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Safe Food for Gerbils: What Food Can & Can’t They Eat?

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Gerbils should eat specialized pellet mixes for their daily intake. On top of that, they should have a variety of fruits (apples, mango, banana) and vegetables (cucumber, carrots, bell pepper).

Gerbils are small rodents originating in China. When it comes to their diet, gerbils are extremely versatile. 

Some people consider them herbivorous, but they are omnivorous, meaning they eat both plants and meats.

These rodents can eat a lot of different foods other than their regular diet, but there are also some things they can’t have. 

This article discusses the different safe foods for gerbils and foods that are harmful to these small rodents.

What Are Some Safe Foods for Gerbils?

Gerbils can eat most fruits and vegetables. They can also eat several nuts, flowers, herbs, insects, meat, and grass. Gerbils in the wild also eat plant leaves and bulbs.  

Being omnivorous, gerbils eat a variety of foods

In the wild, they fulfill their dietary need mostly from grasses. Grass contains ample amounts of carbohydrates but low proteins, which are essential for gerbils.

To cater to their protein requirements, gerbils eat small insects such as grasshoppers, crickets, and mealworms.

Pet gerbils should be given commercial pellet mixes[1]. These products are designed to provide all the necessary nutrition to gerbils and include several other food products.

There are many other foods they can have to supplement their needs. Here are the best from different categories:

  • Vegetables
  • Fruits
  • Nuts and cereals
  • Insects
  • Herbs and grasses
  • Wood
  • Hay

Vegetables

Cooked potatoes

Gerbils can eat a lot of different vegetables, and they should have some periodically as mineral and vitamin supplements::

  • Cucumber
  • Arugula
  • Turnip
  • Carrots
  • Cauliflower
  • Cooked potatoes
  • Broccoli
  • Peas
  • Squash
  • Sweet potatoes
  • Celery
  • Corn
  • Leaf spinach
  • Green bell peppers
  • Red bell peppers
  • Yellow bell peppers
  • Green beans

Fruits

Red Fresh Apples

Some of the safe fruits for gerbils are:

  • Apples
  • Peach
  • Kiwi
  • Apricot
  • Dried apricots
  • Grapes
  • Banana
  • Plum
  • Strawberry
  • Raspberry
  • Blueberry
  • Mango
  • Watermelon
  • Raisins
  • Papaya
  • Pumpkin
  • Pear
  • Honeydew
  • Cherries

Nuts and Cereals

Nuts and Cereals

Gerbils can eat a variety of nuts, grains, and cereals:

  • Oats
  • Pecans
  • Pumpkin seeds
  • Sunflower seeds
  • Sesame seeds
  • Flax seeds
  • Popcorn
  • Walnuts
  • Brazil nuts
  • Chestnuts
  • Hazelnuts
  • Almonds
  • Bread
  • Corn flakes
  • Cornbread
  • Dry pasta
  • Peanuts
  • Pistachios
  • Grass seeds

Insects and Meat

Gerbil can eat Meat

Gerbils require some protein in their diet to remain healthy. Meat and insects are excellent sources of raw protein. Here are the safe insects and meats for gerbils:

  • Grasshoppers
  • Crickets
  • Crickets
  • Cheese
  • Dog and cat dry food
  • Dried shrimp and silkworm
  • Mealworms
  • Boiled eggs
  • Cooked chicken

Herbs and Grasses

Herbs and Grasses

Safe herbs and grasses for gerbils include:

  • Alfalfa
  • Parsley
  • Lavender
  • Daisies
  • Rose petals
  • Fennel
  • Sage
  • Cactus flowers
  • Hawthorne blossoms

Wood and Other Chew Toys

Wood and Other Chew Toys

There are several types of wood gerbils can chew to file their teeth. Here are some of the woods that are edible for gerbils:

  • Mulberry
  • Oak
  • Birch
  • Ash
  • Acacia
  • Hazelnut
  • Limetree
  • Aspen
  • Bamboo
  • Elm
  • Cercis
  • Dogwood
  • Longan
  • Larch
  • Medlar
  • Willow
  • Quince
  • Pecan
  • Poplar
  • Sickle Bush
  • Sycamore
  • Horse apple
  • Manzanita
  • Loquat

Other than these woods, you can also give your gerbil chew toys such as carboards and hay sticks which serve as excellent alternatives to them.

Hay

Gerbils can eat hay

Gerbils can eat hay like other rodents. Hay is not a primary source of nutrition for them as they require pellet mixes. Chewing hay helps file their teeth as gerbil teeth continue to grow forever.

Foods Gerbils Shouldn’t Eat

There are certain foods, such as dairy products and fresh pineapples, which are bad for gerbils. Avoid feeding them chocolate as well, as it is harmful. Some plants and herbs are also dangerous for gerbils, including avocado.

Taking care of gerbils is easy. They have simple diets and can eat most foods falling sick. 

Unfortunately, there are some foods that are not suited for gerbils. These foods cause several digestive issues and should be avoided.

You should always feed your gerbils fresh fruits and vegetables as feeding them stale products are harmful. You can feed them some table scrapes while fresh. But, avoid giving them too much sugar content.

Some of the foods harmful to gerbils are listed below.

Vegetables

Brussel sprouts
  • Asparagus
  • Brussel sprouts
  • Basil
  • Avocado
  • Cabbage
  • Cilantro
  • Cinnamon
  • Bean sprouts
  • Legumes
  • Garlic
  • Iceberg lettuce
  • Leeks
  • Onions
  • Soybeans
  • Wild bird seeds
  • Raw potato
  • Zucchini
  • Uncooked rice
  • Kidney beans
  • Rhubarb
  • Shallots
  • Tomatoes

Fruits

Oranges
  • Oranges
  • Apple seeds
  • Citrus peel
  • Grapefruit
  • Fruit pits and seeds
  • Watermelon rind

Plants and Herbs

  • Clover
  • Hemlock
  • Yew
  • Daffodil
  • Clematis
  • Yucca
  • Buttercups
  • Coltsfoot
  • Hydrangea
  • Ivy
  • Nightshade
  • Oleander
  • Poinsettia
  • Laurel
  • Laburnum

Wood

Eucalyptus
  • Redwood
  • Apricot
  • Ginko
  • Hemlock
  • Blackwood
  • Black locust
  • Boxwood
  • Cedar
  • Box elder
  • Cherry
  • Chestnut
  • Almond
  • Chinese snake tree
  • Fir
  • Eucalyptus
  • Elderberry
  • Orangewood
  • Myrtle
  • Lemonwood
  • Mahogany
  • Maple
  • Obeche
  • Yew
  • Walnut
  • Katon
  • Iroko
  • Juniper
  • Greenheart
  • Pine
  • Poison ivy
  • Pulasan
  • Ramin
  • Rhododendron
  • Rosewood
  • Sneezewood
  • Rambutan
  • Sandlewood
  • Spruce
  • Teak

Can Gerbils Eat Other Pet Food?

Yes, gerbils can eat foods made for other pets in moderation. Pellet mixes designed for other pets contain many nutrients that are good for gerbils. 

You should not use other pet foods as an alternative to gerbil pellets though, as they are not designed specifically for gerbils and can cause nutritional deficiencies.

What Should You Give to a Baby Gerbil?

Baby gerbils should be given regular food when they become three weeks old. Give them small amounts of pellets to avoid overfeeding. You can also give them some fresh vegetables and fruits to fulfill their nutritional requirements.

Baby gerbils are born after 24 days of gestation[2]. They are dependent on their mother to provide them with milk for the first few weeks of their life. 

When they reach the age of three weeks, you can start feeding them small amounts of pellet mixes. Half a tablespoon of pellets is enough for baby gerbils to get used to this diet.

Raw oats and peeled sunflower seeds are also good for them, along with some fresh fruits and veggies. Gerbils need calcium, magnesium, and potassium along with several vitamins for bone and muscle development while growing up.

When they reach the age of three months, you can increase the pellet feed to a full tablespoon. You can also start giving them meat, insects, and cooked eggs. 

Nuts, fruits, vegetables, and other food products should be given at least two to three times per week to ensure proper nutrition.

What Should You Give to a Baby Gerbil
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Feeding Gerbils

You should feed your gerbil at least once a day to ensure it remains well fed. Too much food is toxic for gerbils as they don’t know when to stop munching.

Gerbils’ feeding process is not difficult but should follow a set schedule. You should feed your gerbil at least once a day or more to keep it fed throughout the day.[3]

Here’s how to feed a gerbil correctly:

  • Different gerbils have different food consumption. Some eat more, while others do not.
  • Feed your pet gerbil one or two times every day.
  • Do not dump a load of food inside your gerbil’s food bowl.
  • Excessive eating can lead to diarrhea, intestinal problems, and obesity.
  • Give your gerbil food in small portions to avoid overfeeding.
  • One tablespoon of pellets is more than enough for gerbils per day.
  • You can split the tablespoon of pellets into multiple parts and feed it to your gerbil after a few hours during the day.
  • You can also add some vegetables and fruits to your gerbil mixes to add to the flavor.
  • Gerbils also enjoy eating nuts and seeds, which can be added to their diet.
  • These foods can also be used as treats to keep your gerbil happy.

Gerbils can alter their sleep patterns from night to day according to the feeding pattern, so make a proper schedule for feeding.

Conclusion

Gerbils are omnivorous and can eat a lot of different food. They can eat several fruits, vegetables, and herbs. You can also feed them meat and boiled eggs occasionally to provide them with some extra proteins.

There are a variety of foods that are not suited for gerbils. Avoid feeding your pet these foods, either cooked or raw, as they can cause several diseases and medical issues.

Feed your gerbil small bite-sized food pieces so it can chew them properly without choking on them. You should also wash your fruits and vegetables thoroughly as they can contain traces of pesticides on their skin which are dangerous.

Plan a good diet for your gerbil and take it to a veterinarian if it starts to gain weight without any change in its diet.

FAQs

Can Gerbils Eat Mushrooms?

No, gerbils cannot eat mushrooms as they contain ample amounts of acids and toxins, which are deadly for them. You should not feed them any type of mushroom, neither cooked nor raw. They do not handle foods with high water content well, and fresh mushrooms contain around 95% water which is not suitable for them.

Can Gerbils Eat Broccoli?

Yes, gerbils can and do eat broccoli. You can feed your pet gerbil broccoli occasionally as treats. Moderation is key when feeding anything other than their regular diet to gerbils. Broccoli contains high amounts of nutrients, including vitamin C, which is great for their health.

Can Gerbils Eat Pineapple?

No, gerbils cannot eat pineapples. They contain high amounts of acids that are harmful to gerbils. Pineapples also contain lots of water which is also bad for them. Your gerbil can get gastrointestinal problems if you feed it pineapples.

Can Gerbils Eat Crackers?

Yes, gerbils can eat crackers. Crackers are made of wheat, grains, and seasoning, all of which are edible by gerbils. You can occasionally feed your gerbil a cracker or two, but as with most things, moderation should be exercised.

Can Gerbils Eat Hamster Food?

Yes, gerbils can eat hamster food. Hamsters, like gerbils, come from the same Rodentia family, which means they both share the same digestive system. You can occasionally feed hamster treats to gerbils in moderation. Regular gerbil pellet mix should not be completely substituted by hamster food as it is not designed for gerbils and can cause nutritional imbalance.

About Misfit Animals Staff

The Misfit Animals staff consists of animal lovers, pet enthusiasts, veterinarians, zoologists, and other animal experts. Our goal is to provide people with information on proper animal care.

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