When it comes to what gerbils can eat, the best secret to keeping your pet healthy is replicating their natural environment in their current captive environment. This means your pet needs an enclosure designed to mimic their wild habitat, sights, and sounds included. The same is true of their diet. So, what can gerbils eat? What are the safe foods for gerbils?
Let’s find out.
What can gerbils eat?
Gerbils are omnivores; they should be given food that meets their dietary needs. In this case, gerbils need a balanced diet to help them grow up healthy. They require a mixture of insects, seeds, fruits, and vegetables.
The Gerbil owners may provide this food by ordering them from the supermarket or specific pet stores.
In addition to the above, you can feed your gerbils with commercial pellet mixes, and these will provide the nutrition your gerbil needs.
A regular mix of natural produce bought from your typical supermarket or grocery store can be an excellent healthy alternative to store-bought foods, a tasty treat, or used to add varieties to their regular diet.
Gerbils, like hamsters, are primarily nocturnal and active pets that like to chew and forage their food. Therefore, providing them with various dietary options around the cage can keep them entertained and turn mealtime into foraging games that’ll keep them happy and looking forward to mealtime often.
Food containers should not be made from plastic because they will be gnawed in no time and are too light to withstand gerbil’s activities. We use glazed food dishes that come in various sizes and are readily available from most pet stores. They are heavy, so they do not get knocked over too quickly and can be cleaned effectively.
What can Gerbils Eat? – Commercial Gerbil foods
No matter which commercial diet you choose, it must meet some requirements to provide adequate nutrition for your gerbils. According to the journal published on the Nutrient Requirements of Laboratory Animals, It is recommended that the mixture contain around 14% – 16% protein.
Anything less than this amount may need to be supplemented with other protein sources, such as insects. Some sources recommend more or less protein. If you are unsure, consult your veterinarian about your gerbil’s feeding needs.
While a good source of protein, seeds are also high in fat. Make sure the fat content of your mix is between 6% and 8%, so your gerbil is not overweight. Certain seeds, such as sunflower seeds, are high in fat but delicious, so your gerbils may pick those out first. Replacing fat-rich grains with healthier alternatives, such as pumpkin seeds, can help you keep your gerbil’s weight in check.
What can Gerbils Eat? – Regular dietary supplements
You can use a variety of fruits, vegetables, and small insects to provide your gerbil with some variety, alongside their usual commercial mix for gerbils.
These supplemental foods should be consumed in moderation. Feeding gerbils large amounts of fruits, vegetables, or grains can lead to digestive problems, such as diarrhea, and sweet foods can lead to diabetes.
Gerbils need a varied diet but how you feed them is also really important. It would be best if you scattered feed to make mealtimes more exciting and stimulating for your gerbils — they will come out from their burrows, collect the food and take it back down into their burrows to eat.
There are various complete gerbil foods available on the market; ensure you choose one low in colorants and is the best quality you can afford.
In addition, the following foods can be fed to your gerbil to make his diet more interesting:
Still on the topic of “what can gerbils eat?” here’s a list of some of the safe foods for gerbils.
- Timothy hay
- Collard greens
- Beet leaves
- Cooked sweet potatoes
- Pasta (cooked or uncooked)
- Curly kale
- Dog biscuits (avoiding colorants)
- Pulses and cereals
- Boiled eggs – as a protien supplement
The above amounts should only be fed to your gerbil in small quantities to help keep your gerbil’s diet varied and interesting.
Include hay in your gerbil’s environment along with fruit tree wood like willow or apple.
Your gerbil will chew on the hay and also use it to build his nests. He will chew on the wood to keep his teeth in shape. Ensure that there is also a clean and fresh supply of water available at all times.
What can Gerbils Eat? – The key is moderation.
You can safely offer your gerbil a bite-sized portion of these fruits every other day.
The following grains and seeds can be safely added to supplement the usual gerbil food mix.
- Plain oats
Your gerbil will hoard food in their pouch for later use. They often bury food in their cage’ nooks and crannies or under shredded paper or wood fillings on the floor, but they won’t remember it after a few hours. If you don’t realize the food is hidden, it will rot after a while. You should regularly clean your gerbil’s habitat to clean up the food before it rots and becomes harmful to you or your pet.
Treating your pet
As with other pets, you should control the amount of snacks you give your gerbil. You may choose to use fruits and vegetables to provide a more natural, healthier diet.
You can purchase commercial snacks that your gerbil will enjoy, but they should only make up a small portion of your gerbil’s diet. Many snacks contain extra fat and can make your gerbil overweight. Save these for special occasions.
Chewing and Gnawing
Gerbils are energetic pets that need to be engaged. In addition to a lot of climbing, they need to chew things. Items made of cardboard and soft paper will tear, but they will eventually become part of the cage substrate.
It is safe for gerbils to chew on certain items, such as
- Banana leaves
- Food packaging cardboard
- Coconut shells
- Untreated cork
- Chunks of hay
What can Gerbils Eat? – Harmful foods to avoid
Like many animals, gerbils cannot process certain types of food they ingest. Avoid feeding these foods to gerbils because they are dangerous or poisonous:
- Citrus fruits
Please consult your veterinarian before offering your gerbil anything other than the traditional food combinations or, as mentioned above.
What can Gerbils Eat? – Water Requirement
Water should be given from a bottle either hung inside the enclosure or outside with a hole for the drinking tube. The drinking tube will have a ball-bearing that stops the water from normally flowing out, though it will release fluid when the gerbil comes to drink.
Make sure that the bottle is at the right angle and that nothing is touching the end of the tube, or you may find that the water all runs out and soaks much of the cage! The construction of the bottle should be mainly plastic and metal for the tube.
Avoid bottles that have glass because this could easily shatter with a gnawing and harm your pet.
Gerbils require a constant supply of clean, fresh water from an upright bottle with a metal straw. To keep the water clean, replace it daily and clean the drinking tube regularly.
It is recommended that you use non-chlorinated water. Not all tap water is adequately treated and may contain chlorine or other heavy metals. An alternative to the conventional filtration system is to use bottled drinking water or tap water that has been left in the open, in an open container for a minimum of 24 hours.
Like any other pet, your gerbil should have a set feeding routine. The specific mixture you feed them will have serving instructions and proper portion sizes. You can expect to feed your gerbil once a day. However, they will let you know when they are hungry by digging through their substrate searching for food.
This is a natural instinct because gerbils are foragers by nature and like to find food. Instead of keeping specific food in the gerbil’s habitat, sprinkle food on the floor of the cage and let them search for it. They will be more engaged and will likely eat a wider variety of food, giving them all the nutrients their tiny bodies need to stay healthy.
What Can Young Gerbils Eat?
From an early age, we start our Gerbils on fresh vegetables and fruit because this is a natural way to provide water and the goodies that Gerbils need while growing and developing strong bones, muscles, teeth, etc
Young Gerbils appreciate plain oats in the enclosure and adult Gerbils devour these foods quickly. Budgie food is good for younger Gerbils, while older ones tend to ignore the small seeds in favor of larger items, though spray millet is consumed.
What Do Gerbils Eat in the Wild?
In the wild Gerbils do eat insects and other small living creatures, but we do not provide any form of meat for Gerbils and rely upon other forms of food. Cannibalism of baby Gerbils is rare and we strive to make it stay that way by avoiding the possibility of developing in our Gerbils an appetite for the flesh of any kind. In the decades that we have kept Gerbils, there have been only a few cases of cannibalism and this is a vindication of the non-meat policy.
Gerbils need Mineral Blocks too
Gerbils attack mineral blocks the moment that they are introduced into the enclosure and this applies equally to pups too. Instinctively they realize that they need the salts, minerals, seaweed, starch, calcium phosphate, calcium that the blocks contain – they may not know the fancy names, but they like the results. Always ensure that such blocks are present in the enclosure.
Finally, Gerbils love toast. Many mornings we cook some toast and cut it up into little squares. We place these squares of toast into the Gerbil enclosures – minus the margarine – and watch them all stand around eagerly consuming their portion. Very rarely do we put some peanut butter on the toast, but this can sometimes lead to unsavory displays of gobbling down your food and then trying to eat your partners.
Other Frequently asked questions about Gerbil’s food
Remember, Choosing the best and healthiest fruits and vegetables to supplement the gerbil’s leading diet and balance is very important, but not as important as choosing a healthy diet for them.
Can gerbils eat dandelions?
Can gerbils eat dandelions? Yes, Gerbils can eat dandelions!
While small amounts of dandelions are not harmful to gerbils, they should not form a significant part of a gerbil’s diet. It is perfectly fine to feed a few dandelion leaves to your gerbils. Please make sure they are clean and free of pesticides.
Can gerbils eat chicory?
Can gerbils eat chicory? Yes, gerbils can eat chicory!
Chicory is another excellent green vegetable that gerbils can have. Gerbils may be a better choice than dandelions because of their lower sugar content and less likelihood of using pesticides on them – still, wash chicory to make sure it’s perfectly safe before feeding it to your gerbil.
Can Gerbils eat apples?
Rodents seem to like apples of all kinds. Fortunately for them, apples are healthier fruits that rodents, including gerbils, can eat.
So, can gerbils eat apples? Yes, Gerbils can try apples without having to worry about any adverse reaction. All you need to do is use them in moderation as usual.
For gerbils, apples are one of the healthier snacks. This is mainly due to their high fiber content. An apple can also provide a lot of nutrition.
The most significant danger posed by apples is the seeds. These contain cyanide. While the amount in the seeds is small, the gerbils themselves are small. This means that a dose of one or two seeds can harm them.
Remove all seeds from the apple before offering them to your gerbil to avoid possible cyanide poisoning.
After removing the seeds, your gerbil may enjoy a small slice of apple, preferably no larger than your thumb.
Can Gerbils eat carrots?
Yes, Gerbils can eat carrots!
Carrots tend to be a favorite of gerbils. They are much better for gerbils than dandelions because they are higher in fiber and contain more nutrients.
Surprisingly, carrots are also high in sugar for gerbils. Fortunately, the high fiber content in carrots helps the sugars in carrots hit the gerbil’s body more slowly.
Can gerbils eat broccoli?
Yes, gerbils can eat broccoli.
Broccoli is a common household vegetable that gerbils can eat. They like the tiny flowers and stems.
Some people don’t realize that gerbils, like most rodents, have constantly growing teeth. The crunchy vegetable is one of the main ways they keep this growth going. Broccoli has hard stems, which are perfect for gerbils.
Broccoli is also high in fiber and numerous essential nutrients. Your pet Gerbil should eat only a minimal amount of broccoli. A few stalks with small florets would be good.
While most gerbils tolerate broccoli well, there are exceptions.
Can gerbils eat blueberries?
Blueberries are like a healthy choice of treats for a gerbil. These can be a better snacking option than dandelions and, of course, broccoli. The relatively high sugar content is partially offset by fiber.
However, the high amount of antioxidants in the fruit is the main attraction. Both humans and gerbils can benefit significantly from ingesting blueberries about 1-2 times a week.
Can gerbils eat fresh pineapple?
No, They should not eat pineapples. pineapple is not a good food choice for gerbils; it is too acidic and has too much water content ratio. We do not recommend you feed fresh pineapples to your gerbils.
Can gerbils eat unripe pineapple?
Unripe pineapple, along with the thorns and leaves, contains toxic properties; it certainly has low toxicity levels, but it can be dangerous for a small animal like a gerbil. The leaves/pines/spikes may be a choking hazard too, so, by all means, keep your gerbil away from pineapple leaves.
Can gerbils eat dried pineapple?
Dried fruits generally have a high concentration of nutrients and sugar due to the chemical reaction involved in the drying process, and pineapple is no exception.
Dried pineapple has much less water content, but it is still too acidic for gerbils to eat, so they should avoid it.
Can gerbils eat pineapple juice?
Not only is pineapple juice too acidic, but it is made up of water and can cause instant digestive problems and diarrhea in gerbils.
Can gerbils eat bananas?
Yes! Gerbils can eat bananas, and they love doing so, but in reasonable quantities and should not be considered a main diet’s substitute.
Gerbils can eat bananas but only as a supplement, as they are low in protein and fat and high in calories. Gerbils can eat fresh bananas and green (unripe) and black (overripe) bananas.
Can gerbils eat banana peels?
Yes! Gerbils can eat banana peels. Although banana peels are not very sweet, gerbils don’t mind them and would chew on them when they get the chance to chew a few pieces. Only feed banana peels in moderation, of course.
Can gerbils eat almonds?
Gerbils can eat moderate amounts of almonds, but only if it’s not the bitter almond; bitter almond contains some percentage of hydrocyanic acid, an organic version of the deadly poison cyanide. This can be fatal to gerbils and many other rodents, in even small amounts. On the other hand, Standard, non-bitter almond nuts can be used as a high-quality snack for gerbils but not as a primary dietary item.
Can gerbils eat bitter almonds?
No, gerbils cannot eat even the smallest amount of bitter almonds; bitter almonds come from a different almond tree (Prunus amygdalus) and contain toxic chemicals, as discussed above.
Bitter almonds produce 4-9 mg of hydrogen cyanide per almond and contain 42 times the trace levels of cyanide found in sweet almonds, making them highly toxic to small rodents such as gerbils.
Can gerbils eat peanuts?
Gerbils can eat shelled and unshelled peanuts and even peanut butter.
In the wild, they eat the seeds and can easily deal with stronger shells; peanuts are an excellent source of protein and rich in various essential and healthy vitamins, minerals, and fats that gerbils love. That’s why they are indeed one of the best foods gerbils love.
We recommend using peanuts as a high-value food in combination with your gerbils and feeding them a healthy pellet
Can gerbils eat celery?
Gerbils can eat celery, but not in large quantities or as a staple food; it can be used as a supplemental supplement because it is rich in antioxidants and other vitamins and nutrients.
Celery is rich in healthy nutrients that are very beneficial to gerbils, but it is very high in water, and gerbils are desert animals and are not used to consuming large amounts of water in their diet.
Gerbils may have difficulty digesting celery, so consuming too much or too much celery in a week may lead to many health problems.
Can gerbils eat raspberries?
Can gerbils eat raspberries? Yes, gerbils can eat raspberries in small amounts; they are rich in vitamin C, are not particularly watery, and are relatively low in sugar, and contain a lot of fiber that gerbils need.
Can gerbils eat string beans?
Yes, Gerbils can safely eat green beans (string beans).
They are an excellent source of many essential vitamins, fiber, and minerals. Still, since they have high water content and are relatively high in oxalates, gerbils must eat Green beans in moderation once a week, as a healthy treat only.
Can gerbils eat green bean stems?
Green bean stems are edible, and gerbils can feed on them, but the tender tips of the stems become more attractive as they age and they become too small to enjoy.
However, since green beans are fed to gerbils as a snack, there is no added value in feeding them stems unless you have no choice or only them.
Can gerbils eat green bean flowers?
Gerbils can eat green bean flowers; they are non-toxic and edible; in fact, they are used in many dishes worldwide but are just as popular as the fruit itself.
Can gerbils eat green bean leaves?
Green bean leaves are edible, but they are widely used in cuisines around the world, so if you have them or grow them in your garden.
Green bean leaves contain some good nutrients and are fibrous, so they are suitable for the gerbil’s digestive system, but again, they should be fed in moderation.
Can gerbils eat mealworms?
Yes, gerbils can eat mealworms. They are a good source of protein, fat, and carbohydrates. Live mealworms are entirely safe for gerbils. They are an excellent stimulant to their insectivorous instincts and an excellent addition to a complete diet. Still, they should be fed to gerbils in reasonable quantities as an occasional treat only.
Can gerbils eat cheese?
Yes, gerbils can eat cheese, except for blue cheese, which contains toxic mold to gerbils and most pets. Although gerbils are lactose intolerant, cheese has very little lactose, less than 6%. Gerbils can handle lactose content well above what cheese contains, but they should still be fed small amounts to gerbils as a supplement to their natural diet, preferably as a snack.
Can gerbils eat cheerios?
Gerbils can eat 3 to 4 pieces of the original-flavored cheerios per day.
Original Cheerios are made from whole grain oats, contain no artificial flavors or colors, are naturally low in fat, and are cholesterol-free. They are also a rich source of vitamins and minerals, rich in calcium and fiber, and low in fat and sugar, so it complements the gerbil’s main diet well.