Here are just a few tricks we have come up with to help your chinchilla work for their meals:
Brown paper sandwich bags are a great way to begin. Take a bag, and let your chinchilla see you stuff it full of timothy hay. Tie the top with a natural sisal rope or something similar. Put it in the cage with NO other hay present. Your chinchilla should rip it open to get to the food. If not, put some extra hay in the cage and try again tomorrow. He will learn eventually!
Little Dixie cups from the bathroom, the small paper ones. You can put some pellets in 4-5 of them. Just a small amount per cup. Let your chin see you do this so they know there is food in there. Crunch them up, so the pellets can't fall out, and throw them all in the bottom of the cage. They now have to rip open the cups to find their favorite food! Maybe just one of these cups contains a treat. This also can be done with small cardboard boxes from a craft store, or other similar products.
Pond stones - the big, smooth ones you would put in the bottom of an aquarium. Fill a pan or baking sheet with these, be careful not to use small ones the chin could ingest accidentally. Scatter the chinchilla pellets through the stones. Your chin will have to spend a good amount of time getting these out of there, instead of sitting around being lazy and eating out of a bowl all day!
There are MANY other tricks to get your chinchilla working. In the future we will be making "Foraging Kits" which will include instructions and a selection of products to get you started, and will be available for a small donation. Keep looking at our web site for details!