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A healthy diet for gerbils

Diet logo © RSPCA publications and brand 2010

 

Ensure your gerbils have a healthy diet

 

Portrait of single adult feeding©Joe Murphy/RSPCA

Gerbils need:

  • Fresh, clean drinking water constantly available, in a drinking bottle with a metal sipper tube. Check the water bottle daily for leaks and/or blockages. Gerbils must always have access to clean fresh water.
     
  • Their water changed regularly and the bottle and nozzle cleaned properly. 
     
  • A good quality, balanced diet especially for gerbils, containing all the nutrients and minerals they need. This may be a compound pelleted ration or a mixture of different seeds; commercial rations are formulated to meet their biological needs. Follow the manufacturer’s guidance for how much to feed. 
     
  • Food scattered directly on the surface of the bedding to help prevent squabbling. It is also enriching to the animals by giving them foraging opportunities. Gerbils naturally eat seeds of various grasses, bulbs and a range of leaves and herbs. 
     
  • Variety. Fruit (pear, melon, apple, oranges) and vegetables (cucumber, carrot, pumpkin and fennel) can be used to supplement your gerbils ration. Do not give your pets’ grapes or rhubarb as these are poisonous to rodents. 
     
  • To avoid excessive amounts of certain seeds (e.g. sunflower) as they are fatty and can cause obesity. Pumpkin seeds are a healthier treat. 
     
  • Their gerbilarium to be checked daily to remove any stale food items as they hoard food. They like to sit up and hold pieces of food to gnaw. Gerbils love to hoard food in large stores. In the wild, gerbils may hoard up to 1.5kg of grain in one store! 
     
  • To avoid sudden dietary changes, or food that has been allowed to become stale, as they can upset their stomachs. 
     
  • Monitoring daily to see how much they eat and drink. If food consumption or water intake increases or decreases from the level normal for your pets, the faeces become moist or your pets’ hind-quarters become soiled, take them to your vet straight away.