How and What You Should Feed Your Pet Gerbil

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What gerbils can and can't be fed. How much to feed gerbils each day.

Gerbils have a diet a little more confusing than a fish or even a dog. One wrong move, by feeding them the wrong, thing could cost their life. But, knowing what can and can’t be fed to a gerbil ensures that they will live a long, happy life.

Regular Food

In the wild, gerbils would typically eat what they can find: seeds, which is why that’s the best thing to feed your pet gerbil. Seed mixtures can be found at most pet stores, and will be labeled as “hamster and gerbil food” or simply “gerbil food”. Ideally, it’s best to go with the “gerbil food”, because it’s made specifically for the gerbil. But typically, you won’t find straight gerbil food. Food for hamsters and gerbils is fine because they do have similar diets. Gerbils need to be fed about a small handful each.

You should feed your gerbils about once a day, either in the morning or at night. It is recommended that you do not refill their bowls until it is nearly empty. Gerbil diets are designed with all of the necessary components. By refilling their bowl before it is empty, you are replenishing them with what they like, therefore they have no reason to eat the pieces they don’t like. It’s like giving a kid a chocolate bar and a banana – of course they’ll eat the chocolate bar first.  And once it’s gone, you again give them a chocolate bar and a banana. They never have any reason to eat the banana, because they always have something they like better available to them.

How much you feed them depends on what kind of food you buy and how many gerbils you have. Most foods will state on the package how much food you’re required to feed per day, per gerbil. If not, gerbils require about 10 grams of food per day.

It is important that you pick out all of the sun flower seeds out of the hamster and gerbil food. This is because sunflowers have high salt content. Although hamsters are fine with that amount of salt, gerbils are not. Save sunflower seeds in another container and use these as treats. They can have about 3-4 each day.


Giving your gerbils treats is a great way to socialize and play with them. By putting the treat in the palm of your hand, your gerbil will eventually learn to crawl into your hands.

As mentioned above, sunflower seeds should be removed from your gerbil’s feed. Using those that you saved, you can feed your gerbils 3-4 each day.

Nuts can also be used as a treat. To ensure they’re safe, and salt-free, purchase them from a pet store.

Twice a week, Gerbils may have a few vegetables and fruits. Vegetables and fruits can be dangerous to feed your gerbils unless you know what you’re doing. Any vegetable you give them must be very low in water content. Too much water will give them diarrhea, and it will instantly dehydrate them. The chance of survival at this point is quite low. Some fruits and vegetables that are tasty and safe for gerbils include broccoli, carrot, apple (without the skin), banana and more. It is best not to experiment with vegetables.

Other treats can be found at your local pet store in many different forms. Before buying from the pet store, check the ingredients. If sugar is first on the list or high on the list, avoid it.


There should always be clean water in your gerbil cage. The water bottle should be cleaned every day to every other day and refilled with clean water.


Vitamins can be found in the form of liquid drops that are placed in the water. Gerbils should already get the required nutrients and vitamins through their seeds. But, if you suspect your gerbil has a common cold, vitamins can help clear your gerbil away from it. Vitamin drops are simply placed into your gerbil's water bottle.


It is extremely important that you wash your hands before and after handling your gerbil or your gerbil's food. Gerbils can be susceptible to germs and bacteria often found in your house, which could be on your hands. This is just to ensure the health of both your gerbil and you.

1 comment

carol roach
Posted on Nov 2, 2009