If you intend on owning a chinchilla, you may discovered they need hay to survive. Hay is an essential part of a chinchilla’s diet; as a responsible pet owner, it helps to learn everything there is to know about it.
Here we break down everything about chinchilla hay, as well as the best chinchilla hay choices you have on the market.
What is Hay?
Hay refers to any type of grass that has been cut and dried to be stored as animal fodder. You may think of hay as food for livestock, like cattle, sheep, and goats. However, domestic animals also need hay. Common domesticated animals that include hay in their diet are rabbits, guinea pigs, and, of course, chinchillas.
Why is Hay Important?
Chinchillas have open-rooted teeth, meaning they need to constantly chew in order to wear down these teeth and keep them from growing out of control. With hay, chinchillas can keep their teeth trimmed, preventing illness or even death. The fiber present in hay is also an essential part of the chinchilla’s nutrition, as it aids in healthy digestion.
Chinchilla Hay Types
There many different types of hay that you can give to chinchillas. You can mix and match, or switch up their hay to add variety to their diet. Some chinchillas even prefer one type of hay over another. Just be sure to keep an eye on their nutrition, and make sure that you’re not giving them too much, or too little, of anything.
Here are the types of hay commonly a part of the chinchilla diet:
Timothy hay refers to a type of grass that has been produced from a meadow which has been cut and dried. Timothy hay is the most common type of hay given to chinchillas because of its high fiber, low protein, and low calcium content. Timothy hay can prevent obesity, promote a healthy urinary system, and improve your chin’s overall health.
You can provide timothy hay for your chin in unlimited amounts.
Also known as mountain grass, orchard grass is a sweet, green grass hay — and it smells nice, too. Orchard grass is high in fiber, which makes it another favorite for chinchilla owners. Because of its sweetness, Orchard grass is great mixed with other hays to encourage consumption. It is also a great alternative to timothy hay.
Alfalfa is a legume hay that is, compared to timothy hay, lower in fiber and higher in protein. Because of its high protein content, alfalfa is an excellent choice for growing chinchillas. Alfalfa can be given daily to growing chinchillas as 25% of their total dietary intake. However, after six months, they should be weaned from legume hay and transitioned to an all-grass hay diet. Because it is high in calcium, alfalfa is also ideal for chinchillas that are recovering from sickness, as well as elderly chinchillas.
For healthy, adult chinchillas, alfalfa should be given sparingly. Too much can lead to obesity, urinary issues, and other health issues if given too frequently.
Coming from the same plants that we eat as cereal, oat hay is nutritious and rich in fiber. Oat hay is harvested early in its maturity, giving it a greenish tan color. It also smells very much like oats. This smell makes it appealing to animals (and their owners, too), leading to increased consumption.
Oat grain can be fed to chinchillas in unlimited amounts. However, it is best to mix it with other hay types for a balanced diet.
The Best Hays for Your Chinchilla
With all the types of hay on the market, it can be hard to pick the right one. Here are a few great brands that your chinchilla is sure to love:
If you want only the highest-quality timothy hay, this is the brand for you. Small Pet Select Timothy hay is high-grade, hand-selected, and prepared only in small batches. With this very selective processing method, you are assured only the best for your chinchilla. Smaller batches ensure that you are getting the best hay in every pack, without any small stalks. Its short processing time also ensures freshness, all while preventing the presence of mildew. Minimum handling finally ensures that your hay is crisp and clean.
Small Pet Select comes in a strong, corrugated box, which you can use to store your hay. Compared to plastic, the box allows air to pass through, lessening the chances of mildew or mold. The box also shields the hay from direct sunlight, ensuring freshness. Small Pet Select also offers second-cutting Timothy hay, which is commonly regarded to be the best type available. It has a good balance of seed-head and stem, making it both nutritious and healthy.
Of course, Small Pet Select has a great smell and taste with the healthiest ratio of fiber, protein, and fat – fit for chinchillas of all ages.
Choose this one if: You want only the highest quality timothy hay for your pet chin.
While second-cutting is often considered to be the best variety of Timothy hay, sometimes it just isn’t enough. For that reason, Small Pet Select also offers their 3rd Cutting Timothy Hay, for those times when the first cut just doesn’t cut it.
The third-cutting is perfect for chinchillas that need higher levels of fat and protein. These are usually growing chinchillas, which need as much protein as they can get while reaching maturity. However, it can also include those recovering from illness or injury, or elderly chinchillas. Picky eaters who don’t get enough protein in their diet can also benefit from third-cuttings. Small Pet Select 3rd Cutting is incredibly soft, making it ideal for chinchillas with mouth pain.
Choose this one if: You want high-quality, third-cutting timothy hay.
Known as one of the most reputable pet brands on the market, Oxbow Western Timothy is a tried and tested product that is beloved by many chinchilla owners.
Made by the company that first introduced timothy hay as a staple diet in small animals, you’re in good hands here. This hay is perfect for chinchillas of all ages, providing them with the right levels of fiber and protein. It also improves digestion while ensuring that your chin stays far from any dental issues.
Choose this one if: You want a tried and tested brand of timothy hay.
For those who would like an alternative to timothy hay without sacrificing quality, the Oxbow Orchard Grass Hay is ideal for you. It has a high nutritional content, it’s rich in fiber, and it’s low in protein. With Oxbow Orchard Grass, you can rest assured that your chin is getting enough sustenance, without risking obesity.
On top of that, Oxbow ensures that you’re only getting the best orchard hay for your chin, making it a healthy choice. As a perk, it smells sweet, enticing pet chins to take a bite.
Choose this one if: You want a high-quality alternative to timothy grass hay.
With Kaytee’s innovative wafer-cut design, hay doesn’t have to be a headache and a hassle. Imagine peeling a wafer of hay from the pack, and putting it in your chinchilla’s cage: no stray strands, no sweeping, just a quick and clean refill of your pet’s hay stack.
If that’s not enough, Kaytee also ensures that you’re getting no less than high-quality hay. Their hay is grown in just the right conditions and stored in a protected environment to ensure quality and nutrition. With its high fiber and low protein content, Kaytee Wafercut can aid in your chin’s digestive health and supplement their dietary needs.
Choose this one if: You want a no-mess approach to feeding your pet chin.
Now that you know about the best hays for chinchillas, go out there and choose the right one for you!