What Do Gerbils Eat?

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Gerbils need companionship, a good environment, exercise, and a good and healthy diet to live a happy life. Before you get your gerbils, you should already acquire some food so that the gerbils have something to eat, when they move into their new home. But what do gerbils eat?

As a whole, gerbils are omnivores. That means that they eat both plants and meat. Pet gerbils can be fed with gerbil food from the pet store and also some fresh or dried vegetables, fruits, and mealworms to provide a healthy, nutritious diet.

Gerbils can be picky eaters, and every gerbil can have a different favorite food. They are also hoarders, just like hamsters, mice, and rats, and will hide their food in their nests. Don’t be fooled by the fact that all the food is gone after only a few minutes. It does not mean that the gerbils are starving, they just decided to collect all the food and store it somewhere.

In this article, you will find all the things a gerbil can eat, and a list of things, a gerbil should not eat.

What Can I Feed a Gerbil?

Pet gerbils can be fed a variety of different things. It’s not easy to find the perfect balance for a nutritious diet, but once you found the right mix for your gerbils, they will be able to live a happy and healthy life.

The food for your pet gerbils should include these components: Gerbil food from the pet store, fresh or dried fruits and vegetables, and mealworms or other insects as an additional protein source.

Adult gerbils will eat around 6-10 grams (0.2 – 0.35 ounces) of food per day.

Gerbil Food From the Pet Store

The gerbil food from the pet store contains seeds, grains, nuts, and sometimes already comes with dried fruits and vegetables and natural protein sources. High-quality gerbil pet food should be free from artificial flavorings, preservatives, and colors. If your gerbils don’t like the food from the pet store, simply try another brand. Gerbils can become pretty picky eaters.

Fresh Fruits and Vegetables for Gerbils

In addition to the dried food, your gerbils will need fresh fruits and vegetables every day or every second day. Small amounts are perfect because the moisture in the fresh food can lead to diarrhea if they eat too much. Gerbils are very small animals, and it’s easy to overfeed them. Remove all uneaten fresh food leftovers to prevent rot in the enclosure.

What Vegetables Can a Gerbil Eat?

Good vegetables for gerbils are carrots, cucumber (without the seeds), potatoes (cooked), broccoli, lettuce, pumpkin, cauliflower, chicory, spinach, tomato, zucchini (without the seeds), kale, and mushrooms, as well as many others.

What Fruits Can a Gerbil Eat?

Good fruits for gerbils are bananas, apples, blueberries, strawberries, melons, pears, grapes, cranberries, figs, apricots, cherries (the pit is toxic), kiwi (without the skin), pineapple, raspberries, and dates, as well as some others.

Protein Sources and Treats for Gerbils

Gerbils need some kind of protein source. Gerbil food from the pet store often already contains some protein, but it’s good to offer your gerbils some treats with protein.

You can give them one mealworm a day, crickets, or waxworms. Cooked chicken or cooked eggs are also a good protein source. You can also give your gerbils unsalted peanuts, pumpkin seeds, or sunflower seeds as treats.

Treats are always a great way to bond with your pets.

What Do Gerbils Eat in the Wild?

In nature, gerbils eat seeds, grains, grasses, leaves, roots, bulbs, as well as insects. Depending on where the gerbil lives, the diet can differ. They dig through the soil to find their food.

Can Gerbils Eat Human Food?

Pet gerbils become part of the family and owners tend to share everything with family members. There are many things, that gerbils can eat, but there are also some things that a gerbil should absolutely not eat. 

As a whole, gerbils can eat a lot of human foods, but not all of them. Most fruits, vegetables, nuts, even pasta, and oatmeal are fine. But greasy, salty, seasoned products or products with artificial sugar are unhealthy or even poisonous.

Can Gerbils Eat Cheese?

Cheese contains some healthy components such as Vitamin A, B12, Calcium, Omega-3 fatty acids, Zinc, and Phosphorus. But is cheese good for gerbils? Can they eat cheese?

Cheese is not the healthiest option for gerbils, but they can eat it. Gerbils should only eat small quantities of cheese because in bigger quantities it can cause diarrhea and bloat. Cheese is not a natural food source, but that does not mean, that gerbils cannot eat it at all.

If you want to give your gerbils some cheese, you should give them hard cheese. 

Blue cheese and soft cheese are not good for them.

Can Gerbils Eat Meat?

Yes, gerbils can eat meat. In the wild, they eat insects. Pet gerbils can be fed with mealworms, waxworms, crickets, and even cooked eggs, and cooked chicken.

What Can Gerbils Not Eat?

Even though gerbils are known to be omnivores, there are still certain things that a gerbil should not eat. Especially processed food can be poisonous to gerbils because their body is not made to digest that kind of human food. 

Anything that is salted, very greasy, or contains artificial sugar is not good for your gerbil. Artificial flavors are also very unhealthy for gerbils.

What is Poisonous for Gerbils?

Vegetables that you should avoid include artichokes, garlic, rhubarb, onions, olives, raw potatoes, kidney beans, and too much lettuce. 

Fruits that should be avoided are citrus fruits in general and all the seeds of any fruits. 

Since gerbils tend to hoard their food, make sure to regularly check for any leftovers. Rotten food can also lead to serious health issues.

Eggs are a great source of protein but only cooked. Raw eggs contain bacteria that a gerbil cannot handle well. 

You should also obviously avoid any substances that contain caffeine or alcohol.

Gerbils are very curious animals. They will nibble on anything they can reach. Unfortunately, there are numerous cases in which pets were poisoned by accident because they were able to reach some plants that were poisonous. Even though they might look very pretty, many houseplants are actually poisonous for pets (and humans, but we usually don’t nibble on the plants). Make sure that all poisonous houseplants are out of reach for all of your pets.

Can Gerbils Eat Chocolate?

Gerbils cannot eat chocolate. It is poisonous for gerbils. Chocolate contains theobromine which can lead to seizures, heart problems, or even sudden death. 

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