In this article we look at what gerbils need to eat, and the best gerbil food products you can buy to keep your little pal in good health.
Upon bringing home your pet gerbil, you may think that your small pocket pet should be easy to care for.
In some ways, you are correct.
A bag of gerbil food, a proper habitat, opportunities for exercise and clean water are the basic needs for your gerbil.
But how do you decide which food is the best gerbil food?
You could research yourself but that takes time and, as there are so many options, it’s difficult to make a decision.
Thankfully, we’ve done the work for you.
Here you will find a gerbil food list full of appealing, healthy choices, as well as some tips and pointers on the best dietary care for your pet.
Gerbils in the wild are adapted to digest a low fiber diet comprising lots of the grass seeds and small insects found in their native habitat.
Your pet gerbil needs meals that mimic their wild diet as closely as possible so that they get all the fat, proteins and carbohydrates they need, as well as vital trace vitamins and minerals.
But don’t worry, we haven’t found anyone yet who advocates trying to feed your pet gerbil live insects!
There are plenty of other ways to make sure they get all the right nutrients.
You could make your own gerbil food mix, but getting the ratios of fat and protein correct can be tricky.
For most gerbil owners, it is simplest to purchase a commercial gerbil food.
Choosing the Best Gerbil Food
There are literally hundreds of different types of food out there formulated for small rodents.
Most foods that you can buy in a pet store will meet the basic dietary needs, a specific formula of protein, fat, carbohydrates, vitamins and minerals.
When you decide how to feed your gerbil, there are a few things to bear in mind:
Gerbils will try just about anything, and don’t always have the intuition to avoid food which could harm them – so we’ve got a list of safe foods for gerbils coming up in just a mo.
They’ll quickly ransack muesli-type foods for the fattiest, sugariest components first – to protect them from gaining weight either stick to a pellet diet, or resist replenishing the food bowl until everything is gone.
And since gerbils take such joy in eating, there is no greater pleasure than supplementing their commercial diet with some fresh food for gerbils too!
Fresh Food for Gerbils
Whilst your gerbil will happily thrive on pellets and clean water alone , finding out your gerbil’s favorite food and using it to win their heart is part of the fun of owning them.
Treats should be a small part of your gerbil’s diet and there are many treats for them that come in natural form.
Fresh fruits and vegetables may be all your gerbil needs for treats.
Pears, apples, melons and oranges are good fruits for gerbils.
Vegetables like carrots, cucumber and pumpkin are good choices for treats as well. Carrots are especially good because they help with dental health.
Avoid rhubarb, onions, iceberg lettuce, tomato leaves and melon rinds, as they are toxic.
These are some more safe foods for gerbils:
- cooked potato
- green beans
- bell peppers
What Human Food Can Gerbils Eat?
Every now and then, the best gerbil food is a snack that you share together.
Since gerbils are omnivorous, that doesn’t have to be limited to fruit and vegetables either.
Your gerbil can also occasionally enjoy small quantities of:
- cooked egg
- cooked, unseasoned chicken, turkey or fish
But never offer them chocolate, it will harm them!
The Importance of Water
In the wild, gerbils can survive with remarkably little access to water – they can metabolize nearly all the water they need from the food that they eat!
However, gerbils in captivity need fresh water daily to supplement a dry diet.
Even if you provide lots of fresh food for gerbils, the best gerbil food is still washed down with a drink when they need it!
The Best Gerbil Food – Our Picks
Now, on to our favorite pre-prepared gerbil foods.
The kind that are likely to comprise the bulk of the gerbil’s diet.
Kaytee Fiesta Hamster and Gerbil Food
The natural textures of this food support dental health in your gerbil and its variety of fruits and vegetables, oats and seeds give your pet a nutritious and balanced diet.
Since it’s a muesli-type food, you’ll need to make sure your gerbil doesn’t cherry-pick their favorite bits every day and leave the rest.
Tropical Carnival Gourmet Hamster and Gerbil Food
This muesli-type food is fortified for digestive health and immune support, and free from colors and preservatives.
It is marketed as a food and treat all in one.
A great way to make the most of this is by picking out the sunflowers seeds before the mix hits the food bowl and save them for treats.
You’ll get to enjoy building a bond with your gerbil, and they won’t fill up on the fattening stuff at the expense of a complete diet!
The Best Gerbil Food Ideas – Treats
If you want to purchase a commercial treat for your pet, here is a list we’ve prepared.
Kaytee Fiesta Blueberry Flavored Yogurt Treats
These fruity treats are great for bonding and training purposes.
Kaytee Healthy Bits Treats
These small treats are honey flavored which your gerbil should love.
eCOTRITION Yogies for Hamsters/Gerbils/Rats
These are small yogurt flavored treats for hamsters, gerbils and other small rodents.
Gerbils like a nutritious diet with protein, fat, low fiber, and lots of vitamins and minerals.
Many commercial foods contain the proper mixture of nutrients required for a healthy pet – the trick is getting your pet to eat all of it!
Make sure not to feed too many treats on a daily basis – use them sparingly for bonding opportunities and training purposes.
If your gerbil fills up on treats however, they could miss out on some of the vital nutrients they need for optimum health.
Try making some health swaps too – sunflower seeds are high in fat but pumpkin seeds are recommended.
Always have fresh water available for your gerbil.
Which Do You Think Is The Best Gerbil Food?
What’s your go-to diet for your gerbil?
And what are their favorite human-food treats?
We’ve noticed a real gap in the market for good quality gerbil food pellets to deter picky eating – have you found one you and your gerbil love?
Please share your recommendations in the comments box!
Sources and Further Reading
National Research Council (US) Subcommittee on Laboratory Animal Nutrition, “Nutrient Requirements of the Gerbil”, Nutrient Requirements of Laboratory Animals 4th Edition, National Academies Press, 1995.
Stockberger, L., “The Mongolian Gerbil”, Iowa State University Digital Repository, 1977.
“A Healthy Diet For Gerbils”, RSPCA, 2014.
“Your Gerbil’s Diet”, PDSA, 2017.
Kratz, G., “Diet and Nutrition”, American Gerbil Society, 2017.