Rabbit food or chinchilla food
This is just something I’m thinking of and I will write about the food later. I need to calm down first.
There is this big debate about rabbit food or chinchilla food. Let me tell you a secret. Chinchilla food is modified rabbit food. The argument is always “Chinchillas are not rabbits”. No, they are not. Chinchillas are from the order Rodentia and rabbits are from the order Lagomorpha.
What is the difference. Rodents are not always strictly herbivores, a lot of them eat insects and meat. Lagomorphs tend to be strictly herbivore, with very few exceptions. This is where people get the misconception that chinchillas eats insects. They read about rodents and applied it to chinchillas. You can’t. The other difference between rodents and lagomorphs are the teeth. Lagomorphs have the same type of teeth as rodents, they just have more. They have 4 incisors in the upper jaw. Just like chinchillas, the teeth grow throughout their lives.
I studied the natural diet of chinchillas, as documented by researchers working on the Reserva in Chile. They studied the poop of wild chinchillas over a few years. From this they could identify everything chinchillas ate and how it changed with the seasons. There was no evidence of anything but plants, making chinchillas in nature strictly herbivores.
When you then compare chinchillas to the rest of the rodents, you will find that apart from the amount of teeth, they are more like rabbits than like a lot of the other rodents, like rats, mice, etc. The same applies for cavies (guinea pigs) and a lot of other rodents. All that differs is the amount of teeth.
Take it a step further and look at the nutritional needs. Compare the nutritional needs of a rabbit to that of a chinchilla, or a guinea pig for that matter. I’ll bet you didn’t ever think of this. Take mammals. They all need the same stuff, protein, carbohydrates, fat, sugar, vitamins, minerals, etc. They just need it in different quantities and they get it from different sources.
Apart from their teeth, a chinchilla and a rabbit needs the same nutrients, in pretty much the same quantities. What else differs? The way they digest it. Rabbits need a lot more greens and chinchillas can’t eat a lot of greens. It goes about the moisture content, not the nutrients it contains. Rabbits also need hay for fiber but they get fiber from greens too. Rabbits need to keep their teeth short too. Chinchillas can’t eat all the greens so they need it from dry leaves, bark, roots etc, the stuff they eat in nature. We give them hay to make up for this. If you compare the nutrients chinchillas need to the greens a healthy rabbit should eat, you will notice that it is pretty much a match. Chinchillas just can’t handle all the moisture.
This makes the diet of a chinchilla more similar to the diet of a rabbit than to the diet of many other rodents, it is just the teeth and the way the digestive system works. It is because of the habitat they involved in, the basic nutritional needs are the same. They just get it from different sources.
So why isn’t rabbit food good? Because of protein and fat. A rabbit can cope with more protein and fat than a chinchilla can. It can also cope with less fiber. The difference is not big though. The main reason rabbit pellets is not good for chinchillas is the high protein and fat, it also tends to lack vitamins and minerals and contain a lot less fiber.
Why? Because rabbit food was developed to make rabbits grow fast, not to make them live long. Rabbits are still seen as livestock, they are bred for food. There is no need for them to live 15-20 years because they get eaten long before that age.
A little secret. How do breeders get such big chinnies and get them to grow so fast? They feed them rabbit food. Boost the protein and fat and they get bigger, breed faster and give bigger kits. They also die a lot younger.
In recent years there have been a shift from the traditional rabbit pellets to more specialized rabbit pellets for pet rabbits. Did anyone think of comparing the 2? I did. I also compared a lot of chinchilla food brands to both the nutritional needs of chinchillas and to the specialized rabbit pellets.
Based on what they eat in nature and the research done and published by the biologists doing research in the Reserva in Chile, you get a very accurate picture of what the nutritional needs of chinchillas are. Take this info, I wrote about it a few months ago and quoted the sources, and compare it to traditional rabbit pellets, the new healthier rabbit pellets, the different brands of chinchilla pellets and you get the following.
The newer, healthier and more specialized rabbit pellets are closer to the nutritional needs of a chinchilla than a lot of “specialized” chinchilla pellets on the market. The traditional rabbit pellets are not, they contain too much protein and fat, often from an animal source like fish meal or bone meal.
Healthy food for chinchillas and healthy food for rabbits are the same. I had rabbits for many years. The moment I discovered what I now feed my chinchillas (and have for the past 7 years) I started feeding my rabbits what I feed my chinchillas. I gave away the last rescue rabbits I had a few months ago. The change I noticed when I changed their diet to a chinchilla diet was remarkable.
Traditional rabbit pellets are still made to make a lot of rabbits and to make them get big and fat fast. These properties are used by breeders to achieve the same in chinchillas. There are brands of chinchilla food that achieves the same.
I couldn’t care less what it is called. I look at what it is made of and what the nutritional values are. For me it goes about if it is made from the right plants, with the right percentages of the right nutrients, the right vitamins and the right minerals. They can call it chicken food for all I care.
I can promise you this. There are brands of rabbit food that is more suitable for chinchillas than a lot of brands of chinchilla food is. Just because it has a picture of a chinchilla on the packet, it doesn’t mean it is good.
In our day and age all this information is available, people just don’t read it. Just like they won’t read this and won’t check up on what I said.
I will write an article later about food, why it kills chinchillas. I have enough examples but currently I am way too upset, I can’t get personal and right now I will.