Dos and Don’ts of Chinchilla Treats [Plus HomeMade Recipes]

As proud parents to a chinchilla, we want to provide the best for our furry little companions, including their diet. Our friends are known for their distinctive, velvety fur and active, playful nature.

But it’s not just their physical attributes that capture our hearts – their unique dietary needs make caring for them challenging and exciting.

Our mission today is to explore what chinchillas can eat as treats.

Understanding this helps bring variety to their diet and ensures they receive all the necessary nutrients to stay healthy and happy.

But before diving into the world of chinchilla treats, it’s crucial to remember that, like humans, chinchillas have their dietary preferences and restrictions.

Not everything we perceive as a treat is safe for them. Therefore, knowing what snacks we can give to a chinchilla, as well as what chinchillas can and cannot eat, becomes essential.

What is unsafe for chinchillas? The answer is quite a few things! Foods high in fat and sugar or containing artificial ingredients can harm your chinchilla’s health. Even certain fruits and vegetables, usually deemed healthy, can cause digestive issues if fed in excess.

Basics of a Chinchilla’s Diet

In the wild, chinchillas mainly feast on a high-fiber grasses, leaves, and twigs diet. Their complex digestive system extracts nutrients from such hard-to-digest plant material.

In a domestic setting, the staple of a chinchilla’s diet should be a high-quality, timothy-based chinchilla pellet. This should make up most of their diet, supplemented with a handful of fresh, dry hay daily to mimic their natural feeding habits.

Of course, water should always be available in a drip bottle.

Now, you might wonder, where do treats fit into this dietary scheme?

Just like in human diets, treats for chinchillas are a treat! They should make up only a tiny fraction of their diet. While they are a fantastic way to bond with your pet and can offer variety and excitement, they should never replace the core components of their diet.

Feeding your chinchilla inappropriately or too many treats can lead to various health problems, from obesity to digestive issues. Learning to strike a balance is key to keeping your chinchilla healthy while allowing them to enjoy the occasional indulgence.

What Can Chinchillas Eat as Treats?

When treating your chinchilla, the options might be more limited than you think. That’s because chinchillas have sensitive stomachs and require a diet high in fiber and low in fat and sugar.

Still, there are plenty of healthy and safe treatment options that your chinchilla will love.

  • Hay Cubes: Hay cubes are a great treat option because they are high in fiber and help with dental health. Plus, they add variety to the hay part of their diet.
  • Herbs: Certain herbs like rose hips, dandelion leaves, or hibiscus flowers can make for a tasty and nutritious treat.
  • Uncooked Oats: A few uncooked oats can be a nice change for your chinchilla, but they should be given sparingly due to their high carbohydrate content.
  • Chinchilla-Safe Vegetables: Small amounts of carrots, kale, and bell peppers can be given as a treat, but they should be introduced gradually to monitor your chinchilla’s tolerance.
  • Chinchilla Biscuits or Cookies: There are commercially available chinchilla biscuits or cookies made with chinchilla-safe ingredients. Ensure to pick those low in sugar and free from artificial additives.
  • Wooden Sticks or Chew Toys: While not exactly a ‘treat’ traditionally, chinchillas enjoy chewing on safe wooden sticks or toys. It’s a great way to engage their natural chewing behavior and promote dental health.

The Dos and Don’ts of Feeding Chinchillas Treats

Once you’ve understood what treats to offer your chinchilla, it’s equally crucial to know how to feed them correctly. So, let’s dive into some dos and don’ts of feeding chinchillas treats.


  • Moderation is key: A golden rule with any pet is not to overfeed them, especially with treats. Too much of anything can lead to health issues such as obesity and digestion problems.

  • Introduce new foods slowly: Every chinchilla is unique, and their reactions to different foods can vary. Start with small amounts to monitor their reaction when introducing a new treat. If they have any adverse reactions like diarrhea or loss of appetite, remove the new food immediately and consult a vet.

  • Ensure treats are fresh and clean: Always provide fresh treats and ensure they are free from pesticides or other harmful substances.


  • Don’t replace meals with treats: Treats are meant to supplement the main diet, not replace it. The majority of your chinchilla’s diet should consist of pellets and hay.

  • Don’t feed treats daily: Treats should be occasional delights, not daily food items. They are often denser in calories and can easily lead to weight gain if overfed.

  • Avoid sugary and high-fat foods: While your chinchilla might love the taste of sweet or fatty foods, their bodies won’t. These can lead to serious health issues, including obesity and diabetes.

And as with any pet, a healthy diet, exercise, and mental stimulation balance is vital. To learn how to keep your chinchilla active, see our post on why chinchillas need exercise balls.

Health Benefits of Treats for Chinchillas

Treats can satisfy your chinchilla’s palate and contribute to its overall health when chosen wisely and fed in moderation. Here are the potential benefits of some popular chinchilla treats:

  • Hay Cubes: Hay cubes are a great source of fiber, which aids in digestion. They can also help trim your chinchilla’s teeth, contributing to dental health.

  • Herbs: Certain herbs like rose hips are rich in Vitamin C, which supports a healthy immune system. Dandelion leaves offer vitamins A, C, and K, while hibiscus flowers can contribute to a healthy metabolism.

  • Uncooked Oats: Oats provide essential nutrients like manganese, phosphorus, copper, and iron. However, due to their high carbohydrate content, they should be given sparingly.

  • Chinchilla-Safe Vegetables: Vegetables like carrots and bell peppers offer vitamins and minerals. For example, carrots provide vitamin A for eye health, while bell peppers are high in vitamin C.

  • Chinchilla Biscuits or Cookies: If you’re purchasing commercial chinchilla treats, look for those that contain beneficial ingredients like alfalfa or timothy hay. These treats can provide additional fiber and help with dental health.

  • Wooden Sticks or Chew Toys: Chewing is a natural behavior for chinchillas and essential for their dental health. Offering chewable items can help prevent dental issues like overgrown teeth.

Unsafe Foods for Chinchillas

Just as there are treats that can benefit your chinchilla, there are also foods that can be harmful or even deadly. This is because chinchillas have a sensitive digestive system, and certain foods can cause severe problems.

Here are some foods that are unsafe for chinchillas:

  • Sugary Foods: Chinchillas can’t digest sugar well, so food with high sugar content should be avoided. This includes fruit, which is often thought of as a healthy treat. While a tiny piece of apple or pear won’t harm your chinchilla, they should be offered rarely and in extremely small amounts.

  • Fatty Foods: Foods high in fat, like nuts and seeds, can lead to liver damage and other health issues in chinchillas.

  • Dairy Products: Chinchillas are lactose intolerant, which means they can’t digest dairy products. This includes cheese, milk, yogurt, and other dairy-based treats.

  • Processed Foods: Any type of processed food, including bread, cookies, and cereal, can be harmful to chinchillas.

  • Vegetables High in Water Content: Vegetables with high water content, like lettuce and celery, can cause bloating and diarrhea in chinchillas.

  • Artificial Additives: Foods with artificial additives, including coloring, preservatives, or flavorings, should be avoided.


Feeding your chinchilla treats can be a rewarding experience that helps strengthen the bond between you and your pet.

But it’s essential to remember that treats should only make up a small portion of their diet and never replace their main meals of pellets and hay.

As a rule of thumb, always opt for treats high in fiber, low in fat, and low in sugar, such as hay cubes or certain herbs. And don’t forget; moderation is key.

Too many treats can lead to health issues like obesity and digestive problems. When introducing a new treat, start with small amounts and watch for any signs of digestive upset.

Always avoid foods high in sugar, fat, and artificial additives. These can be harmful to your chinchilla’s health.

Your chinchilla’s diet is crucial to their overall health and well-being. With the right approach, you can ensure your furry friend enjoys their treats while maintaining a balanced diet.

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