Chinchilla pellets are readily available in any good pet store. There are several types of commercial chinchilla pellets and they are mostly made up from the same ingredients, a combination of vitamins, minerals, soybean oil, alfalfa meal, wheat germ, molasses, oats and corn. This blend has proven to be of high nutritional value for chinchillas.
However, many brands cater to the chinchilla breeders and ranchers rather than to the pet owners. These brands are available only in 50-pound bags. After such bags are opened, they tend to lose a great deal of their nutritional value after a couple of months. Since a single chinchilla or a pair would never work their way through 50 pounds of pellets in that amount of time, buying a large bag would probably do more harm than good in the long run.
A careful search of your local pet stores will usually net a good source of chinchilla pellets for your pet or pets. If you have difficulty in obtaining an economical supply of specific chinchilla food, there are some viable alternatives.
Many pet owners have opted for rabbit pellets, which are cheaper and are sold in smaller packages as a general rule. These work well for a time. Many have discovered that, because rabbit pellets are fortified with hormones, rabbit pellet-fed chinchillas tend to become fat after a six-month diet. The animals become lazy and their general well-being is often not best served with rabbit pellets.
Some brands of guinea pig pellets contain similar ingredients and can be used in place of other varieties of pellets. This kind of feed is more widely acceptable than rabbit pellets specifically because of its higher nutritional content and the simple fact that it has a lower fat content. As a pet owner, one of these two choices is probably best.
Since your pet has been in the care of the pet shop owner for a time, it is important that you continue the same diet the animal has been on for the first few weeks that it is in your care. If your pet has clear eyes, is active and appears to be in good health, you should feel comfortable about continuing its pet store diet. If you have to change the diet for any reason, it must be done slowly. You can do this by adding small amounts of the new feed within the old supply, slightly increasing its content until it completely replaces the old brand. Being creatures of habit, your chinchilla might at first detect the new feed and ignore it. However, in a short time it will become used to seeing the new feed and accept it into its diet. Of course all pellets must be fresh. Manufactured pellets always have a freshness date stamped on their packaging.
Some professionals still feel that pellets are not adequate for a chinchilla’s full daily nutritional requirements and they mix their own feeds adding specifically measured quantities of such things as wheat, bran, barley, millet, linseed, dietary calcium, feed salt, skimmed milk powder, and herbs such as hip, peppermint, sage, mallow, etc. Up in the Andes, chinchillas ate varieties of grasses and seeds. Their artificial diets are the results of years of study and experimentation by experts. Unless you have consulted an expert in the field of raising chinchillas, you should avoid such experimentation and stay with the diet your pet store operator has established.