In the wild gerbils eat mainly plant material from areas near their burrow. After all, they do't exactly have a wide choice - but some gerbil species do catch insects too. Pet gerbils to not need to be fed insects, however, so don't worry!
Gerbils are easy to feed - just a good quality dried food and some fresh treats
Captive gerbils are content with their dried gerbil-food mix along with a bit of fresh veg and fruit. All good quality gerbil food mixes have a balance of the things they need, including protein - something that was often lacking in store-bought foods in the past. Always check the label to make sure the dried mix and pellets cater for all a gerbil's dietary requirements.
Dry Gerbil Food
This is the main part of a pet gerbil’s diet. Dry food comes in two forms - seed mixes or pellets. The latter are multi-seed pellets fortified with all essential vitamins and minerals. In general, a good gerbil food will cost approximately three to five dollars per pound.
It’s important to buy a food made for gerbils - mixes intended for pets such as hamsters and mice will not be suitable. Hamster mixes usually have a lot more fat content than a gerbil can cope with.
Dry gerbil food comes in the form of seed mixes and pellets
In addition to ingredients, check the use-by date on the packet - the nutrients contained in the foods degrade after a few months, and will be of no use to your pet after this time.
Supplementing dry mixes with fresh food gives your gerbils some welcome variety, and helps ensure they have all the vitamins and minerals they need. Some experts suggest that offering gerbils fresh food on a regular basis also helps them to maintain healthy teeth. For a good list of what fruits and vegetables you can use to liven up your pets’ diets, have a look at our Gerbil Food List page.
Be careful when offering fresh food to your gerbils. Although it’s a great treat for them, they evolved in very arid regions, and so their stomachs don't cope well with an excess of wet foods. If you overfeed them with the fresh stuff, they can develop stomach upsets and diarrhoea. Only small pieces are needed, and you should always remove leftovers from the cage in the evening.