Gerbils are popular pets throughout the UK, you will find them up for adoption in abundance in our Pets4Homes Gerbil section. When taking in any pets you need to understand their diet, this means knowing what is safe for them to eat, and what you should not feed them. Pets are often far too trusting or do not know better when we give them food, so it is our responsibility as owners to make sure they are eating well and staying healthy.Here are some of the foods, and types of foods you can feed your gerbil:
Buying pre-packed food mixes for your gerbil will make up the bulk of their diet. These food mixes are readily available from pet stores and online suppliers. Most food mixes are designed specifically for gerbils, so they are nutritionally balanced and make for a good healthy option. This makes the task of feeding your gerbil very easy, just place the recommended amount of food mix in their bowl daily, and add some treats for variation on occasion.
The downside to using food mixes is that gerbils can be picky eaters when it suits them, they will pick and choose what seeds or dried vegetables they eat, and leave the rest. For this reason you cannot feed them on these types of mixes alone and it is good to supplement them with food pellets. Food pellets are made up from a combination of foods and formulated into a pellet. Making it impossible for gerbils to pick bits out that they like, they'll get all the nutritional benefit from eating them.
There are a lot of dried fruits and vegetables that gerbils love to eat; banana, apple, raisins, sultanas, apricots, just to mention a few. They are high in simple sugars and sweet tasting, and gerbils have a bit of a sweet tooth. Keep them as treats and feed in moderation, your gerbils will certainly appreciate it.
You will see dried vegetables such as bits of carrot, peas, and beetroot included in a lot of commercial rodent food mixes. Gerbils enjoy pieces of dried vegetable, you can prepare these yourself from leftover food you have used or buy it ready prepared. Dried vegetables are to be given as treats too, but it is important to note that potatoes, and the leaves from rhubarb and tomato plants are poisonous to gerbils.
These need to be given to your gerbils in moderation as treats. That means on occasion, say once every week or two will be fine, and not in large quantities. Always clean the food thoroughly; fruit and vegetables we buy from the store for human consumption have been treated with pesticides and other chemicals, these can be harmful to gerbils.
In the wild gerbils will eat insects. If you want to treat your gerbils and try to replicate some of their behaviour in captivity that they would experience in the wild, you can feed them live insects. Using live insects can be a bit fiddly, not everyone likes to handle live insects. However, it’s not difficult to find places to buy some, pet stores that cater to reptiles will have plenty of insects available to buy.
Feeding your gerbils freeze dried insects is an easier option. It is less messy, they keep fresh longer, and do not require any maintenance. You just need a space in the freezer to keep them, preferably tucked away separate from your food. The last thing you want when pulling something out from your freeze to eat is a batch of frozen mealworms!
Like most rodents, gerbils love sunflower and pumpkin seeds. But these are high in fat, so use these as treats. Avoid salty or roasted peanuts, while you may enjoy eating these they are not good for your gerbil. You can feed them raw nuts like; hazelnuts, cashews, peanuts, and walnuts. But much like with sunflower and pumpkin seeds, nuts are treats and should not be given in large amounts.
Use a heavy dish in their cage, light plastic dishes will always end up upside down or will eventually be chewed on. When first getting to know your gerbil you need to try and figure out how much it is eating in a 24 hour period. If there is no food left over, and your gerbil is not going hungry – then that is the ideal amount.
Each day you should add some gerbil food mix to their bowl, along with a small amount of pellets. Try and establish a daily routine where you feed them around the same time each day, they will come to expect to see you. If you are placing treats in their cage use a separate bowl in a different area of their cage. If they do not eat the treats within a couple of hours, remove the leftovers to avoid encouraging the gerbil to overeat.
Always provide fresh water for your gerbil. This is usually made available from a water bottle attached to the side of their cage.
You should never change the diet of your gerbil suddenly. If you have just adopted a gerbil you should ask the previous owners what they were feeding the gerbil. Try and make a note of the exact brand of food so you can check it out for yourself and buy some.
Moving to a new home can be stressful on a gerbil, this is the worst time to change their diet. If you want to change their diet to your own food of choice, introduce the food gradually after they have settled in to their new surroundings for a few weeks.
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