Proper Nutrition: know your vitamins to prevention of diseases in Chinchillas

Updated 11/1/2017 Added Burgess Excel, Supreme Selective, Purina Chow Rabbit. Corrected some conversions of mg/kg to IU/kg.


The small animal body such as Chinchillas require proteins, carbohydrates, fats, minerals and water for its growth, maintenance and reproduction. Every substance need to be adequate and well balanced in its food intake. All these are feed through the alimentary canal and absorbed by process of digestion along with the oxygen breathed through lungs to constitutes the nutrition of small animals like Chinchillas. In all the most all cases, the predominant reason for disease is the lowered of one’s body resistance due to inadequate nutrition.

For herbivorous animals (chinchillas), its diet requires a longer period of digestion as such the stomach is larger, the caecum is also larger and the intestinal tract is also longer. As such, the methods of absorption of nutrients and minerals are slightly different from us humans. At different stages of their life cycle, the needs of these may differed greatly. For example, calcium and phosphorus requirements of a lactating or pregnant animals. Pet owners should not be expecting the chinchilla to stay healthy with same diet and clean environment (another topic for another day).  Thus,the constant need to find tuning nutritional needs of the chinchilla as it ages becomes a paramount task for most concern owners.Failure or neglect could resulted in sickness, veterinarian visits, constant medication feeding and death of the animal itself.

What we have not talk or covered so far are the vitamins: Some say you need professional help to advice you before supplementing your animals. Some say you don’t need to supplement your animals. Both are true and untrue. If your feed has every crucial vitamins in them, you don’t need to do much. That’s why you don’t gamble with the quality of your feed.

Vitamin A

Vitamin A deficiency exposed the body to respiratory disease, gastro-intestinal and kidney conditions. The impact on pregnant females in higher with breeders on rabbit diets with low Vitamin A as they tends to interfere with reproduction and affects its young. That is why is much higher is some pellet diets (Kennedy: 31+IU/kg, Alice max 50k+ IU/kg). But in reality , current pellets

  • Tradition ~7k IU/kg,
  • Brytin ~7k IU/kg,
  • Mazuri ~20k IU/kg
  • Oxbow 19k IU/kg (but reducing to 10k IU/kg)
  • APD unknown
  • Vitakraft Complete 20k IU/kg
  • Burgess Excel 30k IU/kg
  • Supreme Selective  15k IU/kg
  • Purina Rabbit Chow ~11k IU/kg

It is uncommon to see hypervitaminosis A (Vitamin A toxicity) conditions such as yellow fats, hypercalcaemia, liver problems, fur problems in high Vitamin A diet animals. Never feed cod liver oil.

Vitamin B

Vitamin B are growth nutrients for the body. Deficiency of these vitamins are not uncommon in Singapore resulting in lost of appetite, nervousness and may result in deaths. The list such as Thiamin, Riboflavin, Niacin, Pyridoxine, Folic Acid, Vitamin B12, Pantothenic Acid, Biotin, and Choline.

  • Tradition – added some but numbers unknown
  • Brytin – added some but numbers unknown
  • Mazuri – extensive data in the nutritional analysis pdf.
  • Oxbow – added some but numbers unknown
  • APD – added some but numbers unknown
  • Vitakraft – added some but numbers unknown
  • Burgess Excel – added some but numbers unknown
  • Supreme Selective  – added some but numbers unknown
  • Purina Rabbit Chow – added some but numbers unknown

Nerve damage symptoms are common in B1 deficient diets in pregnant females resulting in seizures and death. Unknown to many, feeding hay provides large amount of B1 vitamins. Cobalamin B12 is known to extend life, even if gastro-intestinal tract absorption is impaired by gastric atrophy (pernicious anemia). Vitamin B is known to prevent and treating yellow fats.

Vitamin C

Although it is widely known, that chinchilla’s body manufacture Vitamin C, Vitamin C additives help chinchillas with tooth and gum problems. It is also known as an important cofactor for many enzymatic reactions, provides laxative effect and could contributes to better fur animal. Common natural source of Vitamin C inclusive of rosehip. Usually Vitamin C content is stable in pellets for a period of a year. Rabbit feeds usually do not contain any Vitamin C additives.

  • Tradition – added some but numbers unknown
  • Brytin – added some but numbers unknown
  • Mazuri – ~2.3k IU/kg
  • Oxbow – added some but numbers unknown
  • APD – added some but numbers unknown
  • Vitakraft – added some but numbers unknown
  • Burgess Excel – ~16.5k IU/kg
  • Supreme Selective  – numbers unknown
  • Purina Rabbit Chow – numbers unknown

Vitamin D

The sunshine vitamin is necessary for the calcification of normal bones. That’s why it is important to have sunlight into your chinchilla room. Balanced calcium, phosphorus and Vitamin D is essential to prevent seizures due to disturbed calcium metabolism.

  • Tradition – ~2.6k IU/kg
  • Brytin – ~2.6k IU/kg
  • Mazuri – ~1.8k IU/kg
  • Oxbow – min 0.9k IU/kg
  • APD – added some but numbers unknown
  • Vitakraft – 0.9k IU/kg
  • Burgess Excel – 3.5k IU/kg
  • Supreme Selective  – 1.5k IU/kg
  • Purina Rabbit Chow – added some but numbers unknown

Vitamin E

Vitamin E is largely associated to good health and reproduction. It is an essential vitamin in prevention of yellow fat conditions and prevent faulty liver metabolism. Vitamin E is part of the metabolism of carotene into Vitamin A  and cardio vasicular activities. But it can also lead to Vitamin K deficiency and hypervitaminosis E can be life-threatening too (Experiments in rats: max 4000 IU/kg). Good source of Vitamin E could be flaxseed

  • Tradition – 110 IU/kg (changed from 55 IU/kg)
  • Brytin – ~110 IU/kg (changed from 55 IU/kgincreased from 55 IU/kg)
  • Mazuri – 225 IU/kg
  • Oxbow – 190 IU/kg
  • APD – numbers unknown
  • Vitakraft – numbers unknown
  • Burgess Excel – 155 IU/kg
  • Supreme Selective  – min 50 IU/kg
  • Purina Rabbit Chow – numbers unknown

Vitamin K

Vitamin K deficiency can cause blood coagulant. Deficiency of this vitamins usually results in hemorrhages and in worst cases death.

  • Tradition – numbers unknown
  • Brytin – numbers unknown
  • Mazuri – 2.0ppm
  • Oxbow – numbers unknown
  • APD – numbers unknown
  • Vitakraft – numbers unknown
  • Burgess Excel – numbers unknown
  • Supreme Selective  – numbers unknown
  • Purina Rabbit Chow – numbers unknown

Typically, your chinchillas should not have to be daily supplemented if they are on balanced diet of pellets and hay depending on the quality of your feed. However, they would still benefits from Vitamin C (rosehips), Lacto-bacillus supplements.Certain groups such as pregnant chinchillas or growing chinchillas will always benefit from good pellets and supplements.

We may not be the expert of chinchilla needs but there are too little been done on diet research for a long time. Information are scarse and mostly based on word of mouth and unverified.  For most breeders with 100-1000 animals, if it is not broken, nothing should be done – most of the time cost is the major factor of their decision making – cheapest usable feed would be the wise choice (one bag of rabbit feed cost only 1/2 of the chinchilla diet). Most vitamin additions cost money and would be cheaper when added to pellets during milling. Since risk is high, most changes only occur if a major problem is discovered. Despite that, there are still good people out there trying to perfect their own feed.

To pet owners like us, the ability to help our pets are more manageble in cost and time. Always starts with good pellets such as Mazuri. As you can see from the information above, most commercial products do not have very good product analysis information including Oxbow. There are always big variations in the use of vitamin supplements in their products. Supplementing cost $$$ but good products such as Fibreplex, Natural Science supplements etc should be supported for the health of our little ones and helps minimise our vetenerian visits and bills. Natural ways of supplementing your chinchilla such as Rosehips etc are quite the trend in EU.

Note: If there is any error or misinformation, please do let us know.


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