Hamsters and gerbils may be omnivorous, but each has its unique nutritional requirements, allowing them to live a perfectly healthy life. They both may nibble forage and hoard and come with some general similarities in their eating habits and diet. Still, each rodent will need supplements for certain nutrients, especially if they're on one of the all rodents type of diet.
So, can hamsters eat gerbil food? Well, yes and no! There are certain rodent foods meant for both hamsters and gerbils. However, this will require some advice from your vet on which supplements to add to the diet.
To better understand if gerbil food is palatable for hamsters, we will need to take a closer look at both of their diets to see what they have in common and what they do not.
Let’s take a look!
What Do Hamsters Eat?
Hamsters are native to Turkey and Syria and come with cheek pouches that help them collect and carry food wherever they find it. Being smaller, they do not eat a lot of food at once, hence the need to carry food, plus there is an easy chance of the rodent getting turned to lunch.
In the wild, hamsters mainly feed on seeds, grains, and grass, plus a bit of protein.
Hamsters have delicate pouches which require extra care not to give them something that may end up puncturing these pouches. Sticky foods are also discouraged as they may end up sticking to the hamster’s cheek.
Hamsters teeth will continuously grow if you do not provide something to wear them down. Try providing a lot of chew things for the hamster, or it risks having some pretty painful dental problems.
Your pets may like the occasional treat, but take care not to spoil them. Also, try and get them some fresh foods such as fruit.
Below are some food items suitable for hamsters.
Hamsters being omnivorous, will require a little bit of everything, from proteins to vitamins and minerals. Commercial pellets may come in handy in providing a balanced diet, as it comes with a mixture the hamster cannot pick and choose from. If you decide on the more loose seed mixes, most of the time, the hamster will pick what they like, and in the long-term, will end up with potential health problems due to an unbalanced diet.
Try and supplement commercial pellets with nuts and vegetables as it helps break the monotony of using one type of diet for long periods.
Most commercial pellets will come with many things as part of their ingredients, including timothy hay, seeds, grains, nuts, corn fruits, vegetables, mealworms, and crickets.
Hamsters are high-energy little creatures and will need to be kept busy to ensure they enjoy a healthy life. You can provide several things for your hamster to keep them entertained, including untreated softwood, hawthorn, hazelnut, and poplar.
Like gerbils, hamsters also grow their teeth to a point they can be unhealthy, which necessitates the provision of gnawing materials to ensure it helps maintain the hamster's teeth.
It is always nice to provide your hamster with a few treats to make their days a bit sweeter. However, take care to provide just a bit of treat to ensure they do not get too fat too fast or be at risk of health issues.
There are a variety of treats you can provide, ranging from veggies to herbs and fruits, including carrots, broccoli, cabbage, chicory, basil, sage, apple, pear lemon, and more.
Also, provide plenty of fresh water for the hamster, with a specially designed bottle for the specific kind of hamster you have.
Toxic Foods for Hamsters
Certain foods pose a danger to the hamster and may even be fatal. Some of these dangerous foods include
Onions Garlic Chives and Leeks
Hamsters are pretty curious and will sample anything they find with their mouth. It is important to ensure you keep them away from onions, garlic cloves, and leeks as they risk causing stomach imitation, which can lead to death.
Chocolate and Caffeine Products
Chocolate comes with theobromine which has a toxic effect on small animals such as hamsters, causing their hearts to race and may result in fatal poisoning.
Caffeine products are also quite dangerous and will also affect the hamsters well being. These products may be common among humans, which is why it's important to ensure you are never tempted to throw some to your pet.
Beans and Potatoes
Beans and potatoes will cause diarrhea and can lead to dehydration, and may even lead to death. Beans are high in fiber and lead to the hamster producing an only loose stool.
Citrus fruits are a favorite among many people, which may lead you to think that may be the same for your pet hamster; after all, they are omnivorous too. But citrus fruits have a high acidic content which may be dangerous for your pet hamster.
Worse off over potatoes are potato chips. Being fried also comes with a lot of fat and calories, which pose a risk to your hamster's health. It may lead to rapid weight gain, which may be a doorway to worse health issues.
Celery may be advisable for humans but are a danger for hamsters. They come with a lot of sodium, which may lead to a lot of water retention by the hamster, and subsequent bloating. Celery also has a stringy texture, which may result in the hamster choking while eating.
You never thought with all the benefits that come with avocado, plus the different recipes that include it, that it would ever be dangerous to anyone or anything. Avocado comes with a toxin that is quite dangerous to hamsters.
Please do not allow the hamster near an avocado, be it the seed or the shell, as it poses a great health risk.
This is quite the tricky one, as hamsters will love a piece of an apple as a treat, yet the apple seed poses a health risk to the tiny rodent. The apple seed has a poison, namely cyanide, which poses no risk to humans but may lead to poisoning for small animals.
Raisins or Grapes
Raisins and grapes are associated with kidney failure in rodents. Don’t even trust people who speak about seedless grains being okay for hamsters. Worse even, the hamster does not show any symptoms immediately after ingestion and may be too late by the tie you realize anything is up.
Hamsters Feeding Schedule
Feed your hamsters at least once a day, and fill their feeding bowl once, as they tend to hold a lot of food in their pouches and may fool you into thinking they have finished all their food. Preventing them from having a lot of food hoarded in their cages helps keep health risks away, which can be brought about by rotting food.
Provide at least two tablespoonfuls of food with at least one for the dwarf hamsters. Check that your hamster is not getting fat nor slim as an indicator of the amount of food you provide for your pet.
For veggies and greens, alternate between lettuce, kale, dandelion green, spinach, and cucumbers at least once a day. Mix that in with grains, and alternate between cooked brown rice, whole grain cereals, cooked wheat pasta, oats, and barley. Hamsters also like fruits, including apples, cantaloupe, bananas, blueberries, and peaches.
Provide the hamster with at least half a tablespoon two to three times a week for proteins and fats.
What do Gerbils Eat?
If you ever decide to keep a gerbil or hamster, you will have a wide variety of options when it comes to feeding them. As previously stated, they are both omnivorous, meaning they will go for everything, including fruits, vegetables, seeds, and even insects.
Gerbils are active little rodents and constantly chew and forage, which means providing them with a variety of food, will keep them busy and entertained in their cages.
Below are some food items suitable for Gerbils.
If you settle on feeding your pet gerbil on a commercial diet, ensure you talk to your vet first to get the best advice on the kind of feed to provide. Also, ensure that the type of diet you choose is rich in protein, at around 14%, or you might end up supplementing with something else.
Seed mixes may be a great source of protein, but they also come with a lot of fat which may not be as advisable for the pet. Always go for healthier alternatives, and provide some treats to spoil the pet.
Gerbil Diet Supplements
Along with the normal food you provide for your pet, you can provide some additional supplements, including vegetables, insects, and fruits. Supplements should be provided with a bit of moderation, as large amounts of treats may cause discomfort for the animal.
Some of the best vegetables for the rodent include timothy hay, kale, romance lettuce, beet greens, spinach, broccoli, peas, and carrots.
Some of the best for your gerbil include pears, oranges, apples, blueberries, strawberries, and melons when it comes to fruits.
You can also add a few different kinds of grain to the gerbil’s diet, including regular oats, millet, and pasta.
There are several different protein diets the gerbil can enjoy for protein supplements, including boiled or scrambled eggs, mealworms, crickets, and wax worms.
It is important to note that gerbils will hoard food and hide it somewhere they will forget in a while, which puts them at risk of existing in a toxic environment full of rotting food. This means that pet owners should ensure their gerbil pet cages remain free from any rotting substances.
Apart from the general diet and supplementary, it would be best if you also gave your gerbil some treats to keep her happy. You may opt for the more natural kinds of treats or go for commercial treats. Ensure they account for only a small part of their diet to keep them healthy and risk-free from any health complications.
Chewing and Gnawing
Gerbils are energetic little creatures, and apart from hoarding, they are also active in chewing and gnawing and will constantly need something to chew on. Always provide a lot of things the gerbil can chew on, including banana leaves, cardboard, coconut shells, untreated softwood, and hay cubes.
Also, provide climbing materials for the gerbil to ensure they utilize their energy and are constantly occupied while within their cages.
Dangerous Food For Gerbils
As with many other kinds of pets, certain kinds of foods are dangerous for them and may prove fatal for the animal.
Gerbils will also need a constant supply of water, which should come in an upright bottle with a sipping tube.
Some of these dangerous foods for gerbils include
Nuts are a dangerous kind of food to offer your gerbil. Whether salted, flavored, or cooked, they are hard for the gerbil to digest and pose a health hazard. It does not mean that gerbils cannot eat nuts; they can take it in its raw form, but in processed form pose a threat for your pet as it cannot digest processed food.
Salted nuts will cause dehydration for the pet, while flavored nuts come with chemical compounds unsuitable for the gerbil.
Gerbils can eat all kinds of vegetables, but some kinds pose a danger to the pet. Even while feeding them vegetables, ensure you provide a moderate amount.
Certain vegetables like cucumber, zucchini, and baby marrow all come with some poisonous seeds for your pet. If you want to offer them these vegetables, ensure you remove each seed before letting them eat.
Just as with nuts, cooked and flavored seeds may be a health risk for the pet. Before offering any seeds, ensure you are aware f the dietary recommendation.
Seeds are risky as there are some seeds the pet can eat while there are some they cannot. Seeds like sunflower seeds may be poisonous for your pet, as they have a high-fat content that may result in your pet's obesity.
Most fruit seeds are not safe as they can cause gastric obstruction in the gerbil, while certain seeds like strawberry seeds have cyanide that can be fatal for the pet.
Chocolate will affect a gerbil as it has theobromine which is toxic to gerbils. It may cause a heart attack, diarrhea, and vomiting.
Tea Coffee Or Alcohol
These three drinks will result in the speeding up of the gerbil's heart rate, which may prove dangerous. Gerbils already have a high heart rate as they are energetic; adding speed to their heart functions may result in health complications, resulting in brain damage.
Raw eggs come with salmonella, which rapidly increases the gerbil’s weight and may lead to obesity and result in diabetes.
You may be into a couple of plants growing inside the house, which is a great thing and helps in refreshing the house's air. However, there are a couple of types of plants that, if they grow near the gerbil's cage, maybe poisonous ingested.
Plants including azalea, anthurium, crocus fern, and hyacinth are poisonous for the pet.
Is Gerbil Food safe for a Hamster?
Looking at their diet, both hamsters and gerbils have more in common than otherwise. This shows that a hamster could eat a gerbil’s diet, subject to directions by the vet. To achieve the required nutrient levels for the pet, you will have to supplement the diet with whatever necessary nutrients not represented in the gerbil feed you are giving your hamster.
If you decide to feed your hamster on gerbil food, first get the advice of your vet, as they will prescribe what to add to the gerbil diet for your hamster.
There are also many commercial diets created for rodents across the board, including rats, hamsters, gerbils, and more. This will come in handy, especially for people raring several different species of rodents.
Combined Diet for both Gerbils and Hamsters
Several commercial foods will suit your hamster, which can also be fed to gerbils. Some of the best products in the market include
This is a seed mix weighing five pounds consisting of dried fruits, seeds, and grains.
The feed is made with high-quality ingredients and is great for foraging
Hamsters can eat gerbil food but will need additional supplements to achieve their required nutrient levels. There are way more varieties of feed made for both gerbils and hamsters, and depending on the vet's advice, you can choose the best type for your pet.