The nutrition of the chinchilla as a companion animal – basic data, influences and dependences



This contribution is meant to obtain basic data for feeding chinchillas (ingestion behaviour, feed and water intake) kept as companion animals. The chinchillas ingested more than 70% of their total feed intake during the dark phase (highest level of activity between 9:00 pm and 7:00 am). Daily amounts of feed intake varied between 2.5 (fresh grass) or 2.6 (hay) and 5.5 (pelleted complete diet) g of dry matter per 100 g of body weight. An offered mixed feed based on native components led to a selection of individual ingredients (high palatability: carob, beet pulp, sunflower seeds). The chinchillas’ daily water intake varied between 30 (mixed feed in briquette form) and 40 ml (alfalfa cubes) and amounted on average between 1.5 and 3 ml/g of dry matter. Compared with rabbits or guinea-pigs, the chinchillas generally showed noticeable differences (rhythm of feed intake, palatability of individual ingredients, capacity for digestion, etc.) which must be considered in order to optimize the nutrition of this species.