Gerbils will eat a wide variety of foods, but that doesn’t mean you should give them any old food. Your little pet will stay healthy with the right kind of foods. Look for nutritious items your gerbil enjoys eating. You can ensure that your gerbil stays healthy by offering a variety of snacks instead of sticking to just one thing all the time. Don’t forget to provide a ready source of water at all times. While a gerbil may not require much water, it is still necessary. Water is particularly important when your pet is eating dry food frequently. Read on to find out some of the best foods for gerbils.
1. Rodent Pellets
Pellets or blocks designed for rodents are the best option for your little pet. They are full of protein, which is very important for small animals. A general rule of thumb is that about 80-90% of the gerbil’s diet should consist of these pellets. You can add a little seed mix to the bowl of dry food, but never allow seeds to make up more than 15% of the gerbil’s diet.
While seed mix is always popular with rodents, you will find that some nuts and seeds are more fattening than others. Your gerbil will gain weight quickly on a diet filled with sunflower seeds, for example. It’s better to offer pumpkin seeds and other lower fat options. Pumpkins yield tasty seeds full of nutrition, but don’t usually have too much fat in them. Pumpkin seeds can make handy training treats, as well.
A variety of different kinds of seeds may be used to help your gerbil stay occupied. Place a few unshelled seeds around the cage, under bedding or toys. The gerbil will enjoy foraging for the treats and can gnaw the shell off before consuming the food inside.
Gerbils need something hard to gnaw on to keep their teeth healthy. Carrots are perfect for gnawing on. A chunk of carrot can be left in the bedding, as long as you clear out any leftover bits later on. It’s important to keep the cage clean and free of stale food.
Small amounts of hard cheese are a fun treat for your pet. If you want to avoid fattening foods, look for skim milk cheese or other low fat types. Don’t give too much, since rodents may end up with upset stomachs if you feed them too much cheese.
Mealworms are often considered fish food, but your rodents will probably like them, too. Look for freeze dried worms, since the live ones can carry E.coli. Mealworms are a good source of fat, but surprisingly don’t contain much protein. You can give a small amount on a regular basis, but cut back if you notice your gerbil gaining weight.
Little kernels of puffed rice are a great light snack for your gerbil. You can offer these at any time, since each kernel contains virtually no fat and no sugar. In fact, any unsweetened cereal can be a nice addition to the usual pellets. Skip any cereals that have sugar added, since it just isn’t necessary for pets. Instead, opt for the unsweetened, whole grain versions. Test some different options out. Your gerbil might like flakes or other shapes of cereal as well.
While fresh grapes aren’t a great idea for rodents, they do enjoy the occasional dried one. You can also offer small chunks of dried papaya or banana and even dried currants. The tougher texture makes dried fruit fun for rodents to chew on. Raisins and other dried fruits are sweet treats that should be given only once in a while as they contain quite a bit of sugar.
A little bit of egg can be a great snack for a gerbil. Egg whites are packed with protein, which is exactly what small pets need. The yolk contains valuable nutrients. It also contains fat, so be sparing in how much yolk you offer. The egg may be scrambled or hardboiled. It is usually easiest to just use a small amount of your own breakfast to feed the gerbil, but you can also prepare food ahead of time and keep in the fridge or even the freezer for later.
Remember that your gerbil’s diet should mainly consist of food pellets. The pellets are specially formulated to provide all the nutrition your gerbil requires, but as with many animals, variety is appreciated.
Stay away from large chunks of hard food, which can pose a choking hazard to small animals. You can try offering several smaller pieces, if you like. Food may be presented in a dish or you might scatter things like seeds throughout the bedding. Don’t do this with fresh food unless you plan to clean the cage immediately afterward, however, as the food can rot and cause health problems.