Guinea Pigs and Chinchilla are both furry mammals, herbivores, both are classified as “pocket pets” and actually share some interesting similarities, but do they share their diet? can guinea pigs eat chinchilla food?
No. You should not feed your guinea pig with chinchilla food. Both rodents differ greatly in their nutrition requirements. Yes, both need access to clean water all the time and good quality hay, but this is where their diets begin to separate. You should avoid giving your guinea pig chinchilla pellets or any other chinchilla food.
Now, when we know we shouldn’t give our guinea pig chinchilla food, let’s take a closer look at these rodent’s nutrition needs and why exactly it’s not something we want to do.
Guinea Pig Nutrition Requirements
Guinea pigs basically need hay and fresh vegetables. Timothy Hay is perfectly fine for adults and I would use Alfalfa hay which is rich in calories and calcium for babies and pregnant mothers. I want to make a very important topic clear before we continue, I hear some people say guinea pigs need calcium and this is not accurate and may cause very serious health problems if not used appropriately. The mineral calcium may be harmful to guinea pigs. They only need it when they are growing and in development. Fully grown guinea pigs cannot consume this mineral in normal or high amounts as it may cause them urinary issues.
Guinea pigs require vitamin-C rich foods in their daily diet. Vitamin-C is the most important aspect of a guinea pig diet.
I recommend you use some vitamin-C pellets with no seeds or dried food added. Notice that Nuts and seeds should be avoided as it contains high fats and can cause our cavy to get ill!
About ⅛ cup of pellets once a day should be exactly fine. Make sure your guinea pig has access to hay which will help its digestion and limit their teeth growth (which actually continues to grow constantly! – You know that?).
In addition to pellets and hay, all guinea pigs should be provided with some fruits and veggies.
For veggies, Kale, cabbage, and parsley are great sources of vitamin-C and are just great for our guinea pig. Fruits should be limited as it contains a high amount of sugar which may cause serious, even life-threatening diarrhea to our guinea pig. Let’s say, one cup of vegetables and fruits in total for a day is fine. You can see here how to feed your guinea pig.
And let’s not forget water! Both chinchilla and guinea pig needs access to fresh clean water all of the time. They can both get sick without water. Guinea pigs require a minimum of 80-100mls water per day while chinchilla will be satisfied with ~60ml. We don’t want our pets to be dehydrated, right?
Can Guinea Pigs Eat Chinchilla Food?
The short answer is No. The long answer is also No. Chinchilla and guinea pigs differ in their nutrition requirements. Guinea pig’s food is filled with vitamin-C, and usually contains less calcium in it. (For baby guinea pig, calcium is more needed)
If we’ll inspect chinchilla nutrition needs we will see they require 3.5% fats, 14-16% protein, and 30% fiber. If we’ll take a look over the chinchilla pellet we will see it contains at least 0.75% calcium while for guinea pigs the max calcium in a pellet is 0.6%.
Chinchilla pellets usually based on extra vitamins and minerals, filled with fiber, carbohydrate, and protein, created exactly for chinchilla needs, and not for guinea pigs.
Why Do I Need To Give My Guinea Pig Vitamin C?
All animals except apes can make their own vitamin-C. They usually process it from glucose. However, the only animal that can’t produce their own vitamin-C is, yes, you guessed right, our guinea pig.
This is the reason we should supplement our cavy with external sources of vitamin-C.
A lack of vitamin-C will make our guinea pig weak and may also cause skin problems,
and even diarrhea. This kind of situation should be seen ASAP by your local vet.
Vitamin-C, in general, and in guinea pigs as well, acts as an antioxidant, keeping the body clean from any type of infection or disease.
Guinea pigs need ~10-50mg of vitamin-C per day. It does depend on your guinea pig age, health condition, and some other parameters. If you just got your guinea pig, I suggest you take it to a vet to get a valid recommendation on what amount of vitamin-C it needs on daily basis.
It’s very important to monitor your guinea pig pellets are used within 90 days from the day of manufacture. If not, the vitamin-C will just degrade and your guinea pig will not get his needed amount properly.
For chinchilla things are different and they can produce their own vitamin-C. It had been shown over some researches from the 50s and it’s also supported today that vitamin-C is not required as part of the chinchilla diet.
Can Chinchilla Eat Guinea Pig Food?
So we already answered the question can guinea pigs eat chinchilla food, and now we are asking the opposite.
I guess by now, it’s clear, the answer is No. We understand that the nutrition requirements of these two rodents are different.
Bottom line, using guinea pig’s food for chinchilla will affect the health of your chinchilla.
You should avoid feeding chinchillas with guinea pig’s food.
A chinchilla’s diet should consist of 30% fiber, 14-16% protein which is necessary for its growth and strength, 35% carbohydrate, 3.5% fat and oil, 4% sugar, 6% minerals, and 10% moisture/trace element. Anything other than this will have effects on a chinchilla’s health. You should feed your chinchilla only with chinchilla food.
Chinchilla and guinea pig are both herbivores, both rodents from South America, and have lots of other similarities which makes me think they will share the same evolutionary but not when it comes to their diet.
Vitamin-c is the most important aspect when it comes to guinea pigs and lack of it may cause very serious health issues to your pet.
However, chinchilla produces vitamin-C naturally and in general, its nutrition requirements are totally different than guinea pigs.
So, let’s keep it simple, and go by the books here, we give our guinea pig only guinea pigs food, and for our chinchilla, we use only chinchilla food.