when looking evidence, you have to conciser the source. This is not a scientific based source, therefore is kinda useless. I can provide another gosh knows how many stating not to give fruit and vegetables or any fresh-anyone can make a website. which is why i did not bother sharing those. Whilst the link shares a lot of opinion based information, it shows to scientific evidence to back up their claims :/ the further references are to more of their own pages, not outside scientific studies.
I think it's unrealistic to expect scientific references that are relevant to much of this. It's nearly all anecdotal which means that we do need to think about and assess the source for ourselves. www.chinchilla-scientia.de and their associated forum and also degupedia.de/ seem to me to give lots of background and reasoning to their statements and they represent significant groups of chinchilla keepers. We have known Davx of degupedia for many years and he is always happy to discuss things and explain his reasoning as much as possible, and many threads on degupedia relate to scientific papers. I don't think it's fair to dismiss chinchilla-scientia.de as the work of one person or compare it to individual websites written by one person saying that fruit and veg are dangerous, I,personally at least, am not talking about fruit and veg, I'm talking about forage.
For me, the crux of this is that there are significant numbers of people successfully feeding full natural diets to chinchillas, there are also significant numbers of people feeding part natural diets (pellets, hay + forage) successfully, and there are indisputable potential benefits to this, both in breadth of nutrition and enrichment, in my opinion. On the flipside, there are undeniable risks to moving away from pellets and hay. I think most people here are very interested to explore what the risks are, we are genuinely very interested to find out more. I think we are finding it frustrating that information coming from pellets and hay people is just 'don't feed anything else, you will kill your chinchilla', and what we really are interested in is what were the circumstances of the instances where health was affected or chinchillas died from non pellet and hay feeding. We fully accept that these occurences have taken place and must be of significance, we would just like more information.
I'm looking trough stuff atm. This would be something I would look too to get an idea of the foliage found where they live wildchinchillas.org/ Amy has an extensive list somewhere, not sure if I have the list or not, but I've asked her a lot of questions and often go off that when looking into what they may or may not be able to eat. In an other thread on here moletteuk gives some references to books where chinchillas are also mentioned. One of the references specifically mentiones chinchillas having Oxalis gigantea as part of their diet. As far as I remember, the SWC newsletter has some info on species the animals eat too.
On a different note, the only animals not found in the area is fish. Every think else seems to live up there, even amphibians. There's even trees. Issues with farmers goats eating the native plants (and rabbits) has an impact on how dry or wet it is too. When too many plants are missing it's becoming more desert-like and harder for plants to establish themselves. When more are planted it helps cultivate the ground and helps the area with moisture.
I'm not saying they can eat all the plants in this specific study as the study is about biodiversity within colony range rather than food items.
Chinchillas: Thea and Kukana Madonna and Nightfall (Beige) Elle and Chinchilla Bøffen Pandekage and Blue Caesar, Tumle and Harry
I just noticed it doesn't link to the pdf - sorry Look under Fieldnotes and then it's the "Use of line-intercept methods to quantify vegetation characteristics of endangered long-tailed chinchillas (Chinchilla lanigera) by Amy Deane" article. In the bottom you can find the newsletters
Chinchillas: Thea and Kukana Madonna and Nightfall (Beige) Elle and Chinchilla Bøffen Pandekage and Blue Caesar, Tumle and Harry
You will also found No, at higher elevations the trees disappear. At lower altitudes where chinchilla do not tend to dwell yes there are much wildlife. but at 14,000+ feet a lot of vegetation, trees, and animals are not present.
From chatting to Random, I just want to mention again that I still think there is a degree of talking at cross purposes and misunderstanding going on.
I am wondering if many of the traditional UK/USA keepers are talking about 'greens' aimed at humans bought from a shop and including greens, fruit and veg and other forage in their minds all as one group. It strikes me that many of the 'greens' designed for humans are brassicas, and therefore more likely to cause bloat, or things like spinach with high oxalic acid content, or artificially high in water content, and bought 'greens' and veg are going to be days old and carry much more bacteria or bleach or pesticide residue for non organic. I imagine all of these things could cause a problem very quickly, I can see the mechanisms for this.
The 'Germans', Darthchinchi and myself are talking about fresh forage picked and fed the same day, and we are also talking about dried forage, which I understand some 'pellets and hay' people are already feeding in small quantities. I am talking about carefully researched and collected 'safe' herbs, meadow plants, tree leaves, flowers, hedgerow plants, grasses, occasional safe garden plants, all grown at natural rates and unfertilised with 'natural' mineral and vitamin content.
It occurs to me that there are big differences between human 'greens' and fresh, wild picked forage, and perhaps the different sets of issues with each is causing a fundamental misunderstanding which is halting discussions.
edit for cross post - it looks like everyone is realising we are talking about different things!
I am talking about fresh and dried forage, most suitable plants are OK fresh or dried, although there can be differences in the relative risks and benefits.
I think I already mentioned, and again it's from degu experience only, but my degus show a marked preference for dried. I get the impression that there is more likelihood of common ground being found with dried forage. I know most of our chin keepers on the forum are more comfortable with the concept of dried forage.
I was just clarifing that exactly molette to make sure we are on the same page as "forage" and "vegetables" categories the only dispute I personally have with forage-is whether it is dried or not. I imagine fresh wet forage will hold a lot more bulk and moisture than that of its dried self. but the dried self (depending on how it is dried) contains less nutrients.
I imagine fresh wet forage will hold a lot more bulk and moisture than that of its dried self. but the dried self (depending on how it is dried) contains less nutrients.
Exactly. There are advantages and disadvantages of dried and fresh. Dried is easily storable, easily available, less likely to harbour bacteria, and possibly better tolerated (?), but fresh has better vitamin content and the mineral content is potentially more safely absorbed (and expelled if necessary), and could have benefits for tooth abrasion, gut flora, digestive robustness (?). We won't really know until more people feel motivated to come up with ways to try things in a way they feel comfortable with.
Do you think many people are feeding much dried forage? How do they feel about it? Have you seen any problems with dried?
dried forage is more considered a treat. I personally feed small amounts (maybe a teaspoon?) of dried herbs, (basil, parsley, peppermint ect) occasionally raspberry leaf, apple leaf, dandelion. I also feed a variety of flowers-marigold, tiger lilly, rose, apple blossom, hibiscus, chamomile. each of course has its own benefits. (for example TJs has listed a few of these www.tjschinchillasupplies.com/chinchillaherbinformation.html ) I also feed rose hips. All of the above are dried. I personally see little difference due to the minimal amounts, but do sprinkle the peppermint in with the hay which they all love. I feed a raisin after birth as taught by my mentor-as it helps a newly birthed mother recover her energy they say. And alfalfa for pregnant, nursing, under 6 months or ill chins due to the protein and calcium content in it-it does have a tendency to cause the runs if given in too ample amounts. I also provide redigrass, grass pellets and weisencobs (cannot spell it! but i tried!) . I also provide dried apple wood, pear wood, willow wood, hazel, and blocks of KD white pine to chew on. My main pellet is charnwoods breeder and active age range, and hay is meadow hay rather than timothy due to a lovely nice green supply straight from my local farm. I feel people love to treat their pets and give treats, but always do so in small amounts,it is common that pet owners choose to do it this way, and many uk breeders also. some prefer the hay and pellets only approach supplementing only when ill, nursing or babies. Those pet owners who tend to treat, often go for things like goji berrys as chins love the sugar content-but are also full of antioxidants. Things like vitamin C are easy to pass through their system if given too much, but some vitamins are hard to excrete if overdosed on them. calcium being one i believe, where it can cause stones and sludge in the bladder. There are risks with some herbs for the pregnant mother also. Chamomile has been used by some to calm adults when pairing, but obviously this can easily be overdosed into a lethargic chinchilla! Fresh has always been discouraged. only on one occasion has an "old school" uk breeder suggested to give fresh hand cut grass after a birth to help milk production, but did say there are risks associated with this. (bloat and the like...) hence the attitudes changed many years ago towards supplementing with alfalfa. -too much calcium has also been known for kits to be HUGE and unable to path through the birth canal and pelvis. I know I am talking more from a breeding perspective now! sorry! The main worry of people, is they will not get the nutrition they need from pellets as they will be filling their small stomachs with food from elsewhere that is less beneficial. Or filling their tummy with less fiber than they need nutritionally to keep that healthy gut movement. some would argue it would help their gut move more, thus be able to eat more! But there is only so much one tummy can digest in a day to get all it needs. There have been folk who have fed nothing but pellets and hay once a week, with no issue in regards to their teeth or overall health-actually showing improvement. I personally only do not offer hay after birth (incidents of hay being wrapped around placentas inside the gut, killing the mother.) It bothers me from human studies on nutrition and supplements that we also can OD on vitamins such as zinc, and magnesium, B6 ect. That giving forage that contains potentially a lot of nutrients that may, or may not be easy to expel, could be dangerous. nor do we know exactly what is needed to provide... Those who feed pellets with less Vitimin E see a issue with mothers producing milk-it helps us turn our food into energy. But this has been relatively easy as there is a direct cause and effect, whereas ... not all things are as obvious on their insides and how they work to find out the correct "recipe" to keep them fit and healthy. whether this is produced via pellet, or forage. The main difference with most folk, is we call it treating rather than foraging, and in far less a quantity and always dried.
A lot of your reasoning and concerns sound very familiar to me, personally.
I think the aim is always to improve the diet in various ways without falling into any of the many possible traps. It's a very fine ballancing act.
Over several years we have sort of spiralled or zig-zagged our way towards making forage a main part of the degu diet, well chosen pellets are used as an energy source and back up for the vitamin supplementation, we use small amounts of mainly high calcium oil seeds as a minor supplement or an energy source, depending on how many pellets are fed, and anything else like dried veg, low calciuim oil seeds like sunflower, & oats etc are treats. Most of us felt that our degus were reluctant to eat the pellets, and dissatisfied with just pellets and hay and health concerns, in particular dental health is a big issue for degus, and these things were drivers for change. Members arrived from Germany talking about how hind gut fermenters are designed to eat high fibre, low energy plant matter. Our thinking is that good pellets contain lots of this anyway, so offering more is just an extension of the good part of the pellets but potentially better because the plant fibres are still whole and not compressed or processed.
Mineral content has been looked at reasonably closely with it being so relevant to dental health, and generally a mix of a range of species is generally thought to work out about right, I can only remember one case of a kidney/ bladder stone. Vitamin content of dried plants concerns me that there are probably hardly any vitamins left in dried plants. Vitamin content in pellets also concerns me, it varies so much from brand to brand and there is very little scientific data on what is appropriate. Your info about vit E is very interesting to me. Vitamin D is a massive issue as it occurs naturally in foods in only tiny amounts and so it must be added artifially or a UV lamp must be provided which allows degus to produce their own vitamin D (similar to how humans and wild animals produce it from natural sunlight). Vitamin D is fat soluble so there is a problem with excreting excess too. It's a hot topic for degu keepers.
Information is growing about content of various substances and compounds that occur in wild growing forage. Currently we tend to divide plants into those that can be fed freely, those that have some mildly problematic substances that should not make up more than 10% of total and more problematic ones that are small quantities only and then poisonous ones. I've noticed other small animal pet groups making use of medicinal properties of herbs and that is something I have been meaning to look into more. Anyway, the key to forage providing the good things they may be lacking and not too much of anything problematic is reliant on people feeding a good enough variety and also a good enough quantity that the degus can self select and leave what they don't want. Of course this is assuming a level of reliance on the animal knowing what they need in their forage. This is up for debate, but most of us do see a level of self selection that is reassuring and quite different from the way that degus will choose pellets and seeds mainly for easy calorie content.
The responsibility of providing everything my degus need in their diet and how best to help other forum members make diet improvements always weighs heavily on me. As soon as you move away from pellets and hay there is a greater degree of responsibility and, as you say, we need to make sure any additions to the diet aren't lowering appetite for essential things. In effect I have tried to read widely and listen to what various groups are doing, there is a massive range of diet philosophy for degus, and try to present information that allows each person to assess the pros and cons for themself and make their decisions about what suits them and their degus in their particular circumstances. A large part of what we do is trying to help people avoid pitfalls, rather than actually telling them what to do. We do have some standard advice as many beginners are desperate for this, and we try to take a middle ground, best of all worlds approach that generally involves a mix of pellets and a variety of forage at its core.
We have found that treats in one form or another are an important way to build relationships and trust with degus and are very important to most keepers. Over feeding of treats can be a big issue and we have worked on trying to suggest 'treats' that actually add something nutritionally to the diet rather than cause an issue, this is where certain favourite forage plants can be useful and other things like plant roots and the high calcium oil seeds come in, even if a person is not particularly interested in natural feeding, and where we discourage grains that can quickly cause an issue.
Most of us started out offering a range of natural foods at the level of treats and then assessed things for ourselves and in discussion with each other and starting increasing the levels of forage in response to the reaction we got from the degus and the benefits we saw. The more we learned, the more grains and veg fell by the wayside and the more important forage became. It wasn't a quick or simple thing for many of us, and there are still things unresolved and much still to learn.
Anyway, I'm rambling now, but I'm trying to say your concerns are familiar, your information and thinking is very interesting and I think we can all learn a lot from talking to each other
I know... Next to nothing about degus diets so bare with me here! Do they do well with seeds/nuts/fat in their diet? Do you free feed, as in always provide pellets and hay in unlimited amounts? MY thinking can be somewhat backwards at time due to my health, So often don't write things in the right order just as they come to my mind (oops!) over the years it has become increasingly obvious that nuts and seeds and fat is an issue. Ranchers who pelt, found the pellets, hay, and a supplement of oats, and other fatty treats helped the pelt, but left chins dying about 5-7 (which did not bother them as the prime aim was to pelt not for pet or longevity, and most culled 1-3 years. Their focus was purely on pelts and the only difference being such a supplement of fat) heptic liposis has also become an issue due to "Monkey nuts" being fed by pet owners-regularly and consistently, rather than sparingly. Whilst oats are seen as a treat- in moderation.
Many issues arise due to pet owners being unable to resist their little faces and providing treats they love, but should have been given in tiny amounts or not at all. Once they have a taste for fatty, sugary food they often discard other treats that are provided. I find this very common in rescues that have been fed raisins, they are extremely "snotty" about being given good food, and good treats. thus people end up continuing the bad habits!
With chinchilla there are several type of dental issue I personally understand. The first being genetic-occurring age 1-4 most commonly, it is not something that can be avoided by good diet, and even if one tooth is treated the rest will continue to cause issues, often kinder to euthanize. this is the type all breeders should fear, as if it crops up in a line, the line must be removed and culled (hard of soft cull entirely depends on the breeder)
At age 5-10, malo is usually down to poor diet and not enough hay to help grind down the teeth. root elongation is nasty and incurable, with teeth growing into the eyes. a fall the wrong way is enough to cause teeth to get out of alignment and cause malo-removing a tooth is not an option. You'd have to remove the one on the opposite jaw, and then the others would wiggle out of place and alignment.
At older age-age tends to be the cause, whilst an owner I know only has issues in one tooth at age 19, and continued to have treatment 3-4 times a year until death at 23. many chins at an older age have very few issues with teeth if fed a healthy diet, or so minimal filings are not needed often. Forage instead of hay could cause issues with teeth unless abrasive, and forage instead of pellets could lead to a nutrition deficiency. Pellets and hay have stood breeders in good stead for many years, and pet owners, helping live long lives. But none are perfect in my opinion! Consistent quality can be hard come buy in pellets that come in 20 kilo sacks (i get through about 1-2 of these per month, along with 20 kilo of hay.) and the ones that come in smaller quantities can also be inconsistent. i personally find the nutrients of charnwoods to be plenty and just right for my chins. Both the growing kits, breeding, pet, rescues, and older chins. It is a good all rounder that I and most others do not need to supplement. Should people wish to move away from pellets, I would find a basis to work off from a good pellet. say 15-20% protien and only 3% fat, 4% sugar only. and start on this, working in the vitimins needed. I find it fascinating in america "mana show pro" is used for rabbits and chinchilla due to the composition being so close to both species.
I know personally if I do not receive enough magnesium-i have nerve pain more than normal. Yet simple things like turmeric makes the world of difference also. Unfortunately they cannot tell us about any pain they are in, we can only judge on their outside personality, and looks. I have tried many herbs and supplements personally to figure out what I am lacking (to no use I add, but thought it worth a try, nothing alleviates the ME) unless we blood test to find out a lack, or abundance of each vitamin and mineral is there a way to accurately test if the content of the pellets if correct or not? how did you tell with your degus if moving towards forage was a good, or bad idea for each item?
I feed my dogs and cat a species appropriate diet-meaning, I feed them raw. When cats are an obligate carnivore, why do pet foods add such rubbish fillers into the food?! and how does this effect them? well its done most cats just fine-until you realize kibble and such has only recently become a "thing" and cats and dogs 100 years ago had table scraps and whatever they caught! was this any better? probably not! You will also notice in dogs and cats top allergies are chicken, beef and fish-but they are adapted to eating whole prey such as rats, mice and such, many folk now choose to feed them exactly that, a whole mouse. This gives the perfect 80% meat, 10% bone, 5% offal and organs and 5% liver. with cats a high taurine is needed for their hearts-it is odd to think i feed my cats and dog identical feed, besides a taurine supplement. which is why when Americans say they feed certain types of rabbit food-i am not surprised it can work and well at that. People have had massive issues going off this 80/10/5/5 ratio and ended up with dead pets, which is the main fear with going off the ratios the pellets provide for chinchilla.
My dog suffers greatly from yeast-any grains, potato even sweet potato sets him off. In fact I have now learnt-even if the FOOD (in this case, the lamb) has been feed grains, it sets him off! It may be odd to think is dislike kibble/pellets greatly for my larger animals, but love it for my piggies, chins, fish, ect, but until there is a species appropriate formulation for those animals i'm happy to stick to pellets. The problem with dried forage containing less, is they would either have to eat more-and it be higher fiber to help aid this, or they eat the fresh version, and risk bloat-which is still strongly believe is an issue for any food that contains moisture. obviously some food, like bark will contain less moisture, but a leaf is relatively high in such. I hope this made some sense. Having a terrible brain fog day!
Yes they do well with seeds in their diets, most of us feed seed daily. Nuts are usually reserved as once a month treat depending on the nut, such as hazelnuts.
We don't all free feed pellets. Mine get a max of 5g a day (usually every other day) and then it's recommended to free feed forage and hay. We recommend 10 different species of forage per week; try and mix it up every few weeks. I also sprinkle on different ground herbs.
I find most of the forage I provide to be abrasive, there's a big variety given. Mine don't really touch much hay or pellets (more pellets than hay though). Going for a more SAB diet.. but I have the pellets there just in case in small amounts. I feel they know very well what they need to pick and choose out of what is given.
Our dogs have an all raw diet, supplemented by nuggets that are 85% meat content and no grains.
There are species appropriate diets for fish? I'm unsure why you think there's not I can help you if you would like as I'm an avid fish keeper and axolotl keeper/rescuer.
Ohh that's interesting! what forage do you tend to give? and in what amounts? I'll have to have a nose in the degu section.
Ahh fish, yes, there are-but when you keep a mix tank and fish that are prone to "gobble the lot" and nothing sinks for the plecos-we are testing various things on the 3 larger tanks. The problem is I have had frozen food kill nearly all my betta due to it being frozen, thawed, frozen, thawed (it gets shipped form elsewhere and builds bacteria) buying live worms is somewhat of an issue(and I'm scared stiff of them, the thought of knowing detritus are in most tanks is horrifying) whilst the angel and cory tank do just fine with whatever you give them, the female betta and leopard frog pleco, and talking catfish, tank-do not. And cannot find a more appropriate substitute that will allow the plecos to get their fill without the betas gouging to death-but that's a multi species issue more than a feeding each species. I guess it is a case of trial and error, but unlike dogs there is no set recipe for success.
Unlimited amounts of any of the safe plants/herbs I think I have virtually everything off the safe list, I jumble it together in big massive separate tubs, at least 10 species in each tub, different tub used each week, 4 tubs.
Yeah. I see what you mean. You can feed SAB for individual fish species, harder in a mixed tank. Didn't even occur to me honestly. 🙈 I feed mine a mix of frozen food, hikari (spelling) sinking pellets (a mix of each for the different fish), live worms
This is great, so interesting, I think we can learn so much by comparing notes with other small animal keepers, it seems like a way to make small leaps forward rather than the usual tiny steps.
It's occurring to me just how significant the difference is in the baseline pellets and hay position between degus and chinchillas. With chinchillas they have been kept in captivity in large numbers for a hundred years or more, so there is loads of data for formulating good pellets. With degus, there is less data because they have been pets for only a short time and used in fairly small quantities for science experiments. And from what we know about degus having little ability to process sugars and them being designed to eat digestible fibre - most of the pellet formulations just don't stack up as they are full of grains/ carbohydrates which release their energy too quickly for degus to safely process. We don't actually see full blown diabetes all that often, but we do see lots of cataracts which are assumed to be osmotic ones caused by too many carbs, and we see a lot of dental disease. We see dental disease developing from the first year to old age and tend not to differentiate too much on whether it is primarily thought to be genetic, diet related or old age. Whatever age, we offer the same advice to increase forage including fresh forage if possible as there is anecdotal evidence for this being favourable and we advise people to check the mineral content of the diet. Long term members seem to have favourable results with this in terms of times between trimmings, or at least they don't get worse.
I have a link to a thread about the role of calcium and phosphorus content in the diet in relation to dental disease, which includes some scientific papers. deguworld.proboards.com/thread/17319/important-recent-research-dental-health Basically the thing it shows is that inappropriate mineral content in the diet can stimulate spurs and root overgrowth and it can do it very quickly. I think awareness of this is growing with vets and dental issues that were previously put down to genetics are now more likely to be attributed at least in part to dietary issues. Apologies if you are already familiar with all this.
Back to the pellets: Most of the pellets that have better formulations in theory we find that a lot of degus don't find palatable and will only take very small amounts. Mainly the better formulations are the grainless ones, becuase degus have an inherent problem with grains, so when you look at the ingredients for them, they are just compressed plants with minerals and vitamins added, so it's not such a leap to provide a variety of whole plants direct and think about other ways to ensure they are getting the right vitamins and minerals. Grains have another issue in that they are high in phosphorus and low in calcium (which is terrible for dental health), so for products containing grains this can only be overcome artificially and is a built in problem. Lots of degu pellets contain significant quantities of grains and also food industry by-products like soya, we have a strong feeling that the recipes are formulated for cost rather than for what is best for degus. So, conclusion coming, chinchilla people are coming from a well researched position of safety and degu people are coming from a position of distrust and dissatisfaction. That is going to make a massive difference to attitude and motivation.
I'll continue later with the rest of my reply, it looks like we have similar health issues, gizmosisi, and I'm exhausted right now.
Ahh we find with chinchillas-cataracts is genetic. it can be bought on by diabetes, or glaucoma-diet related, usually down to the feeding of unsafe treats/bad food. The same also-besides more hay, except the usual advice if it is long term needing treatment and regular is to put to sleep. they do not do well under anesthetic and need a hefty time to recover meaning their quality of life is diminished. unless you can limit dental to only 1-3 times a year. Too much calcium can also cause dental issues. too little is clear as their teeth are white-not orange. It is interesting the similarities and difference between the two species. I will list 2 pellets here without names, just their ingredients. pellet 1. Lucerne meal (alfalfa), soya hulls, wheat, soybean meal, wheat feed, extruded locust beans, dried parsley, dried plantain, linseed, monocalcium phosphate, salt, calciumcarbonate
Pellet 2. Wheat, Grass Meal, Soya Hulls and Full Fat Soya, Oat Bran, Peas, Unmolassed Sugar Beet Pulp, Brewers Yeast, Vegetable Oil, Dicalcium Phosphate and Calcium Carbonate, Fructo-Oligosaccharides Both have massive differences in what is in them, but the vitamin and nutritional content is the same. brands do indeed "bulk up" and additives to make up for it. I personally would go with pellet 1, (if they sold it in more than a few kilo ) whilst both contain vegetable, wheat. the 2nd contains yeast, no lucrene! and mainly wheat as first ingredient. the first is a far better pellet, both are considered "ok" :/ the pellet i feed is similar to pellet 2, but more additives, and unlike some more consistent quality than others. My health issue are endless :') school holidays have now doomed me to no rest and struggling! :')