Gerbils require vegetables and leafy greens to keep them healthy. One of the best vegetables is broccoli, as it’s packed with a range of vitamins, minerals, and nutrients. But is broccoli good for gerbils?
Gerbils love the taste and texture of broccoli. The crunchiness provides mental stimulation and keeps their ever-growing teeth filed down. Broccoli is also an excellent source of vitamin K, magnesium, protein, calcium, potassium, fiber, and H2O. All parts of the broccoli are safe, including the stem, florets, and leaves. However, too much can cause malnourishment, nausea, and diarrhea. Feed it as a treat once a week.
Gerbils will overeat broccoli if they’re allowed to, so be mindful of how much you’re feeding them and weigh the broccoli to limit the intake.
Do Gerbils Like Broccoli?
Gerbils love all kinds of vegetables, and broccoli is one of them. As omnivores, they enjoy a wide range of greens and veggies. Broccoli is also healthy, providing gerbils with several essential vitamins and minerals they need to remain healthy.
Gerbils love the crunch and texture of broccoli. Gnawing on it stimulates their minds and prevents them from getting bored. Gerbils are intelligent, and if they have no outlet for their curiosity, they’ll become destructive.
As previously mentioned, tougher foods like broccoli also help gerbils wear their teeth down. This is essential as their teeth are continuously growing and need filing down to keep them at a manageable length.
As a result, broccoli makes an excellent addition to your gerbil’s diet as an occasional treat.
Nutritional Information of Broccoli
According to the U.S Department of Agriculture (USDA), 1 cup of broccoli (90g) contains the following minerals and nutrients:
|Nutrient or Mineral||Amount|
|Vitamin C||80.3 mg|
|Vitamin A||27.9 µg|
|Vitamin K||91.4 µg|
Is Broccoli Good For Gerbils?
Broccoli is safe for gerbils to eat. When gerbils are fed broccoli as a weekly treat, it provides plenty of healthy nutrients and minerals.
However, we shouldn’t compare our nutrient requirements to a gerbil’s because they’re not the same. For example, broccoli contains vitamin C, which is essential to a human’s health. Gerbils, on the other hand, don’t require it at all.
That being said, broccoli offers the following gerbil health benefits:
A journal published by the Indian Journal of Experimental Biology indicates that vitamin K can reverse the effects of rodent poison. While captive gerbils are unlikely to ingest rodenticide, wild gerbils can benefit from this.
As a result, the journal shows that vitamin K isn’t just a dietary requirement but has other positive health effects.
Gerbils need magnesium because it promotes good brain health and prevents seizures and strokes, which gerbils are prone to in their first 6 months of life. They occur when the animal becomes stressed or excited, especially when you first bring them into your home.
Unfortunately, these seizures get passed on to their offspring and can be inherited. They get worse if there’s not enough magnesium in your gerbil’s diet.
Similarly, the Journal of General Psychology explains that gerbils that are deficient in magnesium have more seizures when exposed to a new environment.
Therefore, broccoli is an excellent way to boost your gerbil’s magnesium levels in order to preserve their health and prevent issues.
Surprisingly, broccoli is relatively high in protein. Growing gerbils require around 15-16% protein in their diet. Adult gerbils don’t need quite as much. That being said, pregnant gerbils need more protein, as it helps to develop their bones and organs.
While protein is necessary for maintaining proper development, too much can lead to liver, kidney, and skin problems, so be mindful of how much broccoli you’re giving to your gerbil.
Like most mammals, gerbils need calcium for strong and healthy bones. It also keeps their teeth in good condition. Without enough calcium, gerbils develop soft, brittle bones, and weak teeth, which can affect their eating abilities and leave them prone to injuries.
Gerbils require a high-fiber to ensure good digestive health. Fiber helps gerbils digest their food and makes their stools softer and easier to pass.
Similar to protein, gerbils under 6 months old and pregnant females require higher levels of fiber. As a result, adding broccoli to their diet ensures they get all the minerals they need when their bodies need it the most.
The recommended amount of potassium for gerbils is 3.6 g per kg. Potassium is essential for cell function and proper muscle development. It’s also necessary for:
- Maintaining water balance
- Maintaining osmotic pressure
- Activating enzymes
- Metabolizing carbohydrates and proteins
- Regulating neuromuscular activity
- Regulating heartbeat
Potassium is one of the most common mineral deficiencies in gerbils, so providing a healthy, balanced diet that incorporates broccoli alongside other fiber-rich foods helps to keep your gerbil’s potassium levels topped up.
Broccoli contains lots of water. In the wild, gerbils get all the water they need from their food. In captivity, this isn’t necessary because they have access to a water bottle. However, gerbils that have trouble drinking from a bottle benefit from foods like broccoli.
While broccoli’s high water content has plenty of benefits, too much causes diarrhea and nausea. This is another reason why you must limit your gerbil’s broccoli intake to an occasional treat.
Is Broccoli Bad for Gerbils?
While broccoli isn’t “bad” for gerbils, too much can be counterproductive. It can also make your gerbil unwell. As a result, watch out for the following things before you feed your gerbil broccoli:
Fortunately, broccoli is one of the cleanest vegetables. However, when grown on farms that use insecticides, there’s a risk that your gerbil could eat contaminated broccoli. This can make your pet unwell. Poisoned gerbils will display the following signs:
- Loss of appetite
- Labored breathing
To prevent these issues, choose organic broccoli that’s grown without the use of harmful pesticides. Also, always wash the broccoli thoroughly before you feed it to your gerbil to reduce the risk of insecticide poisoning.
Feeding your gerbil too much broccoli leads to malnourishment, as your gerbil can’t get all the vitamins and minerals it needs from other food sources.
Also, because broccoli is low in calories and fat, excessive consumption leads to extreme weight loss. Your gerbil will almost certainly become lethargic and struggle to carry out the most basic behaviors, such as burrowing.
Similarly, gerbils would need to eat broccoli in large quantities to feel the full nutritional benefits.
As a result, provide broccoli alongside a balanced diet of pellets, dried nuts and seeds, fruit, and the occasional insect.
As described by J Med Food, broccoli florets contain high levels of Isothiocyanate, which are small molecules that have a range of health benefits.
Studies suggest they can even help reduce the risk of cancer and detoxify the body. As a result, small amounts are highly beneficial to keeping a gerbil healthy.
However, too much can cause bloating, gassiness, diarrhea, and nausea. If your gerbil has eaten too much broccoli, restrict its diet for a few days to help ease the bloating and limit the amount you feed your gerbil in the future.
Can Gerbils Eat Raw Broccoli?
Raw broccoli is safe for gerbils to eat without prior preparation. It’s also the healthiest way to serve the vegetable.
As described by the Journal of Zhejiang University, all broccoli cooking methods, except steaming, significantly reduce the soluble protein levels and other nutrients. To provide your gerbil with the full health benefits, feed broccoli raw.
Gerbils also prefer to eat the vegetable raw, as it provides a more pleasing texture. Crunching on the vegetable gives the gerbil something to do and satisfies the senses.
However, as previously mentioned, you must wash broccoli thoroughly before it’s given to your gerbil to remove all chemical traces. Cooking strips them away, whereas raw broccoli doesn’t have this benefit.
Can Gerbils Eat Cooked Broccoli?
Again, cooked broccoli is safe for gerbils to eat. Steaming or broiling the vegetable also makes it easier to eat, which is more suitable for gerbils with teeth or mouth problems.
As mentioned already, steaming is the only cooking method that retains the broccoli’s nutrients, so it’s a good option if you’re feeding your gerbil leftovers from dinner.
However, bear in mind that all other cooking methods reduce the number of essential vitamins and minerals significantly, turning broccoli into the equivalent of junk food instead of a healthy treat. This could result in your gerbil becoming malnourished.
Can Gerbils Eat Broccoli Stems?
Gerbils like broccoli stems, and the good news is they’re safe for gerbils to eat. They’re rich in fiber, making them as nutritious as they are tasty. They’re also crunchier than the rest of the vegetable, providing gerbils with plenty of mental stimulation.
In fact, all parts of broccoli are edible, including the leaves and florets. The florets and stems contain roughly the same number of nutrients, so neither part needs removing before you provide them to your gerbil.
The stems are also low in calories, so they make a healthy treat that gerbils will enjoy. Gerbils may not be too fussed about the leaves, however. This is because they offer little crunch and texture. As a result, you may need to hand-feed these pieces to prevent wastage.
How To Feed Broccoli To Gerbils
Broccoli isn’t suitable for gerbils in large quantities. While once a week is probably enough for adult gerbils, you can get away with feeding growing and pregnant gerbils broccoli two to three times a week to support their development. These are the best ways to feed broccoli to your gerbil:
There’s little preparation required with raw broccoli. All you need to do is rinse it in cold water and cut it up into bitesize pieces, incorporating all parts of the vegetable.
Try not to cut the broccoli up too small and leave enough for your gerbil to chew and tear.
Steaming the broccoli to make it softer is another feeding option. This is ideal if you’re already cooking broccoli for your own dinner.
If possible, try not to oversteam the broccoli so that it retains a bit of crunch for your gerbil to enjoy. Also, as steamed broccoli is cooked in water, drain it thoroughly and leave it to cool, reducing the water intake.
Dehydrated broccoli is another popular treat with gerbils, as it’s crunchier and contains less water. All you need is a food dehydrator to dry out the florets. Again, make sure you rinse the broccoli and dry it before placing it into the machine.
Roasted broccoli isn’t the most nutritious option, but if you’re cooking it for your own dinner anyway, you can put some aside for your gerbil to eat.
Place the broccoli onto a roasting tray in bitesize pieces, and oven roast them for 20 minutes at 450°F. Don’t add any oils or seasonings to the broccoli you intend to give your gerbil, as these can be harmful to your pet’s health.
While broccoli is a popular, tasty, and healthy treat for gerbils, mix it up with other fruits and vegetables to provide all the nutrition your pet needs. Deficiencies and malnutrition are common in gerbils that are regularly fed the same foods, so variety is essential.