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Can Gerbils Eat Basil or Does it Really Kill?

can gerbils eat basil

When hunger strikes, a good snack can be a lifesaver!

 Whether you’re at work, school, or just out and about, having something tasty and satisfying to munch on can give you the energy and focus you need to power through the day.

Your gerbils would probably enjoy a little something like basil.

Can gerbils eat basil safely though?

When it comes to feeding gerbils, it’s important to provide them with a balanced diet that meets their nutritional needs.

 While they can snack on many types of fruits and vegetables, it’s important to know which ones are safe for them to consume.

Basil is a popular herb that is commonly used in many culinary dishes, and while it’s safe for humans to consume, we need to establish whether it’s safe for gerbils too. 

We’ll delve into the nutritional value of basil and find out if it is indeed a safe addition to your gerbil’s diet.

If you’re interested to know, we’ll also discuss any potential risks associated with feeding your gerbil basil and identify any precautions you should take.

Let’s dive in!

Can Gerbils Eat Basil?

brown gerbil snacking

Yes, gerbils can eat some types of basil in moderation.

 Basil is safe for gerbils and can be a healthy addition to their diet.

However, there are certain types of basil that could be toxic to them, so you do have to be cautious about what you feed them.

African blue basil (Ocimum kilimandscharicum × basilicum ‘Dark Opal’) is a hybrid variety of basil that has a slightly stronger flavor compared to other basil varieties. 

While basil, in general, is safe for gerbils to consume in moderation, there is limited information specifically about the effects of African blue basil on gerbils.

To ensure the safety of your gerbil, it’s recommended to stick to the more common types of basil, such as sweet basil (Ocimum basilicum), which is widely known to be safe for gerbils.

This way, you can avoid any potential risks or uncertainties associated with less common basil varieties.

If you are uncertain about the safety of African blue basil for your gerbil, it’s always best to err on the side of caution and avoid feeding it to them.

Watercolor gerbil

Love on the Mind?

In ancient Greek and Roman cultures, basil was associated with love and fertility. It was believed that smelling basil would bring good luck in matters of the heart.

What are the Symptoms of Basil Toxicity in Gerbils?

Keep in mind that basil toxicity in gerbils is extremely rare. 

However, if your gerbil were to experience any adverse reactions, you should know what to do – just in case!

Symptoms might include gastrointestinal upset like diarrhea or changes in stool consistency.

Loss of appetite, lethargy, and weakness could also be signs of basil toxicity.

Also, respiratory issues such as coughing or difficulty breathing, as well as skin irritations, may occur in allergic reactions.

Remember, though, that these symptoms are not common and gerbils generally tolerate basil well.

 If you notice any unusual signs or suspect basil toxicity, it’s always a good idea to consult a veterinarian experienced in small animal care for proper guidance and assistance.

diet tip

Basil Varieties 

Sweet Basil (Ocimum basilicum)

 Sweet basil is the most popular and widely used variety. It has a pleasant, slightly peppery taste and is commonly used in Italian cuisine. Nutritional content may vary, but basil, in general, is low in calories and a good source of vitamins A, K, and C.

Thai Basil (Ocimum basilicum var. thyrsiflora):

 Thai basil has a distinct anise-like flavor with a hint of mint. It is commonly used in Thai, Vietnamese, and other Southeast Asian cuisines. Thai basil is rich in antioxidants and essential oils.

Lemon Basil (Ocimum basilicum citriodorum):

 As the name suggests, lemon basil has a citrusy fragrance and flavor. It adds a refreshing twist to dishes and is often used in salads, dressings, and desserts.

Holy Basil (Ocimum tenuiflorum): 

Also known as Tulsi, holy basil holds religious significance in some cultures. It has a peppery taste and is commonly used in Indian cuisine and herbal teas. Holy basil is believed to have medicinal properties and is rich in antioxidants.

Purple Basil (Ocimum basilicum ‘Dark Opal’): 

Purple basil has striking purple leaves and a milder flavor compared to sweet basil. It adds a vibrant touch to salads, garnishes, and pestos. Its nutritional content is similar to other basil varieties.

basil for gerbils

Is Basil Healthy?

Basil, specifically sweet basil (Ocimum basilicum), is a popular herb known for its aromatic flavor.

While exact nutritional values can vary based on factors such as growing conditions and variety, here is a general overview of the nutritional profile of basil per 100 grams of fresh leaves:

  • Calories: Approximately 23 kcal
  • Carbohydrates: Around 2.7 grams
  • Protein: About 3.2 grams
  • Fat: Approximately 0.6 grams
  • Fiber: Around 1.6 grams
  • Basil is also a good source of various vitamins and minerals, including:
  • Vitamin A: Provides around 2640 International Units (IU), which is equivalent to 50% of the recommended daily intake (RDI).
  • Vitamin K: Provides about 414 micrograms, which is equivalent to 345% of the RDI.
  • Vitamin C: Provides around 18 milligrams, which is equivalent to 30% of the RDI.
  • Calcium: Provides about 177 milligrams.
  • Iron: Provides approximately 3.2 milligrams.
  • Magnesium: Provides about 64 milligrams.
  • Potassium: Provides approximately 295 milligrams.

Basil is generally considered a low-calorie herb and is appreciated more for its flavor and aroma than its nutritional value.

 Nevertheless, it can be a flavorful addition to your pet’s snacktime routine.

Benefits and Possible Risks of Feeding Basil to Gerbils


Nutritional Variety

Basil can provide some nutritional variety to your gerbil’s diet. It contains vitamins such as A, K, and C, along with minerals like calcium and potassium.

Antioxidant Properties

This tasty herb has natural antioxidants that can help protect cells from damage caused by harmful molecules called free radicals. This can contribute to your gerbil’s overall health and well-being.

Flavorful Enrichment

Offering small amounts of basil leaves as an occasional treat can provide sensory enrichment for your gerbil. The distinct taste and smell can add variety to their diet and stimulate their curiosity.



While basil can be a healthy addition to a gerbil’s diet, it should be given in moderation. Feeding excessive amounts of basil or any other food item can lead to digestive upset or imbalances in their diet.

Pesticides and Chemicals

You should ensure that any basil or other fresh produce offered to your gerbil is thoroughly washed and free from pesticides or chemicals. These substances can be harmful to small animals like gerbils.

Allergies or Sensitivities

Just like humans, gerbils can have individual sensitivities or allergies to certain foods. Introduce basil gradually and observe your gerbil’s reaction.

Watercolor gerbil

Basil Varieties

Basil comes in various types and cultivars, each with its unique characteristics. From sweet basil to Thai basil and lemon basil, there’s a basil variety to suit different culinary preferences.

Creative Ways to Introduce Basil to Gerbils

Herb Scavenger Hunt: Hide small pieces of basil leaves around your gerbil’s enclosure or play area. This encourages them to use their natural foraging instincts and discover the basil as a fun surprise.

Basil Treat Toys: Stuff a small, clean, and safe toy or chewable container with basil leaves. This allows your gerbil to interact with the toy, nibble on the basil, and enjoy a tasty treat at the same time.

Basil Leaf Wrap: Wrap a small piece of basil in a leafy green vegetable like lettuce or kale. This adds an extra layer of texture and complexity to the treat, making it more enticing for your gerbil.

Frozen Basil Ice Cubes: Freeze diluted basil puree or small basil leaves in an ice cube tray. Once frozen, offer these basil-infused ice cubes to your gerbil on a hot day. It serves as a cooling and refreshing treat.

Basil-Infused Hay: Gently rub fresh basil leaves on a bundle of hay and let it sit for a short period to infuse the aroma. Then, offer the basil-infused hay to your gerbil, providing them with a scented and tasty hay experience.

feeding tips for gerbils

How Often Can Gerbils Eat Basil?

Gerbils should eat basil occasionally to prevent any digestive issues or imbalances in their nutritional intake.

You can try offering basil once or twice a week, in small amounts, for enrichment to their diet.

It’s better to introduce new foods gradually, including basil, and monitor your gerbil’s reaction to ensure they tolerate it well.

Herbs that Gerbils Can Eat

Can Gerbils Eat Basil?

Yes, gerbils can eat basil. It’s safe for them to consume in moderation.

 Basil can be a healthy addition to their diet and can provide some variety and enrichment. But it still shouldn’t be a main part of their everyday diet.

Gerbils do have specific dietary necessities, and their primary food should be a high-quality gerbil pellet mix.

 Basil can be offered as an occasional treat, given in small amounts. 

Make sure to wash the basil thoroughly and remove any pesticides or chemicals before feeding it to your gerbil.

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