Why food kills chinchillas
I’ll spell it out. Too few people will read it and too few will believe it. They will also not check up on what I will write now but it will mean I did my part.
Over the years I wrote in detail about the nutritional needs of chinchillas. I wrote a detailed article about Vitamins, exactly how each Vitamin is vital to the body and how it influences every single thing that happens on cellular level. I explained how everything is interlinked and forms a chain. Take out just one part, replace it with another or add something that doesn’t belong and you weaken the chain.
The human body works the same. If you eat unhealthy, your body pays the price. There must be a balance in what you eat to stay healthy, every organism on this earth needs a specific balance to fulfill it’s specific needs. The information for this is available. You can find the nutritional needs of any species that has some value to humans.
In the past I shied away from discussing specific brands of food and I shied away from attacking what others in South Africa sells as chinchilla food. I gave all the facts in the past and hoped that people will take the trouble to read and understand it. This didn’t work so I will tell you exactly. To protect myself, this is my own opinion, the way I see it. I will still not name brands.
What is a balanced diet? Take a human. Dish up a plate of food. There is a bit of meat, potatoes, carrots, spinach, cabbage, a fresh green salad and a small bowl of ice cream. All in all a pretty well balanced meal. You can even market it as a well balanced meal. You can say this meal contains, eg, 15% Protein, 30% carbohydrates, 30% fiber, 2% calcium, Vit A, B, C, D, E, K, Omega 3 and 6, iron, phosphorus, choline, etc. You will be perfectly right and it will be true.
Now you eat the meal. Instead of eating everything, you eat the meat and the ice cream because it tastes better than the veggies and salad. Did you have a balanced meal? Off course not. You got the protein, iron, some sugar and a few other things. What about the rest?
Healthy humans don’t eat like this, you make choices. Have you ever paid attention to how a chinchilla eats? The first thing it will do is pick out all the tit bits, the dried fruit, etc. It will not eat the pellets. If it knows there will be more coming, it will not eat the pellets, why should it? There is better stuff coming. Just wait, the human will give more. This makes certain brands of food sell very well, after all the chinchillas love it. Kids love candy too. There is no way on this earth they will ever get a balanced diet this way. What is in that packet is balanced, it is no lie. They just don’t eat it all.
Do you know what most rescues by far die of? Fatty liver disease. I wrote about it in detail. Do you know on which diet most of them were? The imported food that contains a lot of treats. The ones that were not on imported food were on rabbit pellets. The average age they live to? 6 Years.
I don’t only take rescues. I also take chinchillas that come here to retire because their owners can’t care for them anymore. They come with the food they were on. The ones that have been on treat filled imported food for most of their lives all die before they are 6 years old. So does the ones who were on rabbit pellets. The ones that were on either our food or the same lucerne pellets we use are all still here, every single one. Not ONE that was on the right diet died, except the ones who got way too many treats, they died. Some arrived here as old chinchillas and have been here for over 6 years now. They don’t even look old yet.
People don’t realize the huge impact food have on the immune system and on future generations. If the immune system is weak because of bad food or because of poor nutrition received from the mother, all it takes is the stress of a move to trigger an underlying disease like fatty liver or a parasite like giardia. Once it is triggered, there is nothing you can do to reverse fatty liver disease. With a parasite you have a small chance. So far the longest any chinchilla that arrived here with giardia lived was 6 months, that is with treatment from the moment I noticed it and the treatment is 100% effective on chinchillas on a good diet. I have enough friends that took in very young chinchillas that suddenly got giardia because of stress. They were on the right diet from an early age and are all still alive.
The thing I get often nowadays is that someone will phone me with a problem. I will ask what they feed and they will answer that they feed my food. So I ask a bit more. It will turn out that they don’t buy it from me, they buy it from someone else. Because it looks the same it must be the same. It is not.
It is no secret how I make the food. It is on my website and I put it on here a few months ago, with the manufacturers. You can buy it from exactly where I buy it because I gave you all the information.
I got a call this morning from someone who used to buy from me. She took in a male chinchilla that weighed over 650g. He is not big, he was fat. She changed him to our food and he lost almost 150g. He was healthy and fit. She started buying from someone who makes “my” food. In a month he picked up over 100g. She phoned me because she was concerned about his sudden weight gain. On Monday I will courier her food at my expense and we will hope there was not too much damage.
This is how it all happened. I started making MiniMagic over 7 years ago, after months of research. I started selling it to friends after a lot more research. Shops heard about it and a few buys from me. Later Willie started helping me because I am not good with business and actually lost money.
About 3 years ago the “recipe” was freely handed out to some people and they started making and selling it. No problem with that, it goes about the chinchillas. It was on my website all along anyways. It just became personal but not for me. If you read what I write you should realize by now that it all goes about what is best for the chinchillas.
Over the years I helped “friends” to save them money. They became competition. There is nothing wrong with healthy competition. It is just cheaper to use other ingredients and it increases the profit. Suddenly I started getting more and more calls from people who lost babies, mothers and had problems with bloat, constipation and diarrhea. They can’t understand why because they use “my” food.
Turns out they don’t. They use one of the same pellets. The rest they buy from other mills. Since it looks the same it should be the same. It is not. Why didn’t they lose babies all the years they bought from me. Why didn’t their chinchillas get bloat, constipation or diarrhea? Why does it happen now?
Here’s why. I said this often and will say it again before I explain. You don’t have to buy from me, I have very loyal customers that will never buy from anyone else. You can buy from exactly the mills I buy from and make the food exactly the same way I do. Only you don’t because it is too expensive and the profit is too small.
It goes about the balance and the ingredients the pellets are made of. By this time everyone knows Leeuwfontein pellets are good because I told everyone. They even copied my label so I had to change it. For all I know, someone can have exactly the same food I do. I just doubt it. I doubt they use the same lucerne (alfalfa) pellets. The pellets I use is the most expensive in South Africa. You can buy rabbit pellets that looks exactly the same for half the price. Who will know? You can change the ratio of Leeuwfontein pellets to lucerne pellets because the round pellets costs 5 times what the lucerne pellets costs. It will still look good, all you do is add a lot of goji berries, some breakfast cereal and who-knows-what.
This gives you a food that looks pretty impressive and they love it. Have you noticed that they eat out all the round pellets and treats? They eat very little of the “lucerne” pellets. The round pellets on it’s own is a good diet, nothing wrong with it. It just lacks fiber and a few other things you only get in good lucerne pellets. The problem with the other pellets is that there are far cheaper sources of protein than lucerne and soya. There are also far cheaper sources of vitamins and minerals than wheat millings. You can boost the protein with animal products like fish meal or bone meal. You can boost vitamins and minerals with synthetic additives. There are even international brands that use powdered milk.
Regulations in South Africa are terrible. Did you know that any pellets must be registered? It must have a number and the packaging must contain certain information? This will tell you what is used to make it. Did you know that a lot of the synthetic additives are banned in other countries and banned from human food? Did you realize that a chinchilla body can’t break down all animal protein? Most turns into fat, which causes fatty liver disease. They grow fast, look great for a few years and die young.
Did you know that a lot of the synthetic additives and “cheaper” sources of nutrition can’t be broken down by the chinchilla body? It causes fatty liver disease and kidney damage. It also prevents the body from using what is actually there.
You see it in the fur, in the babies and as they age. If it doesn’t matter to you that they die young, I can’t help you. If your chinchilla suddenly gains a lot of weight, this is probably why. Or you feed too many treats. A chinchilla will only eat so much in 24 hours. Except for treats, they will stuff their faces with treats, just like kids with cake. This leaves no space and no appetite for the healthy nutrition they need. This is why I don’t give treats and why everything in the food is there for a specific reason, also in a very specific ratio. It goes about a healthy balance.
People know my chinchillas and they know Willie’s chinchillas. I get many visitors, so does Willie. You can see what we feed. Have you ever seen any of the chinchillas I bred and kept that is sick? Ever? When something goes wrong or I lose a chinchilla I write about it because it helps others. Have you noticed that I do not lose a single baby from parents I bred, not one so far. I lost babies in the past and some died after I sold them.
I bought those parents, years ago. I didn’t breed them. When there was a genetic fault, I replaced them, free of charge. I systematically replaced all my breeding chinchillas with babies I bred from chinnies I bought. I still have a few I bought and a few I got as presents. Every single baby I lost was from one of those, not from parents I bred and raised.
I will not speak for other breeders and I hate using my chinchillas as example because it sounds like bragging. I don’t tell people how popular my chinchillas are or how good they are. There are much better breeders than I am.
So why are my chinchillas so popular? Because so few of them die and they make such good parents. I also replace a young chinnie that dies. This hasn’t happened in 2 years. I lose babies from parents I didn’t breed but I haven’t lost a baby older than 10 weeks in 2 years. Willie breeds with them, so does a few friends. In fact, I lost only 2 that were older than 10 weeks in the past few years. Both were from parents I didn’t breed and those parents are retired now, there was no more litters.
Chinchillas can die at any time, I wrote 2 pieces on it that got a tremendous amount of views. There is always a reason. If they die before they are about 15 years old or even more, it is most likely not natural. It is either bad breeding, bad husbandry or bad food. Bad food includes treats. I am very happy with what I achieved over the past 8 years. I still have every single adult chinchilla I bred and kept, I didn’t lose one. All I lost came from elsewhere. The only time I see my Vet is with a rescue or with a friend. She even refers people to me.
It is the food. It is what the food is made of. It is the balance. It is what is in the food and what is not in the food. It is what I feed them and what I don’t feed them, nothing else. I even wrote exactly what I do to try and help people. They don’t believe me. I can’t make them read and I can’t make them believe me. I am very happy with the condition of my chinchillas and the extremely low mortality rate. I am especially happy that I still have a 0% adult mortality rate with chinnies I bred. Some of them are almost 8 years old now.
The food people sell here will always be known as “my” food, after all I came up with it and nobody can take it away from me. It took them 5 years to realize it is good and there is money in it. It took them exactly ONE bunch of their own version to totally screw it up because they want to save costs and they didn’t do the research. It is all available. Hell, I even wrote about it with references, from recognized published academic papers. They never checked and never realized.
This is why so many chinchillas suddenly die young and why breeders lose so many babies. This is why nobody does exactly the same I do. It is too expensive, they will not do it for such a small profit. It is easier to just throw a bunch of stuff in a bag and sell it as chinchilla food. Even big companies does it, why shouldn’t you?
I have done my bit. Few will read this and more chinchillas will die. I believe in total openness and honesty. I share everything. I told you how to make the food exactly like I do. I told you why and I told you what will happen if you don’t. It’s happening and it will happen more and more. All the complications and problems that is suddenly around is bad food, too many treats and stupid breeding choices.
If you feed your chinchillas rubbish, don’t phone me with your problems. I can’t fix it. The damage is permanent, you can’t reverse it. Take the time to read about it. Ask people who actually know. It is all available.
You don’t have to buy my food. I shared everything. All you need to do is buy the right food and mix it in the right balance. Since there are cheaper options, people don’t do it.
If you don’t listen, I can’t help you.