Gerbils originate from arid areas, just like hamsters and, therefore, are designed to eat a very dry seed and grain based diet. Along with with mice, traditionally gerbils have traditionally been fed hamster food, but this really is not suitable for their dietary needs.
Traditional hamster foods tend to be high in sunflower seeds and therefore are not suitable for gerbils. Gerbils LOVE sunflower seeds and will eat them above everything
else. Sunflower seeds are not bad for them if given in moderation; however, they are very high in fat and can lead to obesity.
You can find a vast array of gerbil foods on the market but sometimes a home made
diet is best. The main reason behind this is that different ages and sexes of gerbil have different dietary requirements. Male gerbils, for example, are known for their ability to pile on the pounds! This is bad for their health and is sure to reduce their lifespan. Pregnant or lactating females and young gerbils need higher levels of calories and protein. A commercial mix is often too inflexible to allow the diet to be changed with age and lifestyle.
Gerbils are designed to be able to get every scrap of nutrients from the food they eat and if fed a poor quality diet, may suffer, as they simply are not eating enough food to meet their needs.
The basis for a good quality home made diet is as follows:
• 20% rolled oats
• 20% rolled barley
• 10% rolled rye
• 10% rolled wheat
• 5% buckwheat or sugar free organic human cereal
• 15% millet
• 5% sunflower seed
• 5% good quality wild bird seed mix
• 10% linseed, pumpkin seed and hemp seed mix
• Hay should be provided at ALL times for extra fibre.
Gerbils will appreciate fruit and vegetables but occasionally take a while to learn to love it! It can be helpful to give this to your gerbils and the same time every day as they soon will learn to try anything new that is added to their cage. Gerbils appreciate routine.