Healthy Treats for Gerbils: Keep Your Pet Happy!

There may be about 110 species of gerbils, but the diet remains the same for all. They’re omnivores resulting in diet variations ranging from eating small insects to grasses. 

Among these species, the Mongolian gerbil is commonly kept as a pet. Keeping them as a pet might be a wonderful experience, but it requires constant attention to their diet. 

It requires a balanced and high-quality diet that suits their nutritional requirements. Fortunately, there is formulated food mix for gerbils with all the needed nutrients. 

Additionally, it’s essential to occasionally give them treats to add variance to their diet and provide nutritional benefits. However, be wary of the treats given to them as some might not suit them.

What kind of treats is good for gerbils?

Here is a brief description of healthy treats suitable for your pet and their benefits:

TreatsBenefits
AppleIt contains pectin, which helps improve gerbil’s gut health.
BananasIt helps prevent seizures and improves brain health.
BerriesIt provides energy and has good protein levels.
CabbageIt’s a rich source of water, allowing gerbils to stay hydrated.
BroccoliIt helps in mental stimulation and prevents boredom.
CarrotsThe crunchy texture helps file down its teeth.
ChestnutsIt helps in smooth gut function.
CucumbersImproves digestive system.
LettuceIt provides several nutrients.
EggsKeep the gerbil’s coat shiny and healthy.
HayIt helps in mental stimulation and is physically healthy. 
NutsIt’s a good source of energy.
MealwormsA good source of protein for gerbils.
Pumpkins It provides essential nutrient requirements.
CornHelps in the proper functioning of cells.
PeaGood for gerbil’s teeth.
RaisinsIt aids in the digestive system.
RiceImproves the digestive system and its teeth.
SuperwormsIt provides several nutrients.
CricketsIt’s a rich source of protein and helps in mental stimulation.
WaxwormsHelps in the digestive system.
CerealKeeps the teeth of gerbils filed down.
Sunflower seedsIt provides energy and is good for their teeth.
StrawberriesKeep them hydrated.
SquashIt provides essential nutrients.
PapayaA rich source of water for gerbils.
Sesame seedsIt provides energy and helps them stay active the whole day.
healthy treats for gerbils

Are Treats Good For Gerbils?

Sure, there are nutritious formulated mix foods for gerbils but giving them treats occasionally adds benefits to their health. Moreover, they have a complex diet requiring specific minerals, vitamins, and other nutrients to survive.

Hence, besides its regular mixed food, it would be great to give them nutritious treats. However, it doesn’t mean you can feed them anything. Certain foods need to be highly avoided, such as:

  • Dairy products
  • Raw eggs
  • Fruit seeds
  • Food that has artificial coloring
  • Food containing caffeine

It’s also advisable to avoid overfeeding treats to your pet, whether it’s a dog or a gerbil. No doubt they are nutritious but excess of it will only harm your pet’s health. 

Some gerbil snacks may have a high content of sugar or fats, which may harm the gerbil’s health if fed without moderation. For instance, nuts are a nutritious treat with high-fat content. 

However, excess feeding of this food will lead to being overweight, resulting in health implications. Hence, it’s crucial to feed treats to your pet gerbils sparingly. 

How often Are Gerbils Allowed Treats?

A nutritious and balanced diet is crucial for your gerbils’ well-being and longer lifespan. Their primary diet, which mainly includes seed mix, pellet food, and lab block, is considered staple food which should be given regularly.

When it comes to treats, they should be given occasionally, like once or twice a week. It is all right to feed dried herbs and leafy vegetables regularly. However, other treats, such as fresh grass, herbs, mealworms, etc., should be given occasionally. 

The treat should comprise only five percent of their diet. Feed them small amounts as too much protein, fats, carbohydrates, and other minerals may affect their health.

Depending on your gerbil’s age, you should serve the treats accordingly. For instance, baby gerbils require more fat and protein than older ones. Hence, paying heed to this aspect before feeding them is vital. 

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Water should also be available all time whether they drink or not. While in the wild, gerbils can survive without water for long, but when kept as pets, they should always have access to fresh water. 

What Treats Can Gerbils Have?

We have compiled a list of treats suitable for gerbils that are nutritious and safe. 

Apples

An apple a day keeps a doctor away does not apply only to humans but to gerbils. It’s a nutrient-packed fruit rich in Vitamin A, potassium, fiber, and magnesium. 

These are essential nutrients with several health benefits for your pet gerbils, including their gut health due to the presence of pectin, which is prebiotic.

Apples are acidic and contain a high amount of sugar and water. Avoid feeding them in large quantities as it may cause diarrhea. Feed only a tiny percent of it and remove the leftover once they are done eating. 

Bananas 

Bananas are also a safe treat for your furry friend. It’s a rich source of multiple minerals, including magnesium, which helps prevent seizures and improves brain health. Whether raw, ripe, or under-ripe, you can feed bananas any way you want. 

Like an apple, it has high water content, and too much of it will lead to watery stools. Hence, it’s vital to give them in a small amount to avoid health complications like seizures which are prone in gerbils. 

Berries

Berries like raspberry, blueberry, strawberry, and cranberry are safe for pet gerbils. They are a good source of water which helps them stay hydrated and provide high energy keeping your furry friend active. 

However, due to its high sugar content, excess feeding may lead to potential health risks, including obesity and diabetes. We recommend serving in small sizes once a week.

Cabbage

Cabbage is also a healthy treat with high water content and minerals, providing multiple health benefits. An occasional treat like this vegetable helps your pet stay active and hydrated. 

It also gives essential nutrients such as fats, proteins, and carbohydrates. Cut them into small pieces and feed them in small quantities to avoid diarrhea because of their high-water content. 

Broccoli

Due to its crunchy texture and fresh taste, broccoli is one of the gerbil’s favorite veggies. It’s a nutrient-packed cruciferous vegetable that helps in mental stimulation and keeps its teeth filed down. We recommend feeding them in small amounts once or twice a week. 

Carrots

Who doesn’t love carrots? Not only humans but animals, too, love this nutrient-rich root vegetable. It’s an excellent source of vitamins and minerals, which is beneficial to gerbils’ health, including dental health, and avoids boredom. Like other treats, the recommended serving size should be five percent of its diet. 

Chestnuts

Nuts are the favorite treats of gerbils, one of which is chestnuts. It’s a healthy snack with the right amount of carbohydrates, proteins, and fats. Giving your furry friend this treat provides extra nutrients, which may sometime not be in their regular food mix.

However, feeding too much would lead to being overweight and other health issues. Hence, we recommend providing them once a week in a small amount. 

Cucumbers

Cucumbers have a crunchy texture which helps in the dental health of your furry friend. It also has high water content providing a good source of natural water. But too much of it can cause diarrhea.  

It is also a good fiber source that helps the digestive system. Feed your furry friend once or twice a week to nourish them. Serve diced cucumber for better digestion.

Lettuce

One of the typical snacks given to gerbils is lettuce. It contains various nutrients, such as folate, potassium, Vitamin A, and magnesium. This leafy vegetable also has high water content, which keeps your furry friend hydrated. 

There are variants of lettuce, some of which are not suitable for your gerbils. Avoid feeding iceberg lettuce due to the higher percentage of water, which is likely to cause a digestive issue. 

Butterhead, Romaine, and leaf lettuce best suit your furry friend. These variants have lesser water content and are safer. Feed them once a week in small quantities. 

Eggs

Eggs are protein-rich, making them an excellent snack for your pet. It also contains minerals that are good for their health and keeps their coat shiny and healthy.

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However, avoid feeding raw eggs as it’s likely to contain bacteria that may affect your pet’s health. Other than that, you can provide it any way you want but ensure that it’s fed occasionally in a small amount. 

Hay

Not only is hay used as bedding by gerbils, but it is also an essential food item. It helps their dental health by helping their teeth to file down, thus preventing them from getting longer. Also, its high fiber content aids in the digestion system. 

Avoid feeding grass from the garden as it’s likely to contain harmful fertilizers or pesticides. It would be better to serve store-bought hay, which is safer and healthier. We recommend feeding this snack once a week. 

Nuts

Nuts are highly nutritious food items making them an excellent snack for pet gerbils. Some common nuts safe for your furry friend are pecan, pine nuts, and raw peanuts.  

Its high carbohydrate content fuels energy and keeps them active the entire day. We recommend feeding this snack occasionally in small quantities due to the high content of fats and calories, as excess feeding may lead to obesity. 

Mealworms

The larvae of the yellow mealworm beetle are referred to as mealworms. It’s highly rich in protein, minerals, and vitamins. You may get it from stores readily but make sure to feed them fast before it turns into beetles.

It’s a good source of protein for your pet, and feeding them as a snack occasionally adds nutrients and benefits its health ultimately. 

Pumpkins 

Pumpkin is a good source of phosphorus, carbohydrates, and calcium essential in a gerbil’s diet. You can feed its flesh and seeds as they are edible and safe. 

Note that it is acidic like apple and has high sugar content. Therefore, we recommend feeding it in small amounts once a week. 

Corn

Corn may not be highly nutritious compared to other food items on the list, but it makes an occasional healthy treat. It is rich in fiber which aids in the digestion system, and carbohydrates which fuel energy. Give this as a snack in small quantities once or twice a month, depending on your gerbil’s age. 

Peas

Peas are also a healthy snack for your furry friend due to their high content of vitamins and minerals. It contains manganese which is essential in a gerbil’s diet. This rodent species is often prone to seizure due to a lack of this mineral.

Hence, giving peas as a snack once or twice a week would be great. You can serve them raw or cooked. Its crisp and crunchy texture also improves your pet’s teeth condition. 

Rice

It’s a commonly known fact that rice is a rich source of carbohydrates. It fuels energy not only for humans but for gerbils as well. You can serve it any way you want, whether cooked or uncooked. 

There are also variants of rice that are safe to give to your furry friend. Brown rice has good fiber content, which helps in the digestion system. It makes an excellent treat to serve once or twice a month. 

Raisins

Dried vegetables are often found in gerbil’s formulated mix food. Raisins are not new to this, making it safe to feed your furry companion as it is. It has low-fat content but is rich in fiber. 

Although it’s nutritious, feed them in small amounts once a week as it contains sugar which isn’t suitable for your pet if consumed excessively.

Superworms

Another protein-rich snack on the list is superworms. It shares a similar nutritional aspect with mealworms but is relatively larger. Gerbils require protein in their diet, and feeding this worm once or twice a month adds several health benefits.

Crickets

You’d be surprised to know that crickets have higher protein content than mealworms. Gerbils prefer having it alive to dried ones, but consuming it might be challenging because of the tendency to escape. 

However, it helps in mental stimulation, and we recommend feeding them once a month and giving them once a month to prevent over-dependency on this food. 

Waxworms

Wax moth larvae are commonly referred to as waxworms. It is a good source of fiber and vitamin E, which improves your furry friend’s gut health. Surprisingly, it comparatively has lower protein than other worms. Some gerbils may not enjoy this worm due to its acquired taste. Regardless, it’s a healthy treat that would be great to feed your pet once a month. 

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Cereal

When it comes to cereal, we recommend serving dry and unflavored types than sweetened ones. It’s good for gerbil’s teeth due to its coarse texture, which keeps them filed and prevents them from growing longer. We suggest giving this food item once or twice a week. 

Sunflower seeds

Sunflower seeds are protein-rich and have plenty of carbohydrates. These are essential nutrients required in gerbils which makes them stay healthy. However, we recommend serving them in moderation, like once a week, as excessive feeding may lead to obesity. 

Strawberries

Manganese, fiber, and carbohydrates are essential nutrients in a gerbil diet. The good news is they are all present in strawberries making it a healthy snack. Giving this fruit to your pet in moderation is safe and results in an enriching diet. You can also feed strawberry leaves which are edible and healthy too. 

Squash

There are plenty of minerals, vitamins, and antioxidants in squash. It’s also rich in fiber, which is essential in a gerbil’s diet. It aids digestion and helps your pet stay hydrated due to its good source of natural water. You can give this healthy treat once or twice a month or sparingly, as the excess of it is not beneficial to your pet’s health.

Papaya

Papaya makes a healthy snack for your furry friend due to its rich source of fiber and carbohydrates. It would be good to feed them once in a while in a small amount to add variations to their diet. Since it has high sugar content, serve this fruit sparingly to avoid potential health risks like diabetes. 

Sesame seeds

Do you know sesame seeds are more nutritious than pumpkin seeds? It may have low fiber content but is rich in protein and carbohydrates. 

Additionally, it contains vital minerals such as calcium and manganese. These attributes make this seed a healthy snack suitable for feeding once or twice weekly. 

Recommended Serving Sizes for Each gerbil snack

Gerbils are wild animals feeding on all types of foods resulting in getting the required nutrients naturally. Once you keep them as pets, you need to be wary of their diet as it’s pretty complex. 

Since they are omnivores, they have a variety of fruit, seeds, vegetables, and insects, leaving pet owners with ample options to serve as treats. However, it’s crucial to pay for the serving size. 

Regardless of the food type, the serving size recommended for this furry animal should be minimal. Since you’re already giving your pet rodents their food mix, treats should only be a tiny percentage. 

We also suggest creating a feeding schedule for your pet to avoid overeating. Get a food bowl to put the treats in.

For leafy vegetables, remove the leftovers after twenty-four hours. With seeds, you can store the bits in the fridge. 

Key Takeaways
Gerbils should be fed a minimal serving size of treats, regardless of the type of food.
Treats should only make up a small percentage of a gerbil’s diet.
It’s important to create a feeding schedule for your pet gerbil to avoid overfeeding on treats.
Treats should be placed in a separate food bowl.

Nutritional Information

Do you know the essential nutrient requirement in gerbils? Check the list below:

  • Fat: It plays an integral part in a gerbil’s diet requiring six to nine percent of it.
  • Protein: It requires twelve to sixteen percent of a gerbil’s diet.
  • Minerals: Minerals like sodium chloride and magnesium are required in this pet rodent which help prevent seizures. It’s been reported that a lack of these minerals often causes alopecia and seizures in gerbils.
  • Vitamins: Despite limited research, vitamins are also integral to the gerbil’s diet. 

That said, do all treats listed above have these essential nutrients? Check the table below as we categorized the treats accordingly:

Food CategoryProteins    FatsMineralsVitamins
Fruits/Dried fruits:
Apple
Bananas
Papaya
Berries
Raisin
ModerateMostly low percent Higher Higher
Vegetables:
Squash 
Broccoli
Peas
Pumpkin 
Cucumber 
Lettuce
Carrots
Corn
Cabbage
ModerateLow percent HigherHigher
Worms/Insects:
Crickets
Mealworms
Superworms
Waxworms
HigherModerateModerateHigher
Seeds
Sunflower
seeds
Sesame seeds
Higher HigherHigherHigher 
NutsHigher HigherModerateModerate
Rice/Cereal ModerateModerateHigherModerate
Grass:
Hay

Moderate

Low

Moderate

Moderate

From the table above, we can surmise that nutrients vary based on the food types. The treats listed have all the essential nutrition requirements in a gerbil’s diet regardless of the nutrient content. So, it’s safe to say that these treats are healthy and suitable for your pet rodents. 

Storage and Preparation Tips

If you feed vegetables and fruits as snacks, wash them thoroughly before serving your furry animal. Washing allows helps get rid of pesticides or harmful substances. We recommend using clean and warm water to wash them.

It’s also highly advisable to keep seeds and nuts in the freezer overnight or at least five to six hours before serving your pet. Doing this will help kill insect eggs present in dried foods. Gerbils are sensitive animals and contact with these bugs may lead to disease or experience discomfort.

Age Considerations

Age also plays a vital role in determining the type of treats to provide your furry animal. For instance, fiber amount requirements vary at various stages of their lives. 

Baby gerbils require ten to fifteen percent of fiber, while young adults (6 to 24 months) require eight to ten percent. Older rodents (2-6 years) also need the same fiber as young adults.

When it comes to fat and protein, baby gerbils and breeding females require more than older ones. Hence, it’s important to consider all these before serving it to your pet. 

Allergies or Sensitivities

Some of the factors you need to consider before feeding certain treats are as follows:

  • If you’re giving chestnuts to your pet rodents, cook them before serving to get rid of tannic acid. It will not cause death but may lead to problems in the digestive system resulting in stomach pain and diarrhea. 
  • While feeding an apple, remove its seeds as it contains a harmful chemical called cyanide. It’s poisonous and not safe for gerbils.

Conclusion

Now that you know what types of treats are suitable for gerbils, feed your furry friend accordingly. The treats listed above are healthy and nutritional providing several health benefits such as improving the digestive system, keeping its teeth filed, mental stimulation, and more. 

Like humans, not all gerbils may prefer the same type of food, so that leaves you room to experiment. For instance, if your furry animal doesn’t like waxworms, you can substitute them with mealworms or super worms. Similarly, you can switch to similar food types with other treats if they don’t enjoy a specific snack.