Gerbils might not be as popular as pets, but to your surprise, they make great pets. These curious little species can be very entertaining to watch. If you already have a gerbil or planning to get one, here is one very useful suggestion for you; you need to include a good enclosure for your gerbil, starting from bedding to water to a wheel and most importantly food.
You may supplement your gerbil with fresh fruits and vegetables, but here are 10 best food products that will ensure that your gerbil is receiving the best nutrients for them to grow and remain healthy.
Best Gerbil Food Buying Guide & FAQ
Things to Consider When Buying Gerbil Food
With so many options in hand, feeding your gerbil should not be an issue at all. However, you should always make sure that your pet gerbil is supplemented with the most healthy and nutritious foods available. Their foods include a lot of commercial mixes. To ensure that your gerbil is receiving the necessary daily protein, fibre, vitamins and minerals, these are some of the things that you should look into when buying their food:
- Healthy and nutritious: Choose a commercial blend of food that has all the necessary nutrients that your gerbil needs on a daily basis to stay healthy. Suppose, an addition of oats, barley, hay, seeds, fruits could work wonderfully. In addition, you could schedule to provide hem with a salad blend once a while, to boost their immune system. Not to forget treats! Treats are a must for all pets and so is in the case of a pet gerbil. Serve them with feeds that encourage them to nutrients and are as well as healthy.
- No artificialities: Gerbils are very small creatures. Natural food with the right amount of nutrition will suffice. There is no need for you to look for a food pack that contains artificial preservatives. Artificialities might help in the temporary growth of your small pet, but in the long run, it is hazardous.
- No added sugar: Sugar, in other words, are toxic for your small pet. Except for treats, you should always read the product label to see if it contains any added sugar to your gerbil supplies. In case if you are curious about what happens if your gerbil supplies contain sugar, it causes a racing heart rate, panting or restlessness or other liver-related diseases in your gerbil. Hence, sugar is a big no-no.
- Chewy: Gerbils are prone to having dental problems. No matter how gentle your pet gerbil might be, they are picky eaters. The best way to keep their teeth healthy is by providing them with chewy foods, which will keep them chewing for quite long.
Nutritional Needs of Gerbil
Although you can find excellent food packs in the pet stores for your gerbil, you could also prepare a homemade mix for them with small sums of vegetables and fruits. Whichever food you’re providing them with, ensure that their nutritional needs are being fulfilled. Below listed are nutritional needs of your pet gerbil:
- Protein: Protein helps in the growth and brain power of gerbils. In fact, this is like their main fuel for their everyday activities. While having no more than 15% of protein in food mixes leads to a slower growth in gerbils, having too much (+20%) could lead to the damage of liver, kidney stones and skin tears. If your gerbil was recently sick, they might need a small period of time for their protein intake to be 20% more, but make sure to check with your veterinarian before you give them any diet.
- Healthy fat: You might be wondering that fat is detrimental for your gerbil’s health. Well, here’s the true story about giving fats to your gerbils. Fats should never be completely omitted from your gerbil’s food regimen. The ultimate amount of fat varies between 3% – 9%. Not to mention, your gerbil’s age, activity levels and breed are also dependent on the amount of fat to be supplemented to your gerbil. Fat is essential to keep up their energy levels as well as to keep their coat in a healthy condition. If you’re providing fat to your gerbil, check on the limit of how much you are giving them. too much could put them in serious health conditions like obesity, heart disease, stroke, etc.
- Water: Though your pet gerbil might not drink a lot of water, they still need a constant supply of it to keep them hydrated. A tiny water bottle is a good supply to your pet.
- Fresh Produce: Fruits, vegetables and dairy products are good gerbil supplies. For example, apple, apricot, carrot, cooked potato, cucumber, hard boiled eggs, plain yoghurt and a little bit of cheese are completely safe for your small pet. However, fruits like citrus or oranges are acidic and can cause severe diarrhoea. Do keep in mind that if you are giving them raw food, make sure to rinse the fresh fruits and vegetables properly to remove any traces of chemicals or pesticides.
Ingredients to Avoid Feeding Your Gerbil
Gerbils are very picky eaters. It’s not like they will gobble everything you provide them with. However, here are some ingredients that you must avoid giving your gerbil at any cost:
- Oranges or grapefruits: These are extremely acidic and can cause severe diarrhoea. In fact, they are poisonous and can destroy the red blood cells of your small pet.
- Fruit seed: If you plan on eating the fruit and giving the leftover seeds to your gerbil then it might not be a good idea. Fruit seeds are detrimental to your gerbil’s health, which can cause the death of your pet.
- Fruits or vegetables containing too much water: Lettuce, cabbage, watermelon and stuff like this have some dangerous laxative outcomes on your gerbil’s health. Even if you plan on giving it to your pet, feed them in very small amounts.
- Alcohol: Not even a single drop of alcohol should go through your gerbil’s throat. Beverages containing alcohol are also equally harmful. It can instantly kill your pet!
- Chocolate: We all love chocolates and love sharing it with our loved ones. Unfortunately, you cannot share chocolates with your tiny little gerbil, no matter how much you want to. That is because of the toxic chemical called Theobromine present in it. Even a little chunk could cause cardiac arrhythmias, seizures or worst case a heart attack! Additionally, avoid any other sugary content as well.
Common Gerbil Health Problems
Gerbils are very active and robust and are not at all prone to any kind of illness. However, under weather circumstances or by any chance, even if they do fall ill, that would be very unfortunate. Take a look at these few illnesses that your gerbil might encounter:
- Stroke: It is common among older gerbils. Recognize the symptom of a stroke by their paralysis or weakness down one side. Even if you notice this, try to make them feel as comfortable as possible and keep them warm. Stroke is said to follow and cause death among gerbils. Make sure that your gerbil is well fed and provided with enough water until they recover enough to do it by themselves. Seek your vets advise if you find the situation to be very serious.
- Inner ear infections: If you notice your gerbil to be tilting their head to one side, chances are the tiny poor thing has gotten an ear infection. Typically caused by a cyst in the ear known as cholesteatoma, they are usually untearable among gerbils. But the good news is, they are totally treatable using antibiotics this problem has a chance of reoccurring if they are not treated properly the first time. They might even collapse and quickly expire if it becomes totally incapable of caring.
- Diarrhoea: Diarrhoea among gerbils are very dangerous and should be treated immediately as it might be a sign of Tyzzer’s Disease. Plus, if you have a couple of other gerbils in the same cage, separate them immediately from the one that is affected with diarrhoea. Anything that has come in touch with the affected gerbil should be carefully cleaned and sterilized. Worst case scenario is that it can be passed on to humans and become a serious illness for humans too. Diarrhoea among gerbils should NEVER be ignored.
- Respiratory ailment: Forced breathing dull staring cough accompanied by clocking sounds could be alarming respiratory problems among gerbils. Seek veterinary help and provide them with antibiotics if necessary. Early treatments have a good possibility for your gerbil to recover well.
- Sore eyes, ears and nose: Eyes may cause irritation and produce copious quantities of mucus. Your vet will provide you with antibiotic drops if necessary. Ears can have mites. Ear mites are common among all species of pets but gerbils catch it while cleaning their ear. There is no need for you to be scared unless it is blocking the ear canal. But the sore nose is a common illness among gerbils and are caused from aromatic oil formed by cedar shavings. Caged gerbils often get sore noses because of their constantly chewing and rubbing their fur off around their nose.
- Loss of their tail: Your gerbil’s tail is very fragile. The rough handling can be the reason for it to tuft and come away. Usually, the bone will be left behind. It is not very pleasant as the bone dries out and then automatically amputate over a short period of time and heal naturally. There have been cases where the entire tail had been pulled off. If you ever come across something like this, get your gerbil examined by your vet and check that there are no other injuries that have been caused. Gerbils are so strong that they will hardly notice the injury and move on to adopt the loss.
Q: How to change your gerbil diet?
A: Most of these food packs are excellent supplements for gerbils, fulfilling their dietary needs at its best. However, your pet gerbil might get bored with its taste and smell quickly. Hence, they enjoy the process of categorizing their food, using their senses to do that. The best way to keep them interested in food is giving them the freedom where they can pick and choose from a variety of quality foods.
Apart from the regular gerbil supplies, if you’re planning on changing their food habits, give them mealworms, grasshoppers or dried insects. These are high in protein and somewhat really good for your gerbil’s health. In short, you need not to really change your gerbil’s diet, just keep a variety of food handy and change their food habits whenever possible.
You can also give your gerbil mealworms, dried insects, or grasshoppers. Insects are high in protein, which is good for your gerbil’s health, however, be careful not to overfeed as an excess of protein can increase their risk of developing a tumour or kidney inflammation. One insect per week is sufficient.
Q: How much should I feed my gerbil?
A: How much you should feed your gerbil depends on how many gerbils you have and what type of food you buy. If you take a look at the product labels, it will clearly state how much food you are supposed to feed them a day. On an average, gerbils need approximately 10 grams per day. Now you have the liberty to divide it according to 3 – 4 meals per day.
Q: Can gerbil food go bad?
A: Yes. If you are giving your gerbil some raw and fresh fruits and vegetables and if there are leftovers, take it out of their food container and throw it away! Stale food is horrendous for your gerbil’s health.
Our Top Pick
Oxbow believes that quality of life begins with quality care. Oxbow Animal Health Gerbil Fortified Food with its premium blend of timothy hay, oats and barley make the optimally balanced nutrients for your gerbil. This pack helps to maintain your gerbil’s weight, digestive system, nutrition level and dental health, providing a good quality of active life for them. Feeding this pack, you’ll never have to worry about their immune system working steadily. Plus, it does not include seeds, artificial preservatives, high level of sugary fruit, colours or any other flavours. But bear that in mind that it is not meant for pregnant or fostering female gerbils. Supply your gerbils with this Oxbow Animal Health Gerbil Fortified Food and encourage them in their activities.