not really the highest on their list of favourite treats.
Instead of carrots, I would recommend grabbing some leaves or dried flowers.
Always that treats should never be more than 10% of your chinchilla’s daily intake. Treats should also be fed sparingly and no more than three times a week.
If ever your chinchilla seems to have a bad reaction to a carrot or is experiencing diarrhea make sure to stop feeding carrots immediately and consider contacting the vet. In most cases, where carrots weren’t overfed for extended periods of time, a chinchilla will bounce back without a vet intervening. Though, if a chinchilla reaches the stage in which they are dehydrated or experiencing liver failure a vet will have to administer treatment.
So pet parents, I’m curious, do you give your chinchilla carrots? Do they like them? What is your chinchilla’s favourite treat? Let me know in the comments below!