Tomatoes are a culinary vegetable that is found in kitchens across the world. They’re healthy, so you may want to feed tomatoes to your gerbil.
Tomatoes aren’t a suitable regular food for gerbils, but are OK in moderation. They contain the right balance of fat, protein, and carbs for gerbils. They also contain a wide range of nutrients, e.g. B vitamins, vitamin A, copper and potassium. Unfortunately, their acidity and water level can give gerbils diarrhea.
Tomatoes should be fed once a week at most, and only as part of your gerbil’s diet. Gerbils don’t need lots of fresh fruit and vegetables.
Can Gerbils Eat Tomatoes?
Gerbils can eat small amounts of tomato with no ill effects. Tomatoes are classed as a vegetable by people who cook, but are technically a fruit. Almost all common fruits/vegetables are safe for gerbils to eat.
This applies to the skin, the flesh and the seeds of tomatoes. There isn’t anything in a tomato that could harm your gerbil. However, if your pet ate too much tomato, it could get sick because of the acidity.
Do Gerbils Like Tomatoes?
Gerbils like fruits and vegetables. They are watery, which gerbils enjoy because they like to eat watery foods in the wild. There aren’t many sources of water for wild gerbils, so they rely on water from food sources instead.
Also, tomatoes provide an interesting texture when eaten. They can be solid and crunchy on the outside, but soft on the inside. Gerbils enjoy crunchy foods, and crunchy foods are good for their teeth, providing fun gnawing.
Can Gerbils Eat Grape Tomatoes?
According to Food Republic, grape tomatoes are favored by retailers because they ship well and stay fresh for a long time. They have hardier, thicker skins which makes them well suited to industrial production.
Gerbils can eat grape tomatoes. Because of the thicker skin, you may think that this makes it harder for your gerbil to eat them. But gerbils enjoy foods with thick, rough or fibrous skins. They’re ideal for gnawing.
Can Gerbils Eat Cherry Tomatoes?
Cherry tomatoes are more flavorful than grape tomatoes. They’re a brighter red, hence the name ‘cherry’ tomato. They’re also a more tomato-like round shape than grape tomatoes.
Gerbils can eat cherry tomatoes with no problems. They may be slightly more watery and have more seeds than grape tomatoes. But gerbils don’t mind that, because this gives the cherry tomato more variety in taste and texture. They have thinner skin, too, but this isn’t a problem for your pet.
Can Gerbils Eat Cooked Tomatoes?
Tomatoes can be cooked in a variety of ways. Whether your pet can eat a cooked tomato doesn’t depend on the variety, or how long it’s cooked for. It depends on how it was cooked.
Cooking can change the taste, texture, and nutritional profile of foods. The most important change is if food is cooked in oil. The food absorbs some of the oil, or retains some as a coating. This makes the food more calorific.
Doing so also alters its macro nutritional balance (i.e. the balance between carbohydrates, fat, and protein in the food). Gerbils need certain amounts of each. It’s not good if they get too much fat from oil. So, if the tomato was cooked in oil, don’t feed it to your pet.
Roasted tomatoes are fine to feed to a gerbil. They are typically roasted with a minimum of oil, or with no oil at all. The less oil, the better. Sun-dried tomatoes are fine because they aren’t cooked, but left to dry.
Can Gerbils Eat Green or Yellow Tomatoes?
According to NC State University, some green tomatoes are their own variety, while others are unripe red tomatoes. Yellow and orange tomatoes are tomatoes that are progressively moving towards full ripeness.
Gerbils can eat any kind of tomato, whether it’s ripe or not. The main difference is in the taste, which gerbils don’t mind.
However, that doesn’t mean that gerbils can eat fried green tomatoes. These are deep-fried, so they’re cooked in hot oil. These would be too fatty.
Can Gerbils Eat Tomato Vines and Leaves?
Some people think tomato vines and leaves are poisonous. This stems from tomatoes being part of the nightshade family, which produces deadly poisons. But neither tomato leaves nor vines are poisonous.
Besides being edible, your gerbil will enjoy playing with a tomato vine. They are roughly textured and fibrous, which makes them good for gnawing. Gerbils gnaw on things to keep their teeth in check.
Are Tomatoes Good for Gerbils?
Tomatoes are good for gerbils in moderation. Here’s a table of the calories, carbohydrates, fat, and proteins found in tomatoes from Nutrition Value:
|Item||Amount per 100g|
|Carbohydrate (of which Sugars)||3.2g|
What will jump out at you is the water content of tomatoes. Like most vegetables, the main ingredient is water. This may or may not be an issue depending on how much you feed. But gerbils like vegetables with lots of water content, so this won’t stop your pet from eating them.
How Many Calories Do Tomatoes Have?
Tomatoes have hardly any calories, like most fruits/vegetables. They contain only 16 calories per 100g.
This is both a good and a bad thing. It means that you can feed it to your gerbil, and there’s no chance that it will get fat. There are many fattening snacks for gerbils, so it’s good that tomatoes aren’t like that, too.
But it’s good for gerbils to have more calories than that. If a gerbil were to survive on nothing but tomatoes, it would have to eat far too much food.
Protein, Fat, and Carbohydrate in Tomatoes
Tomatoes have roughly the right proportions of carbohydrates, fats, and proteins. While they are mostly water, so contain little of each, it’s the ratio of each to the others that matters.
Gerbils need to get roughly 80% of their calories from carbohydrates, 15% from protein, and 5% from fat. This is the optimal diet as determined by scientific study. Optimal means that the gerbil will grow to its full potential size if fed this diet from a young age.
Tomatoes have close to these proportions. The calories come from:
- 71% carbohydrates
- 10% fats
- 17% proteins
10% fat is within the rough range that’s suitable for gerbils, so your gerbil won’t gain lots of weight. These proportions change if the tomatoes are cooked, because cooking can destroy or transform each of these things. But for raw tomatoes, these figures hold true.
Vitamins and Minerals in Tomatoes
As a kind of fruit, tomatoes have a wide range of both vitamins and minerals. Here’s a table detailing what tomatoes have in large quantities, and how much of each item they have:
|Vitamin or Mineral||Amount per 100g|
Aside from these vitamins/minerals, tomatoes contain many more, but in lesser quantities. In tomatoes, you’ll also find:
- Niacin (vitamin B3)
- Pantothenic acid (vitamin B5)
- Riboflavin (vitamin B2)
- Thiamin (vitamin B1)
This is an impressive range of micronutrients in one small fruit. This certainly makes them better than unhealthy snacks like processed human foods. It’s also a lot better than many other kinds of fruit and vegetable, which are more limited in range.
The one thing tomatoes lack is magnesium. Magnesium is needed for good brain health. Sufficient quantities of it will prevent seizures, which you may have noticed in your pet gerbils before.
This means your pet will have to get its magnesium (in large enough quantities) from somewhere else.
Side Effects of Eating Tomatoes for Gerbils
Tomatoes won’t cause ill health in your gerbils, provided they eat a normal amount. But if your pet eats too much tomato, it may experience diarrhea. Like in people, diarrhea in gerbils consists of loose stools which are more watery than normal.
There are two reasons why this effect occurs. The first is that tomatoes contain lots of water. Diarrhea, being largely water, is the result of eating too much watery food. This is the case both for gerbils and for people, so it may be an effect you’re familiar with.
Tomatoes also cause this issue because they’re acidic. Excess acid in food upsets the balance of the stomach acid, so much so that it can damage the gut. It can cause heartburn, too. Because it’s too acidic, the body will expel it as quickly as possible, hence diarrhea.
And if you fed your gerbil nothing but tomatoes, it wouldn’t get the vitamins and minerals it needs, either. Gerbils need a varied diet featuring fats, proteins, carbohydrates, and lots of micronutrients.
Also, diarrhea causes weight loss over time. That’s because your gerbil’s body doesn’t absorb all of the nutrients it eats.
How Much Tomato Can Gerbils Eat?
Gerbils should only eat tomatoes as a snack. While tomatoes are healthier than other snacks, they should still be limited because of the side effects.
The amount you should feed your pet snacks is only small. A gerbil should eat a tablespoon of food per day. To offer a tablespoon of tomato would mean that your gerbil misses out on nutrients. So, half a tablespoon of tomato and half a tablespoon of regular food will suffice.
How Often Should Gerbils Eat Tomato?
People eat snacks all the time. Snacks should be an infrequent addition to your diet. Otherwise, you can gain weight or miss out on nutrients.
This is the approach you must take to your pet gerbil’s diet. Feeding your gerbil a snack only once a week is sufficient. Again, any more frequently and you run the risk of side effects. So, limit your pet to the frequency and amount described here for best effects.
While a varied diet is usually best, you don’t have to play around with your pet’s diet. You can buy packs of gerbil food mix which contain everything your pet needs. You can feed this mix to your pet every day for its whole life, and it will be nothing but healthy.
Besides, gerbils don’t get bored with their food. We crave variety because we’re more advanced than other animals, and we do things for pleasure while other animals don’t. Your gerbil can happily eat gerbil food mix for its whole life, and never have any snacks.