What Gerbils Eat: A Healthy Diet Guide For Your Gerbil

It’s dinnertime for your pet gerbil, and he is ready to chow down on some delicious grub.

What do gerbils eat?

In this article, we have listed all of the food items a gerbil must consume to stay healthy. Make sure you check it out.

Key Takeaway:

Your gerbil’s diet must consist of commercial gerbil pellets, Timothy hay, grains, and seeds like sunflower seeds. You must also feed it enough protein and small amounts of fruits, veggies, and herbs. Never give it rhubarb, grapes, onions, or citrus fruits.

What fruits and vegetables can gerbils eat? And how much protein is enough for a gerbil?

To find the best diet for gerbils and guidelines on how often you should be feeding them, check out the next section of this article.

gerbil eating grapes from a bowl

What Do Gerbils Eat?

We all want our pet gerbils to live long and happy lives. This will only be possible if your gerbil’s diet contains all the food he must eat.

What food can gerbils eat?

The following is a list of foods that must be part of your gerbil’s diet. Take a look.

  • Commercial gerbil food pellets. This could be an alfalfa pellet mix or another pellet mix for gerbils.
  • Seeds and grains. These include millet, pumpkin seeds, oats, and others. (See our full list below for more details).
  • Protein. Gerbils can eat boiled or scrambled eggs and small insects. (You’ll find our complete list of gerbil-safe proteins listed below).
  • Vegetables. They can eat pieces of cucumbers, carrots, pumpkins, romaine lettuce, and other veggies. (Check out our more extensive list of vegetables below).
  • Fruits. Feed your gerbil a variety of fresh fruit, including pieces of apple, pear, melon, and other fruit. (Check out our more extensive list of fruits below).
  • Herbs. Gerbils eat parsley, coriander, basil, and others as part of a balanced diet. (More about which herbs make a tasty treat in a mo).
  • Timothy hay. In their natural habitat, gerbils feed on various types of grass, like bristle grass and lyme grass.

What Can Gerbils Not Eat?

Some foods are toxic to gerbils, and others can hurt their stomachs. Never feed your gerbil the following foods.

  • Potatoes
  • Onions
  • Grapes
  • Rhubarb
  • Chocolate
  • Citrus fruits
  • Flowers (except dandelions which are good in small quantities)

Citrus fruits are bad for gerbils as they are too harsh for their stomachs. The other foods on this list are dangerous or toxic to them.

Although some foods are not poisonous to gerbils, you must only give them to your pet in small quantities. These include fatty foods like honey sticks and certain seeds like sunflower seeds.

Your pet gerbils must not eat cheese on a regular basis. Gerbils tend to have a lot of difficulty digesting dairy products, and giving them too much lactose will cause digestive problems.

What Food Pellets Are Good For Gerbils?

Most commercial gerbil food pellets contain all the vitamins these small animals need to consume. This includes an alfalfa pellet mix or a mix based on whole wheat or other grains.

You must always avoid giving them a muesli-style food mix as these normally contain added sugars and are too high in fat. Feeding your gerbil a muesli-style food mix will make him gain too much weight, and the high sugar levels cause diabetes.

There are a lot of gerbil and rat or gerbil and guinea pig food pellet bags on the market. But these animals have slightly different diets, so it is best to buy pellet bags that are exclusively for gerbils.

A good pelleted food mix for gerbils will contain the following.

  • Vitamins A and D3
  • Calcium
  • Trace minerals like iron, copper, zinc, and manganese
  • Iron
  • Grains such as wheat, maize, and oats
  • Legumes like soya beans, alfalfa, and chickpeas
  • Seeds such as pumpkin seeds and linseed
  • Veggies like peas and carrots
  • Healthy oils like soya oil
two gerbils eating

What Seeds and Grains Are Good For Gerbils?

In the wild, gerbils nibble on a variety of seeds from different grasses. They do this to help file their teeth down but also because they love snacking on these tasty treats.

Some seeds are high in fat, so you must only give them to your gerbil on occasion as you would other treats. Grains are also foods that they like to tuck into.

Here is a list of seeds and grains that gerbils enjoy.

  • Millet
  • Maize
  • Pumpkin seeds
  • Oats
  • Dry pasta
  • Whole wheat
  • Linseed

How Much Protein Do Gerbils Need?

Your gerbil’s diet must contain protein-rich foods in order for him to stay healthy. Gerbils need at least 16% protein in their diet.

The fat levels in their food need to be much lower; 2 to 5% is ideal.

Here are some protein-rich foods that are perfect for gerbils.

  • Boiled eggs
  • Scrambled eggs
  • Mealworms
  • Crickets
  • Waxworms

Young gerbils need to consume even more protein than adult gerbils. Their food must contain at least 17% protein for them to grow properly.

What Fruit Can Gerbils Eat?

To supplement the pelleted food you buy from the pet store, your gerbil’s diet will also need to include fresh food like fruit.

Not sure what to feed gerbils?

Here is a list of fruits gerbils enjoy.

  • Apples
  • Pears
  • Melons
  • Blueberries
  • Strawberries
  • Raisins
  • Peaches

You must only give your gerbil fruit as an occasional treat. Once or twice a week is plenty.

If your gerbil eats too much fruit, he will have problems with his digestive system.

white getbil eating an apple

What Vegetables Can Gerbils Eat?

Your gerbil will not be able to absorb all the nutrients he needs on a pellet-based diet alone. You must give him fresh food too to complement it.

What food can gerbils eat?

Here is a list of vegetables that gerbils like.

  • Carrots
  • Pumpkins
  • Fennel
  • Kale
  • Romaine lettuce
  • Beet greens
  • Spinach
  • Broccoli
  • Peas
  • Cooked sweet potatoes
  • Chicory
  • Spinach
  • Sweet peppers
  • Cucumbers
  • Courgettes

You must only give your gerbil vegetables in small amounts once or twice a week. Although fresh food is rich in nutritional value, too much of it will cause diarrhea.

Which Herbs Are Good For Gerbils?

Asides from the other foods mentioned in this article, feeding your gerbil small amounts of herbs will also be beneficial for his health.

Make sure you are feeding your gerbil some of the following herbs.

  • Parsley
  • Coriander
  • Basil
  • Sage
  • Cress

What Human Food Can Gerbils Eat?

Gerbils have a very different diet to ours. But there are some human foods that gerbils like and that are good for them.

What do gerbils like to eat?

Here is a list of human foods that gerbils eat.

  • Grains. A healthy gerbil diet includes millet, oats, and whole wheat.
  • Protein. Gerbils can eat boiled or scrambled eggs just like we do.
  • Vegetables. They can eat pieces of veggies in small quantities.
  • Fruits. Gerbils enjoy fresh fruit just like we do.
  • Herbs. Many gerbils enjoy herbs too in their diets.

How Much Do Gerbils Drink?

Your gerbil will not survive if he is not able to drink enough fresh water. He will drink 4 to 10 milliliters of water each day.

Although gerbils like to snack on romaine lettuce, carrots, and other foods that have a high water content, they still need to drink water each day. They will drink 8 to 13% of their body weight in water every day.

Do Gerbils Need Water Bottles?

Although wild gerbils drink out of puddles of water, you must give your gerbil a water bottle. This will prevent your gerbil from knocking the water over in his cage and will prevent mold from building up inside his enclosure.

Put fresh water in his water bottle every day.

How to Feed Your Pet Gerbils

Your gerbils need to consume a pelleted diet that mimics the natural diet wild gerbils feed on. You must boost it with a healthy treat of fruits and veggies and limit sugary treats for them to stay healthy.

But how often should you be feeding your gerbil, how much food does he need, and what must you do with any leftovers?

You’ll find out the answers to these questions and more coming up next.

How Many Times Should You Feed a Gerbil a Day?

Gerbils love chowing down on tasty grub that contains all of the essential nutrients they need to stay healthy.

How often should you feed a gerbil?

You must give your gerbil food once a day. Gerbils tend to let you know when they are hungry by digging into their substrate, searching for goodies.

Make sure every meal counts by feeding your gerbil food that has enough protein, vitamins, and minerals and that is low in fat (5% fat maximum). Limit the number of treats you give your gerbil when you are training him.

How Much Food Do Gerbils Eat a Day?

When giving your gerbil food in pellet form, follow the feeding instructions on the packaging. If you’re unsure how much pellet food your gerbil must eat, check at your local pet store or talk to a veterinarian.

As a rule of thumb, a large teaspoon of good quality commercial food mix is normally enough for a gerbil for one day.

To supplement the pelleted food, you must also give your gerbil small portions of fruit and vegetables. Only give them fruit and vegetables to eat once or twice a week.

After Feeding Time

After feeding your gerbil, you must give him some time to consume it. After eating, your gerbil will begin to bury food in his cage.

You must remove the fresh food from the cage before he does this. Your gerbil will forget where he hid his food after a few hours, and old food that stays in the cage will begin to rot and harm his health.

Your gerbil is an expert at hiding uneaten food, so you may have to check under hiding places and layers of the substrate to find and remove stale food items.

Teeth Filing

Your gerbil’s teeth will continue growing throughout his life. Because of this, this animal needs to chew on hard items to keep its teeth filed.

We do not recommend giving your pets plastic toys to chew on as they could swallow them. Give them different toys made up of the following gerbil-safe materials: coconut shells, banana leaves, cardboard from food packaging, and untreated softwood.

Why Do Gerbils Eat Each Other?

Gerbil cannibalism is not normal between gerbils. It is a sign that something is not right.

This usually only takes place when an owner neglects his gerbil, and he does not have enough food.

Asides from eating other gerbils, starving gerbils will also begin to consume their bedding material and may develop other serious health problems like stomach ulcers.

To prevent neglecting your gerbil, make a rota and spend time handling him each day. Put his cage somewhere you will easily see it, and follow the dietary instructions in this article.

The Ultimate Gerbil Food

Gerbils are small, sweet, and delicate animals that we love to look after. But knowing what to give your tiny gerbil to snack on can sometimes be a challenge.

Thanks to the “what can gerbils eat list” featured in this article, you now know exactly what they need.

The diet of a gerbil must contain mostly commercial pellet grains and protein. As occasional treats, give him grains, fruit and veg, herbs, and Timothy hay.

Did you find this article interesting?

At Oddly Cute Pets, we always strive to provide you with the best information about gerbils and other small rodents. For more guides about corn snakes, guinea pigs, and other unique pets, check out our website.

Thanks for reading!

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