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What Do Gerbils Eat? Complete Guide to the Gerbil Diet

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Wild gerbils eat grasses, seeds, insects, leaves, and herbs. As pets, high-quality formulated gerbil mix is the best food for gerbils. It provides all the necessary nutrients and contains various dried fruits and nuts.

Gerbils are omnivorous rodents who enjoy different foods as part of their diet. 

In the wild, they feed on many things, such as seeds, insects, and grasses. As pets, they need a balanced diet to fulfill their daily nutrient requirements.

New gerbil owners or people intending to buy a gerbil often ask what to feed their pet. This article discusses the dietary needs of gerbils and talks about different foods which are harmful to them.

What Do Gerbils Eat?

Gerbils eat seed mixes containing all the major nutrients. These mixes include various vegetables and cereals, which are good for gerbils. You can also feed them fresh fruits and nuts as treats occasionally.

Gerbils are small animals that need a healthy, stable diet. They mainly need both carbohydrates and proteins.

As pets, a gerbil food mix works great. If you make use of a specialized diet or mix your own food, make sure to use different foods every few weeks. This ensures they don’t grow tired of it.

Gerbil Mix Food

Rodents have complicated dietary needs, which is why the best gerbil food is a special gerbil mix. Do not feed gerbils food mixes made for other rodents. Gerbil-specific is ideal and provides the nutrition they need. 

Gerbil food mix should contain about 14% protein.

Here are some of the most important ingredients of gerbil mix food:

  • Hay
  • Wheat
  • Pumpkin seeds
  • Alfalfa
  • Oats
  • Soya bean
  • Flax seeds
  • Dried carrot flakes
  • Corn flakes
  • Additional minerals and vitamins

Gerbils’ diet is dependent on high quantities of proteins. If the food lacks sufficient protein levels, you should supplement the pellets with other protein sources, such as small insects.

Some gerbils require more protein than others. Consult your veterinarian to find out how much you should feed your gerbil.

Gerbil Mix Food

The food mix you use should contain ample amounts of carbohydrates as well, as they are the primary source of energy for gerbils.

Make sure your mixed food contains low amounts of fats as they are unhealthy for gerbils. It doesn’t mean you should eliminate fats from your pet’s diet, but keep it around six to eight percent.[1]

Gerbil mixes contain many different foods to provide a complete nutritional profile. But, make sure that the mix you buy contains all the necessary ingredients gerbils need in their diet before purchase.

What Can Gerbils Eat Besides Gerbil Food? (List)

Gerbils can eat a wide variety of foods, including vegetables, fruits, flowers, herbs, nuts, meat, and more.

Aside from the pellet mix, you can also give your gerbils homemade food and assorted vegetables. 

These foods should be given in moderation as large amounts can cause digestive issues such as diarrhea, constipation, and upset stomach.

Some of the safe foods for gerbils are listed below.

Vegetables

  • Kale
  • Spinach
  • Peas
  • Broccoli
  • Lettuce
  • Carrots
  • Cooked sweet potatoes
  • Beet greens
  • Hay

Fruits

  • Apples
  • Pears
  • Strawberries
  • Melons
  • Blueberries
  • Apricot
  • Banana
  • Kiwi
  • Raisin

Flowers and Herbs

  • Alfalfa
  • Fennel
  • Rose petals
  • Lavender
  • Parsley

Nuts and Cereals

  • Almonds
  • Dry pasta
  • Peanuts
  • Chestnuts
  • Corn flakes
  • Oats
  • Pumpkin seeds
  • Walnuts
  • Sunflower seeds (very limited due to high-fat concentration)
  • Pistachios

Meat

  • Cooked chicken
  • Cricket
  • Grasshoppers
  • Boiled eggs

Chewing Items

Gerbils’ teeth continuously grow from they are born until they die. This means they have to constantly file their teeth to keep them at a safe length. 

Here are some items that are safe for gerbils to gnaw and chew:

  • Coconut shells
  • Banana leaves
  • Hay cubes
  • Cardboard
  • Softwood
  • Chew toys

Do Gerbils Need Fresh Water?

Yes, gerbils do need fresh water, but not as much as other rodents. Because they’ve adapted to hot climates, they don’t drink a lot on a daily basis.

Compared to other similar animals, gerbils do not drink much. Gerbils live in some of the hottest places on earth [2]. They have adapted to drinking low amounts of water daily.

But, you should still give your gerbil 24/7 access to fresh water. 

Even though they drink little, they do need water to survive and fight dehydration. After eating lots of dried and powdered food, it is normal for gerbils to drink.

Attach a glass water bottle to your gerbil cage with a metal sipper. This allows your pet to drink water whenever it wants.

You should also change the water regularly to avoid bacteria buildup, which can lead to medical complications.

Do Gerbils Need Fresh Water
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What Do Gerbils Eat in the Wild?

Wild gerbils have a varied diet of grasses, leaves, seeds, roots, and flower bulbs. As omnivores, they do also eat small insects for protein.

Gerbils occur in wild in a variety of places across the wild. Different gerbil breeds eat different foods in the wild, depending on their surroundings. 

The usual diet of a wild gerbil includes:

  • Grass
  • Roots
  • Leaves
  • Bulbs
  • Seeds
  • Fruits
  • Vegetables
  • Insects

Do Gerbils Eat Grass?

Yes, grass is the primary source of nutrition for gerbils in the wild. Grass contains high amounts of carbohydrates which is important for them. 

Gerbils also eat bristle and lyme grass, along with leaves, seeds, and underground bulbs.

Do Gerbils Eat Insects?

Gerbils eat small insects to meet their protein needs. Small insects are full of protein, making them a good snack. They mainly feed on grasshoppers and crickets.  

Do Gerbils Eat Insects

Foods to Avoid Giving Your Gerbil

There are several foods gerbils should not eat, including chocolate, dairy products, and garlic. These are toxic to gerbils and should be avoided completely.

It is easy to care for a gerbil. They do not have complex dietary requirements and can eat a lot of natural foods. 

The following foods are dangerous for gerbils and should be avoided:

  • Avocado
  • Chocolate
  • Clover
  • Cinnamon
  • Cabbage
  • Asparagus
  • Dairy products
  • Grapefruit
  • Leeks
  • Onions
  • Oranges
  • Raw potato
  • Raw eggs
  • Rhubarb
  • Yew
  • Clematis
  • Ivy
  • Nightshade

Tips on Feeding Gerbils

Here are some tips to feed your gerbil a nutritious diet:

  • Gerbils gain weight easily, so plan a healthy diet with low amounts of fat.
  • Some gerbils can get an allergic reaction to certain vegetables and fruits.
  • Wash the raw foods well before giving them to your gerbil.
  • Avoid giving your gerbil too much food as it can cause digestive issues.
  • Do not give your gerbil big chunks to eat as it can be a choking hazard.
  • Cut the vegetables and fruits into small pieces that can easily fit inside your gerbil’s mouth.
  • Gerbils eat at least three times a day, so plan accordingly.

Conclusion

Gerbils need a balanced diet, which can be accomplished with commercially produced gerbil mixes. Avoid feeding gerbils food that is toxic, such as chocolate, dairy, and avocado.

Gerbils can eat most of the fruits and vegetables along with some nuts. Human food should not be given to gerbils as it can be dangerous. Cooked food does not provide optimum nutrition to them and should also be avoided.

FAQs

Are Gerbils Omnivores, Herbivores, or Canivores?

Gerbils are omnivores, but they mainly eat plants, such as leaves, flower bulbs, herbs, and grasses. They also eat seeds and small insects.

What Are the Best Treats for Gerbils?

Superworms, raisins, and apples are some of the best treats for gerbils. They can also have small amounts of fruits and vegetables occasionally. Gerbils also love eating insects such as grasshoppers and crickets.

Can Gerbils Eat Corn?

Yes, gerbils can eat corn, but they contain high amounts of sugar, which is harmful to gerbils. If you want to give fresh corn to your pet, do so in small amounts.

Can Gerbils Eat Pumpkin Seeds?

Yes, pumpkin seeds are safe for gerbils and make a great snack. They are preferred over sunflower seeds as the latter contains a high concentration of fats which is unhealthy for gerbils and can lead to obesity. 

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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