A healthy diet for gerbils

Feeding your gerbils the right food is essential to keeping them happy and healthy. Here's what your gerbils need for a good diet.

Gerbil food

Gerbils naturally eat seeds of various grasses, bulbs and a range of leaves and herbs. Kept as pets, your gerbils need a good quality, balanced diet specifically for gerbils, and it should contain all the nutrients and minerals they need. This may be in the form of compound pellets or a mixture of different seeds, but if you go for commercial gerbil food you'll know it's formulated to meet their biological needs. Remember:

  • Follow the manufacturer's guidance for how much to feed your gerbils.
  • Scatter food directly on the surface of the bedding to help prevent squabbling. This also lets them forage naturally. 
  • Give them plenty of variety - fruit (such as pear, melon, apple, oranges) and vegetables (such as cucumber, carrot, pumpkin and fennel) can be used to supplement your gerbils' food pellets. 
  • Pumpkin seeds are a healthy treat. Gerbils like to sit up and hold pieces of food to gnaw.

Beware! Don't give your pets grapes or rhubarb, as these are poisonous to rodents. Avoid excessive amounts of certain seeds (such as sunflower), as they're fatty and can cause obesity.

Water

Your gerbils should have fresh, clean drinking water constantly available, in a drinking bottle with a metal sipper tube. Check the water bottle daily for leaks or blockages, and change the water regularly. Be sure to clean the bottle and nozzle well each time.

A few things to remember about feeding your gerbils

  • Remove stale food - check the gerbilarium daily and remove any stale food items, as gerbils hoard food in large stores. In the wild, they may hoard up to 1.5kg of grain in one store!
  • Avoid sudden dietary changes, as this can upset their stomachs.   
  • Monitor them daily to see how much they eat and drink - if the amount increases or decreases from their normal level, or if their faeces become moist or their hindquarters become soiled, take them to your vet straight away.
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