If your question is, “will my chinchilla die from eating a peanut,” you can rest assured that peanuts are a chinchilla-safe food. However, being safe does not mean the food is recommended for their diet. While a single peanut won’t cause your chinchilla to perish, they shouldn’t be fed as a regular food or even a regular treat. Here’s why.
Peanuts Have Too Much Fat
Peanuts are filled with fats and don’t have enough fiber. While fats aren’t the enemy the way some people think they are, they contain a higher density of calories than fibers. Peanuts contain almost three times the caloric content that a chinchilla should be getting. So, even if they aren’t poisonous, they shouldn’t make up the crux of your chinchilla’s diet. Very few veterinarians would even recommend feeding peanuts as a treat.
Feeding peanuts regularly, even as a treat, could cause your chinchilla to gain weight rapidly. Chinchillas are driven to consume foods with a high caloric density. Such foods are scarce in the wild, and this drive is seen in most animals. Even humans can quickly become addicted to foods with incredibly high caloric densities.
Even though your chinchilla may love peanuts and they aren’t outright poisonous, veterinarians would recommend that you avoid feeding your chinchilla peanuts because they can cause the chinchilla to gain weight too quickly.
In a domestic setting, chinchillas don’t need to forage or outrun predators, so they don’t work off the calories they’re eating the way they would in the wild. In the wild, the occasional peanut would be exercised away just in the chinchilla’s daily life.
Peanuts Can Cause Bloating and Indigestion
In addition to being too calorically dense for a chinchilla, there’s also the problem of the other nutritional contents in peanuts.
Overall, we recommend not feeding your chinchilla peanuts. They’re not appropriate in content for a chinchilla’s diet and can have harmful effects on their health.
What Are Some Appropriate Treats for Chinchillas?
Chinchillas are rodents which means they have open-rooted incisor teeth that grow indefinitely. Chinchillas will gnaw on hard objects to wear down their teeth. If they don’t do this, their teeth will grow to uncomfortable lengths or even grow through the skin of their mouth.
Chinchillas will need plenty of toys to chew on in their day-by-day life. Most chinchilla parents like to give their chinchillas woodblocks, particularly those made of applewood. Some woods can be poisonous and even deadly to small animals who chew on them since some amount of the chew toy will inevitably be ingested.
While peanuts aren’t good for a chinchilla’s health, peanut shells are fantastic. Peanut shells are far too rigid and fibrous for humans, but that’s what makes them perfect for chinchillas.
Chinchillas can gnaw on them to help wear down their teeth, and peanut shells are safe and even appropriate for a chinchilla to ingest.
While a chinchilla will be fine with having their regular chew toys, they won’t object to a little bit of variety in their lives. Giving them a new chew toy like peanut shells can help with boredom and provide a healthy snack while they wear down their teeth.
Dried Rose Hips
Dried rose hips are a great treat that is healthy and delicious. Dried rose hips are high in fiber and vitamin C, making them an excellent option for chinchillas. This kind of ruffage is easy for chinchillas to digest and provides essential nutrients for the diet.
Dried herbs can also be offered to your chinchilla several times a week in small amounts. Dandelion greens, rosemary, hibiscus, parsley, and strawberry or blackberry leaves can provide essential nutrients and are a nice deviation from the usual hay.
Raisins and dried cranberries can be given sparingly, but they’re high in sugar. Raisins are about 70% sugar, and a chinchilla’s diet should be less than 4% sugar. Raisins and dried cranberries should be fed no more than once a week.
Fresh and dried fruits can be a good treat if you give them an amount no bigger than a raisin. Like raisins, they’re high in sugar and shouldn’t be provided too often because they aren’t very healthy.
Related Read: Can Chinchillas Eat Apples? What You Need to Know!
What Other Foods Should I Avoid?
There are a lot of treats that are commonly marketed to chinchillas that prospective parents should avoid. While chinchillas are becoming a more popular pet, they don’t have the most powerful dedicated industry, and many commercial treats for small pets are pretty bad for them health-wise.
Yogurt drops are very high in sugars and fats. They should be avoided in your chinchilla’s diet.
Seed sticks have very little nutritional value for chinchillas. Seeds and nuts are also very high in fats and should be avoided.
Corn is toxic to chinchillas and must be avoided at all costs.
Chocolate is so high in fats and sugars that it can be dangerous for animals to consume.
Anything containing dairy must be avoided. The digestive upset caused by dairy can be fatal to a chinchilla.
Citrus fruits are high in acids, and chinchillas have difficulty handling highly acidic foods.
Fruits With High Water Contents
Fruits that have dense water contents can give your chinchilla diarrhea.
Peanuts may not be poisonous to chinchillas, but they don’t represent good nutrition for them either. Even though you can’t feed your chinchilla peanuts, there are plenty of other excellent options for treats. We hope we’ve helped you get closer to finding the perfect blend of foods for your chinchilla!
Featured Image Credit: Edel-in-Wonderland, Shutterstock