Stopped eating hay

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Well-known member
Aug 21, 2015
I have a two year old female chin and I've had her for a few months. After getting her I tried a few brands of hay until I tried Oxbow. She absolutely loved it and ate it like crazy. Problem is, the past few days she won't eat hardly any hay. Almost (if not all) of the hay that she's taken from her hanging ball hay holder is just scattered on the platform underneath it. I put fresh hay in it daily, but she just scatters it. She eats her pellets fine though. What should I do? Should I try another brand or could something be physically wrong?
If she's eating the pellets, drinking and pooping, chances are she's totally fine. Chins really like to make a mess with their hay and sometimes it looks like they're not eating it, but they're just nibbling a bit before tossing it. I have to clean up the discarded hay daily. Sometimes it's a lot. Sometimes it's just a little, but the clean-up is inevitable. As long as everything else is fine, I wouldn't worry too much about her.
One problem with hay is is can vary from brand to brand but also from season to season, it's a crop so it's effected by the weather. So if you have a picky chin you may have to shop around for a different hay, go with what looks and smells the best rather then fully committing to a single brand. Although it may have been good in the past you could have gotten an old bale or one from a bad harvest (according to your chin). Also make sure if she has been eating from this bag/bale for awhile and suddenly not wanting to eat it make sure it hasn't gone bad. Smell it to make sure it still smells like hay and not moldy or dusty, and feel it to make sure it's not overly dried out or gotten damp.

Eating hay is actually very important, so unlike what Airyn said eating just the pellets is not good enough. Hay is actually the primary diet of chins (roughly 75%), the pellets are basically like supplements to add the vitamins and minerals into the diet that the hay may be lacking. On average a chin should eat about 2tbs of pellets and a handful worth of hay per day. Although a chin could live off a pellet only diet for awhile, it will end up with teeth issues, as well as digestive issues. They need the hay to properly grind the molars down, and the added fiber in the hay for proper digestion. They can however live just fine on hay and water alone, their fur doesn't look as nice but would otherwise be fine.

I do agree that most chins like the play with their hay though, my guys will often take all the hay out of the hay hold in search for the perfect stand. I don't refill/change the hay daily though, I give enough for a day or two at a time and wait a couple days. If you offer too much at once it can cause the chin to not see the hay as as valuable, they can afford to be picky because they get fresh stuff everyday. Cleaning up hay is inevitable, they rarely eat every strand but they should be eating a good chunk of it.
Mine like to take a couple bites out of each strand and then toss it out so if you just look at the after pile and not the before pile it can look like they aren't eating hay. It may help to take a picture of the before and after hay piles to see if your chinchilla is just being a brat about eating a whole strand.
My male did this too but he was later diagnosed with malocclusion. He hasn't been eating hay for 10 years now. I have no idea if that is related to malo, just thought I'd mention it.
My chin is a picky hay eater too. Last vet visit (6 months ago) found a couple of spurs on his back teeth because he didn't eat enough hay. All the pet store hay I tried just wasn't good enough for him. (Though I don't blame him, just didn't smell good, probably stale)

On another thread someone mentioned "small pet select" web store to buy hay, so I got a free sample bag. My chin went nuts over it. The hay smells like summertime and is so fresh and green. Maybe you could ask for a sample from them and see if your chin likes it.

Cost-wise it seems pretty comparative. $25 for a 5 lb box. Course I feed only one chin so buying it cheaper by getting a bale like some here do just isn't feasible for me.

My chin goes back to the vet in Dec for a re-check of his teeth. I'm really hoping the change in hay and diet makes a difference. He does eat a lot of hay now.
What I do for my fussy butt is shove the hay into a toilet paper roll and wedge it in the cage. The second she thinks she is "getting away with something" she is much more interested. They are much smarter than we give them credit for! Make it a challenge, make it different.

I've also taken the pellets out on a day I was home all day/night and only given hay and water. Eventually a healthy chin will give in and eat. But if they don't, a emergency vet trip is needed asap!
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Thank you all! I'll try some different hay and if that doesn't work it may be time for a vet trip even though I'd love to avoid that.
Also I'm curious (I don't know a lot about diseases). She's still chewing up plenty of sticks and toys. Would this hint away from teeth problems and hint more towards picky eating, or do chins with teeth problems keep chewing wood like they usually do and just not the hay?
you can try different brands of hay as well. Different growing can effect ti as well as seasonal difference and 1st. 2nd, 3rd cut. My chico wasnt eating any hay either. I switch to small pet select (from oxbow) and all my chins started eating more of it.
Also keep in mind many brands will honor their return policy- if you email them with an issue (fussy butt won't be eat it) they will do what they can to make it right. So don't be afraid to try many different brands- feel free to sniff them. I'm the crazy lady in the store who will untwist the tie on the bag and sniff and poke the hay. I've never had an issue with employees. I want hay that smells like spring. If it doesn't smell wonderful, I don't buy it.
So I took her pellets away last night and today and she started eating hay again! I'm still going to try small pet select to see if she likes it better though. Also just for future reference if anyone else is asking about hay, they actually don't do sample bags anymore. Thank you all for helping avoid any health problems and hopefully she doesn't decide to do this again