Chinchillas need plenty of tough, fibrous plant material to chew. This keeps their teeth trim and aligned. Hay provides most of the tooth wear but even captive chinchillas provided unlimited amounts still have longer teeth on average than the typical wild chinchilla. Luckily chinchillas love to chew on wood! Wood is tougher than hay stalks and can provide a little boost to tooth wear for chinchillas. But you can’t just give any stick on the ground to your chinchillas. You need to source from non-toxic trees-free from contaminants and pesticides.
Silver and common birch make great wood chews for chinchillas!
The following list is not comprehensive but has a good variety of trees, bushes, and vines that are safe for chinchillas after preparation! If you have a tree not on this list, please ask us before giving any twigs to your chinchilla!
As you may know by now, chinchillas are sensitive to fresh things. Sticks are no exception and will need to be processed before letting your chins have them.
First you must collect living sticks from a tree, untreated with pesticides and organically raised. The most trustworthy source is going to be your own trees, but you can talk to your local organic orchards about purchasing their branches when they prune. Wild trees present some complications. Trees found in city parks or along ditch banks may not be treated specifically but environmental contaminents can find their way into them and it may be unlawful to collect branches from public lands without a permit.
- Clean what you collect. Sticks and branches will have dirt, insects, lichens, and bird droppings. Use hot water and scrub your branches to get as much of that off as possible.
- Boil your sticks for 30 minutes, drain, then boil another 30 minutes. This will further clean and sanitize the wood and remove a lot of tannins.
- Bake for 30 minute intervals at 200-250F until completely dry. You want your sticks to snap. They should not be flexible and there should be no moisture even in the center.
It takes a lot of time and work to bring a bundles of twigs from the tree to a chinchilla's paw. If you find yourself unsure of your source, or simply don't have a lot of time, Quality Cage Crafters has ready-to-use wood chews on our treat page. Keep checking back for different varieties of wood as they become available to us!