Treat Yo Chin

by Joshua Paulson

Treat Yo Chin

Most of us want the best for our pets. We want them to be comfortable, to have fun, to be healthy, and to have tasty food! We do have to remember that something delicious to us can be an unhealthy snack for our pets. Like stated in our previous blog, Chinchilla Digestion, chinchillas are designed for a nutrient poor diet. They don’t have mechanisms to deal with even small amounts of fat or sugars. So what should you give your chinchilla as a treat? What are things to avoid?

Give Carefully!

As fun as treats seem to us, they are actually completely unnecessary for a chin to live a happy, healthy life. All treats need to be given in moderation. You would not (or should not, at least) let a child subsist mostly on chocolate. Like children, chinchillas will overindulge if given lots of access to treats. Stick with the safest treats and only give them to chinchillas 6 months or older.

Why do They Like Treats?

I have had pet owners ask that if a treat is not good for their pet, why do they eat it? Much like we can crave sugar and fats, animals have a strong desire for these things as well because it is easy energy. If they encountered things like this in the wild, many animals would take advantage of it while it’s there. These ‘treats’ are hard to find or obtain and often only available at certain times in the year. In lean times, these little caches of energy may make the difference between life and death. As a pet, chinchillas should not face any hard or lean times.. They will have consistent access to fortified food, fresh water, and fibrous hay and that is all they really need! But we like to give them treats. It is a positive activity for both of you and makes it easier to train your chinchilla and there are safe things and ways to treat your chin.

Safe Treats

All treats offered should be dry, free from pesticides and contaminants, and be very low in sugar and fat. Even if a treat meets all this criteria, you still need to use them in moderation. Overdoing a treat can lead to gut imbalances that can cause big problems for your chinchilla.

Examples of Safe Treats

Good chinchilla treats Image

Dried fruits, including raisins, have a very high sugar content so they are best avoided entirely. Dried Hawthorne and goji berries are fruits but are low in sugar. Even so, we don’t recommend giving more than one berry 1-2 times per week. Whole or cut rose hips can be given daily. Most other treats should be limited to no more than ½ tsp 2-4 times per week and not in combination with other treats. If you give a goji berry one day, that doesn’t mean you should also give a rose hip and oats the same day or even in the same week. A healthy chin will be happier than one that gets sick from too many treats! All of our treats have a recommended maximum serving amount in their description. Remember that even safe treats should not be given to chinchillas younger than 6 months and any new treats should be introduced slowly.

All of our treats have recommended usage in the product description.  

Treat Alternatives

So you gave your chinchilla his rose bud for the day but he is being such a good boy! He is begging and telepathically telling you that he deserves another treat. Maybe he does! Wood chews are great to give as treats and they can have them as often as they like- even young chins. Apple wood sticks are a classic chinchilla favorite! The small twigs usually get eaten whole while the bark off the larger pieces are chewed off. With wood chews you should make sure they are sourced from an organically grown tree and have been boiled and then baked to dry. This sanitizes the wood and makes sure it is safe for chinchillas! All of our wood treats have been through this process and are safe for chins right out of the bag!

Chinchilla meme Image

Scritches make a good reward too. If you are training your chinchilla and have gone through their daily treat allotment, a good chin scratch should do just as well. Try to end your training sessions before your chin uses up all the treats or interchange chin scratches with treats to lengthen a session if needed.

Treats from the Pet Store

Be cautious about any 'chinchilla' treat purchased from a pet store or online. Many products will say they are great for chinchillas but they most certainly are not! We've been contacted by two people in the last 6 months whose chinchillas- very unfortunately- succumbed to illness caused by eating a seed bar treat and a yogurt seed treat. Do not feed anything with yogurt, dried fruit, seeds, or nuts in them. Bright, colorful packaging and pictures of a chinchilla lead many to believe they are good treats to give but even feeding to the directions on the package can wreak havoc on your chin's digestion. Oxbow Natural Science Digestive Support and other Natural Science treats are currently the only safe treats available in pet stores. Oxbow Critical Care is often made into homemade treats for chins and is a safe alternative to other treats offered at a pet store. If you are unsure about the safety of a treat, ask us! We are happy to give guidance to help keep every chinchilla safe and healthy!

Email with any chinchilla treat questions!

Author: Joshua Paulson and Quality Cage Team
Josh is the owner and CEO at Quality Cage Crafters since 2015. During his time at Quality Cage Crafters he has been able to learn from tens of thousands of pet owners and pet educators. He blends his ambition for manufacturing and passion for animal care to create solutions for pet owners, breeders, animal rescues, and zoos. He has brought together a team of great animal lovers to create high quality pet care content for the Quality Cage Crafters audience.


  • Kate Spicer

    Mark: carrots aren’t good for chins, too much sugar, and they gnaw on wood just fine with no additives, so avoid the juice.

    Lila: compressed hay cubes, be it alfalfa only, Timothy only, or a mix are fine!

    (I’m the biologist for an ECBC/MCBA registered breeder.)

  • Mark C

    Hello I was wondering if the tiny pieces of diced and dried organic carrots I got from the same natural food store as my rose hips from were safe as treats for my chinchilla. I used to switch out loose Timothy hay with half a brick of those dry carrot laced Timothy hay stacks by oxbow once every few days or so and he loved it, but they were just expensive and now I’m questioning wether carrots are safe at all.

    Also, I have read a couple places that soaking safe wood pieces in no sugar added apple juice and then letting dry completely before serving as a toy/treat may be safe and fun. What do you think about these two things?

    Thank you

  • Lila Behrman

    is it okay to feed your chinchilla an alternative hay as a treat? my chinnie eats orchard grass hay but i sometimes give her alfalfa hay blocks when she is good. I noticed you didn’t say that was okay so can I do that?

  • Lila Behrman

    is it okay to feed your chinchilla an alternative hay as a treat? my chinnie eats orchard grass hay but i sometimes give her alfalfa hay blocks when she is good. I noticed you didn’t say that was okay so can I do that?

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