One of the most important aspects of keeping your gerbil healthy and happy is a good diet, and if you’ve just brought home a new pet gerbil, it can be challenging to know exactly what to feed them. Gerbils can be picky eaters at times, and fresh fruit and vegetables are ideal treats for gerbils occasionally, but commercial gerbil food will provide your gerbil with a balanced, nutrient-rich staple.
Gerbils are insatiable hoarders, so don’t be surprised if you find food stashed away in your gerbil’s bedding! Also, gerbils are omnivores that need a certain amount of protein in their diet, and their sharp teeth never stop growing, so be sure to give them plenty to gnaw away on!
Since gerbils are omnivores and can be fairly fussy eaters, it can be stressful to find the right staple food to keep them healthy. Luckily, you’ve come to the right place! In this article, we go over 10 of our favorite foods for gerbils to help you narrow down the options and find the best food for your beloved gerbil.
A Quick Comparison of Our Favorites
|Best Overall||Higgins Sunburst Gourmet Blend Gerbil Food||
|Best Value||Kaytee Forti-Diet Pro Health Gerbil Food||
|Oxbow Garden Select Fortified Food||
|Kaytee Fiesta Gourmet Variety Diet Gerbil Food||
|Oxbow Essentials Healthy Handfuls Gerbil Food||
The 10 Best Gerbil Foods
1. Higgins Sunburst Gourmet Blend Gerbil Food — Best Overall
Our favorite choice of gerbil food overall is the Sunburst Gourmet Blend from Higgins. The food is loaded with a mix of species-appropriate dried fruits, like apples and pineapples; seeds, such as pumpkin and sunflower seeds; nuts, like cashews and peanuts; and grains and precooked legumes. We love that the food is also fortified with beneficial vitamins, minerals, and amino acids and includes omega-3 and -6 fatty acids and probiotics to aid in digestive health. To top it all off, the food is completely free from artificial flavorings, preservatives, and colors!
The only issue we found with this food is that gerbils can pick and choose what they want to eat from the mix, which can quickly result in an unbalanced diet.
2. Kaytee Forti-Diet Pro Health Gerbil Food — Best Value
The best gerbil food for the money is the Forti-Diet Pro mix from Kaytee. Protein is essential for omnivorous animals like gerbils, and this food contains 13.5% protein overall and includes natural sources of protein from ingredients like sunflower seeds, corn, and various grains, as well as yucca for odor control. The food is also fortified with omega-3 and -6 fatty acids for optimal brain, heart, and eye health and prebiotics and probiotics for digestive support. We love that this food is also free from any artificial flavors and is preserved naturally.
The biggest issue we found with this food is that it contains artificial colors in the pellets, which is not ideal for gerbils. Also, some gerbils will simply pick and choose their favorite morsels and leave what they don’t like behind. These two factors keep this food from the top position on this list.
3. Oxbow Garden Select Fortified Food
If you are looking for a premium, balanced, and nutritious diet for your gerbil, look no further than the Garden Select Fortified gerbil food from Oxbow. This food contains all the nutrients that your gerbil needs for a well-balanced diet in a convenient pelleted form. We love this concept because your gerbil cannot simply pick what they want from a fruit and seed mix, and you can rest assured that they are getting a balanced, nutritious diet. The food contains great fruit and vegetable ingredients, including whole yellow pea, tomato, carrot, spinach, and banana, and three different varieties of hand-selected hay. It also has ingredients from the U.S.A. and contains 16% minimum overall protein, ideal for omnivores like gerbils.
The only issue we found with this food is that the pellets can break apart easily, leaving you with a ton of dust at the bottom of the bag. This and the comparatively high price keep this food from the top two positions on this list.
4. Kaytee Fiesta Gourmet Variety Diet Gerbil Food
The Kaytee Fiesta Gourmet Variety Diet gerbil food promotes the natural foraging instincts of your gerbil with a variety of enticing ingredients. It contains seeds, like sunflower, pumpkin, and millet seeds; various nutritious fruits, like banana and papaya; and vegetables, including carrots and sweet potatoes mixed with corn, rolled oats, and barley. The food is fortified with DHA and omega fatty acids for optimum heart, brain, and eye health and is loaded with prebiotics and probiotics to support great digestion.
Several customers report that their gerbils did not enjoy this food and picked out only the tasty parts, resulting in a potentially unbalanced diet.
5. Oxbow Essentials Healthy Handfuls Gerbil Food
The Healthy Handfuls pelleted food from Oxbow Essentials is packed with all the vitamins and nutrients that your gerbil needs for a healthy, well-balanced diet. The food is specially formulated to mirror a gerbil’s natural diet and is free from high-sugar fruits and artificial preservatives, colors, and flavors and is packed with only essential ingredients to help maintain proper nutrition, weight, digestion, and overall health. This includes an overall protein content of 15% and ingredients like timothy hay, oats, and barley. The food is fortified with stabilized vitamin C, A, and B12 to keep your gerbil’s immune system functioning optimally.
The food contains a large amount of fiber, around 10% minimum, which may be a bit high for gerbils. It is also free of fruits and vegetables, so you may want to add some of these into your gerbil’s diet alongside this food for extra variety.
6. Brown’s Tropical Carnival Gerbil Food
Brown’s Tropical Carnival Gerbil Food contains a festive blend of a variety of seeds, fruits, nuts, and vegetables, everything that your gerbil needs for a healthy diet. This includes oats, millet, corn, sunflower seeds, dried papaya and pineapple, carrots, and sweet potato, with an overall protein content of 12.5% minimum. It contains added beneficial bacteria to aid in a healthy digestive system and is fortified with various vitamins and nutrients, including vitamins, A, E, and B12.
The main issues that we have with this food are the added flavors and colors, which are not ideal for your pet.
7. Vitakraft Complete Nutrition Gerbil Food
Encourage your Gerbil’s natural foraging instincts with this Complete Nutrition gerbil food from Vitakraft. The food is packed with protein from natural sources, giving it a crude protein content of 16% overall. It contains seven nutrient-rich ancient grains; plenty of fruits, including apple and banana; vegetables, like carrot and spinach; and oats, corn, and various seeds. We love that Vitakraft has added natural probiotics to support healthy digestion and left out any artificial colors, flavors, and preservatives.
There is little to fault with this variety mix other than the fact that your gerbil may develop a selective eating habit and leave some of the ingredients, resulting in a potentially unbalanced diet.
8. Hartz Bonanza Gerbil Food
The Hartz Bonanza Gerbil food is specially formulated to meet not only the nutritional needs but also the dietary preferences of your gerbil. Some of these nutritious and irresistible ingredients include papaya, bananas, peas, corn, and various seeds, as well as pellets that are fortified with vitamins and minerals, all designed to keep your gerbil happy and healthy. The food also comes in a convenient package that seals with a zip-lock for easy storage and lasting freshness.
Several customers reported that the food was dusty, with loads of small particles from the pellets at the bottom of the bag. The pellets also contain artificial coloring and preservatives, which is disappointing.
9. Wild Harvest E1950W Gerbil Advanced Nutrition Diet Food
The Advanced Nutrition food from Wild Harvest contains a blend of irresistible fruits, vegetables, and nuts that aim to give your gerbil the balanced diet that they need. With ingredients like oats, corn, millet, cranberries, carrots, banana, and sunflower and flax seeds, there is a wide variety of morsels to entice your gerbil. The food is also fortified with vitamins, including vitamins D3 and B12, and essential minerals, such as zinc and calcium. It comes in a convenient zip-lock bag.
The food is coated in a brown powder that several customers reported their gerbils did not enjoy — likely broken-up pellets. The pellets also contain artificial dyes and onions, which can potentially cause anemia in gerbils.
10. Rosewood 76440 Nature’S Salad Food
Rosewood Nature’S Salad gerbil food is packed with 21 all-natural ingredients sourced from wild meadows in German that your gerbil will love. The food includes aromatic and beneficial herbs, like marigold, dandelion, nettle, and peppermint, as well as oat flakes, wheat flakes, peas, and carrots. The food is free from added sugar, contains no artificial colors or flavors, and has a variety of enticing textures and flavors. This is about as close to foraging as your gerbil will get!
While this food is a great snack for your gerbil, it does not contain the nutrition required for a balanced diet. There are also questionable ingredients, such as “edible flowers” that are not detailed and may be potentially harmful to your gerbil. There are also chunky pieces of flower, maize, and popcorn that could be potential choking hazards.
Buyer’s Guide: How to Select the Best Food For Gerbils
With all the food options available nowadays for your gerbil, it’s easy to find suitable food to give them that will meet their nutritional needs. That said, the wide variety of foods can also make choosing a suitable food fairly difficult!
- The food that you choose for your gerbil should be a blend of all the necessary vitamins and minerals that they need for a healthy, balanced diet. Look for a wide variety of ingredients that includes nuts, seeds, plenty of fruits and vegetables, and added vitamins and minerals. Gerbils are omnivores and need a fair bit of protein too. Ideally, the protein should come from a natural source.
- Artificial ingredients. Many commercial pet foods contain artificial colors, flavors, and preservatives, which are not great for gerbils or any other pet. Gerbils are small creatures that can live healthy and happy lives without the addition of any artificial additives, so you should try and avoid these whenever possible.
- Refined sugar is toxic to your gerbil and completely unnecessary in their diet. Some manufacturers add sugar to their foods to make them more palatable, so make sure to check the ingredients. Sugar from natural sources like fruit is great — in moderation.
- Gerbil love to chew, and food that has varying textures that mimic the food that they’d eat in the wild is ideal. Gerbils tend to suffer from dental issues, and chewy food can help keep their teeth sharp and strong.
Nutritional requirements for gerbils
The food you choose for your gerbil should meet all their nutritional requirements.
- Protein provides the fuel that your gerbil needs to power through their day and helps in their growth and brain function. The food you give your gerbil should have around 15% overall protein content.
- Fat is also highly important to your gerbil’s health, and they can get good, healthy fats from a variety of nuts and seeds. Depending on the size and age of your gerbil, they’ll need around 3-9% fat overall in their staple food.
- Fresh foods. While pelleted foods and mixes are great, your gerbil will also enjoy and benefit from eating a variety of fresh foods too. Fresh fruits like apples and bananas are great, and fresh vegetables, like carrots and sweet potatoes, and even boiled eggs are ideal additions.
Like any pet, make sure your gerbil has plenty of fresh, clean water available at all times.
Foods to avoid giving your gerbil
Gerbils are fairly picky eaters and won’t eat things that they don’t like.
- Citrus fruits
- Fruit seeds
- Commercial muesli
- Onion and garlic
- Tomato leaves
Mixed foods or pellets?
Dry gerbil food typically comes in two forms, mixes or pellets, and sometimes, a combination of both. Mixes contain a variety of nuts, seeds, dried fruits and vegetables, and grains, while pelleted foods contain a balanced diet of all the nutrients that your gerbil needs for a healthy diet. A pelleted diet is a great balanced base for your gerbil’s nutrition, while mixes can be added in for variety.
Many pet owners argue against seed mixes because it allows small animals like gerbils to simply pick out the parts they prefer and leave the rest, resulting in an unbalanced diet. While this may be true, many gerbil owners claim that with high-quality mixed food, their gerbil eats everything. Of course, it’s up to you as their caregiver, and it’s a good idea to try both and see how your gerbil does.
How much should you feed your gerbil?
This depends on several factors, including the food that you give them and their size and age. The label of the food you choose will usually give you a good indication of daily portion size, and this should ideally be divided up into three to four smaller meals throughout the day. Your gerbil should also be given fresh fruits and vegetables occasionally, although not too often — the excess moisture can cause stomach problems for them. Around a teaspoon or two twice a week is plenty.
Our favorite pick of gerbil food overall is the Sunburst Gourmet Blend from Higgins. The food is loaded with a mix of species-appropriate dried fruits, seeds, nuts, and grains. It is also fortified with beneficial vitamins, minerals, and amino acids and includes omega-3 and -6 fatty acids and probiotics. It is completely free from artificial flavorings, preservatives, and colors.
The best gerbil food for the money is the Forti-Diet Pro mix from Kaytee. This food contains natural sources of essential protein from sunflower seeds, corn, and various grains, is fortified with omega-3 and -6 fatty acids, and contains prebiotics and probiotics for digestive support. This food is also free from any artificial flavors and is preserved naturally.
Owning any pet is a massive responsibility, and it can be stressful to find the right food to give them a healthy, balanced diet. Hopefully, our in-depth reviews have helped you narrow down the myriad options to find the best food for your beloved pet!
Featured image credit: DMegias, Shutterstock