Most kids want to have a pet, but perhaps you aren’t quite ready to give yours the responsibility of a dog, particularly if your child is still quite young.
So what’s the alternative? Well, my feeling is that a small furry friend like a gerbil would be a great way to start educating a child about how to look after a pet.
Gerbils are cute, furry, and adorable. They originated in the Gobi Desert in Mongolia before becoming domesticated. They are gentle and rarely bite, unlike their wild cousins.
However, if you do decide to invest in gerbils, you will need to do plenty of research into their nutrition, which is what I am here to help you with.
My name’s Irena by the way and I want to ensure that you give your gerbils the best possible diet out there.
One interesting thing to note is that they are rodents and their teeth grow all the time. Because of this, they have to chew and their diet reflects this.
Different Types of Gerbil Food
The most common types of gerbil food are seed mixes and pellets and lab blocks. Seed mixes are loose and contain lots of different seeds, as well as sometimes having dried fruits and vegetables added.
Seed mixes are nutritionally balanced, but gerbils can be picky eaters. For example, they love sunflower seeds and if they find any in the seed mix they will be prone to just eating them and leaving everything else.
However, with pellets and lab blocks, your picky gerbils won’t be able to pick and choose. All the nutrition is enclosed within the block or the pellet and they won’t be able to avoid what they don’t fancy.
Pellets and lab blocks can however, cause monotony. Your gerbils would probably rather be sorting their way through a pile of seeds so try and find a mix which won’t cause them to pick and choose so much.
Another idea is to give your gerbils treats as this will certainly give them something to get excited about. You will find that most gerbils love fruits and vegetables, both of which are good for them.
However, don’t go overboard. Put out a choice few to prevent diarrhea which can happen if they eat too many at once. Carrots, broccoli, dandelion greens, apples, and berries are all good for gerbils.
However, raw potato, raw kidney beans, and rhubarb leaves are not healthy for gerbils and nor are onions. Onions seem to have a bad effect on all sorts of animals including dogs so it is definitely one to be avoided.
We have already mentioned sunflower seeds, a favorite of gerbils. Offer them sparingly as they are high in fat. The same goes for nuts and pumpkin seeds.
People food also goes down well with these furry little rodents. They like a sliver of wholegrain bread, unsweetened breakfast cereal, cheese and a little egg, either scrambled or boiled.
Not a bad life being a gerbil is it?
Food to Avoid With Gerbils
As with any other animal, there are foods which you shouldn’t give to your gerbil.
Junk food is not a good idea as it has no nutritional value. Avoid crisps, cakes, biscuits, chocolates, and sweets.
Gerbils are not meat eaters. It doesn’t do anything for their general health and they are basically not interested.
However, having said that, they will hunt grasshoppers and other creepy crawlies; in fact anything that jumps up. They just like a little playtime.
How Often Should You Feed Your Gerbil?
Now this is a difficult question. If you have a lab block you obviously don’t have to change it that often. However, chances are you will have loose food like seeds or pellets.
One gerbil needs approximately 5 – 10 grams of food per day. Once you get the feeling as to how much they will eat, put this amount down once a day.
The best thing to do is to feed them at the same time so that they know when their food is arriving.
At the end of the 24-hour period, see what is left. It is always best to remove the remains before feeding again as the food might have become damp or soiled.
After all, you don’t want them to pick up any illnesses.
How to Feed Your Gerbils
A ceramic dish is best as it’s then too difficult for the little darlings to knock over.
Treats should be fed in a separate dish.
One way to establish a close bond with your gerbils is to feed them their treats by hand.
They will come to love this close contact and I’m sure that you will as well.
Do Gerbils Need Water?
Yes, gerbils come from the Mongolian desert where they don’t drink a lot.
However, it is still best to give your domesticated gerbils water in a sipper bottle.
On average they drink around 4ml of water a day, which is quite a small amount!
How Do You Know If Your Gerbil Is Doing Well?
Your gerbils will be bright-eyed and bushy tailed.
Their fur will look healthy and they will have masses of energy.
Best Foods for Gerbils
Well, I think it’s high time that we looked at some foods that are out there for gerbils.
I’m not saying that you should choose any of these specifically, but they will give you a good idea of what your little furry friends should be eating.
1. Supreme Petfoods Tiny Friends Farm Gerri Gerbil Food
Gerbils don’t need the transition period which dogs and cats require so it is easier to feed them.
This is a low fat food which is good as gerbils don’t need a lot of fat. It just piles on the pounds and I’m sure that some of us know this problem all too clearly.
However, on the other hand, the food is high in natural ingredients which will give them the nutrition they require.
Your gerbils will love the variety of ingredients in this mix. They’re all foods they enjoy, including alfalfa, maize, wheat, oats, carrots, peas, raisins, soya and whole pumpkin seeds.
You will be pleased to know here are no sunflower seeds in this mix. Sunflower seeds are favorites of gerbils, but they are high in fat and are no good for them in high quantities.
As mentioned earlier, the little furry rascals can be tempted to just pick out the sunflower seeds and leave all the other goodies.
In addition to this being a low fat food, it also contains very little sugar. Gerbils don’t need sugar. That, like fat, piles on the pounds and you don’t want to decrease the life expectancy of your pets.
Another great ingredient in this food is linseed. This will help to give your gerbils a shiny coat and healthy skin.
2. Higgins Sunburst Gourmet Blend Hamster and Gerbil Food
It is jam-packed full of dried mixed fruits, sun-cured hay, veggies, and pre-cooked legumes. Your little bundles of joy will get millet, oats, alfalfa sprouts, flaked beans, peas, carrots, and coconuts.
There are some sunflower seeds, but not too many, just enough for a balanced diet. You don’t want your gerbils to hoard these for tasty midnight snacks.
The mix is great for the natural foraging instinct of your gerbils as they will have a good scout around for whatever they can find.
This muesli is full of vitamins, minerals, and DHA omega 3 fatty acids which contribute to the general well-being of your pets.
The fatty acids will help to give your gerbils healthy skin and a shiny coat and they should look all the more brighter for it.
The healthy vegetables in this mix support good digestion and there are probiotics which help to give immunity against illnesses.
3. Brown’s Tropical Carnival Hamster and Gerbil Food
There is a medley of shapes, textures, and tastes and lots of different fruits, veggies, seeds, and grains.
Just think of oats, millet, alfalfa, wheat, corn, safflower seeds, dried pineapple and papaya, barley, peanuts, peas, squash seeds, banana, carrots, lentils, pumpkin seeds, and raisins.
What could be better than that for your little bundles of joy? They’ll surely get a good dose of nutrition with this mixture and they shouldn’t get bored eating it.
The food contains healthy bacteria which supports proper digestion and it also contains all the essential vitamins and minerals which your pets need to remain healthy.
4. Oxbow Garden Select Hamster and Gerbil Food
What sort of food do your gerbils enjoy? Well, you’ll find lots of delicious treats here.
The mix gives full nutritional value with such delicacies as yellow pea, tomato, carrot, spinach, banana, oats, and timothy grass.
All will help to give your gerbils masses of energy and will also help to support a healthy immune system.
The mix contains linseed which is a great support for a shiny coat and healthy skin.
In addition you will find that there are three varieties of hand-selected grass hay which encourages meal enrichment and variety.
The muesli has such a great variety of ingredients that your little bundles of fur will thoroughly enjoy foraging.
Luckily there aren’t sunflower seeds in the mix as they would go for these first and leave everything else. Well, aren’t we the same, always eating what we like the best until we’re full up?!
Another great thing about this food is that it’s non-GMO certified.
Feeding your gerbil doesn’t have to be difficult!
They need a mixture of seeds, vegetables, and fruits and then they will thrive.
Be careful not to give them an excess of one food they love, such as sunflower seeds, otherwise they might just eat them and nothing else.
Mix and match, give them treats in the form of healthy fruits and vegetables, and you should end up with very healthy, boisterous, and loving pets.
If you have any comments or questions, please feel free to leave them below!