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Can Gerbils Drink Milk? (Recommendations!)


As a pet owner, you may find yourself wondering what foods and drinks are safe for your furry little friend. When it comes to gerbils, there are several common misconceptions surrounding their diet. One of the most frequently asked questions is whether or not gerbils can drink milk. 

So, can gerbils drink milk?

While milk is a staple in the human diet, and is often given to other pets such as cats and dogs, gerbils have a very different digestive system. As a result, it is important to understand the risks involved before giving your pet gerbil any type of milk. 

I would hate to give my pet anything that could potentially hurt them, and I’m sure you feel the same way too.

In this blog post, we’ll look at whether or not gerbils can drink milk, discuss the nutritional needs of gerbils, the potential risks associated with giving them milk, and alternative foods that are safe and healthy for your pet. 

By the end of this article, you will have a better understanding of what to feed your gerbil to keep them satisfied.

Can Gerbils Drink Milk?

gerbil being held

Gerbils can and should drink their mothers’ milk up until a certain stage, but should not drink commercially produced milk. 

This is primarily because gerbils are lactose intolerant, which means they cannot digest lactose, the sugar found in milk, properly. So if your pet consumes milk or other dairy products, it can cause digestive problems such as diarrhea, bloating, and abdominal pain for gerbils.

We wouldn’t want that now, would we?

Even though it can be tempting to give our pets the same foods that we eat,  try to avoid anything that could make your pet sick.

Consequently, it is not recommended to give gerbils milk to drink as part of their diet. 

Instead, I would recommend providing them with fresh water at all times and a well-balanced diet that includes a variety of fresh fruits and vegetables, hay, and high-quality commercial gerbil food.

Can Adult Gerbils Drink Milk?

Milk is not a requisite in the diet of adult gerbils, it can be detrimental to their health. This is due to the fact that gerbils tend to develop lactose intolerance following weaning.

 Lactose, a specific type of sugar, is present solely in milk, comprising approximately 2% to 8% of its composition. Lactase is the enzyme produced by young mammals to digest lactose. Lactase breaks down lactose to facilitate its absorption into the bloodstream through the intestinal walls.

After your gerbil is weaned, he won’t be too happy with the stomach upset he feels if given milk. So avoid milk at all costs!

Instances When Gerbils Can Drink Milk

Newborn gerbils will typically nurse from their mother for the first three to four weeks of their life. During this time, they will receive all the necessary nutrition from their mother’s milk, which is rich in protein, fat, and other essential nutrients.

As the gerbil pups grow and develop, they will gradually begin to wean off their mother’s milk and transition to solid food. This process usually takes several weeks, at which time the gerbil mom will continue to provide some milk to supplement their diet.

It’s important to ensure that newborn gerbils have access to their mother’s milk and that they are not separated from their mother too early. Separating them too early can lead to health problems and even death, as they are not yet able to survive on their own.

What Are the Benefits of Feeding Gerbils Milk?

Baby gerbils, (those little cuties) require a different diet than adult gerbils because they are still developing and growing. 

While adult gerbils are lactose intolerant and cannot digest milk properly, baby gerbils can benefit from consuming milk as a part of their diet. 

Here are some benefits of milk for baby gerbils:

Nutritional Value

 Milk is a good source of nutrients for baby gerbils. It contains protein, calcium, and other important nutrients that are essential for the development of healthy bones and muscles.

Easily Digestible

 Baby gerbils have a sensitive digestive system, and milk is easily digestible compared to other solid foods. Milk can help prevent digestive problems in baby gerbils and provide them with the necessary nutrients for growth and development.

Helps Wean Them

Baby gerbils should be weaned off their mother’s milk and introduced to solid foods gradually. Milk can be a helpful transitional food as they start to explore solid foods.

Encourages Bonding

 Feeding baby gerbils with a syringe or dropper can help establish a bond between the caregiver and the pups. This is especially important if the pups were separated from their mother too early.

Overfeeding milk or giving them too much at once can cause diarrhea and other digestive problems. Additionally, milk should only be given to baby gerbils, and adult gerbils should not be fed milk as a part of their diet.

milk for baby gerbils

Possible Risks of Feeding Gerbils Milk

With every food you feed your pet, there are possible downsides to consider, along with the benefits they provide. 

Since we want the very best for our pets, we should properly investigate the foods they eat in case of possible harm.

There are risks of feeding milk to gerbils which include:

Lactose Intolerance

Gerbils are lactose intolerant, which means they are unable to digest lactose, the sugar found in milk. Feeding them milk can cause digestive upset, including diarrhea, bloating, and gas.

Nutritional Imbalance

Gerbils require a specific balance of nutrients in their diet to maintain their health. Feeding them milk can upset this balance, as milk is high in fat and protein and low in other essential nutrients, such as fiber and vitamins.

Dental Issues

Milk contains sugar, which can contribute to dental issues such as tooth decay and gum disease in gerbils.


Feeding gerbils milk can contribute to obesity, as it is high in calories and fat. Obesity can lead to a variety of health problems in gerbils, including diabetes and heart disease.

Can Gerbils Consume Dairy Products?

For pet parents wondering if they should give a yummy milky treat to their gerbils, dairy products are not suitable for them. 

It’s generally not recommended to feed gerbils any dairy products, including milk or cheese. 

However, they do eat cheese in small amounts and seem to enjoy it. 

While some dairy products may be low in lactose or sugar, they are still high in fat and protein, which can lead to digestive upset, dental problems, and obesity in gerbils. 

Additionally, gerbils have specific dietary needs, and feeding them inappropriate foods can cause nutritional imbalances and health problems.

It is best to stick to a diet of hay, pellets, and fresh vegetables for your gerbil. If you are concerned about your gerbil’s diet or health, it is always best to consult with a veterinarian who specializes in small animals.

Are Some Low-lactose Foods Safe for Gerbils?

While gerbils are generally lactose intolerant and it’s not recommended to feed them dairy products, there are some low lactose foods that can be safe for them to eat in moderation. Some examples of low lactose foods that can be given to gerbils include:

Yogurt: Plain, unsweetened yogurt can be a good source of protein and probiotics for gerbils. However, it should only be given in small amounts as an occasional treat, as even low-lactose yogurt can cause digestive upset if given in large quantities.

Hard cheeses: Some hard cheeses, such as cheddar or parmesan, may be low in lactose and can be given to gerbils in small quantities as a treat. However, it’s important to avoid soft or moldy cheeses as they can contain harmful bacteria.

Non-dairy milk alternatives: Some non-dairy milk alternatives, such as almond or coconut milk, may be low in lactose and can be given to gerbils in small quantities. However, these should not be a regular part of their diet as they can also be high in fat and sugar.

baby gerbils and adult gerbil diet preference

What Other Foods Should Gerbils Avoid?

In addition to milk and dairy products, there are several other foods that gerbils should avoid. Some of the foods to avoid include:

Chocolate: Chocolate contains theobromine, which can be toxic to gerbils and other small animals.

Citrus fruits: Citrus fruits are high in acid, which can cause digestive problems for gerbils.

Certain Raw beans: Raw beans contain a toxin called lectin, which can cause digestive problems for gerbils and other animals.

Foods high in sugar or fat: Foods that are high in sugar or fat can lead to obesity

Can Gerbils Drink Milk?

You might be disappointed that your gerbil shouldn’t be consuming milk and dairy products, as it may be fun having him try treats.

However, some foods that seem harmless, like milk, can cause digestive problems and lead to serious health issues. 

It’s best to provide your gerbil with a balanced diet that includes fresh fruits, vegetables, and specially-formulated gerbil food to ensure they stay healthy and happy. 

By following these guidelines, you can enjoy a long and happy life with your beloved gerbil.

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