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Basic Gerbil Diet

A quick summary of your pet gerbil’s basic diet.

By Jessica Cordia

Gerbils are hardy herbivores that make fun, energetic pets. Your gerbil’s diet needs to be nutritious, so it can maintain its active lifestyle. A gerbil’s basic diet consists of pellets, water, treats, and chew toys.

Pellets
A good gerbil diet consists mainly of pellet rodent chow. Lindsay Druse, technician at All West Veterinary Hospital said, “You should feed your gerbil a pellet rodent chow with 16-20 percent protein.” When you’re buying a commercial diet for your gerbil, check the package to make sure there is enough protein in the chow. Some brands only have 12 percent protein which is not enough for gerbils. You should feed your gerbil about a handful of pellets a day. Any more, and your gerbil will get obese.

Water
In the wild, gerbils don’t drink water because they get enough of it from plants and roots. As pets, they need to have a constant supply of water at all times. Even though they don’t drink large quantities, it still needs to be available.

Treats
You can give your gerbil treats like seeds, fruits, and vegetables. Limit the amount of treats you give your gerbil because seeds are high in fat, and fruits and vegetables don’t have enough protein. Gerbils will eat the tasty treats instead of their commercial diet, so make sure you are monitoring your gerbils treat intake.

Chew Toys
Gerbil’s teeth continuously grow, so they need to have things to chew on to wear their teeth down. Your gerbil’s pellet rodent chow will help wear down teeth, but you should give your gerbil some sticks or blocks to chew on daily. It is painful for gerbils to have overgrown teeth, so always provide chew toys.


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Reader Comments
nice
ashlee, east brunswick, NJ
Posted: 6/22/2012 10:20:49 AM
They only get "fat" from seed mixes if the owner feeds too much (being rodents, they hoard, so food intake should be monitored, obviously) or if the food is full of corn and sunflower seeds. My gerbils are not fat and they eat a (healthy) seed mix. It's all about knowing what to look for in a food. Pellets are appropriate for guinea pigs and rabbits, but not really for gerbils.
Bree, Spring Lake, NC
Posted: 12/30/2011 3:39:49 PM
I recommend a seed mix over pellets, actually. Seed mixes are closer to what they'd eat in the wild and generally speaking, healthier (provided they're not full of corn and sunflower seeds). In fact, many gerbils won't even touch pellets. It's like they don't even realize they're food. :/
Bree, Spring Lake, NC
Posted: 12/30/2011 3:37:11 PM
I feed my gerbils Oxbow healthy handfuls gerbil food which is Timothy hay based and they have a hay manger with various varieties of Hays and grasses. Gerbils should only eat traditional seed mixes as treats. Fed as sole diet they will get fat.
Jessica, Knoxville, TN
Posted: 10/8/2011 12:18:59 AM
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