Nuts are widely regarded as being nutritious, containing lots of energy, vitamins, and minerals. But gerbils normally shouldn’t eat human food in case it makes them ill.
Nuts are a high-protein and high-fat snack. Gerbils can eat monkey nuts, brazil nuts, pistachios, pecans, macadamia nuts, and pine nuts. Raw peanuts have a broad range of nutrients, minerals, and vitamins like magnesium, potassium, and B vitamins. Raw peanut shells also make good chew toys.
Nuts are so densely packed with protein and fat, so they should only be considered to be a healthy snack. If they are fed regularly, i.e. every day, your gerbil will become overweight.
Can Gerbils Eat Nuts?
Gerbils will happily eat nuts both in captivity and in the wild. Nuts grow on trees and bushes, but can also grow underground (which peanuts do). They are nutrient-dense because they are a kind of fruit, and the seeds inside nuts need nutrients to grow into trees.
Gerbils live in a place where there aren’t many trees, so there aren’t many nuts around. However, they will take any nutrient-rich foods they can find. That’s why gerbils will eat tiny insects if they get the chance.
The fact that some seeds are hard isn’t a problem to gerbils. Gerbils, and all rodents, have tough teeth which are perfect for cracking things open. So, the shell of a nut is no problem for a gerbil.
Are Nuts Good for Gerbils?
Nuts are highly nutrient-dense, which makes them an excellent food for gerbils to eat. They contain plenty of carbohydrates for basic energy. This helps your gerbil keep going throughout its highly active day.
However, what makes nuts stand apart is their fat and protein content. Consider for a moment the other things that gerbils would eat in the wild: plant roots and grains, for example.
These foods, which make up the best part of a gerbil’s diet, are low in protein and fat. Both are essential to good health in all animals. Nuts also contain lots of minerals and vitamins which benefit a gerbil generally.
The point is that nuts are a healthy snack for gerbils. If your gerbil were allowed to eat monkey nuts or sunflower seeds all day, it would become fat from all the excess fat content it eats.
While you wouldn’t want your healthy gerbil to get fat, you could feed nuts to an underweight gerbil. This would help it gain both fat and muscle, and your gerbil would be healthier for it.
Besides that, nuts are great for a gerbil’s teeth. Gerbils have teeth which continually grow, as all rodents do. They need to wear their teeth down, or they can cause injury. Nuts often have shells to crack open, and are relatively solid themselves.
What Nuts Can Gerbils Eat?
Nuts share a common nutritional profile, so they are usually suitable for gerbils to eat. The only issue is if the nuts have been cooked, coated or otherwise changed from raw in some way.
Can Gerbils Eat Monkey Nuts?
Monkey nuts are peanuts that are still in their shells. You might also know them as groundnuts. That’s because unlike many other nuts, peanuts grow underground.
Monkey nuts make the perfect gerbil snack. For starters, the outer shell gives your gerbil something to gnaw at, which is good for its teeth. Peanut shells make excellent chew toys because they’re so fibrous and tough.
They’re also not bad for your pet if it accidentally ingests some when it’s chewing. That means they’re a cut above plastic chew toys, which cause internal harm if ingested.
If you don’t give your gerbil something to chew, it will chew things it shouldn’t, like the bars of its cage. So, here, you can kill two birds with one stone. You offer something nutritious alongside something your gerbil can gnaw its teeth on.
According to Nutrition Value, the peanut inside is nutritious, too. Peanuts are high in fat and protein, as well as:
- B vitamins
Feel free to leave the shells in your gerbils’ enclosure for a while after they’re done eating. They can gnaw on them for quite a while.
The only issue is if your gerbils have never had them before. They may not initially realize that the nuts are food, because they’re covered with an inedible shell. So, show your gerbils how to open them and that there’s food inside first.
Can Gerbils Eat Brazil Nuts?
Brazil nuts are a lot bigger than most other nuts. They grow in big fruits that look almost like an orange, with the nuts arranged like orange slices are.
They make good gerbil food because, like all nuts, they’re high in fat and protein. Aside from that, they have lots of vitamins and minerals like calcium, zinc, vitamin E, and some B vitamins. They also contain magnesium, which is good for gerbils.
A paper in the Journal of General Psychology states that magnesium helps prevent seizures in gerbils. Seizures affect somewhere between two and five in every ten gerbils. Magnesium reduces the frequency and severity of these seizures.
That being said, like all nuts, brazil nuts should only be fed as a snack. If you do want to feed them to your gerbils, only give one at a time.
Can Gerbils Eat Pistachio Nuts?
Pistachios are a kind of green nut that’s a part of the cashew family. You can find them in nature in central Asia, as well as in the middle east. They grow on trees, like most nuts do, and come in hard shells—harder than those of peanuts.
Pistachios contain lots of fat, which make them a good food for underweight gerbils. They also serve as an excellent snack. Their health benefits stem from their vitamin B6, potassium, iron, and magnesium content.
Pistachio shells are much harder than those of peanuts. They make excellent chewing snacks. However, because they’re harder, they may be bad for your gerbil if it accidentally ingests any.
That’s because the harder, sharper pieces of the shell could cause internal damage. Contrast with the tough and fibrous, but not sharp, texture of peanut shells.
So, if you do feed your gerbil pistachios, you shouldn’t feed them the shells.
Can Gerbils Eat Pine Nuts?
Pine nuts come from pine trees. Depending on your heritage, you might know them either as pine nuts, piñón, pinole or pignoli. All of these names refer to the same kind of nut.
Pine nuts don’t have a similar range of nutrients to the other nuts in our list. Where other nuts have lots of vitamins A, C, and D, pine nuts have almost none. What they do have is lots of iron and magnesium, which are good too.
If you know a few things about gerbils, you might already know that gerbils are allergic to pine wood. Because of the oils in the wood, your gerbil experiences an allergic reaction to it, either as bedding or as something to chew on.
However, this allergy doesn’t apply to pine cones. Pine cones don’t contain the same aromatic oils as pinewood does. So, pine cones make a good chew toy. Pine nuts are therefore fine too, because they come from pine cones.
One good way of feeding your gerbil pine nuts is by offering it pine cones. You have to harvest the cone before it opens, and leave it to open and dry for as long as that takes. The pine nuts should then be ready to eat. This serves as both long term chew toy and food.
Can Gerbils Eat Pecan Nuts?
Pecans come from the pecan tree, a kind of hickory. This tree is native to the southern United States and Mexico. But pecans are eaten all over the world, and are available in almost any store. They can be expensive, though.
Either way, pecans are high in fat like most other kinds of nut. They also contain lots of vitamin E, copper, and manganese (but not as much magnesium).
According to Nutritional Requirements of Laboratory Animals, there are no studies that show how much of these nutrients gerbils need. So, while it’s likely that your gerbil does need small amounts, it likely doesn’t need much.
Another big difference between pecans and other nuts is their thin shell. When they open on the tree, pecans look a little like cashews, albeit a different color. This shell falls away when the nuts are harvested.
Also, pecans are soft compared to other nuts, like brazils or pistachios. They won’t help your gerbil keep its teeth gnawed down. Pecans aren’t the healthiest nut to feed your gerbils.
Can Gerbils Eat Macadamia Nuts?
Macadamia trees are unique to Australia. Aborigines ate the nuts of the macadamia tree for thousands of years. Today, they are exported around the world, and can fetch a high price. Their shells are famously hard.
Macadamia nuts are similar to pecans. They contain lots of fat and some protein, but don’t have many vitamins and minerals. They do contain a small amount of magnesium, which is good. But apart from that, they don’t contain much.
This means there’s little reason to feed gerbils macadamia nuts. That’s especially the case since peanuts are so much cheaper.
Can Gerbils Eat Almonds?
Almonds are native to Iran in the Middle East, but today, they’re grown around the world. Growing them is highly resource-intensive, because they need a lot of water.
Almonds are high in both fat and protein, to a level that’s comparable with peanuts. But like pecans, they contain lots of copper and manganese, which aren’t beneficial to gerbils. As for other minerals, they have good amounts of:
- Zinc and iron
Almonds make good gerbil food. The only issues are their price, and their lack of shell. Those are the only reasons why you should consider peanuts over almonds.
Can Gerbils Eat Salted Nuts?
Most nuts that you can buy from stores are salted. This means that the nuts have been coated in a light dusting of salt. That’s because salt helps bring out the flavor of the nuts.
However, it’s not a good idea to feed gerbils salted nuts. They contain high levels of salt even for humans. So, they contain far too much salt for gerbils to stay healthy. Several issues come about because of excess salt intake:
- Raised blood pressure. This increases the risk of heart disease, which gerbils are already susceptible to.
- Dehydration. When you overeat salt, it builds up in your body. Your body needs you to dilute it by drinking more. Considering gerbils don’t drink much water, this can be an issue.
- General poor health. Aside from these issues, excess salt can cause stroke and heart failure, osteoporosis, stomach cancer, and kidney disease. This applies to gerbils as it does to humans.
Nuts have hardly any salt content unless the salt is added. Unfortunately, almost all the nuts you can buy in stores have some salt added. So, avoid feeding salted nuts to gerbils.
Can Gerbils Eat Flavored Nuts?
If the nuts you buy from a store aren’t salted, they may have added flavor. Different flavors that you might find include:
- General-purpose seasoning
These flavors may or may not be bad for your gerbil. However, what they definitely do is change the nutrient profile of your gerbil’s food. These nuts are often roasted or cooked in oil. This adds more fat to the food, without adding anything beneficial.
Besides that, it’s a good idea to stick to foods which aren’t heavily processed. The more natural something is, the likelier that it would make good gerbil food.
Can Gerbils Eat Roasted Nuts?
There’s nothing wrong with feeding plain roasted nuts to a gerbil. The roasting process itself doesn’t significantly change the levels of fat, carbohydrate, or protein in a certain food.
However, there is one difference. Roasting food decreases its water content significantly. During cooking, the water inside the nut will evaporate off. This has both positive and negative effects.
On the one hand, this gives the nuts a crunchier texture. This makes them nicer to eat, and is perfect for your gerbil’s teeth.
But at the same time, gerbils need to get their water from food. Gerbils rarely drink, and rely on the moisture in vegetables and similar foods. That’s how they survive in the wild, where there are hardly any water sources available.
Another issue is that roasted nuts are typically seasoned in one way or another. It’s rare to find nuts which are roasted, but aren’t covered in some spicy flavoring. So, it’s better and easier to feed your gerbil plain nuts instead.
What Nuts Should You Feed a Gerbil?
Peanuts are a good choice. That’s because each peanut is small, so it’s easy to control portion sizes. Their shells make great chew toys, and they’re available almost anywhere. Only get the unsalted, unroasted variety, though.
However, be careful that you don’t feed your gerbil too many nuts. They are so high in fat that your gerbil can become unhealthy from eating too many. Overweight gerbils can experience:
- Difficulty moving around fast and labored breathing
- Higher blood pressure
- Stroke or heart failure, as a result of high blood pressure
So, only feed nuts as a snack alongside your pet’s gerbil food mix. Gerbil food mix should contain all the nutrients, vitamins, and minerals that gerbils need anyway. Even if you feed your pet the same mix every day, it should still be healthy.