It is hard to resist the cute round eyes of your pet gerbil begging for a bite of what you’re eating.
Gerbils are smart, social animals, and once a gerbil is socialized to people, it doesn’t take them long to figure out how to beg!
But what if you are eating a tasty salad with chunks of celery in it? Is celery okay to feed to your gerbil?
Can gerbils eat celery? What type of nutrition does a fresh stalk of celery offer to gerbils? Let’s find out together now!
Can Gerbils Eat Celery?
As the RSCPA points out, yes, pet gerbils can eat celery as a treat. However, you want to be careful about how much celery you feed your gerbil.
We will go into much more detail in the rest of this article to talk about how, how much, and how often you should feed celery to your adult gerbil.
Watch a Gerbil Chowing Down on Celery
This precious YouTube video shows you how much a pet gerbil can enjoy chewing celery as part of a regular treat food rotation.
While you might not necessarily think of celery as a treat food in your own diet, for a gerbil that primarily eats a staple gerbil-specific food mix, having a fresh raw vegetable snack that is also crunchy and fun to chew is definitely a treat!
What Type of Nutrition Does Celery Give Gerbils?
Gerbil nutrition is a little different than people’s nutrition. Specifically, gerbils need different nutrients in different quantities at different life stages just like people do.
But the amount of nutrients and the type of nutrients a gerbil will need is going to be different for a tiny gerbil than it will be for a large pet such as a dog or cat or for a person.
Let’s take a closer look now at the major sources of nutrition that are in celery.
WebMD outlines the basic nutrient profile for one cup of raw, chopped celery as follows:
- 14 calories.
- >0.1 gram of fat.
- >0.1 gram of protein.
- 3 grams of carbohydrates.
- 1.6 grams of fiber.
- 1 gram of sugar.
- Vitamins: A, K, C.
- Minerals: Potassium, Folate.
- L-3-n-butylphthalide (memory-enhancing naturally-occurring chemical compound).
- Antioxidants: bergapten, lunularin, flavonoids.
- Phthalides (phytochemical important to circulatory health).
So what does all this add up to for a healthy gerbil diet, you might be wondering?
Well, just like people and other pets, gerbils need fiber to keep their gastrointestinal tract healthy and keep eliminations regular.
Celery doesn’t have a lot of calories, which means it can be fed as a treat without having to make any big adjustments to your gerbil’s daily caloric allotment.
And celery is rich in antioxidants and natural chemical compounds to help fight off disease and strengthen the immune system.
What to Watch For When Feeding a Gerbil Celery
In addition to the high fiber content in celery, this vegetable also has very high water content.
What does this mean for a tiny animal like a gerbil?
It means that feeding too much celery at one serving may cause gas, bloating, or loose stools.
So you really want to limit the portion of celery you offer to your gerbil when it comes up in the regular weekly treat rotation.
Can Gerbils Eat All Varietals of Celery?
This is a great question since for most of us, we tend to assume there is only one kind of celery.
But just because our local grocery store only stocks the most popular or easily available varietal of celery doesn’t mean that is the only kind of celery that exists.
For gerbil owners who like to visit farmer’s markets or have a membership in a local co-op, you may encounter other varietals of celery as well, such as Safir, Par Cel, or Celeriac.
As this popular Gerbil Forum for owners explains, gerbils can safely eat a wide variety of celery types and often enjoy the different textures and flavors of both root and leafy celery varietals.
Can Gerbils Eat All Parts of the Celery?
Now that you have learned about how there are different varietals of celery, you may be wondering if it is safe to feed all the different parts of the celery plant.
Can gerbils eat the leaves, the stalks, and the roots? Or should you only feed the main stalk part of the celery that people eat?
It is perfectly fine for your gerbil to eat the stalk or leaves and, in the case of root celery varietals like Celeriac, the root bulb as well.
As this Reddit gerbil owner’s thread points out, you don’t want to offer fresh food like celery every single day because it can cause tummy upset.
When Can Young Gerbils Start Eating Celery?
Gerbils grow up quickly. By the time a gerbil is three weeks old, they should be eating solid food on their own.
This is the right time to begin offering the occasional fresh food treat to get your young gerbils used to eating a variety of different foods.
Here again, only offer one fresh food at a time and in very small quantities until you see how your gerbil handles it. For a gerbil that has only ever had a processed gerbil mix diet, it can take a little time for the digestive system to adjust to fresh food.
How to Prepare Celery for Gerbils to Eat
This is a good time to talk about how to prepare the celery you want to feed to your gerbil.
Gerbils should only eat fresh raw celery – never cooked. And the celery you feed to your gerbil should never have additional salt, sugar, seasoning or any kind of flavorings added.
Celery is beneficial for gerbils in three main ways:
- Celery is crunchy and gives those constantly growing front teeth a workout (especially when you don’t de-string it first).
- Celery provides important nutrients, vitamins, and minerals to your gerbil.
- Celery is hydrating when fed in moderation.
So you don’t want to chop up the celery into small bits because that will negate one of the main benefits – to keep those constantly growing incisors (front teeth) filed down.
Rather, feed the celery in thick strips about the length and width of a baby carrot. This way, your gerbil can grasp the celery in their front paws and start gnawing away.
Keep in mind that if your gerbil isn’t hungry when you offer the celery treat, it is quite likely your pet will decide to cache it somewhere inside their enclosure “for later.”
This can create a situation where the celery starts to degrade, rot, and stink inside the habitat. So if you notice the celery has disappeared, be sure to search around to remove any stashed leftovers to keep your gerbil’s home safe and sanitary!
More Tips for Feeding Celery to Your Gerbil
Because celery is so water-dense, you should only feed a very small portion the first time and see how your gerbil’s digestive system responds.
It is fine to include a small stalk of celery in a weekly treat rotation. But if you feed it any more frequently than that, you may notice your gerbil gets a tummy upset or loose stools as a result.
When in doubt, always consult your veterinarian before offering your pet gerbils a fresh celery treat.