Celery is a vegetable that people tend to love or hate. It has certain health benefits for people, but what about chinchillas? Is it safe for your chinchilla?
The short answer is that celery is not the safest vegetable for your chinchilla. It can cause stomach upset and other health issues.
We look at celery in more detail and why it isn’t recommended for chinchillas. We also discuss how much celery is safe to give your chinchilla if you really want to (although you shouldn’t).
A Chinchilla’s Diet
These adorable and soft rodents hail from northern Chile in the Andes Mountains and are omnivores. In the wild, they eat primarily seeds, grasses, and leaves but will also eat bird’s eggs and insects when given the opportunity. Quite adorably, they hold their food in their front paws and nibble away.
In captivity, chinchillas eat high-quality hay, which makes up the majority of their diet and should be made available to them at all times. The grass and hay help wear down the chinchilla’s constantly growing teeth, which helps prevent severe dental disease.
For treats, chinchillas can have a small amount of root vegetables, dried fruit, plantains, and dried herbs as occasional treats. Food such as seeds, nuts, fruit, and sweet treats are all high in fat, and too much of these items can make the chinchilla ill and overweight.
Now that we know what chinchillas typically eat, let’s look at celery.
A Little Bit About Celery
Celery is native to parts of the Middle East and the Mediterranean. It was used as a medicine in ancient China and as a flavoring by the ancient Greeks and Romans. Today, it is grown around the world, but the U.S. is the top producer.
It belongs to the parsley family and is commonly used in soups and stews or eaten raw with dips and in salads.
Health Benefits of Celery
A few health benefits of celery include:
However, do chinchillas benefit from eating celery? Are these health benefits only for us?
Problems With Celery
While celery does have benefits, such as antioxidants, and is rich in vitamins and minerals, which can be good for your chinchilla, the bad outweighs the good.
Celery has a high water content, and while we might find it fibrous, it doesn’t have enough of the tough fibers that chinchillas require, like in grasses and hay.
Chinchillas require about 30 grams of fiber, and celery only provides 1.6 grams. Chinchillas also need 10 to 15 grams of water (from their food), and celery has 95.43 grams, which is well above what is necessary.
Celery and Chinchillas
Vegetables that are low in fiber and have high water content, like celery, can cause stomach distress in chinchillas. This combination can even lead to bloat, which is a sudden buildup of gas in the stomach. This is a painful condition that usually requires a vet’s help, and if left untreated, not only will the chinchilla be in distress, but it can be fatal.
The high water content can also lead to diarrhea. Chinchillas don’t require much water in their diets due to their origins in the Andes Mountains, which are quite arid. Therefore, their digestive systems aren’t used to taking in a large amount of water all at once.
Add the low fiber problem to the equation, and you’ll have runny poop problems. Fiber helps make the stool firmer and lets digestion take more time. The extra water and lack of fiber in celery means your chinchilla is unable to properly digest and absorb the excess water.
How Bad Is Celery for Chinchillas?
Celery is not toxic or poisonous to chinchillas, so that’s the good news. Bloat can occur if the chinchilla eats food that has a high water content and is low in fiber. Celery also contains sugars and does not have enough fat or protein for it to have any true nutritional value for a chinchilla.
Celery has just 1/10 of the fat and carbohydrates that a chinchilla needs and only 1/30 of the protein. This all just highlights that celery and chinchillas really shouldn’t mix.
How Much Celery Is Okay?
No celery at all is best. Bloat can occur with any change in the diet, and chinchillas are particularly sensitive to this. But if you’re determined to give your pet some celery, then it shouldn’t be more than once per week and in a tiny portion, about the size of your pinky’s fingernail.
But there are more treats out there that your chinchilla will enjoy and are safe.
There are several treats that you can give your chinchilla that are safe and that they should like (depending on how picky your pet is):
Remember that even though these treats are safe, they still shouldn’t be offered every day or in large quantities.
Related Read: 10 Best Chinchilla Treats: Reviews & Top Picks
Celery and chinchillas are just not a good mix. Always keep in mind where these animals come from, as that can help guide you in what items are best for your pet in the long run. The most important thing that you can do for your chinchilla is to ensure they have access to timothy hay, pellets designed for chinchillas, and constant access to water.
If you’re ever in doubt or have questions, speak to your vet. They can help guide you with different ideas and methods so you can provide your chinchilla with healthy treats and thus, ensure their happiness and continued health.
Featured Image Credit: Lebensmittelfotos, Pixabay