Gerbils are popular pets in the U.S., especially among children. However, many people do not know what to feed gerbils.
Can gerbils eat bird food? Yes, gerbils can eat some bird foods, including dried seed mixes, grains, and nuts. Like birds, gerbils also need a constant supply of water to keep them hydrated.
It is essential to understand the specific nuts, seeds, grains, and twigs that gerbils can feed on. Also, know when to feed gerbils and the type of nutrients that gerbils require.
Bird Foods That Gerbils Can Eat
Gerbils can eat a wide range of bird feed, including some grains, nuts, and seeds. Dried seed mixes are some of the most popular foods for gerbils. However, avoid giving gerbils dried hamster mix.
Although many pet owners opt to feed gerbils dried hamster mix, this feed does not meet the nutritional requirements of gerbils. A limited number of pet foods have been developed that specifically cater to the dietary needs of gerbils.
Although you may use hamster food if you have no other option, your gerbil is better off on a diet that is specially formulated to meet its nutritional needs, such as this mix that is specifically made for both hamsters and gerbils.
Gerbils can also eat some nuts and seeds to break the monotony of feeding them exclusively on dry grains. Like humans, gerbils find it boring to eat the same food every other day. Therefore, consider feeding your pet a wide variety of feeds, including nuts and seeds.
Although it is OK to use the standard gerbil mix as the base feed for your pet, consider sprucing up its diet by including other foods in your pet’s cage. Popular nuts and seeds you can add to your pet’s diet include:
- Sunflower seeds
- Monkey nuts
- Unsalted peanuts
Other Feeds for Gerbils
Apart from bird feeds, gerbils can also eat other types of feeds, including fruits and vegetables. It is essential to ensure your pet feeds on a balanced diet.
Some feeds such as nugget mixes are specific to gerbils. Besides, herbs and twigs can make excellent feed for gerbils.
Twigs make excellent feeds for gerbils. They help keep their teeth short and clean. You can add twigs from different trees into your pet’s diet, including:
- Raspberry twigs
- Pear twigs
- Apple twigs
Gerbils can eat a wide variety of fruits and vegetables, including:
- Green beans
Feed the corn in small amounts to prevent excessive weight gain. Vegetables like lettuce and cabbage can help soothe a gerbil’s stomach. The water content in these vegetables is a natural laxative for gerbils.
Wash fruits and vegetables before chopping them into tiny nuggets. You may serve your pet with vegetables every day. However, gerbils should eat fruits only twice per week.
Some fruits and veggies can cause gerbils to develop stomach upset. To prevent a stomach upset, avoid feeding them on:
- Citrus fruits
While serving fruits, always discard the skin and pit as they may contain toxins that harm rodents. Seek the advice of a trained vet if you are not sure about the fruits to feed your pet.
Always remove leftover fruits or vegetables from the gerbil’s cage after 5 hours to prevent your pet from eating stale or rotten food. If you are not sure about feeding your pet with hay or straw, choose hay for feeds and straw for beddings.
Straw can be too tough for a gerbil to chew. Hay is a better option because a gerbil can eat it and use it to build its sleeping nest.
Besides a healthy and hearty meal, a gerbil also needs plenty of fresh drinking water. Serve your pet with water in a drinking bottle with an attached sipper tube. Make sure the sipper tube is made of metal because gerbils can chew through plastic sipper tubes.
Change the drinking water daily and always check the bottle for leaks or blockage. Do not forget to clean the drinking bottle before serving freshwater. Clean out bits of food in the sipper tube as well.
Gerbils love to hoard food so they can eat it later. While this is normal, uneaten food may end up rotting and cause the gerbil’s cage to become unhygienic. To avoid this, set up a feeding schedule for your pet.
One teaspoon of pellet per day is enough for a gerbil. While buying pet food, always check the labels for recommended servings. Treat other foods, such as vegetables and fruits, as extras and not the primary diet for your gerbil.
Fruits should be fed as treats because of their high sugar content. Excessive consumption of fruits can cause obesity in gerbils. Introduce new diets in moderation to prevent adverse health effects. In addition, monitor changes in weight or feeding habits when introducing the new diet.
Stop the new diet immediately you suspect stomach problems. Also, consult your vet when your gerbil stops eating or before changing its diet.
Serve the pet’s food in a ceramic bowl to keep its cage clean. This prevents the gerbil from knocking the bowl over and spilling food in its cage. Allow the pet to hunt for its food. Scatter bits of food in the pet’s cage to encourage it to forage.
Wash fruits and vegetables to remove pesticides and other harmful substances before presenting them to your pet. Be sure to wash the produce in warm, clean water and scrub it thoroughly to remove dirt.
Store nuts, seeds, and food mix in the freezer for at least five hours before feeding to your pet. Storing the food in the freezer helps to kill small insects, eggs, and bugs in the food. Pests in your pet’s food may cause stomach discomfort, diseases, and even death in extreme cases.
Store-bought foods make excellent feed for gerbils. These feeds should comprise a large proportion of your pet’s diet. Recommended gerbil food should contain significant quantities of nuts, fruits, seeds, and vegetables. Here’s a perfect store-bought mix for your gerbil (affiliate link).
Unsafe Foods for Gerbils
Avoid feeding salted, cooked, or flavored nuts to a gerbil. The salt and artificial flavoring in these nuts are unhealthy for your pet. However, it is safe to feed your pet plain pistachios, almonds, pecans, and macadamia nuts.
Do not feed fruit seeds to your gerbil; they are difficult to digest and may contain toxins. On the same breath, avoid feeding gerbils with avocados because it could poison the pets. Do your research before feeding your pet new fruits because some of them may be indigestible or toxic to your pet.
Avoid feeding gerbil vegetables cooked with salt and other spices. Raw or plain cooked vegetables are the best food options for your pet.
Do not feed your gerbil cooked, flavored, or salted seeds. Some seeds, including sunflower seeds, contain high levels of fat. Such seeds should be given in moderation to prevent obesity or weight problems.
Monitor what your pet eats and drinks and check if your gerbil’s food and water intake increases or decreases dramatically. Take your pet to the vet in case it produces excessively moist or watery feces.
Gerbils can eat some bird foods, including dried seeds, fruits, and nuts. In addition, gerbils enjoy eating some fruits and vegetables. Introduce new diets gradually to prevent stomach problems. In addition, cut fruits and vegetables into small palatable pieces for your pet.
Rush your gerbil to a vet in case it develops health complications after introducing it to a new diet. In addition, keep the pet’s cage, including its feeding bowl, clean to prevent health problems.