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You are here: myPetSmart.com > Care Guides > Chinchilla Nutrition and Maintenance

Chinchilla (Chinchilla lanigera)

Experience Level: Intermediate

Chinchilla in dust bath

Nutrition and Maintenance


Nutrition and Maintenance
• Chinchillas are herbivores and the largest portion of their diet should be hay.
• Food (excluding hay) should always be placed in a bowl and not directly on the bedding to avoid accidental ingestion of the bedding.
• Fresh fruits and vegetables should be removed after four hours to prevent spoilage.
• Water must be provided at all times.
• Food and water bowls/bottles should be cleaned once daily.
Dietary Options  Examples Feeding Frequency

Timothy hay or oat grass

Hay should be the largest part
of the diet and should always
be available
Prepared Diets* Commercially prepared
pelleted diets
Refresh food daily, along with hay.
The food bowl should always be
approximately 75% full.
Vegetables Dark, leafy greens
(kale, collard, mustard,
dandelion, escarole) and
vegetables (zucchini,
broccoli, squash, 
shredded carrots)
Every other day; should constitute
20% of diet. Offer only enough to be
consumed in four hours.
Fruits Papaya, banana, melon Once weekly; should only constitute
5% of diet. Offer only enough to be
consumed in four hours.
Treats Raisins, seed, and 
alfalfa hay
Treats should be offered sparingly;
once to twice weekly.
*Pelleted diets are commonly made from timothy hay or alfalfa and are fortified with optimal levels of vitamins and minerals like calcium and vitamin D3. Pelleted diets may also have additives to support digestive health.
Safety and Cleanliness
Use caution when handling pets and remember that all pets may bite or scratch especially when stressed. Remember to never grab your pet’s fur or tail, the hair will pull out. Supervise children around pets.
Pets may transmit disease to humans; be sure to wash your hands before and after handling your pet or cleaning their home.