Gerbils are becoming more popular pets. These so-called “pocket pets” don’t take up a lot of space or make a ton of noise, so they are perfect for people living in small spaces.
Gerbils are also so fun to watch as they scurry and scamper about. One of the most fun aspects of caring for your pet gerbil is feeding time! Gerbils can enjoy a wide variety of foods and a varied diet is essential for long, healthy life.
One question you might be wondering is can gerbils eat carrots? Are carrots good for gerbils? Do gerbils like carrots? Let’s find out now!
Can Gerbils Eat Carrots?
Gerbils love carrots. And carrots are good for gerbils.
But how many carrots can gerbils eat? Is it possible for a gerbil to eat too many carrots? We will take a closer look at what type of nutrition carrots offer to gerbils in the next sections here.
Watch Gerbils Eat Carrots
As this fun YouTube video clearly showcases, gerbils sure can eat carrots!
Watching a gerbil eat a carrot is really cute, as they take tiny nibbles while holding the carrot between their front paws. Is there a best way to prepare carrots for gerbils? We will take a look at the answer to this question as well.
What Nutrients Do Gerbils Get From Eating Carrots?
As VCA Animal Hospitals points out, carrots can make up an important part of a pet gerbil’s weekly diet, both because of the nutrition in carrots and because the hard texture is good to help keep a gerbil’s teeth trimmed.
Let’s talk first about the nutrient content in carrots so you understand what type of nutrition carrots can offer to your precious pet gerbil.
The most important point to understand when it comes to gerbil nutrition is that not all the nutrients beneficial to people or other animals are equally beneficial to gerbils.
As Gerbil Welfare explains, Vitamin C is a perfect example of this. Vitamin C is very important for people. But currently, there isn’t any research showing that Vitamin C has the same beneficial effect for gerbils.
However, just because no research currently exists on this nutrient doesn’t mean Vitamin C is bad for gerbils or non-essential, either. We just don’t really know yet if there is a connection.
With that in mind, here is the basic nutritional profile of one-half cup of raw carrots as outlined by WebMD:
- Calories: 25
- Carbohydrates: 6 grams
- Fiber: 2 grams
- Natural sugar: 3 grams
- Protein: 0.5 grams
- Vitamins: Vitamin A, Vitamin K, Vitamin C
- Minerals: Potassium, Calcium, Iron
- Antioxidants: Beta-carotene, Lutein
So the next natural question is: which of these nutrients have known nutritional benefits for your pet gerbil?
According to the Nutrient Requirements of Laboratory Animals, a single adult gerbil needs the following nutrients to stay healthy:
- Sodium chloride.
- Choline chloride.
- Riboflavin (Vitamin B2).
The book does point out that researchers do not know the exact levels suitable to feed a pet gerbil daily, but they have established a healthy range for each nutrient. In many cases, gerbils need similar levels to what an adult rat would need.
As well, a pregnant gerbil dam will need more of certain nutrients than will a non-pregnant adult female gerbil or an adult male gerbil.
Can Gerbils Eat Carrot Tops?
When we talk about feeding carrots to gerbils, it is assumed we are talking about the parts of the carrot people like to eat – the tasty orange taproot.
But can gerbils also eat the green carrot tops?
As the Journal of Nutrition points out, the carrot tops contain Vitamin A (beta-carotene), which is an important nutrient that adult gerbils need to stay healthy.
But Vitamin A is not the only benefit that the green, leafy carrot tops can provide to your gerbil. Eating the crunchy, stringy carrot tops is also fun! And it is great for keeping a gerbil’s incisors (front teeth) appropriately trimmed and sharp.
Gerbil teeth grow continuously throughout their lives, which is why gerbils seem to love chewing on things so much. A gerbil actually has to chew a lot every day to keep their teeth from growing too long.
So giving your gerbil green carrot tops is one way to help your pet get some good chewing every day and also provides some beneficial Vitamin A.
How to Prepare Carrots for Your Gerbil to Eat
If you love to cook, you are probably already thinking about all the wonderful recipes you have that feature carrot.
But gerbils can’t eat “fancy” carrots as people can. A gerbil should only be fed plain, raw carrots – preferably with the outer tough skin on. The tough skin contains extra nutrients and also provides more of a chewing challenge to maintain the teeth.
You can give your gerbil whole “baby” carrots – the kind that comes pre-packaged and labeled as baby carrots.
If you prefer to buy whole raw carrots, you can cut up the carrot taproot into more manageable chunks that your gerbil can hold in their front paws and gnaw on (like the gerbils you watched in the YouTube video from an earlier section here).
Don’t give your gerbil cooked carrots. And never give your gerbil carrots that have any added spices, sugar, salt or flavorings added.
How Many Carrots Can Your Gerbil Eat?
The RSPCA recommends offering carrots as part of your pet gerbil’s regular treat rotation.
In other words, carrots should not be considered a dietary staple for your gerbil, but rather as a tasty occasional treat.
One small raw carrot is an appropriate treat food for one adult gerbil (here, this would be about the size of a single baby carrot or one skinny raw carrot from a bunch).
You can give your gerbil a small carrot in a regular treat rotation every few days.
Offering a variety of gerbil-safe vegetables and fruits not only adds enrichment and variety to your gerbil’s daily diet but also provides a broader spectrum of vitamins, minerals, and beneficial nutrients.
How to Feed Your Gerbil Carrots
Since even an adult gerbil is pretty small (they aren’t called “pocket pets” for no reason), you may be tempted to slice up the raw carrot into itty bitty bite-sized pieces.
As we mentioned earlier, this is not the optimal way to offer carrots to your gerbil. Gerbils need to chew to keep their teeth filed down and chewing also offers them a more enriching naturalistic lifestyle.
Gerbils in the wild naturally forage around along the ground looking for food, so you can just place the raw carrot in a shallow dish inside the gerbil enclosure or lay it right down on an area of clean gerbil bedding.
Safety Tips for Feeding Gerbils Carrots
If you are new to owning and caring for a pet gerbil, you may not know that gerbils are also notorious for hiding their uneaten food away in caches “for later.”
So if the carrot suddenly disappears, be sure to look for it to see if your gerbil just hid it away for later. You don’t want the carrot to go bad and start to rot inside the enclosure.