Chinchilla food recommendations

Marissa45140

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Hello!
I am a brand new Chinchilla owner and I could really use some advice. I brought him home on Sunday. I got his multi-level enclosure set up with everything suggested and gave him plenty of Timothy and a small amount of pellets. He was clearly hungry, because he immediately went to the pellets and began eating. After his first bite I noticed a very strange behavior. He started to drool profusely, pawing at his mouth, making a choking sound. I quickly realized the pellet had become lodged in his throat. Obviously I panicked and called several emergency vets before finding one that would accept a chinchilla. I drove the 40 minutes and the vet said he was stable enough to wait (they were very busy and he had slight lethargy but normal breathing). I sat in the car terrified. Eventually he perked back up, started making noises, and even started eating again (granted it was his own poop in the carrier but I was happy!) The vet checked him again and felt confident the pellet had dislodged and he was fine. I took him back home Sunday night and have not given him pellets since (That sounds horrible of me). I am TERRIFIED he might choke again. I read it could be from dental issues, but I don't see a lot of overgrowth or any visible abnormality with his teeth. The pellets themselves were "The Power of Five" for Chinchillas. They are very small pellets. Are there any suggestions for food out there or maybe any experiences with the same brand? Sorry for the rambling, it was just a hell of a start as a Chinchilla owner.
 

Amethyst

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The Power of 5 pellets are not good really, the biggest issue is they are pretty grain heavy which can cause gas (chins are prone to bloat, since they can't easily pass gas). Better foods are Mazuri or Oxbow Essentials. It does sound like he was choking on a pellet, it's likely eating too fast not the size of the pellet being the problem, it happens. Was that the food he had been eating? If not it's best to slowly switch pellets to avoid stomach upset, however since you have already pulled pellets for a few days you should be able to just switch to the new pellets without issue.

Unfortunately without at least a scope camera it's nearly impossible to see the molars, in chins not only do the incisors grow but so do the molars (and roots if things get bad). If not given proper things to chew, like enough hay, or if the teeth aren't aligned right they can over grow, causing tooth spurs or even curling over and trapping the tongue.
 

Marissa45140

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Mar 24, 2021
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The Power of 5 pellets are not good really, the biggest issue is they are pretty grain heavy which can cause gas (chins are prone to bloat, since they can't easily pass gas). Better foods are Mazuri or Oxbow Essentials. It does sound like he was choking on a pellet, it's likely eating too fast not the size of the pellet being the problem, it happens. Was that the food he had been eating? If not it's best to slowly switch pellets to avoid stomach upset, however since you have already pulled pellets for a few days you should be able to just switch to the new pellets without issue.

Unfortunately without at least a scope camera it's nearly impossible to see the molars, in chins not only do the incisors grow but so do the molars (and roots if things get bad). If not given proper things to chew, like enough hay, or if the teeth aren't aligned right they can over grow, causing tooth spurs or even curling over and trapping the tongue.
Thank you!! I want to be sure there's no issues, so I scheduled a wellness check with my vet for Friday. I will definitely try the food you recommended. He scarfs down the hay like there's no tomorrow and has been enjoying chewing the toys. Unfortunately, I just don't have much information from the pet store other than what I could see in his enclosure.
 

Amethyst

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It could have just been a freak accident, like a person eating too fast and swallowing without chewing enough.

Unfortunately most pet stores don't have proper setup in the enclosure at all. Here is a quick overview...
Make sure there is no plastic in the cage, even if they don't chew it yet most will eventually and it can cause a blockage since it's not digestible, or even do internal damage if sharp. Also the only safe bedding material is shavings, kiln dried pine is ok, but aspen is safer. Other options are tiling the cage or using anti pill fleece, but fleece is only safe if the chin doesn't chew it (most don't). Also the temp should be kept cool in the room they are in, try to keep it between about 50-70F, much lower and they risk getting sick, and much above they can get heat stroke and die.


Hay should make up the majority of the diet and should be given unlimited, ideally they should eat about a pile the size of the chin a day. If the chin is over 6 months most eat about 2 tb of pellets, but no need to restrict pellets unless the chin is over eating, most don't. I just like to measure, and add more if needed to keep an eye on how much they are eating so I know if they stop or don't eat as much. Also only putting one day worth in at a time helps keep it fresher.
Aside from the pellets and hay they can have some treats, but no fruits, vegetables, seeds, nuts, sugars (like honey) or animal products (milk, eggs, meat, hide, bone, antler, etc).
Treat list.jpg
 
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