Wild gerbils are herbivorous, which means they eat mostly fruits, vegetables, and grains to meet their dietary needs.
So if a wild gerbil encountered a wild strawberry, you can rest assured this juicy sweet treat would be gobbled up in short order!
In the captive life of a pet gerbil, most owners opt to feed their pets a complete and balanced gerbil blend food. But it can be nice to supplement your gerbil’s basic staple food source with some fresh fruits and vegetables as treats, including strawberries.
In this article, find out if gerbils can safely eat strawberries, and if so, how to determine the best portion size and prepare the strawberries for your gerbil to enjoy.
Can Gerbils Eat Strawberries?
According to The Center for Avian and Exotic Veterinary Medicine, gerbils can safely eat strawberries.
However, there are some things you need to know about feeding gerbils strawberries, which we will cover in the next sections here.
Watch Gerbil Eats Strawberry: A Short Film
This YouTube short film is called “Gerbil Eats Strawberry,” which is pretty much everything you need to know – except for how cute it is to watch a tiny gerbil chow down on a giant strawberry!
Clearly, gerbils love fresh strawberries and will dig in with gusto if you provide them with this tasty fruit treat.
What Nutrients Do Strawberries Offer Your Pet Gerbil?
As a gerbil keeper, you definitely want to make sure your pet gerbil is getting a complete and balanced diet.
You also want to be sure your gerbil is not eating anything that could upset their digestive system or potentially be toxic.
Learning about the nutrient profile of strawberries is helpful so you can plan for how much and how often to offer strawberries to your gerbil.
According to Healthline, 100 grams (or one-half cup) of fresh strawberries contains all of the following nutritional benefits:
- 32 calories.
- 0.7 grams of protein.
- 7.7 grams of carbohydrates.
- 4.9 grams of sugar.
- 2 grams of fiber.
- 0.3 grams of fat.
- Vitamins: C, B9 (folate), B6, K, and E.
- Minerals: Potassium, Manganese, Magnesium, Phosphorus, Copper, Iron.
Why You Need to Feed Strawberries Sparingly to Your Gerbil
Strawberries are 91 percent water, which means only nine percent of a strawberry provides the rest of the nutrients you just read about in the previous section here.
Why is this important to know?
Gerbils are a desert species. As such, everything about their body chemistry and the gastrointestinal system has evolved over millennia to work quite nicely with a minimal amount of water.
This is not to say that gerbils do not need ready access to freshwater. But it does mean that gerbils typically consume a dry diet and do not drink water that often.
So if a gerbil that is used to a low-water diet suddenly eats something that is very high in water, their digestive tract may react with gas, bloating, loose stools, or tummy trouble.
However, your gerbil will not necessarily know this when they start nibbling away on the plump, juicy, sweet strawberry you put inside their habitat. All your pet gerbil cares about is that the strawberry tastes good.
This means it will definitely be up to you to control portion size and frequency so your gerbil doesn’t end up with an upset stomach or bowel troubles.
How many strawberries Should You Feed Your Gerbil?
The typical fresh strawberry can easily be larger than your gerbil’s whole head! So you definitely don’t want to just throw in a handful of fresh strawberries and let your gerbil have at it.
As this popular Gerbil Forum for pet owners advises, offer a small chunk of strawberry (one-quarter of one strawberry or less) once to twice per week maximum.
Even more importantly, if you can’t feed organic strawberries, be sure to wash the strawberry first to remove any dirt or pesticides.
It is always a good idea to feed strawberries and then wait 48 hours to make sure your gerbil doesn’t have any adverse reaction to such a water-rich fruit.
If you see loose stools or any other signs of stomach discomfort, you can wait a week and then cut the portion size in half for the next treat cycle.
Can Gerbils Eat Strawberry Flowers, Skins, Seeds, Stalks, Leaves, or Stems?
Luckily, there is no part of the fresh strawberry fruit or plant that is known to be toxic to gerbils.
While it is unlikely that your gerbil will give much attention to the bitter green strawberry leaves or the stems with the fresh red fruit in front of them, it won’t harm your pet to leave the leaves attached to the fruit.
The seeds of the strawberry are the tiny granules scattered across the outer skin of the fruit itself. So it really isn’t possible for your gerbil to eat the strawberry fruit without also ingesting the seeds, which are perfectly safe to eat.
There is no research to suggest that your gerbil will experience adverse effects from eating the strawberry flowers.
However, the strawberry plant needs its flowers to pollinate and grow the fruits, so you probably don’t want to feed the flowers to your pet.
What Strawberry Varietals Are Safe to Feed Your Gerbil?
There are several different varietals of strawberries that are cultivated and sold today.
But the two main strains are the commercial strawberries sold in grocery stores and wild strawberries.
Wild strawberries tend to be both smaller and sweeter than commercial strawberries.
Your gerbil won’t care which varietal you feed and all types are perfectly safe for your gerbil to enjoy.
Can Gerbils Eat Frozen, Preserved, or Dehydrated Strawberries?
Strawberry is a very popular flavor and strawberries today are found in everything from ice cream and tea to jams and jellies.
But which types of strawberries are safe and appropriate for gerbils to enjoy?
Moonstone Gerbils breeder advises that fresh strawberries are always best.
You don’t want to feed your gerbil strawberries that have been processed in any way with added preservatives, sweeteners, extra flavorings, or other ingredients such as what you will find in many jams, jellies, and candies.
Frozen, defrosted strawberries are okay to feed to your gerbil, but they lack the texture of fresh strawberries and can contain even more water, which may lead to digestive distress.
Dehydrated strawberries that have not had any sugar or other sweeteners added are also okay to feed to your gerbil, but they are not an ideal snack or treat food. The sugars can be more concentrated, which means you can only feed a tiny bit safely.
Never feed cooked strawberries, since gerbils in the wild would never encounter a cooked fruit and their gastrointestinal system may not react well.
Fresh, raw, washed strawberries are the best type of strawberries to offer to your pet gerbil.
How to Feed Gerbils Strawberries for a Treat
There is no need to do any type of fancy pre-preparation before offering your gerbils a fresh strawberry.
You can simply slice up a strawberry into sections and offer one chunk to your gerbil. You can just place it on top of a section of fresh bedding or on a flat open surface.
By adding a section of strawberry to your gerbil’s weekly treat rotation, you can provide dietary variety to make mealtimes more fun and enriching for your pet.