Why don’t vegetarians like to tell jokes? Because they don’t want to meat anyone. Hahahaaa!
Ok, so bad jokes aside, today we’re going to talk about meat and whether it’s the best fit for our pet.
As you may already know, gerbils can be a great source of comfort and companionship, and one of the most beloved small companion animals around.
To keep them happy, you want to be sure that you’re providing the best diet possible. One vital question gerbil owners ask is, can gerbils eat meat?
In this post, I’ll explain whether or not gerbils can eat meat, if it’s a suitable option, along with the benefits and downfalls, and the ideal foods for your pet.
Read on to find out more!
Can Gerbils Eat Meat?
First, it’s important to understand what gerbils’ natural diet looks like. In the wild, gerbils are omnivores, meaning they consume a mix of plant and animal matter. In captivity, however, gerbils live mostly on grains, seeds, vegetables, and fruits for their nutrition.
Traditionally, gerbils do not eat items like chicken, beef, and pork in the wild, but may consume them in captivity.
The word “meat” comes from the Old English word “mete,” which means “food” or “nourishment.”
Do Gerbils Like Meat?
Gerbils are known for their love of seeds, but did you know that they also enjoy a tasty serving of meat every once in a while? That’s right, these adorable little rodents are not just omnivores, they also have a taste for meat if they’ve experienced eating it once.
Now, before you start tossing chunks of steak into your gerbil’s cage, let’s clarify a few things. Gerbils are small animals with delicate digestive systems, so any meat they consume should be given in small amounts and cooked thoroughly to avoid any bacteria.
Can Gerbils Eat Raw Meat?
No, it is not recommended to feed gerbils raw meat. Feeding raw meat to gerbils can lead to your gerbil having health issues due to contamination from germs and other microorganisms.
Can Gerbils Eat Cooked Meat?
You’ll be happy to know that your furry friend can occasionally indulge in some cooked meat!
This doesn’t mean you should start feeding them a juicy steak for breakfast.
First of all, the operative word here is “occasionally”. While gerbils can handle some cooked meat, it should not be a regular part of their diet. Their primary diet should consist of high-quality pellets, hay, fresh fruits and veggies, and of course, plenty of water.
Types of Meat That Gerbils Can Eat Occasionally or Avoid
Chicken is a good source of protein and can provide some variety in a gerbil’s diet. An uncooked, chicken breast contains around 120 calories, 26 grams of protein, and 2 grams of fat. However, it should only be offered in small amounts as a treat and should not be a regular part of their diet.
It is important to note that chicken should be cooked thoroughly and be free of any spices or other seasonings, which can be harmful to gerbils. Additionally, it should be served in small pieces to avoid choking hazards.
Cooked turkey can be fed to gerbils in small amounts as an occasional treat. Two slices of turkey contain 117 calories, 24 grams of protein, and 2 grams of fat. Turkey is a lean protein source that is low in fat, making it a healthier option compared to other meats.
Small amounts of lean beef can be fed to them as an occasional treat. 3.5 ounces of ground beef contains 217 calories with 26.1 grams of protein and 11.8 grams of fat. Beef is a good source of protein and can provide your gerbil with a nutrient boost.
Avoid These Meat Sources for your Gerbils Health
Fish may contain high levels of mercury, which can be toxic to gerbils. A wild Atlantic salmon fillet contains around 280 calories with 32 grams of protein and 12.5 grams of fat. Additionally, fish can spoil quickly and may harbor harmful bacteria, which can cause digestive problems or make your gerbil sick.
A 3.5-ounce portion of cooked pork contains about 297 calories with 20.8 grams of fat and 25.7 grams of protein. Feeding gerbils a diet that is high in fat and protein, such as pork, can cause obesity, liver problems, and other health issues. Therefore, it is best to avoid feeding your gerbil pork or any other fatty meat products.
Similar to pork, beef jerky should not be fed to gerbils. An ounce of jerky contains 116 calories, 9.4 grams of protein, and 7.3 grams of fat. Gerbils are omnivores and require a diet that is high in fiber, vitamins, and minerals. Feeding them high-protein and high-fat foods like beef jerky can lead to obesity, liver disease, and other health problems.
Ideal Protein Sources for Gerbils
Commercial Gerbil Food: A high-quality gerbil food that is specifically formulated for gerbils will provide them with all the necessary protein and other essential nutrients they need.
Seeds and Nuts: Gerbils love seeds and nuts, and they are a great source of protein. You can feed them small amounts of sunflower seeds, pumpkin seeds, flaxseeds, and chia seeds.
Insects: Gerbils are natural insectivores and enjoy eating insects such as mealworms and crickets. These can be purchased dried or live from pet stores.
Hard-Boiled Eggs: Hard-boiled eggs are a great source of protein for gerbils. However, they should be given in moderation as they can raise cholesterol levels.
Overall, a gerbil’s diet should primarily consist of hay, fresh vegetables and fruits, and commercially available gerbil food, which is specifically formulated to provide the nutrients they need. It is always best to consult with a veterinarian if you have any questions or concerns about your gerbil’s diet.
How Much Meat Can Gerbils Eat?
While small amounts of animal protein can be beneficial for gerbils, too much meat in their diet can cause health problems such as obesity, liver disease, and digestive issues.
When feeding your gerbil meat, it is important to choose lean sources such as cooked chicken or turkey and to remove any bones or skin.
Meat, such as cooked chicken and turkey should not make up more than 10% of their overall diet. It’s important to avoid feeding gerbils highly fatty or greasy foods, as these can be bad for their health.
Negatives of Feeding Meat to Gerbils
Digestive issues: Gerbils are omnivores and their digestive system is not designed to process meat. Feeding them high amounts of meat can cause digestive problems such as diarrhea, constipation, and even gastrointestinal blockages.
Imbalance of nutrients: Gerbils require a balanced diet with a specific ratio of proteins, carbohydrates, and fats. Feeding them meat can upset this balance and lead to deficiencies in other essential nutrients.
Health problems: Meat can contain harmful bacteria, parasites, and other pathogens that can cause health problems for gerbils. Additionally, certain types of meat can contain high levels of fat, cholesterol, and sodium, which can increase the risk of heart disease and other health issues.
Ethical concerns: Gerbils are not natural meat eaters and feeding them meat may go against their natural diet and behavior. Additionally, sourcing meat for gerbils can raise ethical concerns about animal welfare and sustainability.
How to Feed Meat to Gerbils
Gerbils can eat meat, but it’s important to make sure it is cut into small pieces. Meat should be treated as a special treat, and only served occasionally. The best way to feed your gerbil meat is to cut it into small cubes, as large chunks can be difficult for them to digest and can cause digestive problems.
Gerbils owners have mentioned giving their pets small amounts of chicken when feeding them, which seems to be fine. When feeding your gerbil meat, make sure it is fresh and free of seasonings and spices.
Meat contains all of the essential amino acids that our bodies need for building and repairing tissues.
Can Gerbils Eat Meat?
It is a common misconception that gerbils are herbivores and cannot eat meat. However, gerbils as omnivores actually enjoy eating meat and can benefit from it nutritionally. If you plan to feed your gerbil meat, it is important to remember that it should always be supplemented with vitamins and minerals. As with any food, only feed your gerbil meat in moderation, as too much can cause digestive upset. It is also important to note that the best foods for gerbils are still fruits, vegetables, and grains, and that meat should only be offered occasionally.
When offered, it should be given in small pieces to avoid choking, and be sure to remove any bones that may be present. This way, gerbils can enjoy the occasional taste of meat without any risk to their health.