Happy March everyone!
For the month of February, zero (0) chinchillas were surrendered and zero (0) chinchillas were adopted. We did receive an inquiry regarding a local person who needs to rehome an entire herd. This seems to happen about twice per year. It just never ends.
Anyway! We're on a roll after yesterday's educational post. I'd like to elaborate on the dangers of choices people make when feeding treats and supplements.
Over the years we've actually removed some of our store items because we've seen far too many people abuse "moderation". For example, we've had customers order supplement, and oats, and barley and admit they mixed them for a higher grain content and add it to the pellets! Without going into a lengthy post about the phosphorus/calcium ratio, suffice it to say that the supplement mixes are carefully measured and suggested serving sizes are there for a specific purpose. Adding extra grains to a supplement, mixing brands or giving multiple supplements is in actuality, very dangerous.
A chinchilla's natural diet should be very, very bland and high in fiber. Fiber is absolutely essential for proper tooth and digestive function. If a chinchilla is filling up on supplements and treats, the only thing they are getting is extra calories, but not the necessary roughage. When a chinchilla diet is high in calorie enriched foods, they are less likely to want to fill up on fiber (hay). Consuming too many nutrient dense foods can lead to fatty liver disease, malocclusion, gastric stasis, etc.
Oh! Here's another example! Someone I know used to take high doses of multivitamins. Vitamins are good, right? Not necessarily. A body can only absorb so much. With water soluble vitamins, the body simply excretes the excess through the urinary system. But fat soluble vitamins build dangerous excess in the body. In the case with this person I know, she actually developed gastric ulcers....from vitamins.
Think of it this way, when growing a garden, fertilizers are added to produce more robust greenery, more flowers, fruits, a stronger root system. If the wrong type of fertilizer is used, too much, or two little your plants will suffer. Our chinchilla friends are like plants in a garden. They are fully at our mercy to provide them with their needs. When we feed them foods high in calories, such as added grains, fruits, highly processed commercial treats, SOMETHING will overgrow. I am beginning to suspect that overgrown tooth roots (malocclusion) is due in part to domesticated chins eating foods that are not only too soft, but too rich.
The only exceptions would be chins who are actively growing, pregnant, nursing or recovering from illness. A healthy, fully grown chinchilla does not need supplements as part of their daily diet. Overfeeding your chin, even "healthy" foods can still cause damage. This is why we encourage our customers to make choices for their chinchillas that are as close to what they would find in the natural chinchilla habitat. Safe choices would be rosehips, dried flowers and herbs, seagrass, chew toys and clean, dried wood chews and pumice.
I hope today's post shed some light on the issues surrounding choices in food items for your pet.