Gerbils need nutritious food to survive in captivity. Fruits, such as strawberries, are considered to be healthy for gerbils because they’re a rich source of vitamins and minerals.
Strawberries aren’t toxic to gerbils, but they aren’t a healthy choice. They have no protein/fat and excess sugar. Strawberries have vitamin C, but gerbils don’t need it. Strawberries lack nutrients like sodium chloride/B vitamins, and magnesium which gerbils need for brain health. Their high water content can also cause diarrhea in gerbils.
Gerbils need food that has a mix of carbohydrates, fat, and protein, plus the minerals and vitamins that strawberries lack. However, strawberries can still be fed as snacks as part of a balanced diet.
Can Gerbils Eat Strawberries?
Gerbils eat strawberries because they like to eat almost any kind of fruit. In the wild, gerbils eat lots of plant roots, but they’ll also eat any fruit they might find. While strawberries don’t grow in a gerbil’s native habitat, moderate consumption doesn’t cause any problems.
The body digests strawberries in the same way, because they’re mainly water. So, they won’t make your gerbil sick. However, strawberries shouldn’t be fed to your pet every day, or even every other day. Instead, they should be reserved as a snack food.
Because strawberries are mostly water, they can upset your gerbil’s digestive system if it eats too many. Your pet would experience diarrhea due to the high water content.
Also, strawberries have natural sugar. While it isn’t added or refined sugar, it’s still not good for your gerbil to have too much. Your gerbil needs a mixture of carbohydrates, protein, and fat which a strawberry doesn’t offer. Strawberries aren’t toxic for gerbils, though.
Can Gerbils Eat Strawberry Leaves?
Strawberry leaves are the short green leaves you find on top of the fruit. If yours have been processed, these leaves may have been removed before they’re sold to you. You’re likely familiar with them, though, and avoid eating them when you see them.
You don’t have to, although they aren’t pleasant and tasty like the fruit itself. They don’t contain any toxins. If they did, strawberries wouldn’t be sold with them still attached.
Gerbils do eat leaves. They provide useful fiber, and are suitable for your pet to chew on. So, if you have any strawberry leaves left over after you ate some fruit, consider feeding them to your gerbil.
Can Gerbils Eat Wild Strawberries?
Wild strawberries are typically smaller than the ones you find in the store. They are found all over the world, and there are many varieties. The Alpine strawberry, for example, grows across much of the Northern Hemisphere.
Gerbils can eat these strawberries, as they can with regular store-bought ones. However, there are issues with introducing something ‘wild’ into your pet’s cage. The fruit may be affected by parasites, for example, which could infest your pet.
They may also have been sprayed with pesticide, or urinated on by any animal. So, if you do pick wild fruit, wash it first. This should counter these issues.
Can Gerbils Eat Frozen Strawberries?
Frozen strawberries are nutritionally the same as regular strawberries. They are typically frozen soon after being picked. This preserves the freshness of the fruit, so it will offer the same nutrients and vitamins that regular strawberries do.
There are two problems with frozen strawberries. One is if they’re still frozen. You should feed your gerbils food that’s room temperature. There are two critical issues with frozen food:
- Your gerbil may not recognize something that cold as food
- Eating frozen food will drastically reduce your gerbil’s body temperature
Gerbils eat lots of food. Imagine if you ate ten ice pops all at once. You’d be freezing cold, and that’s what it would be like if you fed your pet lots of frozen strawberry.
Frozen strawberries can also contain bacteria. According to Food Microbiology, frozen strawberries have been implicated in a large norovirus outbreak. They could make both you and your pet sick.
Frozen strawberry may not be a pleasant texture when it defrosts. It can be mushy and wet rather than crisp and juicy. Gerbils don’t mind that as much as people do, but they do prefer crunchy foods.
Do Gerbils Like Strawberries?
Gerbils like strawberries because they’re sugary. Animals are hard-wired to crave sweet and fatty foods because they’re high in calories. As strawberries are relatively high in sugars, they tick that box (although they aren’t high in fat).
Strawberries also contain lots of water. Gerbils prefer foods like these because, in the wild, they don’t have many water sources. They get most of their water from water-rich foods. So, strawberries appeal to that particular instinct.
Health Benefits of Strawberries for Gerbils
Fruits are thought of as healthy foods. Here’s a brief table of the benefits:
|Benefit||How Good Are Strawberries for Gerbils?|
|High water content||Gerbils need water, but you can give your pet a water bottle. Too much water can cause diarrhea.|
|High vitamin C content||Gerbils don’t need vitamin C.|
|Low fat content||Gerbils can still get enough fat from their regular food.|
|Low protein content||Gerbils need protein for building muscle.|
|Reasonable fiber content||Fiber is good for the digestive system, but strawberries don’t contain as much as nuts and seeds.|
Are Strawberries Good for Gerbils?
Fruits, including strawberries, aren’t the ideal food for gerbils. The issue with fruit is that it’s full of carbohydrates, much of which are sugars. Here’s what’s in strawberries according to Nutrition Value:
|Nutrient||Amount per 100g|
|Carbohydrate (and Sugars)||7.7g (4.9g)|
Aside from this, strawberries only contain tiny amounts of other vitamins and minerals. That’s not good compared to other foods which have a wider range.
Their total calories mean that to get any energy from strawberries, you would have to eat lots of them. And the only energy you’re getting is sugar. That’s bad because all animals, gerbils included, need a mix of carbohydrates, fat, and protein.
Gerbil food mix is the best thing to feed your pet. It contains the right balance of these nutrients. While it mostly contains carbohydrates, it also contains around 15% protein and 5-10% fat. This is the optimal amount for gerbils.
Vitamins and Minerals in Strawberries
Strawberries are low in vitamins and minerals compared to other fruits. But what they do contain is lots of vitamin C. There are currently no studies which show that gerbils need vitamin C.
Scientists know this because gerbils used to be kept as lab animals, until they were replaced with other rodents like mice. So, scientists studied what nutrients, vitamins, and minerals gerbils need to survive and thrive. No studies found that they needed vitamin C.
What gerbils do need lots of, though, is magnesium. Magnesium helps a gerbil’s brain health, and prevents seizures in gerbils that have them. Strawberries don’t contain any. Gerbil food mix contains enough, but this means that if you fed your pet nothing but strawberries, it would get sick.
How Much Strawberry Can Gerbils Eat?
Strawberries should only be fed in small quantities due to the risk of diarrhea. The ideal amount is half of your gerbil’s food, by weight. This amount shouldn’t be fed regularly.
That’s because your gerbil needs to get its protein and fat from somewhere. It won’t get them from strawberries, so feed them a balanced diet with lots of gerbil food mix.
There are also lots of other foods that are better snacks for gerbils than strawberries. Nuts and seeds have a wider range of nutrients, for example. And that’s not even to touch on the fact that gerbil food mix contains everything that your pet needs.
How Often Should Gerbils Eat Strawberries?
As well as only feeding small amounts, strawberries should be fed infrequently. You have to think of them as a snack food. Once a week or twice a week is the maximum.
Strawberries are essentially empty calories for a gerbil. They hardly contain any proteins or fats, and don’t have all the minerals and vitamins that gerbils need.
Feeding your pet an ‘empty’ snack on rare occasions won’t harm it. But if it ate snacks all the time, it wouldn’t be hungry enough to eat healthy foods. Over time, this would mean your pet becomes deficient in protein, fat, magnesium, and more.
How to Feed Gerbils Strawberry
You should avoid feeding your gerbil too many berries at once, e.g. one big whole one. Instead, cut the fruit up into smaller chunks. You can cut it into either cubes or slices, although slices are better.
There are two issues with feeding too much strawberry. With too much, your gerbil won’t eat the rest of its food. But also, you risk making your pet’s cage dirty.
What happens is that gerbils hide their food away. According to Behavioral Processes, they do so less than hamsters, but they still do hoard. They keep it in their burrows, like a squirrel would bury nuts. The gerbil’s instincts tell it to do so, so that it will consistently have food available.
This isn’t so bad with nuts and seeds. But with fresh fruit, the fruit will rot quickly. It attracts bacteria, and can even attract pests too. Slices are better than cubes because they’re easier to spot if your gerbil hides them.