Limiting pellets?

Chinchilla & Hedgehog Pet Forum

Help Support Chinchilla & Hedgehog Pet Forum:

Jawramik

Well-known member
Joined
Nov 3, 2021
Messages
267
The general consensus among chin keepers seems to be that we should not limit their access to their staple foods (hay and pellets). Apparently most chins will not overeat and they should be given the opportunity to eat however much they want/need. But what if your chin is a pellet fiend?

Margaret LOVES her Oxbow pellets. In fact, she loves them so much that she will eat an entire bowl full within an hour or two. I recently measured how much her bowl held, and it will hold about 2 1/2 tablespoons, which is slightly more than the generally-recommended daily helping. If I refill her bowl, that too will disappear within an hour or two. She has a healthy appetite for hay too (so long as it's a brand she likes), but she doesn't seem to be quite such a bottomless pit with the hay.

So my question is....should I limit her to one bowl full of pellets, or should I continually keep filling the bowl as she empties it? For the moment, I've been giving her a full bowl around bedtime, and then I'll refill the empty bowl again in the morning before I go to work. The bowl is empty again when I get home, but I usually don't fill it again until her bedtime feeding/play time. Should I even be giving her that second helping in the morning? Or should I be refilling her bowl when I get home?

I've just ordered a scale so I can keep an accurate accounting of her weight. While I haven't weighed her recently, she weighed about 740g at her wellness exam, which was probably about five or six weeks ago. I feel like she's maybe put on a little weight since then. But she doesn't seem overweight or obese to me. She's quite round, but I can faintly feel her spine when I handle her. She's pretty active, running on her wheel and pinballing around her cage and playpen quite a lot, so she's definitely burning off at least some of those calories.

I certainly don't want to deprive her, but I also don't want her to become overweight.
 

Amethyst

Super Moderator
Staff member
Joined
May 7, 2012
Messages
2,871
Location
Alberta
Actually limiting the pellets is more for when the chin is overweight or is not eating their hay at all. Most adult chins, even if free fed, eat about 2tb worth (or about 30g since tablespoons do vary in shape so an oval one might hold more the a round one for example) a day, but some do eat a bit more. Although most chins don't over eat some do (just taking a guess but probably like maybe less then 1/1000, so not common), to the point of not eating any hay and/or becoming fat, which is not good. I measure the pellets not really to limit them but so I can keep a better eye on how much he eats. My chin normally only eats 2tbs but some days he is out of pellets before I normally feed him again and I'll add another couple scoops. Depending on activity level, as well as temp in the room, and things like that can cause them to eat more or less pellets, so a really active chin and/or one in a colder room is going to need more food then a chin that is more lazy and/or in a warmer room.

Since she is still eating hay I would just keep a close eye on her weight and just give her food in the morning and evening if the bowl is empty. Did the vet say she was at a good weight when you took her in? If so I would try to keep her at about that weight. Similar to most animals like cats and dogs, when you pet her you should be able to faintly feel the ribs under a thin layer of fat, if you have to actually push in or can't feel the ribs then she is too fat. Chins vary in weight just like humans so there really isn't a specific weight for chinchillas, some are only about 400g but some are well over 1,200g and still all at the good weight for their body size. If you notice she is gaining a lot of weight then you can cut down on the pellets, but do not go less then 2 tb per day. The reasoning behind the 2tbs is that 2 tb (30g) of good quality pellets like Oxbow Essentials food contains the amount of nutrients an adult chin needs per day, hay quality varies too much to count on that to have all a chin needs.

I wonder, since you have only had her a couple months right? Maybe she is still gaining weight that she needs from a not so great previous home. Some chins also get really excited about getting good quality food and will eat a lot more at first, but slow down after a few months once they realize this is normal and they get it everyday.
 

Jawramik

Well-known member
Joined
Nov 3, 2021
Messages
267
Her vet said she was a healthy weight. I do think she's gained a little since then, but it's hard for me to know how much just by eyeballing. I'll be curious to see what she weighs when the scale arrives. I can faintly feel her spine and ribs, so I don't think she's too chunky, even if she has put on some weight.

That's a good point about her adjusting to now getting better food. She was getting pretty low-quality pellets prior to her coming home with me (and for the first few days I had her; once I realised the timothy-based pellet mix she was getting was no good, I slowly switched her over to the Oxbow) and I don't think she was getting any loose hay at all.

I'm also not quite sure how old she is, beyond the fact that she's fairly young, so it's possible some of her weight gain has been her actually finishing growing to adult size and filling out a bit rather than just getting chunkier.

I'll keep up with the two helpings a day and keep an eye on her weight, and adjust if and when necessary.

EDIT: the room where she lives is generally pretty cool right now as well. I aim to keep it in the range of 55-65F, so that could also be contributing to her considerable appetite.
 
Last edited:

Jawramik

Well-known member
Joined
Nov 3, 2021
Messages
267
So the scale arrived, and after some struggling, I finally managed to weigh her. She now tips the scales at 781g, so it wasn't my imagination, she has put on some weight! Though I looked at the records from her wellness exam, and my memory had lowballed her actual weight at that visit. She was closer to 750 (748 to be exact), so she's gained about 33g. But since I can still feel her spine and ribs pretty easily, I'm not going to be overly stressed about it. She is starting to get into the upper weight range of average "pet quality" chins, but as you said, much like with people, the actual number matters less than overall body condition.

Also, after talking to my roommate (who doesn't spend as much time with her, so is in a better position to notice more gradual changes), we think at least some of her weight gain has been her growing a little larger, not just getting fatter. I'll continue to keep an eye on her weight and body condition (I was planning to weigh her once a month or so), and I'll adjust her portions if and when it becomes necessary.
 

Amethyst

Super Moderator
Staff member
Joined
May 7, 2012
Messages
2,871
Location
Alberta
Also, after talking to my roommate (who doesn't spend as much time with her, so is in a better position to notice more gradual changes), we think at least some of her weight gain has been her growing a little larger, not just getting fatter. I'll continue to keep an eye on her weight and body condition (I was planning to weigh her once a month or so), and I'll adjust her portions if and when it becomes necessary.
Well that does go along with the thought from your other post that she may have just had her first heat. Although they can go into heat earlier, most commonly they have their first heat around 8 +/- months, that along with someone saying she looks to still be growing means she could very likely be around that age.
 

Jawramik

Well-known member
Joined
Nov 3, 2021
Messages
267
Well that does go along with the thought from your other post that she may have just had her first heat. Although they can go into heat earlier, most commonly they have their first heat around 8 +/- months, that along with someone saying she looks to still be growing means she could very likely be around that age.
Yeah, I'm thinking that she was probably around 6 months old or so when I first got her. I realise it's only a guess, but given the information I have, it seems like a reasonable estimate.

Your post about Wicket's birthday/adoption day prompted me to look back through my text messages to see exactly when we brought Margaret home. We got her on October 25th, so I've decided that April 25th 2021 is her birthday. Even though it's just a rough estimate, I always like to have a date to commemorate. :)
 
Top