Gerbils need a varied diet. The main diet for gerbils should be a pre-made food mix, but you can supplement it with seeds or give them as treats.
Many seeds are perfect for gerbils. Sesame seeds contain vital minerals such as magnesium and calcium, as well as plenty of protein and fat. Pumpkin seeds have a similar nutritional profile and a hard shell that is great for nibbling. Sunflower and melon seeds are also suitable in moderation. A mixture of all these seeds is good for the health of your gerbils.
Feeding gerbils seeds is only a good idea if they are an occasional treat because of the fat content.
It would be best if you were careful not to overweight your gerbils. Weigh them occasionally to avoid this.
Can Gerbils Eat Seeds?
Wild gerbils live in a specific region of the world, the Mongolian steppe. This steppe is an arid grassland.
There are almost no trees but many shrubs and plants. As you might imagine, food can be scarce there.
To survive in such an unfriendly place, gerbils in the wild eat a diverse diet. They can and must eat plant roots, grains, nuts, seeds, and small insects.
Gerbils are looking for food all day long, trying to find as much as possible. They even hoard some in case times get bad.
Seeds are an essential part of this diet. This becomes clear when you compare the different components of a gerbil’s diet.
Grains and plant roots contain a lot of carbohydrates, which are necessary for direct energy supply.
Many seeds, on the other hand, contain a lot of protein and fat. Both protein and fat are challenging to find in this bleak landscape. In addition, the seeds contain many vitamins and minerals that are essential for life.
If you keep gerbils, it is your job to replicate their natural diet as best you can. If you don’t, your gerbil could get sick.
That’s why commercial gerbil food mixes mainly contain various grains and seeds. However, it is also possible to mix in additional seeds if needed.
But that is not all. Seeds are also suitable for another reason. They are firm and crunchy, so your gerbil must use its sharp teeth to crush them.
This prevents the gerbil’s teeth from growing too long.
So, gerbils may eat seeds. They provide many nutrients that your gerbils would not find in the wild. However, in pet gerbils, they may be part of the diet in moderation.
Are Seeds Safe for Gerbils?
Still, seeds are not the perfect food. There are two main problems they bring.
Gerbils have hard, sharp teeth that they can use to easily break open a shell like that of a pumpkin seed.
The problem, however, is that these shells can fly off if they are broken open. This could injure the gerbil’s eyes.
Also, many seeds may not be healthy because of their fat content. They are densely packed with nutrients because the plants that produce them want their offspring to survive.
Most seeds are about 50% oil by weight. Like all animals, gerbils need fat in their diet, of course.
But they don’t need nearly as much as most seeds provide them. If your gerbils ate only seeds, they would quickly become overweight.
Therefore, seeds are best used as occasional snacks, not as a main component of your gerbils’ diet.
This ratio is also actual for most gerbil food mixes. They are primarily grains but contain the right small amounts of nuts, seeds, and kernels.
What Seeds Can Gerbils Eat?
In the wild, gerbils can access a few different types of seeds. There are both woody and herbaceous perennials in the Mongolian steppe that produce seeds.
However, foragers have access to seeds, kernels, and nuts worldwide.
Can Gerbils Eat Sunflower Seeds?
Sunflower seeds are derived from sunflowers. They originated in South America and were brought to Europe by Spanish sailors.
Like all seeds, sunflower seeds are rich in nutrients. About half of the weight of a sunflower seed is oil, and only one-fifth is carbohydrate. Proteins account for the same proportion of one-fifth.
Sunflower seeds are, therefore, an excellent source of energy.
In the wild, gerbils have limited access to fatty foods like sunflower seeds.
However, your pet gerbils will eat as many of them as possible. So, for your pet’s health, it’s best to limit their access to high-fat snacks like these.
Can Gerbils Eat Pumpkin Seeds?
Pumpkin seeds are a popular addition to a variety of dishes. The inside of a pumpkin is full of these large, firm seeds.
However, when people scoop out pumpkins, such as for Halloween, they usually end up in the trash.
Pumpkin seeds are nutritious, even more nutritious than the flesh of the pumpkin itself. You can roast them, sprinkle them with salt, and eat them as a tasty snack. They also make an occasional snack for gerbils.
Pumpkin seeds are much lower in fat than sunflower seeds. Only one-third of a pumpkin seed’s weight is oil. One-fifth of the seeds is protein, and one-fifth is carbohydrates.
However, pumpkin seeds contain much more fiber than many other seeds, which comprise the rest of the weight. Gerbils need a lot of fiber in their diet to be able to go to the bathroom regularly.
Pumpkin seeds also contain a lot of magnesium. Magnesium is suitable for gerbils because it makes their typical seizures less severe. Up to 50% of gerbils suffer from seizures.
Additionally, pumpkin seeds are firm, and their outer shell is fibrous without being too hard. Your gerbils will enjoy opening the shells to eat the seeds inside.
However, they also like to nibble on the shell itself, which they can safely consume.
Pumpkin seeds contain a fair amount of iron and calcium but few other minerals.
The main reason they are suitable for gerbils is their magnesium content.
Can Gerbils Eat Sesame Seeds?
Sesame seeds are obtained from a flowering plant whose wild variety is native to Africa and India.
The plant has been domesticated and is now an essential crop in much of Africa and Southeast Asia.
This is also reflected in the widespread use of sesame seeds and oil in recipes from these regions.
In any case, sesame seeds are highly nutritious, even more so than pumpkin seeds.
Pumpkin seeds are about half fat, one-fifth protein, and one-fifth carbohydrate. However, sesame seeds contain less fiber than pumpkin seeds.
However, the vitamin and mineral content of sesame seeds sets them apart. They contain more magnesium than pumpkin seeds and also plenty of the following nutrients:
- Vitamin B1
- Vitamin B6
Their broad spectrum of nutrients makes sesame seeds an excellent, surprisingly healthy food.
Many of the nutrients in sesame seeds are also crucial for gerbils. For example, sesame seeds provide not only much-needed fats and proteins but also many vitamins and minerals.
Another plus point of sesame seeds is their size. They are small, which means you can portion them out more quickly when feeding your gerbils.
You can also sprinkle them over your gerbils’ bedding, and they will happily dig for them.
Can Gerbils Eat Melon Seeds?
Melon seeds is a broad term. It includes the seeds of watermelons, honeydew melons, Galia melons, sugar melons, cantaloupe melons, and more.
All of these seeds have about the same nutrients and health benefits as many other seeds.
Melon seeds, however, have a different nutritional profile. Half the weight of each seed is fat. But a full third is protein, while only one-twentieth is carbohydrates.
This means that melon seeds contain fewer carbohydrates and much more protein than those seeds mentioned above.
Nevertheless, as far as minerals are concerned, melon seeds stand out:
- High amounts of magnesium
The only problem is that melon seeds do not contain many vitamins. In this respect, they are somewhat inferior to other seeds.
Nevertheless, melon seeds are a helpful tool that you can use in certain situations.
Due to their high protein and fat content, they are an excellent supplement for an underweight gerbil. Along with regular, high-carbohydrate food, they will help your pet regain its weight.
Can Gerbils Eat Poppy Seeds?
Poppy seeds are harvested from poppies, a common plant species. Wild poppies are found in Europe, the Middle East, and Asia. Most species bloom bright red, but there are also species with flowers of other colors.
Poppy seeds are black and tiny, even tinier than sesame seeds. This makes them somewhat unpleasant for your gerbils to eat. Your gerbils can also bite into them quickly, so they won’t contribute to grinding their teeth.
Regarding nutrients, poppy seeds are an excellent choice for the health of your gerbils. They contain high amounts of copper and manganese. They also contain calcium, magnesium, phosphorus, and zinc.
So, in many ways, poppy seeds are similar to the other seeds on this list. The difference is in their carbohydrate and fat content.
They have an average protein content of one-fifth per seed, which is less critical than their lower fat content of two-fifths and their higher carbohydrate content of one-third.
This means that poppy seeds are more consistent with the rest of a gerbil’s diet. There is less risk in overfeeding your animals.
Can Gerbils Eat Chia Seeds?
Chia seeds are trending as a modern superfood. People eat them believing they are suitable for almost everything. They also actually contain lots of omega-3, antioxidants, and many other healthy ingredients.
Chia seeds are nutritionally different from most other seeds.
One difference is that chia seeds contain slightly less fat, 31 grams per 100 grams. This means that it is easier to feed the right amount of chia seeds than with other seeds.
They also contain much more carbohydrates than other seeds, namely 42 g per 100 g. These are almost all fiber, which means they are suitable for gerbils.
Chia seeds have an average protein content for seeds.
Regarding minerals and vitamins, chia seeds are like many other seeds. They contain a lot of copper, magnesium, manganese, phosphorus, and selenium. They also contain vitamins B1 and B3.
So, should you feed chia seeds to your gerbils? After all, they offer the same minerals and vitamins as other seeds.
However, they contain less fat, making them a healthier snack for gerbils. Your gerbils may, therefore, eat more of these seeds than other seeds.
Are There Any Seeds That Are Toxic to Gerbils?
Of the seeds commercially available, none are toxic to gerbils. However, some people believe that the seeds in grapes may be toxic to rodents.
As a rule, stick to foods that you know are non-toxic. There are more than enough seeds and nuts for gerbils that we know are healthy.
What Seeds Should You Give Gerbils?
Perhaps the best seeds to give are sesame seeds. This is because they contain many things your gerbils need, like magnesium and calcium.
The only downside to sesame seeds is that they don’t have a hard, fibrous shell. Many other seeds have a hard shell that is perfect for chewing.
So ensure your gerbils have something else to chew on when you feed them sesame seeds.
However, it is much better to provide them with a mixture of seeds than feeding them just one type anyway.
Gerbils benefit from a varied diet, just as we do. So buy a mix of seeds rather than just one variety.
We recommend a mix that includes:
- Sesame seeds, because of their high nutritional value.
- Pumpkin seeds, because of their high fiber content.
Also, stay away from roasted or salted seeds. It is best to buy them raw. The flavored coating some products contain can have a lot of salt.
But there are also good arguments for avoiding seeds and nuts altogether. They contain so much fat that it’s easy to feed too much.
Also, the food mix for your gerbils should already contain all the nutrients, vitamins, and minerals they need.
How Often Can Gerbils Eat Seeds?
If you want to give your gerbils seeds, you should not do so daily. They are so nutrient-dense that you risk making your gerbils overweight.
Instead, seeds should be an occasional snack at most. Give them to your gerbils once or twice a week.
Gerbils only need about 10 grams of food per day. One or at most two days a week, you can replace half of your gerbils’ food mix with a mixture of seeds, kernels, and nuts.
But this is not mandatory. If you give your animals a high-quality gerbil food mix, it already contains everything they need.
If you give your gerbils seeds, check if they are hoarding them.
Gerbils like to hoard high-calorie foods. This is a behavior they learned in the wild because there are times when food is scarce.
If your gerbil hoards a lot of seeds, it may eat them all at once. This can lead to a sudden increase in weight.
In addition, the hoarded seeds can also go bad, making them a health hazard.
If you check on your gerbils regularly and change the bedding, you can prevent this from happening.