Micah Feeding

Vet Speak

In this section, Dr. Micah Kohles, Oxbow’s Director of Veterinary Science and Outreach, answers all of your animal health related questions.  If you have a question for Dr. Kohles regarding the health or behavior of your small animal, send it to web@oxbowanimalhealth.com.

Can chinchillas eat fruits and vegetables?

I get this question often, and I think some chinchilla owners have been scared into thinking these animals should only get hay and pellets. The short answer is absolutely; however, we do know that, in general terms, chinchillas (as well as degus) tend to be a little more sensitive to greens and especially fruits and veggies. Part of this is related to the naturally occurring sugar content, but also the natural food stuffs chinchillas would find in the wild. Chinchillas, as I suspect you know, are native to high elevation, tough environments where there is not a huge amount of fresh greens grasses available year around. Therefore, they are designed to be able to survive on coarser, drier, high fiber nutrients and often do not have as much access to fresh green and higher moisture plant materials (the kind we often think of in relation to rabbits and guinea pigs.) 

Start slow with fresh greens and gradually increase the diversity. Greens can and should be fed to chinchillas in small amounts every day. Veggies and fruit are exceptions and are not needed every day. Just like you and I, every chinchilla is a unique individual, so everything discussed above needs to work with that animal. I have some chinchillas which get 15-20% of their intake in the form of fresh plant material and others who get only a small handful each day. 

Sincerely,

Dr. Micah Kohles, DVM, MPA
Director of Veterinary Science and Outreach
Oxbow Animal Health