The Chinchilla Bakery was born out of equal parts of love and frustration! Chinchillas, as special as they are, can be tricky to find healthy and interesting treats for, not only on the high street but also online. I find myself raiding the shelves of Pet Shops on a weekly basis only to come across the same, disappointing and unsafe foodstuffs. I’m sure we’ve all been there. Walking up to the shelf and thinking ‘Yes! This is it! I’ve finally found a new tasty treat to try!’, only to whip the packet around and see too many inappropriate ingredients listed yet again. Don’t even get me started on the dreaded ‘Safe for Chinchillas’ label we find on most treat bags. We know perfectly well we would never dream of feeding those snack to our fur-babies! This mis-leading packaging causes trouble when less experienced pet owners are led to believe the products are safe. It is the animals that suffer in the long run and it’s rarely the owners fault. It is the pet shop industry giving out irresponsible messaging. On one of my first trips to buy treats I came across these yellow biscuits designed for Chinchillas with, wait for it, Maple Syrup as a main ingredient! It’s gasp-worthy! This is how the Bakery was born! I decided to create and design artisanal tasty treats that I know will not only be 100% Chin safe, but delicious too! Guilt and worry free treats – Finally!
The Chinchilla Bakery’ is most definitely classed as a ‘small business’, and I’ve fallen in love with every aspect of running it. It started on a soggy Sunday, as I was busy playing around with a recipe I’d been using for a while for my own Chins snacks. I produced a particularly ‘attractive’ batch and thought I’d share it with my Chinchilla community. I posted a picture of them, fresh out of the oven, onto one of our UK Facebook pages. Moments later I had messages asking ‘How much do you charge for these?’. I almost fell back in my chair. What a lovely feeling to know that not only people liked the look of my treats, but would consider giving me some of their hard earned money for them! It looked like Pippa and Mouse needed to start quickly learning how to share! From that day I fiddled and experimented with the recipe and after lots of taste testing, happily undertaken by my furry quality control team, we had our product!
I spend the majority of my evenings elbow deep in hay, flowers and apple sticks but I wouldn’t have it any other way! I only tend to bake late into the evenings as I spend my daytimes in my ‘serious grown up job’ at an incredible Safari Park in the North of England. I spend my days working around Tigers, Giraffes, Rhinos and Lions, but nothing gives me more joy than to come back to my little bundles of fluff and don my apron!
Please don’t get the wrong idea, I don’t have any fancy machinery or a team of elves helping me with production. It’s little old me, a mixing bowl, a blender, an oven and every episode of ‘Friends’ I can find to play in the background! This is how the magic happens! It really is a labour of love for me. I hand-bake every single batch to order and don’t believe in ‘bulk-baking’ and storing them until they’re ordered. It’s really important to me that, no matter how big my bakery may become, I don’t lose that ‘hand-baked’ touch.
Regardless of the effort and love I put into creating my various recipes, you simply can’t build a strong foundation on weak, poor quality ingredients. That’s why I totally commit myself to using the highest possible quality ingredients on the market. I use the same fail proof recipe as the base of all my treats. I use very highly regarded Chinchilla pellets, rolled oats, meadow hay and the finest Timothy Hay I can find! Every flavour I use is human grade in quality, and you will often find me enjoying a freshly brewed cup of Hibiscus or Chamomile tea, using the exact same flowers I use in your treats! Just promise me you won’t tell Pippa and Mouse that I’m sneaking into their stash! I work on the idea that if I wouldn’t ingest it myself, why would I give it to my furballs??