Wild gerbils eat a number of different things, but a lot of the time they would be surviving on plant material from areas near their burrow. Whilst some gerbil species would also try to catch insects as well, it’s not usually necessary for the two species of captive pet gerbils to eat these too.
Gerbils have quite limited diets, but there are some things that they love to get their paws on
Captive gerbils are perfectly happy with their dried mixes and a bit of fresh food, but it’s worth noting that they will need a certain amount of protein in their diet. In the past, rodent mixes would have contained lots of protein-poor foods, but nowadays most will have protein-rich items included in the pellets or the mix. Just be sure to thoroughly check the label and try to find one that says it caters for all your gerbils’ dietary requirements.
Gerbils enjoy a number of different foods, but their diet can be generally partitioned into dry and fresh food. Below we’ve some suggestions as to what you can feed your gerbils, but if you would like a handy list, then visit our Gerbil Food List page for more information.Dry Gerbil Food
The main part of your gerbils’ diets should be their dry food. Dry foods usually come in one of two forms - mixes or pellets. Mixes are a number of different seeds and rusks that provide your pets with lots of different key nutrients, whilst pellets are small pieces full of vitamins and minerals. You can purchase both types of dry gerbil food on our website, or from your local pet shop. In general, the cost of a good gerbil food will be approximately three or four pounds per kilogram. It’s important to get a food specific to gerbils - mixes intended for other animals will not be suitable. For example, mixes intended for hamsters will often have a lot more fat in than is needed for a gerbil.
Dry gerbil food comes in multiple forms - mixes and pellets
These days, lots of dry food mixes contain most, if not all of the vital vitamins and minerals your gerbils need in order to live a long, healthy life. Be sure to have a good look at the product description - you’ll probably want one that says it provides everything that your gerbils need. You’ll also need to pay close attention to the use-by date on the packet - the nutrients contained in the foods degrade after a few months, and will be of no use to your pet after this time.
It’s best to supplement dry mixes with fresh food in order to add some variety to their diet. It’s very boring to live off the same mix day in, day out for your whole life. Read on for information on catering to the fresh food requirements of your pets’ diets.
Fresh food adds some variety to your pet’s life, as well as helping to ensure they have all of the vitamins and minerals they need. Some experts also suggest that offering gerbils fresh food on a regular basis also helps them to maintain healthy teeth. For a good list of what fruits and vegetables you can use to liven up your pets’ diets, have a look at our ‘Gerbil Food List’.
Be careful when offering fresh food to your gerbils. Although it’s a great treat for them, they evolved in very arid regions, and so their stomachs aren’t very well equipped to deal with foods with much moisture in them. If you feed too many of these foods to your pets, they can suffer from stomach upsets and diarrhoea. Only small pieces are needed.