Watching your gerbils try new foods for the very first time can be one of the most rewarding parts of gerbil ownership.
There are so many exciting new treats that you likely have in your kitchen right now, and that your gerbils have never tried before.
But as a compassionate and responsible gerbil owner, you want to make sure that anything you give your pets to eat is completely safe and healthy.
Below, we’ll let you know what treats gerbils can eat, as well as what they should not be given. We’ll also answer some of the most common gerbil treat questions, like “Can gerbils eat cheese?” We encourage you to always perform even more research about any treat you’re unsure of, but this list will give you a great starting place.
Healthy Treats for Gerbils
A healthy treat for a gerbil can be something like fresh fruits and veggies, which you can feed multiple times a week.
It could also be something more rich, fatty, or sweet, which you should only feed your gerbils once per week at most. We’ll let you know which of the treats below you can give frequently and which you should give much more sparingly.
Learn more: What Are the (Actual) Best Gerbil Cages?
Healthy fruits and vegetables for gerbils
Fresh or dried fruit or vegetables can make a delicious snack for gerbils. There are plenty of fruit and veggie options to choose from, so you can treat your gerbils to many different flavors.
You should limit the amount of fresh fruit and vegetables you give your gerbil to two teaspoons per week.
Because dried fruit is more concentrated in sugar, they should only be given about a thumbnail-sized portion per week.
Here are some healthy fruit and vegetable treats to try with your gerbils, either fresh or dried. This isn’t a complete list of the fruits and veggies that gerbils can have, but they’ll give you a place to start.
Fruits for gerbils:
- Apples (avoid the seeds)
- Bananas (slightly unripe)
- Cherries (remove pit)
Vegetables for gerbils:
- Sweet potato (cooked)
- Beat greens
- Pumpkin and squash
- Bell pepper
Healthy herbs for gerbils
In addition to fresh fruits and vegetables, many gerbils enjoy leafy herbs. Here are some herbs that are healthy for gerbils.
Herbs for gerbils:
Healthy nuts and seeds for gerbils
Nuts and seeds are some of a gerbil’s favorite snacks, and they should make up part of their regular diet, too.
Your gerbil’s seed mix should include some seeds, but you can give your gerbil larger, more unique seeds as an added treat on occasion. These should be given in moderation because they contain high amounts of fat. Your gerbils will eat as many fatty nuts and seeds as you give them, so be careful!
Make sure that any nuts or seeds you give your gerbils are completely unsalted and unflavored.
Nuts for gerbils:
- Brazil nuts
- Pine nuts
- Macadamia nuts
- Monkey nuts
- Pine nuts
Seeds for gerbils:
- Sunflower seeds
- Pumpkin seeds
- Sesame seeds
- Melon seeds
- Squash seeds
- Chia seeds
Gerbil bonding tip: Pick out the sunflower seeds and pumpkin seeds from your gerbils’ food mix, and put these aside as hand-fed snacks for later. This will help your gerbils associate you with the very tastiest snacks.
Dried insects for gerbils
Dried insects are an excellent source of protein for gerbils, and gerbils tend to love them as a special treat! Here are some freeze-dried insects to try with your gerbils.
Insects for gerbils:
Tasty tip: Even though they’re not insects, dried river shrimp can make a unique treat for a gerbil, too!
Occasional treats for gerbils
These are treats that, while they’re healthy in small amounts, can lead your gerbils to become obese if you give them too often.
Healthy occasional treats for gerbils:
- Dried fruit (avoid raisins)
- Rice (cooked or uncooked)
- Wholewheat bread
- Wholegrain crackers
- Unsweetened cereal
- Whimzee’s dog treats
- Boiled or scrambled eggs
What Foods Are Poisonous to Gerbils?
It’s important to know what foods you need to avoid with your gerbils, in addition to what treats they might enjoy. These are foods that are either poisonous for gerbils or just not good for them.
Poisonous for gerbils:
- Grapes (according to some sources)
- Fruit seeds, such as apple seeds
Not healthy for gerbils:
- Salted or flavored nuts and seeds
- Processed “human foods”
- Citrus fruits
What Can Gerbils Eat FAQ
Now we’ll look at some of the most frequently asked questions about what you can and cannot feed to pet gerbils. If you’ve ever asked one of the questions below, you’re not alone!
Can gerbils eat cheese?
No. Some people will say that gerbils can have cheese as a treat. However, gerbils are actually lactose-intolerant, which means any dairy will upset their digestion. Because cheese isn’t nutritionally valuable for gerbils, there’s no reason to risk the tummyache and potential diarrhea your gerbil might suffer.
Can gerbils eat bread?
Yes. Gerbils can eat small amounts of whole-grain bread, but it should be limited to about a thumbnail-sized piece every couple of weeks. This can be a very special treat or a one-time experience for your gerbils! You should avoid white bread, as this has a higher sugar content and isn’t as healthy for gerbils.
Can gerbils eat crackers?
Yes. As with bread, crackers should be limited to whole-grain or whole-wheat varieties. Gerbils can have a thumbnail-sized portion of a cracker once every couple of weeks. They’ll love the crunchy, crumbly texture of this special treat.
Can gerbils eat carrots?
Yes. Carrots are perfectly safe for gerbils, and they contain lots of vital nutrients and vitamins. Carrots are a favorite for many small pets because they’re crunchy and crispy.
Can gerbils eat strawberries?
Yes. Strawberries are healthy for gerbils, but they contain more sugar than some other fruits. You should give only a thumbnail-sized portion of strawberry to your gerbil about once or twice a week.
Can gerbils eat grapes?
No. Many sources state that gerbils can have grapes, but others (including the RSPCA) say that grapes should be avoided. There may be certain varieties of grapes that are poisonous to gerbils and others that are perfectly safe. Because of this, we recommend avoiding both grapes and raisins entirely.
Can gerbils eat citrus fruits?
No. Citrus isn’t technically toxic for gerbils, but it contains high levels of acid that can irritate your gerbil’s nose and mouth. Many people give their gerbils small portions of orange, but we recommend avoiding it. There are plenty of other fruits that your gerbils can enjoy without the risk of acid irritation!
Can gerbils eat bananas?
Yes. Gerbils can eat a small portion of banana on occasion. However, we recommend feeding your gerbils a piece of banana that’s slightly unripe. Ripe bananas contain much more sugar than those that are unripe, and this level of sugar is dangerous for a gerbil.
Can gerbils eat blueberries?
Yes. Gerbils can have blueberries, but as with strawberries, you should limit their blueberry consumption. You can give your gerbil one small blueberry once per week.
Can gerbils eat celery?
Yes. Gerbils can and should enjoy a bit of celery as part of their vegetable intake. Celery has a uniquely crisp and tough texture that many gerbils enjoy shredding and chomping. Celery is also high in water content, which is great for gerbils who don’t consume much water.
Can gerbils eat lettuce?
Yes. The best type of lettuce to give your gerbil is romaine. This is because it has a crisp texture and is full of water and nutrients. We don’t recommend giving your gerbils iceberg lettuce, which is almost all water.
Trying New Foods with Your Gerbils
Inviting your gerbils to try new foods can be entertaining and exciting, both for them and for you! Just make sure that whenever you’re introducing a new fruit, vegetable, or other treat, you do so slowly.
Start with just a small piece to test how it will affect your gerbils. And finally, be sure to remove any uneaten pieces of fruit or vegetables from your gerbils’ cage after 12 hours to avoid mold and rot.