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Can Chinchillas Eat Peanuts? What You Need To Know!

chinchilla eating a nut

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.

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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 on white ceramic bow
Image Credit: Piqsels

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.

  • A chinchilla’s stomach is made to break down rough fibers. These are often found in hay, and a chinchilla can survive on a diet of hay alone. While some may balk at the idea, not every animal needs the same varied diet that humans do.
  • Peanuts don’t have an exceptionally high rough fiber content. Chinchillas’ stomachs don’t have or create the enzymes needed to break down peanuts effectively. When digestion is delayed, the peanuts can ferment and cause gas build-up.
  • While a human would become flatulent, chinchillas cannot pass gas as easily as humans (and some humans have difficulty with it as well.) A chinchilla will not only feel ill, but their stomach lining can tear and burst from the gas build-up.
  • Gas build-up can be fatal to chinchillas. So, while your chinchilla won’t die from a single peanut they got by accident, you shouldn’t make a habit of feeding your chinchilla peanuts.
  • The lack of fiber in peanuts is a problem too. Eating too many peanuts can cause indigestion, and your chinchilla may experience diarrhea or soft stools if they’re not getting enough fiber.
  • Salted peanuts are even worse than regular peanuts because the sodium content is far too high. Raw peanuts and peanut butter still have fat contents that are too high to be appropriate for a chinchilla’s diet.

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.

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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.

Peanut Shells

peanut shells
Image Credit: Dasagani Ramesh, Pixabay

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.

Dried Fruits

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!

raisins in woode spoon
Image Credit: StepanPopov, Shutterstock

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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

Yogurt drops are very high in sugars and fats. They should be avoided in your chinchilla’s diet.

Seed Sticks

Seed sticks have very little nutritional value for chinchillas. Seeds and nuts are also very high in fats and should be avoided.

Corn

Corn is toxic to chinchillas and must be avoided at all costs.

corn
Image Credit: mute_gemini, Pixabay

Chocolate

Chocolate is so high in fats and sugars that it can be dangerous for animals to consume.

Dairy

Anything containing dairy must be avoided. The digestive upset caused by dairy can be fatal to a chinchilla.

Citrus Fruits

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.

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Conclusion

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

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