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Money Saving Chinchilla Care Tips 

Black Pearl Chinchilla

Far too often we receive inquiries about surrendering due to financial concerns or lack of time to care for the animal(s). This is unfortunate as there are already many pet store chinchillas that are purchased on a whim and then surrendered within a year or two. This is usually caused by lack of information prior to adopting, price of pet store supplies, impulse buys, and conflicting opinions on the internet. Below are some tips we suggest considering if you are having trouble with the cost of supplies and/or don't have a lot of time to spend with your chinchilla. 

Feel free to save these photos to your camera roll, these are great to refer to when buying supplies. Check out Let's Love Chinchilla's website here for a new owner checklist:

Please note: the above prices are subject to change based on availability, suppliers, stores, and inflation. Always check out your options to fit your budget.

Pet Store vs. Feed Store Supplies

Pet stores are known for their high prices, as well as a lack of proper education on what supplies are best for most pets. Chinchillas do not need treats, supplements, vitamins, or salt licks. If a healthy pellet and hay are freely fed to your chinchilla, this is the proper amount of nutrients they will need. Most feed stores have a few different options of chinchilla safe foods that can be purchased in bulk. A 25-50lb bag of pellets will last a lot longer than a small bag purchased at the pet store. 

Food Options

  • Small World Rabbit Feed: This can be found at most Walmarts or purchased online for around $13-$15 for 25lbs. This is the same food as Manna Pro, just rebranded and sold at Walmart. Be sure to check the sell-by date to ensure freshness.

  • Mazuri Chinchilla Diet: This can be found at most Tractor Supply Stores for about $25 for 25lbs.

  • Manna Pro and Manna Pro Sho: Both of these feeds are from the same brand with Sho having a bit more ingredients. Either of these can be purchased for around $25 for a 50lb bag at Tractor Supply.

  • Purina Show Rabbit Feed: Similar to Manna Pro, this feed can be purchased at Tractor Supply for around $25 for 50lbs. 

  • Blue Seal Show Hutch Deluxe: This food can be harder to locate, some Tractor Supply stores do not carry it. It goes for around $23-$25 for a 50lb bag, this is what we usually feed our herd. 

Compare to More Expensive Options:

  • Oxbow Chinchilla (red bag): This is typically what we recommend to adopters as it is easy to find and a great food. However, when buying small bags it doesn't last very long and is considerably more expensive than other foods. This feed costs anywhere from $10-$13 for a 3lb bag at the pet store, or upwards to $46 for a 25lb on 

  • Supreme Science Selective Chinchilla: This food is another good pet store option, but it is still comparable to Oxbow in price. This food goes for about $17-$23 for only a 4.4lb bag.

  • Oxbow Garden Select (green bag), Sun Seed Vita Prima, Kaytee Food from the Wild, Kaytee Timothy Complete, Kaytee Field and Forest, Higgins Sunburst, and Brown's Tropical Carnival: These foods should be AVOIDED at all costs as they are expensive and lack proper nutrition with some being filled with unhealthy "treats". 

What if I don't use up a large bag of food?

For pet owners with only a few chinchillas, 50lb bags of food will last you several months if not a year. Although this saves money, pellets do tend to lose nutritional value after about six months. In this case, consider buying a large bag and splitting it with another pet owner you know. Or, you may be able to find someone in your area from a reputable chinchilla group willing to split a bag. If you're not comfortable with this, opt for a brand that sells it's feed in 25lb bags and see how much you have left behind after six months. In doing so, you can then gauge how much food you use in this period of time. 

For hay, as long as you allow it to be in fresh air or let it have ventilation, this can last a long time. We suggest storing your hay or hay cubes in a dry cardboard box with air holes poked in the sides. This allows your hay to "breathe" and stay fresh longer. Always keep an eye out for any bugs, mold, or wetness in your food/hay. 

Hay Options

  • Standlee Loose Timothy or Alfalfa Orchard Grass: Both of these can be purchase at Tractor supply for $25-$28 a 50lb bale. These are great quality, clean hays that last a long time with proper storage. 

  • Standlee Alfalfa Timothy Cubes: If you have hay allergies or do not like the mess that loose hay creates, cubes can be a great substitute. These provide almost the same amount of fiber and roughage as loose hay does. Although a bit more expensive, these will still last a long time compared to small bags of hay. You can find these at Tractor Supply for $21-$24 per 40lb bag. If you are only feeding cubes with no added loose timothy hay, we recommend opting for a timothy/alfalfa cube blend. 

  • Fresh Horse Hay: If you live somewhere where you can find fresh horse hay, this is a great affordable option. Horse hay is best as it tends to be more selective in quality for a horse's sensitive digestive system. Always watch out for mold, wetness, or bugs when purchasing fresh bales of hay. 

Compare to More Expensive Options:

  • Oxbow Chinchilla Hay: Although this is a great hay, it can be very expensive. A 90oz bag will cost around $21, this is quite pricey considering how much hay chinchillas like to go through. 

  • Kaytee Hay (no treats): Kaytee does not provide the best or freshest of hay. This can be used, but at $14-$18 for a 60oz bag, it is just not worth buying if you're looking to save money.

  • Small Pet Select: This brand has great hay, however it can be pricey for those looking to save money. A 2lb box will run you about $17 whereas a 40lb box is $90, NOT including shipping costs as this is an online only store.

  • Hay's with added treats (dried veggies, fruits, or biscuits): These should be AVOIDED, these are usually only sold at big box pet stores, are expensive, and are the equivalent to added junk food to your chinchillas diet.   

Chinchilla Treats

Treats are NOT a required part of your chinchilla's diet. Most treats, biscuits, cookies, and vitamin/supplements found at your regular pet store are unsafe and should be AVOIDED. Purchasing these is a waste of money and potentially dangerous for your chinchillas.

If you want to give your chinchilla a treat, there are much safer options out there that won't cost you an arm and a leg.

  • Hay and/or hay cubes: Chinchillas love digging through hay and tearing hay cubes apart, these provide entertainment while also giving them the roughage their digestive system and teeth need.

  • Applewood Sticks (or other safe woods): Chinchillas absolutely love apple wood sticks. These are scrubbed, boiled, and baked for safety; they are fine to ingest and perfectly okay to chew on. These can be a bit pricey, but chinchillas love them and they are a much better option than unhealthy pet store treats. 

  • Dried Rosehips: Although there are some other dried treats out there that are safe, staying simple is always better when sticking to a budget. Dried rosehips are great as a "once in a while" treat. 

  • Plain Cheerios, Rolled Oats: These should be given very infrequently (1-2 times a week), but can be the cheapest "treat" options. Only give PLAIN Cheerios and/or rolled oats (NOT instant oats).

Pandemonium Pets on Etsy has some great supplies, as well as apple wood sticks and rosehips for purchase:

Below is a list of things that are to avoid that are unnecessary:

  • Oxbow Rewards (dried fruit, biscuits, baked treats): Most of these have unsafe, unnecessary ingredients. These bags will cost you $3-$7 for just 3oz. 

  • Oxbow Natural Science (supplements/vitamins/digestive treats): These are marketed as supplements or digestive aids to your chinchilla's diet, claiming to add necessary vitamins or nutrients. This is just a marketing ploy to make more money. Chinchillas get all the nutrients they need from a complete pellet; the recommended ones above provide adequate vitamins, minerals, and nutrients chinchillas need to survive. Adding supplements to your chin's diet is just costing more money and not benefitting them in any way a healthy pellet can't.

  • Hay Biscuits/Treats: Although hay treats/toys can be okay to give your chinchilla, the cost of buying these as treats or to provide entertainment adds up. Chinchillas love foraging and digging through their hay, giving them a handful of loose hay or cubes provides them with just as much enjoyment but at a lower cost.

  • Kaytee treats, Higgins Sunburst treats, Brown's Tropical Carnival treats, Sun Seed treats, Salt Licks, Vitakraft Sticks: These are all unsafe and should be AVOIDED at all costs, save your money. 

Chinchilla Bedding


For shavings, we only recommend pine or aspen bedding. These can be found in bulk for much cheaper than at the pet store; remember, shavings don't go bad unless they get wet/moldy. 

Bedding Options

  • Pine Shavings from Tractor Supply: Fine or flake shavings from Tractor Supply is ideal if you prefer this for bedding. For about $7, you can get a 22lb bag; this will last you several cage cleanings compared to a small pet store bag. 

  • Aspen Shavings from Tractor Supply: If you prefer the smell and feel of aspen, Tractor supply also offers a 22lb for $16; still cheaper than the pet store.

  • Fleece Liners (anti-pill fleece only): Although these cost a lot to purchase at first, these are reusable and you can wash them each cage-cleaning day. The initial cost is high, but once you have a few you can rotate, you will only be spending money on water/laundry soap you use to wash them each time. If you are good at sewing, you can even purchase supplies to make your own liners.